Nuremberg enjoyed its first snow of winter this evening, but across town at its gleaming CongressCenter, entrepreneurs celebrated a different triumph.
"Open source has crossed the chasm," proclaimed Alexander Bruhl, of VC firm Atlas Venture. Referring to the 1991 tech marketing book by Geoffrey A. Moore, Bruhl argued that Open Source is more a business model than an emerging market, and that it’s here to stay. Wikipedia defines Open Source as "practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s source materials," and the term is most often associated with software. Famous names include Linux, Apache and MySQL.
Open Source– or "OS"–software was created to establish low-cost alternative to proprietary technologies like behemoth Microsoft Windows. But now investors look at OS companies and see financial opportunity.
It was in recognition of this trend that Heise Events, an arm of the influential German tech publisher, organized "Open Source Meets Business," a four-day conference presenting Open Source start-ups and investors.
Richard Seibt, the former Chairman and CEO of SUSE Linux AG, is Chairman of the event, and welcomed a modest audience this morning. Talks by firms Index Ventures and TVM Capital Corporation followed, as well as presentations by start-ups like Struktur AG, Open bravo and The Oscar Project, which strives to build an Open Source car.
Attendance is expected to rise significantly tomorrow as over 60 presentations take place by companies like Sun Microsystems, Novell, Debian, Ubuntu, Open-Xchange and Redhat. Star power continues to rise throughout the week, ending with appearances by CEOs from MySQL and Jboss.
But there is also a place for the little guy. In the conference’s "Poster Session," 25 entrepreneurs are presenting the merits of their companies and competing for about $2600 USD in awards. Disclosure: your reporter is one of the hopeful.
Whatever the outcome of the conference, the consensus is that Open Source is here to stay. Some researchers project a $2.8 B market by 2009, and that’s only in IT. Add to that the trove of Web 2.0 companies built on top of OS software, and the number grows substantially.
Business model or market; philosophy or methodology–Open Source appears to have successfully traversed the void. Whether or not it will soar depends on the actions of both groups at the conference.