Open source has seen a flurry of executive appointments in the past few weeks, but no open-source company can top GroundWork for the level of CEO turnover in the past two years. In 2007, Ranga Rangachari helmed GroundWork. By 2008, company co-founder Dave Lilly had replaced Rangachari.
In early 2009, GroundWork slotted Lilly into the COO role, replacing him as CEO with Peter Jackson. Jackson was recently CEO of Intraware, a company he grew to $100 million in sales and eventually sold in January 2009, and seems a competent chief to lead the company.
Even so...three years, three CEOs. Worried a bit by all this change, I reached out to Jackson to get his perspective on GroundWork's business and its open-source opportunity.
You come from a Web 2.0 background. What brought you to GroundWork?
What's nice about Web 2.0 technologies is that they're really focused on creating controlled communities. The original Web development efforts didn't do a good job regulating users on what they can and can't do. Applying that thinking to open source allows producers and users to share in safe and open areas. This includes blogs, entitlement-based distribution, shared testing and QA, questions to groups, uploading training videos, etc.
In GroundWork's case, we need to appeal to both the open-source community and to IT-reliant enterprises. This combination of Web 2.0 community building, while understanding and meeting the demands of enterprise customers, is a great chance for me to bring my experience in both areas to the company.
You took Intraware public. Do you think GroundWork and other open-source companies will have the same opportunity?
I see open source radically changing the software market in the next 24 months. Customers of traditional enterprise products and services have way overpaid for years. As companies analyze their capital expenditures more deeply, they suddenly find huge value gaps between their historical IT management purchases and open-source alternatives.
With this in mind, if the stock market recovers in a couple of years, there should be many IPOs in this sector.… Read more