Investing in an open source company (IT mill)

I just made an investment into the Finnish open source company IT mill.

I was elected to be in the IT mill board to be able to efficiently help with the companies business and community strategies. I have also introduced IT mill to Ralf Wahlsten, who will act as an advisor for IT mill's board when needed. Ralf Wahlsten was also an investor in MySQL AB.

IT mill is a still quite small but it has many of the the characteristics of a company that is meant to succeed:
  • The company is profitable and has been so for a long time.
  • The company knows how to growing organically according to it's profit. (This is very important to know even if one later decides to grow exponentially with the help of investments)
  • The company It's has been growing rapidly the last few years (50 % growth per year for 3 years)
  • IT mills founder and CEO, Joonas Lehtinen, is burning with a passion for his company, his team and his product.
  • The staff seams to be really dedicated to their job and to their leaders (at least as far as I can tell from my visit to their head quarter and spending time with a lot of them in a hot Sauna with *some* vodka to get out the whole truth about the company dynamics)
  • Last, but not least, they have well working stable product, that is well received by their customers and that may well be a trend setter for how advanced web applications may be built in the future.
(MySQL old-timers may recognize that MySQL AB had many similar characteristics in the early year)

IT mill produces RIA (Rich Internet Applications) programming tools. This allows one to run applications trough the web browser that looks and feels like traditional desktop applications; In other words it allows for much better user experience than traditional web applications but still is as easy to deploy as web applications.

This is the second investment I have done in a Finnish company. My first investment was in Finsor earlier this year. Finsor is not an open source company but their product was so interesting that I couldn't ignore the opportunity I got to invest into it.

My rule for investment is that I want to provide 'smart money'. This means that I will only invest into a few companies where I believe that my technical expertise and/or my experience in building an open source/free software community provides a notable difference for the company.


Still going strong

Gnu is 25 years. How time flies...

I still remember my first contact with the free software people at the Stockholm-Helsinki cruise 1991 (where Minix was first released).

I was back then, of course, already an emacs and gcc user, but that trip was when I first felt an urge to release something as free software. (The concept 'open source' didn't exist back then). It did however take me until 1995 before David and I felt we had something that was good enough to be released.

We haven't yet achieved world domination in all categories, but we are definitely getting there; Some things take time, but we have time on our side.

As a way to celebrate, the actor and humorist Steven Fry has made a video entitled 'Happy Birtday to Gnu'. Please check it out!

Happy birthday to Gnu!