Subject: Re: ok, FSBs created schwag; now bet the farm on something better
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <shap@eros-os.org>
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 10:02:45 -0400

I basically agree with Ian's comments, with one minor quibble:

> > Bet the farm on an effort to create new Free Software technology.
> > Enlightened customers will like you better for it.
>
> But it won't bring in enough revenue to support itself.

This isn't historically true. Historically, all of the major research labs
have amply paid for themselves (and yielded high returns, even). The problem
is that you have to be able to amortize the investment over 25 years or so
before you see payoff.

So the issue is not whether the activity will pay for itself. The issues
are:

1. Will the companies involved last long enough to see the benefit?
2. Given the immediate capital allocation priorities of the companies
involved, is this the best allocation of funds at this time. Today, I'm not
sure it is.

However, a research consortium might make sense for two purposes: (a)
assembling critical programming talent as a resource pool, and (b)
assembling a patent portfolio that the participants can leverage.

I'm dubious that the economics will prove out, but it seems to me worth
discussing what the value of such a consortium might be.


Jonathan