Subject: Re: open source definition
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 1998 11:49:09 -0400

> I don't think you can separate free software from a software business
> plan and call it a "distraction"...

I don't think I did that.

I was trying to say that there are a number of reasons I can imagine
investors accepting some amount of giveaway development. One is as a
marketing strategy.  It sounds to me like this was the case with

Another is that the investors might *perceive* it as a distraction
(whether you do or not), acknowledge potential value in the effort,
and conclude that the level of distraction in light of the potential
benefit was small enough not to make an issue about.

> Once upon a time, there were companies that sold computer
> hardware...

The analogy doesn't hold up.  

First, the hardware manufacturers were making money selling hardware.

Second, a lot of hardware manufacturers who tried to make the jump
failed.  Most of the companies that decided not to move were *right,*
in the sense that they could not have done so successfully.

In many cases moving into software *would* have been a distraction
from their core business.  Most of the hardware vendors didn't (and
still don't) grok software.  Many who saw the opportunity did indeed
get distracted and flounder.  Most of those went under.  Software can
be a great business and still be an utter distraction to a hardware

If I could make a strong case [remember: there was no proof, only a
strong case] to you that there was a huge, growing market in building
generic embedded systems hardware modules, would it make sense for
Cygnus to move into this business?  Probably not.  At the very least
it would be a major change of direction requiring a total
restructuring of the company.  You might well decide that it made more 
sense to stick with what you do well.