Subject: Re: fsb case study pointers?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 11:08:23 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rn" == Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com> writes:

    rn> Good luck!  Even Cygnus, who is about the most partisan free
    rn> software business you'll find out there, doesn't publish their
    rn> numbers.  Probably the closest you can come is Redhat's
    rn> prospectus.

Why not?  Afraid your heirs will bump you off?  ;-)

But this looks like my cue:

OK, y'all, how many of you would respond fairly completely to a 2 page
questionnaire gathering basic statistics about free software
businesses under the following conditions:

(Trivial responses to me, negative as well as positive, please; I'll
summarize.)

1.  No names are released, not even implicitly.  That means that
    statements of the form "A company whose line of business is packet 
    drivers has revenues of X for Y employees" is ruled out.
2.  All respondents get the published report, and possibly fuller
    access to the data.  (This would depend on people's feelings about 
    that, of course; my impression is that people would be favorable
    to sharing data at levels that don't invite invidious
    comparisons.)
3.  Basic questions:  form of organization - proprietor, partnership,
    incorporated, complex (eg the relationship between Aladdin and
    Artifex).
    Business model:  eg, shrinkwrap, custom, general consulting,
      system integrator, support, etc.
    Products
    Revenues
    Employees (by type? programmer, business management, support staff)
    Net cash flow by years (not including compensation to owners)
    Source of capital (owner/family/friend savings, venture capital,
      bank loan, etc)
    Year founded
    Have you participated in other FSBs?
4.  Data in the published report would be released in forms like
    revenues/employee, cash flow/employee by years since foundation, etc
    Probably information about products would be suppressed except for 
    generalities like "no correlations were found between product type 
    and cash flow."

This is very rough; if it seems like a reasonable sample would return
completed questionnaires, I will write up a complete design.  I think
this is something that would help promote FSBs.  It's hard enough to
go off and start a business; to try to start one based on the idea of
giving away an important part of your competitive advantage is pretty
tough.  Getting more information out might help.

Comments?

What would _you_ like to know about the general trend of your
industry?

-- 
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."