27 July 2010

If Oracle Bought Every Open Source Company...

Recently, there was an interesting rumour circulating that Oracle had a war chest of some $70 billion, and was going on an acquisition spree. Despite the huge figure, it had a certain plausibility, because Oracle is a highly successful company with deep pockets and an aggressive management. The rumour was soon denied, but it got me wondering: supposing Oracle decided to spend, if not $70 billion, say $10 billion in an efficient way: how might it do that? And it occurred to me that one rather dramatic use of that money would be to buy up the leading open source companies – all of them.

On Open Enterprise blog.


mac said...

Free software is a product, but it is also a culture. This is true in general terms (all free software) but also, specifically, for each product: each developers and users community has its own culture.

If SUN (or anybody else for that matters) will try to decouple the two, they will miserably fail, as they can buy a company and dispose of its assets, but they can't buy a culture, which will survive and give birth to new products.

Your thought experiment reminded me somehow of what happened for real when Miro tried to get control over Mambo, in 2005: all they managed to accomplish was to lose in block the team of core developer, get a terrible publicity for themselves, getting a lot of positive publicity for the FLOSS movement, totally destroy the brand their owned and jump-start a better product (Joomla).

Heading a FLOSS project has much more to do with fostering than with steering. The aggressiveness of Oracle management could be their own poison.

Glyn Moody said...

@mac: yes, absolutely. Thanks for mentioning Mambo, which was indeed an interesting test case in that respect.