Roberto Galoppini suggests that there may be a new way to get paid for the distribution of open-source software. Multi-level marketing. Have you heard of it?
Well, I have. I'm from Utah, after all, the MLM capital of the universe. I hate the very idea behind MLM, but I agree with Roberto that there's potentially something in this:
...[I]t is not uncommon to see users - read potential customers - spent a lot of time (therefore money) instead of buying commercial open source products and services. Someone, somewhere in the IT department, knows how much time spends to make things work.
These people can make the difference, they can really help to turn users into customers, from inside. They use open source software, they know what kind of support do they need, they are the best distribution channel than ever. They do know how to reach customers - rather they live by them - and how to offer your value proposition.
Step back from the MLM idea for a minute (and wash your hands :-). Think about the crux of Roberto's idea: Users promoting the software that they're already adopting, but getting paid something for it. Conflicts of interest? Probably. But beneficial conflicts of interest? Possibly.
I'm not advocating Roberto's idea, but I do think it's worth fleshing out further and exploring. Your thoughts? (Psstt. If you like it, I'll add you to my downstream. We'll get rich together! :-)