Subject: Re: What should Sun do?
From: Anthony Long <along@flexiety.com>
Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 18:56:28 -0500
Thu, 03 Feb 2005 18:56:28 -0500


Adam Turoff wrote:

>On Wed, Feb 02, 2005 at 09:55:07AM -0800, Anthony Long wrote:
>  
>
>><quote who="Russell Nelson">
>>    
>>
>>>Why not just donate it to the Mozilla Foundation, or the Gnome
>>>Foundation, or the Open Source Initiative, or the Public Software
>>>Fund, or the Free Software Foundation?  What purpose would another
>>>non-profit serve?
>>>      
>>>
>>Another issue to consider is what would happen to the Sun paid developers
>>if one of your scenarios played out?  It's not like there are many (if
>>any) developers outside of those paid by Sun that know the code intimately
>>to advance it further than it is today.  
>>    
>>
>
>Can you explain why that would be relevant?  IBM started Eclipse and
>turned it over to the Eclipse Foundation, but they still fund some
>Eclipse development.  Neither OSDL nor IBM own Linux, but they still pay
>developers.  Ditto Sun and hundreds of other open source projects that
>are not OOo.
>  
>
IBM has a very profitable business around Linux, and therefore it makes 
sense to keep investing in it by paying developers.  If Sun is already 
losing money on OpenOffice.org and stands to not only lose more money 
but also control if it hands it over to a foundation, why would it keep 
pouring money into an unprofitable venture at the same rate?

The relevancy of the issue comes into play when one considers the future 
of the OpenOffice.org project.  Let's assume Sun continues to sponsor 
only 2 of the roughly 100 developers and assign the other 98 to more 
profitable projects within Sun or lays them off altogether.  What would 
happen to OpenOffice.org development?  I could imagine it slowing 
significantly.  Who would come in to fill in the gaps?  What happens to 
the knowledge retained by the 98 other developers?

>>Would the Public Software Fund be
>>able to bear the costs of 100 or so developers?
>>    
>>
>
>Why is that be a requirement?  If Sun did turn over OOo to the
>Elbonian Software Liberation Foundation of Elbonia, why would Sun stop
>paying developers to work on OOo, and why would the the Elbonians need
>to take on that role?
>  
>
The reason why businesses stop projects in general:  because doing so 
would be a money losing situation.  Sun is only going to hand it over to 
a foundation if it is not working in a profitable way.  If things are 
profitable, there is no need to relinquish control.  On the flip side, 
if things are unprofitable, there is every reason to write off the 
expense by "liquidating" the project.  Spending money on something that 
doesn't pay out is not good business.  And there are indications that 
OOo is not paying out for Sun (StarOffice losing shelf space, third 
parties not contributing, etc.).  AOL jettisoned Mozilla because it was 
losing AOL money.  AOL does not continue to support Mozilla at the rate 
it did prior to "handing it over" to a non-profit, if it gives any 
support at all.  We shouldn't expect Sun to do any differently with 
OpenOffice.org.  The bad part about OOo's situation is that there is 
significantly less of a developer community than Mozilla.  A loss of the 
key project sponsor is very close to a loss of the project unless key 
stakeholdes step up to fill in the gaps.




Adam Turoff wrote:
On Wed, Feb 02, 2005 at 09:55:07AM -0800, Anthony Long wrote:
  
<quote who="Russell Nelson">
    
Why not just donate it to the Mozilla Foundation, or the Gnome
Foundation, or the Open Source Initiative, or the Public Software
Fund, or the Free Software Foundation?  What purpose would another
non-profit serve?
      
Another issue to consider is what would happen to the Sun paid developers
if one of your scenarios played out?  It's not like there are many (if
any) developers outside of those paid by Sun that know the code intimately
to advance it further than it is today.  
    

Can you explain why that would be relevant?  IBM started Eclipse and
turned it over to the Eclipse Foundation, but they still fund some
Eclipse development.  Neither OSDL nor IBM own Linux, but they still pay
developers.  Ditto Sun and hundreds of other open source projects that
are not OOo.
  
IBM has a very profitable business around Linux, and therefore it makes sense to keep investing in it by paying developers.  If Sun is already losing money on OpenOffice.org and stands to not only lose more money but also control if it hands it over to a foundation, why would it keep pouring money into an unprofitable venture at the same rate?

The relevancy of the issue comes into play when one considers the future of the OpenOffice.org project.  Let's assume Sun continues to sponsor only 2 of the roughly 100 developers and assign the other 98 to more profitable projects within Sun or lays them off altogether.  What would happen to OpenOffice.org development?  I could imagine it slowing significantly.  Who would come in to fill in the gaps?  What happens to the knowledge retained by the 98 other developers?
Would the Public Software Fund be
able to bear the costs of 100 or so developers?
    

Why is that be a requirement?  If Sun did turn over OOo to the
Elbonian Software Liberation Foundation of Elbonia, why would Sun stop
paying developers to work on OOo, and why would the the Elbonians need
to take on that role?
  
The reason why businesses stop projects in general:  because doing so would be a money losing situation.  Sun is only going to hand it over to a foundation if it is not working in a profitable way.  If things are profitable, there is no need to relinquish control.  On the flip side, if things are unprofitable, there is every reason to write off the expense by "liquidating" the project.  Spending money on something that doesn't pay out is not good business.  And there are indications that OOo is not paying out for Sun (StarOffice losing shelf space, third parties not contributing, etc.).  AOL jettisoned Mozilla because it was losing AOL money.  AOL does not continue to support Mozilla at the rate it did prior to "handing it over" to a non-profit, if it gives any support at all.  We shouldn't expect Sun to do any differently with OpenOffice.org.  The bad part about OOo's situation is that there is significantly less of a developer community than Mozilla.  A loss of the key project sponsor is very close to a loss of the project unless key stakeholdes step up to fill in the gaps.