Subject: Re: the Free Software Movement in Industry
From: Seth Gordon <>
Date: 23 Aug 2001 21:39:56 -0000

   Using my terminology, what you're saying is that there *is* a de facto
   purchasing union, but that its success is probabilistic, not
   deterministic, and that its membership is fuzzy, and subject to change
   without penalty (to the members).  Investors in the software vendor
   are accepting the financial risk of that non-determinism, which is one
   reason why wind-falls as prizes make good sense.

This has got to be the strangest use of the word "union" I have ever

   That arrangement can still function perfectly well in a Free Software,
   GPL world.

You still haven't addressed the free-rider problem.

   The idea of bringing together
   some programmers *only* to write a one-shot billing system, then
   charge huge amounts of money selling that system, unmodified, over and
   over again, without any significant reinvestment in the engineering
   process -- is a little weird.

My previous employer reinvested plenty in its engineering process
(until it was bought out by Lucent :-).  The software was constantly
under revision, significant changes were made to satisfy big-ticket
customers, and the contracts for the software had a consulting

Still, if they had released each version under the GPL and then
depended entirely on consulting and contract-work improvements for
their revenue, they would have had a much riskier business, for
reasons discussed earlier.

"Rav would never cross a bridge when an idolator was on it; he said, 'Maybe he
will be judged and I will be taken with him.'  Shmuel would only cross a
bridge when an idolator was on it; he said, 'Satan cannot rule two nations [at
once].'  Rabbi Yannai would examine [the bridge] and cross."  --Shabbat 32a
== Seth Gordon == == == std. disclaimer ==