Subject: Re: FW: Why would I pay for Ximian software?
From: "Perry E. Metzger" <>
Date: 02 Jan 2002 22:38:27 -0500

Ian Lance Taylor <> writes:
> There is really nothing ``mysterious'' about this--it's only
> mysterious if you get your head so wrapped up in econ-101 that you
> forget to look at what is really happening.

Remember, I'm someone who enjoys hacking on software I give away, and
I do it regularly. I understand psychologically what's going on, but
that's different from understanding the entire phenomenon well enough
to try to keep a business sustained.

> There are relatively few people who measure their motivation in
> dollars; for most people, money is an enabler, not a goal.

True enough, but it is an important enabler.

> > All this is of very immediate interest to me. I've got a company that
> > I started with a bunch of engineers working for me doing NetBSD work
> > for a living, and we confront the issue of paying our salaries every
> > day of the week. Exactly what sort of models can work that don't
> > involve exclusion so that we can continue to make a living AND have
> > everyone reap the benefits of having the software be open is a very
> > important issue to us -- as I assume it is to many people here.
> I would guess that for a company like yours, the key is to find an
> area in which your expertise in NetBSD is worth much more to the
> customer than the time it takes you to solve the customer's problem.

And we believe we have such areas, but I must admit that the situation
is sometimes disheartening. One runs into customers who more or less
say "why should I pay you to fix a problem for me when if I wait long
enough you may fix it for someone else for free." Even in the case of
those who will pay, if our code was proprietary, some such people
would be willing to pay me far more for it than they will if they have
no restrictions on it at all. The irony of all of this is not lost on
me at all.

I'm not by any means saying I'm about to abandon our current business
model, but it is obvious that there are features of economic problem
here that are worth exploring in an economics sense.

> Perhaps they will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for something
> you can do in a couple of weeks but they can not do at all.

In some instances they will. The issue is deeper than that.

Perry E. Metzger
NetBSD Development, Support & CDs.