Subject: Opportunity lost? Challenge declined!?
From: dblankley@iwon.com
Date: Wed, 9 May 2001 09:57:11 -0400

 Wed, 9 May 2001 09:57:11 -0400
The thread begun by Adam Theo represented both an opportunity and a challenge
to this group.  One that so far has been squandered, yet may still be redeemed.

Specifically, a developer has come to us with a product and a question on
semi-proprietary licensing.  Rather than use this as an opportunity to brain-storm
and develop a viable means for this person(and the community at large) to
see a return on their investment(development time) we have squandered it
shouting what amounts to opinions, rather than arguments, that closed source
is bad.

Here are the challenges:
1.  To brainstorm for solutions to allow developers to be compensated for
their development work.
2.  To convince Mr. Theo that the among those solutions exists a business
plan which provides an expected return on investment at least equal to his
proprietary license model.


Along those lines, I shall begin with a discussion of the Red Hat model.
Red Hat is essentially a support provider.  You pay Red Hat a fee and they
help you set-up your Linux system.

Unfortunately, there are several problems with the Red Hat solution:
1.  The software it is supporting already had strong grass-roots momentum,
and a non-trivial userbase when Red Hat began.
2.  I am unsure of the return Linus Torvalds has seen from open-sourcing
Linux, but it does not seem to be on the scale of Bill Gates, Larry Ellison,
or Scott McNealy.  Granted, pure monetary success is not neccessarily the
only metric, however, most developers(and people in general) want to see
a return beyond the feel good of altruism for their efforts.
3.  As a developer, what I am good at is developing software, not providing
support.

Which brings me to a more focused question than my earlier challenges:
How does a developer that wants to invest his time developing, get compensated
in the open source arena?
I will add two constraints to this question:
1.  The income level must be comparable to other opportunities in the market
place.
2.  The individual does not need to be a world renowned expert on the topic/software.

Dave Blankley




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