Thu, Sep 4, 2014
tldr: Use equity warrants for open source trademark licenses.
Apache Software License v2.0 allows the free and unrestricted use, modification,
and what-have-you of the source code. However, it protects the use of the name
and brand of an open source project.
In the OpenStack world, we license this brand to vendors who agree to follow a
trademark license agreement that includes, among other things:
- Paying to be a corporate sponsor or member of the OpenStack Foundation.
- Using certain, unmodified sections of the open source code.
- Passing a compatibility test suite for functionality of all public APIs.
But we could have gone one step better.
Imagine a trademark license where, along with cash and compatibility, the open
source entity also received a small amount of equity in the licensing firm.
This would make the owner of the trademark, rather than being a non-profit
foundation, a Public Benefit Corporation.
The stated public benefit purpose could guarantee that the source code license
and trademark policy would not be changed.
And the equity stake would guarantee that this company would have the motivation
to improve and enhance the open source code to meet the needs of all the
Keeping the core development teams “in-house”, so to speak.
While also being able to motivate these “best-and-brightest” through stock-options, and a potentially lucrative future.
- Does this make the B-corp a “hedge fund” or some other entity?
- Would the trademark license need to be baked into the bylaws of the b-corp for reasonable protection?
- Could standard ISA stock options work for this?
- Yes, this means I’m not a fan of the “everyone-contributes-and-scratches-their-own-itch” model of open source development. While I think that’s helpful for modules, plugins, and niche features, I think open source projects are best served by dedicated, core development teams. See Mozilla, Wordpress, Android, and Drupal for examples of this.
- Yes, this means that there can be a large community of “vendors” that are attacking the many go-to-market models which might logically exist for a single open source project. It’s like genetic algorithms - but for business. And the core open source organization benefits, regardless of which ones are successful.
Wed, Aug 6, 2014
I love PaaS. Recently I’ve gone to great lengths to figure out a way to build
applications using ONLY SaaS and PaaS platforms. I managed this with a mix of
wercker, github, orchestrate.io and pivotal web services.
But with the commitment to any third-party platform, comes a certain kind of fear.
I’m a believer in open source. And I’m ALSO a believer in commercial software.
As much as I believe in the rights and freedoms of the user, I also value the
rights and freedoms of the developer - to license his or her work in the way that
they see fit.
So here’s what I’m suggesting: a “Dead Pool Pledge”.
Add this github account to your private repositories
as a collaborator. You can keep those accounts private, and your source code licensed under whatever terms
you feel is appropriate, as long as your business/project/coop is a going concern.
But the day that your company ends up in the Crunchbase deadpool, my bot will
republish your source code under ASLv2. Seem fair?
I know that if Wercker, Orchestrate.io and others adopted this, I would sleep a
little better at night.
Okay, maybe we should try and contact you first - to find out if you’re attempting
to sell off those assets to a company who has a legitimate intent to continue
And yes, this whole thing probably ought to have some sort of contract in place -
maybe something that the SFLC or the EFF could draft up.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014
Most of my projects fall within a few main themes:
- Build packs for Cloud Foundry and steps for Wercker.
- AfterStack.com : Haven’t decided what this is yet ;)
- BountyUp.com : Like Kickstarter, but 5 years too early. Frozen by the SEC.
- BuyLatr.com : Browser plugin for price change notifications. Sold it.
- PatchMe.in : Never miss a conference call or dial a stupid conf ID again.
Mon, Aug 4, 2014
I’m an early fan of the Baked, Not Fried
concept behind static web generators. But somehow, getting all the tools in place
to run one myself seemed onerous. A simple
apt-get install mysql was always
easier than the vaguely-mystical incantations required to get jekyll up and running.
Then again, there was my deep-seated prejudice against Ruby. (See my previous
trolling of the ruby community when I accused them of being singlehandedly
responsible for Global Warming.)
But with the emergence of Hugo, an elegant static site
generator written in #Golang, I’ve been able to get over the line. Or maybe it
was simply time that I had a blog again.
Sun, Aug 3, 2014
I work on both open source and commercial software. I can probably attribute
this socialist/capitalist mix to my dual American/Canadian citizenship,
but I’m not that fond of introspection.
I am a cofounder of OpenStack.
The longer stories have been told repeatedly, but suffice it to say that some mix
of Jesse Andrews, Chris C. Kemp, Devin Carlen, Vishvananda Ishaya, Soo Choi,
Andy Smith, Manesh Singh and myself ought to be held responsible for the release of
“nova”, while we were all affiliated with the NASA Ames Research Center.
I am the cofounder of Piston Cloud Computing, Inc.,
the first commercial provider of a supported OpenStack software product.
In prior lives, I worked on the Netscape Browser,
and the Flock Browser.
I had a brief stint at Tapulous,
right around the time of the Apple iPhone App Store launch.
I also founded BountyUp, Natel Canada and BuyLatr, none of which had terribly notable exits.
Most of my open source work is available online on github.
I currently sit as an elected Gold Member director on the OpenStack Foundation
Board of Directors. In that capacity, I am the co-chair of the
(along with Rob Hirschfeld). I was also the founding chair of the (now-defunct)
Transparency Working Group.
I am an appointed member of the
Cloud Foundry Advisory Board.
I am also an appointed member of the
Open Contrail Advisory Board.
I don’t blog all that often.