Although I’ve read many articles about open source licensing, I’m continually surprised by the amount of confusion and disinformation I find related to the GNU General Public License (GPL). This post is written by a lay person for other lay persons. I’m not a lawyer, but I do a fair amount of IP strategy consulting with open source companies and have had the benefit of working with some of the best open source attorneys in the world. So I know enough to be dangerous and have an (more or less) informed point of view. Read the rest of this post with the understanding that I am offering my own views of the GPL, not legal advice. Read the rest of this entry »
Software downloads are a key metric for all open source vendors, as well as for proprietary vendors who offer freemium versions of their products. Tracking the volume of software downloads provides management with a good benchmark of anonymous community interest and momentum. Although I’d argue that it’s critical to track all downloadable assets (including white papers, webcast archives, various marketing collaterals, etc.), product downloads are an important community signaling device – they indicate an intention on the part of the downloader to commit time to explore, test and use your product. Read the rest of this entry »
A while back I was doing some research for a client and came across an apparent GPL slight of hand engineered by Sun and IBM. Time constraints and competing priorities kept me from writing about this until now, and Oracle’s acquisition of Sun has taken Sun off of the hot seat (see in particular paragraph 2, Non Assertion), but it’s still a pretty juicy story. What’s more, I think it’s healthy to expose vendor behaviors that cut against the spirit of open source, creating unfair advantages for a privileged few at the expense of everyone else. Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone understands the concepts of a market funnel – leads are loaded into the top from various sources; they go through some level of qualification and scoring before being passed to sales; and the sales team then develops them further into pipeline opportunities and deals. In traditional enterprise markets, demand creation and low-touch selling are subordinate to the rolodex-driven, four-legged sales process. In volume markets, frictionless marketing and sales are the process. Where enterprise sales is an artful pursuit, volume marketing and selling is all about math. Read the rest of this entry »
Leads come from many different sources – inbound marketing, community cross-over, raw website registrations, integrated media programs, email campaigns and other promotional activities. While it’s important to track and measure leads from each source, it’s also vital to understand lead momentum – the velocity at which leads progress through marketing and sales. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been doing research on open source licensing strategies and community interactions for an upcoming report. My research brought me to the Ingres Community Forum, where I hoped to gain some insight about Ingres’ traction as an open source player. Ingres uses a dual-license model (GPL v2 with FLOSS exception) and runs a vendor-managed community.
Stimulated in part by a controversial Eric Raymond blog post, open source thought leaders like Matt Asay are publicly questioning the contemporary merits of the GNU General Public License (GPL). In fairness, Matt has long been a GPL advocate. And it’s never bad to question whether past practices make sense going forward. All that said, the notion that open source vendors should simply abandon the GPL in favor of liberal licenses like BSD/Apache is myopic and wrong-headed, in my opinion.
Read the rest of this entry »
Some open source vendors are preoccupied with counting community downloads. Why? They believe that downloads are a leading indicator of commercial sales pipeline. The theory is that a meaningful percentage of community relationships will develop into commercial relationships, and sooner rather than later. While it’s certainly true that some community relationships will cross over, the percentages are small, the durations are tortuously long, and the consistency (i.e., repeatability) of that cross-over motion is low. Thus, revenue models based on the premise of community monetization are, with few exceptions, doomed from the get-go. Read the rest of this entry »
Whether you are using a pure open source strategy or a hybrid approach such as “open core” (open source foundation with high-value closed source add-ons), a significant component of your bookings is tied to support subscriptions. Too often, early stage open source companies put a significant amount of thought into attracting community downloads and not enough thought into what they should be doing between the download event and the production deployment of applications based on their solutions. Impending deployment, of course, signals to an open source sales rep that his chances of selling a support subscription are pretty good. Read the rest of this entry »
Many software companies are operating in the dark ages of marketing. Their notions of demand generation are to drop hundreds of thousands of emails on cold, externally-sourced contact lists, watch for activity on their landing pages, and shoot at whatever moves. Read the rest of this entry »
You’ve been there; so have I. Slaved into the night to write that killer white paper, staged the archive of an informative webcast, or made a very cool gizmo available for download from the website. And all we asked for in return was a registration. To quote a Chinese curse, “May your wishes come true”. Read the rest of this entry »
Leads are the lifeblood of any sales organization. In volume markets, website registrations are a vital source of leads. By offering visitors compelling value exchanges, vendors motivate those visitors to take an important step along the progressive engagement journey – moving their relationships from anonymous to trusted. “Offer me something of value and I will tell you who I am” is the essence of the transaction. Read the rest of this entry »
Open Source Advisory is a volume market strategy firm. We help talented entrepreneurs bring their software solutions to market by leveraging innovative volume distribution strategies. As our name implies, we do a significant amount of work with open source vendors. However, our expertise is appropriate for any technology company that needs to accelerate the distribution of its products and services.
We are not a traditional consulting firm; we are a highly-focused boutique providing expertise in areas that are crucial to bookings repetition and scale: high-bandwidth demand generation, free-to-fee solutions strategies, volume distribution, progressive engagement, marketing and sales automation.
We seek to work with:
- Leadership teams that cultivate long-term professional partnerships
- Innovative companies at key stages of development and growth
- Executives and investors with a strong sense of urgency, and the maturity to leverage our unique insights and expertise
We are entrepreneurs and mentors as well as consultants. We have built successful software companies, and we bring a deep entrepreneurial perspective to our work. We will respectfully tell you what you need to know, not necessarily what you want to hear. We measure success by numerical results and by our ability to efficiently transfer knowledge to the teams we serve. It’s really that simple.