Will Success, or All That Money From Google, Spoil Firefox?

Link: Will Success, or All That Money From Google, Spoil Firefox?

"…the Mozilla Foundation has come to resemble an investor-backed Silicon Valley start-up more than a scrappy collaborative underdog. Siobhan O’Mahony, an assistant professor at the School of Management of the University of California, Davis, calls Mozilla ‘the first corporate open-source project.’

The foundation has used a for-profit subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, to collect tens of millions of dollars in royalties from search engine companies that want prominent placement on the browser. And by collecting that money as a war chest to compete against giants like Microsoft and Apple, the foundation has, at least temporarily, moved away from the typical activities of a nonprofit organization. ‘The Mozilla community has been a bit hybrid in terms of integrating public and private investment all along — its history is fairly unique in this respect,’ Professor O’Mahony said."

Unique maybe in the sense that it’s achieved so much success, but it’s nonsense that the notion of a public-private partnership to create open source products is "unique" or that Firefox was first. If the writer had gone further afield than UC Davis, that worldwide center of excellence in open source, he might have been able to get quotes to that effect. But I suspect what really happened here is that the reporter started with a thesis he invented while sitting with his feet up on a desk in the newsroom ("hey! Firefox makes money somehow!") and then sought out quotes trying to validate the overall amazingness of his thesis. This is a story that’s been around for years and the writer didn’t add much to it here.

For my money, MySQL AB is a much more interesting story of a for-profit company using open source, particularly since they’ve done such a terrific job disrupting the database market (and, unlike Mozilla, could go public soon). Alfresco is also particularly interesting in the sense that it’s comprised of a bunch of pioneers in the content management field who are using an open-source content management product to disrupt their former closed-source companies.