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Open Source startups

Over the last few years, as part of developing StatusNet Inc., I've become really interested in startups that focus on Open Source. Although there's a lot of talk about Open Source businesses, and about startups, there's not a lot of discussion online or off about how to get an Open Source business started.

I'd like that to change. Partly because I want to share what (little) I know about Open Source startups that I've scraped together over the last few years. But also because I need to know for myself. I want to learn. And finally, because I think that commercial open source is an important part of the software landscape, and that commercial open source companies need to start somewhere.

I'll have some news coming soon on that front, but for now, a question: what are the cool Open Source startups you know of? Singly? Couchbase? 10gen? Eucalyptus? AppFog? I'm less interested in companies that "make a lot of contributions to Open Source", and more interested in ones where Open Source is a key part of their business strategy.

And don't forget the links!
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33 comments
 
+Orphée Lafond-Lummis sure. Good thinking out of the box, there. But, like I said, I'm mostly interested in companies where Open Source is a core part of the business strategy. Think JBoss, MySQL, Automattic and Red Hat.
 
You should talk to Matthew Allum about his experience with OpenedHand - founding to acquisition by Intel in 5 years.
 
The GNOME world also has/had Collabora, Openismus, CodeThink, Fluendo, Lanedo, Eazel, Ximian, Xamarin, Abisource, and Yorba. 
 
Varnish Software (I work there)
 
I would say Joomla! managed to build a nice business model.
 
Not sure if you have had any experience with Chandler "the note to self organizer". Could be a great open source project manager if someone rebooted the developement of it.
 
+Patrick Aljord I agree, Red Hat is wellllll past the "startup" phase, as are MySQL and JBoss. I think you could make an argument that Automattic has graduated from startup-hood, too. Anyways, I was more setting the parameters, so it was clear that I'm not talking about startups that use Open Source (= all of them) or startups that contribute to Open Source (some of them), but startups that are based on Open Source.
 
Loved your talk on the subject at Notman House BTW. In my case, I started a consulting business, ArcBees, following the success of an OSS project (http://gwtplatform.com) that I begun just for fun. I'm no longer on ArcBees board (I landed a job at Google, partly thanks to GWTP's success), but I know +Christian Goudreau is still very keen on seeing it succeed while keeping its OSS spirit alive. And consulting is only the first step. The goal is to make cool open source products and to find a way to live off of them. Anyway, all that to say that I believe ArcBees is a very good contender for cool Open Source startups you may not know of. http://arcbees.com
 
+Evan Prodromou Thanks - there are, as you have seen, many more - and it all depends on whether "I make my living doing consulting so that I can keep this open source project I work on alive" counts or not. And of course, not all Open Source start-ups end up successful - Eazel, Abisource and Open Media Now count as less successful ones. You could also add Flock, OpenMoko (project, not company) and OLPC to the "failed experiment" pile.
 
Magento, Open Source eCommerce (just got acquired by eBay, btw)
 
A few more came to mind: Pentaho, Talend, JasperSoft, BonitaSoft, Alfresco, Knowledge Tree, Day, Jahia, OpenBravo, FinnLabs are all in the enterprise software market.
 
+Dave Neary I kind of don't count "I'm getting by with consulting" as a "startup". In my mind, startups have products, and they intend to grow. They are starting something that will be bigger than it is now.
 
:) There's also WSO2, which pretty much puts a unified product & company behind all of Apache's popular projects.
 
Then you can probably drop Lanedo from my list. CodeThink and Openismus would be borderline. And Fluendo appears to have left behind "Open Source at the core of our business model" and have matured past start-up phase at this point.
 
I'm working on a Free/Open Source startup -- Least Authority Enterprises . We contribute all of our work (so far) to the Tahoe-LAFS project and we sell secure cloud storage service. I, too, am eager to learn about this topic, as I feel like a babe in the woods and need any glimmers of insight I can find.
 
Instructure? Probably others in the edu-tech space if I thought about it longer.

Least Authority Enterprises is a fantastic name, right up there with Control Yourself, Inc.
 
Congradulations. I think it will be a hit and the url is great.