Subject: Re: open source definition
From: peterd@Bunyip.Com (Peter Deutsch)
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 1998 12:18:19 -0400

[ You wrote: ]

> > sometimes, writing code is not a development cost, it's a marketing
> > cost, and sometimes our value-added is not in the code, but
> > elsewhere
> I think this disqualifies your situation as an existance proof of
> profitable free software development.  There are lots of existing
> business models that use code as advertising - cdrom production, book
> writing, consulting, etc.  In each case the code is an expense, not a
> profit center.  To be an existance proof, the money has to be made
> from the code itself.

But that's not what was asked for:

> From: Keith Bostic <>
.  .  .
> > From: John Gilmore <>
> >
> >> OK, does *anyone* know of *any company that got *any money to build
> >> software they were going to give away?
> >
> > I'm sure you can gerrymander the definition well enough so that no
> > company qualifies.
> True; I've been trying not to do that, but in the heat of the
> discussion it's hard to avoid.

Bunyip received venture capital money for code we will be
giving away. We will be charging for other code, and other
things, but we can and will, with investor permission, be
giving away several projects and yes, we will in exchange
expect to make money elsewhere, using other activities
which are themselves promoted by that code. But isn't that
fair game? After all, if you don't make money *somewhere*
you're not in business, you're doing charity work.

To return to *your* point, is this profitable free
software development? Well, we could play with the
definitions, but keep in mind that we don't pretend to be
trying to "do free software development". We're trying to
*run a profitable company*, and see free software
development as one component of our strategy to reach that
goal. We're doing it for several reasons, including that
we think we can make money, we think we can address our
skillset shortages and we think it's a good to do for the
health of the net, but now we're talking motives, not

The bottom line is, we're going to pay a number of people
to write a number of programs, which we will then release
to the net under some form of public license. We've
convinced investors to help us to this, and we think we
will make money doing it. The free software component of
our plan is not millions of dollars worth of development,
but it's not peanuts, either. 

Final thought.  For us, this debate is not about free
software as an end in itself. Perhaps that's what
distinguished people like us (and others who believe it's
okay to own the work output of software development and
that it's okay to sometimes *not* give it away) from those
who hive to a more purist approach.

					- peterd

     Peter Deutsch,                                   (514) 875-8611  (phone)
  Bunyip Information Systems Inc.                     (514) 875-8134  (fax)

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