From where did you download your last open-source project? In nearly all cases, the answer is, "SourceForge.net." With more than 25 million visitors to SourceForge each month, it's not surprising. What is surprising is that SourceForge has never really done much to monetize its huge traffic and central role in the open-source ecosystem.
Until now. SourceForge just released its SourceForge Marketplace, and it promises to shake up the way open source is bought and sold.
The SourceForge Marketplace complements commercial and community efforts to directly monetize open-source projects. For example, Openbravo could sell its software/support subscriptions on the Marketplace, opening up a new channel. SourceForge will continue to be the center of the open-source download universe, but imagine if some percentage of those could be directly monetized on the SourceForge site. I think that's pretty compelling.
What interests me most, however, is what this means for all those projects that currently don't have easy ways to build a business around a budding project.
It's one thing for a venture-backed open-source start-up to develop new channels. It's quite another for a one- or two-person open-source project to do so. Suddenly, however, these small projects have an outlet to the market. A global market.
SourceForge doesn't actually take the money, but it makes it easy to contract with a vendor. On average it will take 10 percent of the transaction as a commission, which is not much different from what you'd expect to pay a systems integrator for reselling one's product.
I see this as a great complement to existing commercial open-source projects as an additional channel to market. It's also an exciting new path to market for open-source projects that would otherwise not have the option. And it's a great way for customers to get the open-source software that they want, along with the support and other commercial offerings they often need.