Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Going for that billion dollar company

A few months back, when Zimbra was acquired, I wrote a post about the (in)famous quest for the billion dollar open source company.

I wrote:
My prediction is that prices will continue to go up, buyers will continue to buy and at the end of this madness, open source will simply be everywhere. But there won't be a billion dollars standalone open source company.
Looking at the last week or so, I guess I am getting this right ;-) MySQL bought for a 20x multiplier. Trolltech for a 60% premium on their stock price... Any more doubts on open source companies able to have an exit?? And what an exit...

If I go back to the time I switched our model to dual licensing, I remember it started meeting Marten in London and then reading an article about MySQL, Trolltech and Sleepycat. They are all gone. Sun, Nokia and Oracle. Not a bad list...

We have been trying to organize a hike for a few months among open source CEOs. It was supposed to be me, Marten (MySQL), Haavard (Trolltech) and Chris (db4o). Every week we are losing a CEO :-) Now we also are adding Mike (Sleepycat), to make sure CEOs are a minority...

What about that billion dollar company?

Well, there are not many options left. To get to that size, you need a category leader in a space, like MySQL (DB), JBoss (app servers) or Zimbra (email). Sugar leads in CRM, Alfresco leads in Document Management (going with Matt's marketing statements...), Funambol leads in mobile. I have a hard time seeing someone leading in ERP (Compiere and OpenBravo are fighting hard), Business Intelligence (lots of players there) or generic enterprise applications. A lot of the players are addressing a niche, and I do not believe that can lead to a billion dollar company. I probably left out someone potentially big, who I know very well and will send me an email complaining tomorrow :-) Sorry in advance, I did not mean it.

If I am right, there are so few companies that can make it... We need to do something... Although reality seems to indicate there won't be a pure open source billion dollar company, what's wrong with trying? I am going for it.

Funambol is going to be the first open source billion dollar company.

P.S. still, if you have a billion dollar check ready today, do not be shy and feel free to give me a call ;-