Different open-source strokes for different folks

Open-source models differ from company to company, and it may have a lot to do with corporate personalities.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I can sound like johnny-one-note when it comes to open-source licensing strategies. (Gasp! You, Matt?? No!) This morning, however, I talked with a range of friends from JBoss/Red Hat, SugarCRM, JasperSoft, and MuleSource, and it became clear to me that while these companies are very successful, they're successful on their own terms. I couldn't easily adapt to their models, nor could they adapt to mine.

I like Alfresco's model. It fits my personality and that of the company. We are building an employee base around the philosophy and business value of the model.

But SugarCRM is doing the same thing with its model, and very successfully. Same with the others. JBoss was always much more in-you-face than Alfresco could ever hope to be (John Powell channel Marc Fleury...? Not likely). SugarCRM operates much like a group of successful salespeople, which is a perfect fit for the product it's selling. MuleSource is more free-wheeling. Etc. David Skok at OSBC argued that every open-source company needs a charismatic leader, but I see many that break this model. Different personalities, different licensing models. Different successes.

Listening to the companies today, in some ways I'm envious of their various successes. But I couldn't be successful in the same way. Not because the way they go about it is wrong, but because they don't fit my personality.

I doubt anyone can demand a deal in the way Lars at SugarCRM can. I am seriously in awe of the guy. I could never do that. It's just not me. I wish I were more like that but to cover that deficiency in me I hired Martin Musierowicz from JBoss, who is more like Lars.

Anyway, it was great to hear how well companies are doing, and with their particular corporate personalities, with licensing models that follow their personalities. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that open-source models morph to fit the company that creates them, but it was a revelation to me this morning.

In short, I'm happy for how Alfresco has chosen to do business. But I'm equally happy that others have adopted their own paths.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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