3+3=6 : following a meme

Posted by javi vazquez on June 19, 2007

More than a week ago, a good friend of mine, Nacho, CEO at Warp, included my name in a meme started by Miko Puhakka.

I am supposed to continue the meme listing 3 success and failure factors of a free software business. After more than five years at Igalia, I probably have many more than three in each side, although most of them would be not specific of free software corporations, but just of young software companies…

Anyway, ignorance is bold. Here is my disordered 3+3=6 list:

  • Pick a small free software community.

Have I said small? Well, I should have said with few developers and many potential users (should I say customers?), which would be the perfect and impossible combination. You are supposed to be a young and small company, so you need to become big and important somehow. Size is always relative, and be the best is always easier among 3 than among 3 thousands.

  • Blog, blog, blog.

If they don’t see you, you are just not there. Being in a free software community is also talking about how you feel there. Do you know any hacker or know well person in free software blog without a blog? Maybe one or two? OK, they are important, but you aren’t, so talk in planets until you become so important you don’t need to do it any more.

  • Don’t start it yourself… unless you know very well what you are doing…

Create a free software project is not that easy. Unless you have some former experience or colleagues who have done it before, join to one existing free software community. Then participate, develop, keep developing, wait, wait a bit more, wait just one more minute… OK, now you are ready to start your own community.

  • People eventually need money.

Well, software engineers and/or hackers could be without having lunch many days in a row, we know it, but they eventually could become older, having a family that ask money to who knows for, so… Sooner or later you will need to make money. Don’t forget to think of a business model for your corporation. No, just thinking of it is not enough…

  • Coding is not the most important, but only just one side of the dice.

Coding your own free software project is easier that trying to make money from it. Coding is easier that blogging. Coding by yourself is also easier than easing others to understand how to join to your community. You like coding, it’s nice, but having a GPL well develop and designed free software project is not worthy at all if you don’t have also a community of users, customers and partners.

  • 3+3 are not always 6.

Yes, you could follow the advices of all the savvy people out there and fail miserably. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, 3+3 are not always 6. It’s not about maths, but about business. However, a good point in free software business is that it’s really starting, so your errors of today could be your best allies of tomorrow.


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