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   How about changing the rules?

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  • From: "Didier PH Martin" <martind@netfolder.com>
  • To: "'XML Dev'" <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 10:57:37 -0500


Yesterday night I talked to good friends that work at Netscape (but not for
long now) and I can tell you that this was not about celebrating. We came to
discuss about the free software movement on so on, then came an idea...

<Actual saturation>
Several people worked hard in the Linux project, then came Red Hat, big
investments, and now red hat is doing what all the other guys are doing
(that's business no?) protecting their turf and doing money (they are even
more luky than SUN or Microsoft, they are cheap labor to develop their
software - just think about it. We all know that Microsoft has probably the
lowest developement cost in the industry. They let the stock market pay
their exployees :-) but now think about a company having 0$ developement
costs Wow, thats VC dream! Follow developers, is it how you pay your bills?
Sun still own the Java JDK but at least played fair because the code is
developed with their own money.
Microsoft, played hard with all ISVs with their huge appetite for growth but
at least, like sun paid their code production.
Mozilla, again, people working for free and AOL and its stock holders
harvest the results. Just imagine that Sun and adobe put 60 000$ to have a
better XML support for Mozilla. But in the end who will get the millions
rewards. And how much is 60 000$ compared to millions, just a sustenance
given to developers like lord would do in the middle ages with their serf.
Just think about it. I am not saying that Sun or Adobe are doing something
wrong but that the rules of the games or the odds are for the bank, not for
the developers :-) (if you allow my casino analogy).
Basically the actual free software movement seems to follow this pattern:
developers work for free (cheap labor), when testing and proof of concept is
done, someone comes into and reap the rewards and the money. Result,
developers got fun but a modern version of a lord reap the financial
rewards. Do we really want to replicate middle ages patterns? Next year will
be the next millenium, do you really want that kind of order in the future?
What about a world where people could get a just reward for their efforts.
All the efforts we are doing with XML may end up the same way. I do not
speak here for people already paid by W3C or big corpora but about
individual doing all the efforts with their own time, and therefore their
own money.
</Actual situation>

Here's the solution that friends and me came about.
Create a company where all participating developers would have stocks. Will
work like open software group but each participant would have ownership.
Customers would get a share too. In this case, we do like Red hat is doing,
packaging the code make it easy to install, document it and _sell_ it. Each
customer would have a stock too. So, when they buy the software, they also
have ownership.

So, the idea is: create a company where all participating developers would
have stocks and therefore ownership. Customers would also have stocks and
ownership but would have to buy the software to get ownership. A free
version could be downloaded for free trial. But people using the free trial
version would not have stocks.

Results: This time, developers could get a chance to get a return on their
efforts. Just imagine the power of a company having 20 000 owners. As big as

Couple years ago, a group of artist came tired of seeing someone else get
all the rewards of their work and then founded United Artist. Then now,
today, what about a new company called "United Developers".

If the idea seems interesting to you, we can start a list server to discuss
about it and create a new kind of company. Again imagine what 20 000 ,50 000
or even millions of owners can do. Just stop for a moment and think about

If you don't want to pollute this list with comments about this, just email
me and we'll start a list just for this. I hope, we could lay grounds for
the next century with a new kind of business created from the new economy
fuel, not capital but knowledge and the capacity to produce something with
it. A company having owners located in all parts of the world. Just think
about it, we may have the power to build a better future and maybe a model
for the next knowledge worker generation.

Didier PH Martin

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