Trip Report: TSSJS Vegas

24 March 2007

business community events jboss opensource traveling

tssjs_bob.jpg Just got back from Vegas, where I participated on a panel about opensource and business at TheServerSide Java Symposium. It involved five of us from businesses that were related to opensource in some form. It did not include Geir Magnusson, who apparently had better things to do.

Questions that Joe Ottinger and the audience threw at us ran the gamut from business strategy to licensing minutia. On the topic of how each contributes back to the community, JBoss, Interface21, and Liferay obviously employ developers, while SpikeSource primarily upstreams improvements, since they are basically just expert community members.

tssjs_dan.jpg I think an audience member brought up the idea of the company "holding documentation hostage" for paying customers. Most everyone agreed that ultimately it depends on what you view your business as. If a company holds its docs hostage, someone else will ultimately create some competing docs. It might be the community. It could be a book publisher, who is an expert in creating fantastic docs and holding them hostage until you pay the cover price. That's how O'Reilly, APress, Manning and other companies participate in opensource.

One audience question involved how to define success in an opensource company. Once again, we all seemed to violently agree that success is defined just as for any other company. Profit! It's a dirty but true secret. Companies try to make profits. Opensource is just a method of software development, not a complete business model.

tssjs_dion.jpg The issue of trademarks did arise. I'm not going to poke the bear here, but company counsel has replied on some of the other blogs out there.

On a different note, I finally got to meet Hani Suleiman, Ross Mason and Mike Cannon-Brookes in person. I ran into Dan Diephouse, Dion Almaer, Jonas Bon and Geert Bevin again.

Only lost $90 on the slots between me and my wife.