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Oracle teams with Collab.Net to court programmers

The software giant partners with an open-source software start-up to create an online marketplace for software developers.

Oracle has partnered with an open-source software start-up to create an online marketplace for software developers.

The new online marketplace, part of Oracle's Web site for software programmers, will serve as a meeting area for developers and businesses with job openings and freelance work available.

Oracle developed the new feature with software start-up Collab.Net, and it includes job information from several employment Web sites, including Developers.net, Niku.com and WorkExchange. The new online marketplace also will allow developers to collaborate on projects by allowing them to share their software code online, giving other developers a chance to view and revise the software.

The new feature is Oracle's latest enhancement to its Oracle Technology Network site for software developers. By creating the online meeting place, the company hopes to help alleviate the shortage of developers the technology industry needs to write software, said Rene Bonvanie, Oracle's vice president of e-marketing.

Like rivals Microsoft, IBM and others, Oracle has been courting developers with a Web site aimed at giving them the resources and advice needed to build business software. IBM, for example, launched a site called DeveloperWorks last September that offers a mix of technology-industry news, downloadable programming tools and free tutorials.

Oracle's Web site now also offers two new features: the ability to buy software development books from ibooks.com and a new section where database administrators can learn about Oracle's technology.

As for the online marketplace, the Oracle deal is a boost to the revenue stream of Collab.Net, one of several companies trying to capitalize on the move to embrace open-source software, which is collaboratively developed by programmers who freely share the underlying instructions.

Collab.Net began as an idea from Hewlett-Packard and backed by O'Reilly & Associates called SourceXchange, at which open-source programmers can bid for work that companies need done. Collab.Net takes a percentage of the money that changes hands in these transactions.

Since then, it has expanded to include two other major components, founder and chief technology officer Brian Behlendorf said in an interview. First, the company charges a fee to host open-source programming efforts for companies such as Sun Microsystems, which released the source code for its StarOffice software suite last week.

Second, it offers consulting services to companies trying to figure out how to embrace the open-source philosophy--a hot business these days, given the popularity of open-source software such as Linux and Apache.

In June, Collab.Net attracted $35 million from Dell Computer, Oracle, TurboLinux, Novell, HP and others. In addition, Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and Benchmark Capital are investors.

Currently, the job-connection and site-hosting services each provide about a quarter of the company's revenue, Behlendorf said, while consulting provides the remaining half. Behlendorf expects hosting to increase to 50 percent of revenues, with consulting dropping to 30 percent and job connection to the remaining 20 percent.

The company has about 70 employees, Behlendorf said. One source familiar with the company said Collab.Net plans to change its name to simply Collabnet.