I am speaking at an interesting event in Italy today. We are talking about University and Entrepreneurship. Carlo De Benedetti, formerly CEO of Olivetti, is giving the keynote. We are discussing about education and how to apply what you learn, in order to create a great company.
Italy is a great country. Not just for art, food and fashion. We had and have great minds, but we are missing the attitude to use them to export our technology. Ferrari being an exception (that's actually the best example of great Italian fashion and fantastic technology combined). I started Funambol to create another exception, exporting Italian software to the world. Software is creativity. That's the best characteristic of Italians. The problem has always been how to distribute it worldwide. Open source is the answer. Open source destroys any barrier for distribution. It allows European software to show its competence in software, for the first time in history (SAP excluded).
Think about Open Source. Linus is Finnish. MySQL is Swedish. Marc Fleury (JBoss founder) is French. SUSE was German. Funambol started in Italy. The best open source stories are European. Then we all moved to the US to create commercial open source companies. But this is a different story. The technology started in Europe and open source allowed us to distribute it worldwide and make it known.
Open source also contributes to dispel myths and legends (a.k.a. common sense). I heard once a person say about his public company in the Valley: "we have an Italian CTO, it is like having a German chef" (two countries insulted in one sentence ;-) I better do not talk about German food, but the great thing about open source is that the code is out there. Everybody can see it. If it is good, people use it. If it sucks, nobody uses it. Funambol has been downloaded half a million times. It has to be good. Italians must be good at software and IT, after all.
My next t-shirt is going to have "Italians do IT better" on the front. If you work in IT and have an Italian ancestor, give me a buzz and I will send you one. Girls might look at you and think you are not just a geek :-)