Subject: Re: Nessus 3.0's failed community
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 30 Nov 2005 15:19:48 -0800

Federico Lucifredi <> writes:

> Not to put too fine a point on it, but my presumption is that a F/OSS
> vendor will have lower per-customer margins.

Where does that presumption come from?  It may be true, but why should
it be true?  I really would like to know.

When I was at Cygnus, it seemed to me that our COGS was reasonably low
and our per-customer margin was reasonably high.  That was
particularly true of our support contracts--most of our customers
never contacted us (though of course a few of them talked to us all
the time).  On the technical services side--i.e., compiler ports--our
margins were enormous.  But I did engineering and sales support--I
don't know what the precise numbers were.

> >How many billion-plus cap pure software companies are there?
> not sure. But no pure F/OSS vendor is in there. Novell, as a hybrid,
> barely makes it. And I think that there are... actually, let me
> look..... 
> Activision Inc - 3.5 bln
> Adobe Systems Incorporated - 16 bln
> Autodesk Inc - 9 bln
> BMC Software Inc - 4.4 bln
> Check Point Software - 5.5 bln
> Checkfree Corp - 4.2 bln
> Citrix - 4.7 bln
> Computer Associates - 16 bln
> ...and another 15
> (
> so, the fact that no FOSS vendor can make the cap cut I set seems *very*
> relevant to me. But I still want to see per-seat(or per-box) revenue
> figures. And, yes, these vendors are also selling support services.

Activision: founded 1979
Adobe: founded 1982
Autodesk: founded 1982
BMC: founded 1980
CheckPoint: founded 1993
Citrix: founded 1989
Computer Associates: founded 1976

Red Hat: founded 1993
every other existing F/OSS company: newer

The fact that no F/OSS vendor is in that group is not irrelevant (I
did notice that Autodesk is going at least partly open source).  But I
don't think it's *very* relevant.  Not yet.