Subject: Re: Business Alliances
From: Rich Bodo <>
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 10:23:23 -0800 (PST)

> Much of my recent thinking about Free Software business is now
> written up at
> I'd like to know what you all think about this, please :-)

I think community relationships can help overcome many of the problems
you point out with competitive alliances.

I try to make friends with competitors, but with most of them, when
business comes up, I find myself saying, "Hey, man.  That's business.
Let's talk about this install I did the other day."  The competitors I
have alliances with are run by people I consider to be members of the
same software user/developer communities that I am a member of.

No one wants to be at odds with their community, whether or not they
compete.  And it's easy to develop trust with someone you already
know.  I don't think developer communities are any stronger than any
other community w.r.t. trust.  I could easily see a Jewish member of
my company feeling the need and opportunity to form an alliance with a
competitor that was also Jewish.

If the community motivation is strong, you will find a way you can
both work together, share, and stay friends.  If it just means you
keep communications open and keep looking for opportunities to make
money together, then that's the way it goes.  In some cases, people
will go out of their way to stay out of each others spaces and build
compelementary businesses.

Then there are alliances that are built to create a standard and/or
combat a common foe, such as United Linux. (I'll let that stand ;))

All in all, I found it a good start on a paper on business alliances
within various FOSS communities.  I think you would do well to ask a
more focused question at the outset, rather than try to
comprehensively answer how an organization can "derive benefit" from
supporting free software.


Rich Bodo | | 650-964-4678

> Greetings, Norbert.
> --
> Founder & Steering Committee member of
> Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
> Tel +41 1 972 20 59        Fax +41 1 972 20 69