Hacking business model

Now at LinuxFest NW listening to John Locke's talk about the Hacking business model

John Locke is owner of Freelock Computing, a small business in Seattle who is concentrating his business around Drupal. (Drupal is a tool that allows you to quickly develop web sites). John is following many of the same principles that are described in the Hacking business model that Zak Greant and I created based on our experience with the early days of MySQL Ab. Back then we followed many of the principles, including shared copyright, but the principles were never clearly written down and was over time abolished/ignored by managers who didn't understand them.

John did actually get so inspired by our document that he came and visited me in Finland in March and spent several days discussing business models, open source, and how to keep ones employees happy. We also enjoyed some good food, "some" black vodka, sauna and rolling around in the snow naked.

Ralf Wahlsten and I also spent some time going through John's business and helped him focus on the right things to go forward. He now seems to be on track and if you are in the Seattle area and need some good people to develop or help develop your web infrastructure I recommend you to contact his company.

Monty Program Ab is following the Hacking business model to the letter and it will be interesting to see how things will work out. I will keep posting about this to let you know what works and what doesn't work and the challenges we face as we grow.

An interesting thing is that we get many(!) work applications based on the Hacking business model alone! People mail us and say that Monty Program Ab is the type of company they always dreamt on working for. If you are about to start a company based on open source ideals, I recommend you subscribed to our model; It seams to be a sure way to attract good talent!

If you already have a company that has a similar model, or are already following the hacking business model, let us know about it and comment about your experiences!

I will update the the Hacking business model with links to companies who are following our principles!


To be (free) or not to be (free)

Tonight at 4:30 AM, USA Pacific time, my phone started to ring; it was a call from a Sun employee saying that Oracle has bought Sun and he wanted to join Monty Program Ab.

Shortly after that I got a call from a Swedish newspaper, Computer Sweden, who asked me about my opinion about why Oracle would buy Sun.

The reasons I see why Oracle is buying Sun are:
  • Sun is making big hardware, that is easy to bundle with very big Oracle installations.
  • Sun is making very good, reliable Intel boxes that work well for database usage.
  • Sun's virtualization product, VirtualBox
  • Sun tape Storage, very well suited for efficiency database backups etc.
  • Sun has done a lot of advanced work in cloud computing (even if Sun has not yet been able to monetize it)
  • OpenSolaris, that would be a much better offer to Oracle's customers than their Oracle Linux platform, which doesn't provide any notable value over RedHat.
  • Java
  • And, of course, MySQL

What could be Oracle's plan with MySQL? Three different plans come to mind:
  • They are going to kill MySQL (either directly or by not developing/supporting it fully)
  • MySQL will get sold of to another entity, either because Oracle doesn't want it or becasue of anti-trust laws.
  • They will embrace MySQL and Open Source and put their technical expertise on it to ensure that MySQL continues to be the most popular advanced Open Source database.

I am putting my hopes to the third option, but for succeeding in that Oracle has to also learn a lot about open source development and working with the community.

This brings up the question, once again, how can one own an Open Source Project. Patrick Galbraith, summed up his feelings in a recent blog post, , that the "ownership" of Free and open source projects has more to do with who provides the best stewardship of the code, rather than who owns a trademark.

I don't think that anyone can own an open source project; the projects are defined by the de-facto project leaders and the developers that are working on the project. If the company loses the trust of these people, they can go away and fork the project and turn it the way they want to.

Sun's acquisition of MySQL did not go smoothly; most of the MySQL leaders (both commercial and project) have left Sun and the people who are left are sitting with their CV and ready to press send.

Oracle, not having the best possible reputation in the Open Source space, will have a hard time keeping the remaining MySQL people in the company or even working on the MySQL project. Oracle will also have a hard time to ensure to the MySQL customers, community and users that it will keep MySQL "free and available for all".

Here I see where Monty Program Ab, can play a significant role. Since I left Sun, I have been working on making it to be for Sun what Fedora is for RedHat. With Oracle now owning MySQL, I think that the need for an independent true Open Source entity for MySQL is even bigger than ever before.

The biggest threat to MySQL future is not Oracle per se, but that the MySQL talent at Sun will spread like the wind and go to a lot of different companies which will set the MySQL development and support back years.

I would not like to see this happen and I am doing everything I can do to keep this talent pool together (after all, most of them are long time personal friends of mine). I am prepared to hire or find a good home (either at Monty Program Ab or close to it) for all core MySQL personnel.

I am looking forward to working closely with Oracle (or whoever in the end gets to own MySQL) to ensure that there always exists a free branch of MYSQL that is actively develop in an open manner and has that trust and support of the MySQL customers, developers and users.

Mr. Ellison, you are undoubtably a master tactician. However, thinking two moves ahead in the open source world is not good enough. You need strategy. Long term, meaningful, viable strategy. You need to think years ahead, not just to the next fiscal quarter.

I'd love to speak with you about it.