Subject: Re: Great Bridge closes.
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 07 Sep 2001 10:34:03 -0700

Keith Bostic <bostic@sleepycat.com> writes:

> http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/cn/20010906/tc/open-source_database_company_closes_1.html

Definitely a shame from the point of view of supporting Postgres,
which I think is an important piece of free software.

But not, in my opinion, surprising.  When Red Hat announced their own
version of Postgres, I expected that Great Bridge would be shut down
before the end of the year.  Brand recognition is an important part of
a free software support and consulting business, and Red Hat's brand
recognition is much greater than Great Bridge's was.

When I spoke with some of the Great Bridge folks at the Open Source
Conference in July, they said they felt that Red Hat entering the
Postgres market would not hurt, because it would draw attention to
Postgres and thus draw attention to Great Bridge.  I was too polite to
say it at the time, but to me it sounded like a good spin attempt on a
very bad situation.

I think this is a well-known lesson in corporate capitalism: when a
larger, more well-known company becomes a direct competitor, you need
to sell out, or find a good marketing angle, or find a niche market to
focus on.  Great Bridge did none of these.

Inasmuch as there is a free software angle, I think it is that because
Postgres is free software, it was very easy for Red Hat to step into
the business and become a direct competitor.  According to the CNET
article, Red Hat started by trying to buy Great Bridge, but the offer
was considered by the Great Bridge folks to be too low.  Events may
have just shown that Red Hat's offer was a reasonable estimate of the
Great Bridge's real worth in the market.

I hope that Red Hat is in a position to make job offers to some of the
key Postgres maintainers to permit them to keep on working on it full
time.  In today's economy, though, I expect that Red Hat is struggling
itself.

Ian