You Can’t Make Money in Open Source…?

Short Form


Open source is an incredibly powerful engine for great software, but not so much for making money. Or so they say.


This talk will explore:

  • What (if anything) it means to be "open source” as a business — and what role it plays in marketing
  • The available data on companies that sell open source software
  • The approaches that companies have used to become profitable (or not) while staying true to open source principles
  • And the pros and cons of those approaches

I’ll also discuss some of the academic theory behind how businesses make money. In particular, I’ll discuss “value capture” vs. “value creation”, and sources of “sustainable competitive advantage”, which is a buzzphrase for “how companies are able to fend off competitors”. Proprietary information is a big source of competitive advantage, so the intersection with open source software creates some interesting problems when viewed in light of these theories.


economics, business, competition

Speaking experience

* Most recently, I spoke at the American Marketing Association about marketing software.
** Video Excerpt:
** Slides:
* I spoke at BarCamp Philadelphia a couple years ago on the topic of 3D printing as a representative of local hackerspace Hive76
* A few years ago, I gave a presentation at Makerbot in Broooklyn about open source business models.
** Slides:
* I had lots of public speaking experience as part of my graduate school experience and am generally quite comfortable with it.


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