Subject: Re: Thoughts on GPL
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 08:39:00 -0500


Good to hear from you!

Thanks for the clarification on the Cygnus investment.  It's not clear
to me why you had trouble with your board, though I can see how
investment contacts would have helped.  Your salary levels at the time
may have had something to do with the difficulty in hiring experienced

   Amazingly enough we're not spending VC $$ yet.

That is an accounting fiction.  Having accepted the money you are
operating under the imperative of that ROI demand.  Whether the
investment and the repositioning are related you would know better
than I, but at the end of the day we both know that a 30% ROI driver
is a tough nut.  It sounds from your other comments like you are
letting your customers drive you in a more proprietary direction.

A naive outsider coming to your web site today would not recognize the
Cygnus built on free software.  That's not necessarily bad, in my

   The free software model has been a very powerful hammer...the
   proprietary model an equally powerful sickle.  Is that the right
   analogy to be using on a business newsgroup?

Hmmm.  I think there's a red flag on that analogy :-)

   ... Modulo a dogma of consistency, what's wrong with that [a mixed

Nothing that I can see.  My feeling is that both models have their
place.  This is something that a lot of the free software community
doesn't seem to agree with.

If you go back over my past couple of notes I think you'll see that I
wasn't trying to take a theological perspective.  People hold out
Cygnus as a free software success story.  I was asking if the facts
support the claim.  If they do, so much the better.  As I think you
know, I have always wished you and your group the best of success.

How has Cygnus done on the ROI front?  Given that it's a number which
can be computed from your annual filings, are you willing to quote an
approximate figure for the past 2-3 years?