Where Are All the Open Source Billionaires?

April 24th, 2007
Blogging News, LinkyLoo

Where Are All the Open Source Billionaires? The lack of open source software billionaires is by design. It’s part of the intent of open source software — to balance the scales by devaluing the obscene profit margins that exist in the commercial software business. . . . There are real millionaires– even billionaires– who built companies on open source software. Just ask Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Or the YouTube founders. The real money isn’t in the software. It’s in the service you build with that software.




  1. justfrank (1 comments.) says:

    I really agree. Great ideas bring big amounts of money, but how much, it does not depend by the choice of closing or not the source code.

  2. tim boucher (5 comments.) says:

    I’d really like to see this idea explored more in the open-source community: something about how more people make more money. Everyone benefits, everyone has enough. Abundance producing abundance and flowing outward through the tools and creative endeavors we all undertake together…

  3. ttancm (34 comments.) says:

    Is YouTube considered open source?

  4. Ken (1 comments.) says:

    Open source is great, but there’s a reason why commercial software often rules the day. Non techies who just want to get something done don’t have time to troll search engines and forums looking for fixes and tweaks.

    Many great open source applications have little to offer in the lines of support, which is understandable. The good people who volunteered their time and effort in creating them have to go out and earn a living.

    I agree that money can be made by giving something away and then servicing it, but I don’t know that it’s any more “real” than the money made by creating a killer app and selling it.

  5. Andy Coon (1 comments.) says:

    That is what I love about the net today, wordpress and firefox are my favorite open source products. Glad you brought this up. I’m trying to put together an open source documentary and need help in every stage. Footage, music, programmers, artists and everyone that wants to participate. It is focused on a tragic event, a young black male that was gunned down by a deputy. Difficult situation. I want peoples feedback, where to go next, who to interview, what to ask? Many more… The primary focus is about Police Brutality and I want people to upload videos to google or any video site so people can access the video and edit any footage together. Ideas are still open and this is fairly new. Please feel free to stop by and drop ideas.



  6. Shaun Anderson (1 comments.) says:

    Open source is amazing and true collaboration in the best sense of the word. We use open source software to deliver budget services for clients that without open source just could not be achieved.

  7. Mostly Technical (6 comments.) says:

    Looking at it another way, if your service is the software, you have to keep adding more and more to it so that people keep buying the same thing (plus a little bit more each time) over and over again. Eventually the software does everything possible, and you have to start bloating it with functions most people don’t use. Then maybe you get around to removing bugs and developing a stable version.

    In other words, to make billions, you need a strategy to make crappy software and then slowly make it less worse.

    But with services based on open software, the strategy should be to start with great services and keep giving people what they need. Which should be better for everyone. Let’s hope so anyhow.

    My strategy is to fail quickly and often, so I can learn and get good, and eventually offer people value. I can afford to do this with open source software.

  8. David Bradley (20 comments.) says:

    On a related theme, open access science is looking at a novel monetization strategy, see the latest on this at


  9. Lars says:

    Obscene Profits: Profits someone else is making that are more than your profits.

    But seriously, I sure am happy that people are willing to make great open source stuff like WordPress, even if they don’t make billions doing it!

  10. Ian Kree (1 comments.) says:

    “The real money isn’t in the software. It’s in the service you build with that software.” I totally agree with you. Good service is sometimes more important than good products.

  11. Hisami (1 comments.) says:

    Open source is very zen. Also, I think it is a bit like communism, not in the bad Stalinist Russia way, but in a way that it is everything for all people, there are no boundries, or limitations, or oppressive rules. By the people, for the people!

  12. Maxwell Scott-Slade (1 comments.) says:

    I think they mistook “open Source” for “free”. Free things are good too, but not when they’re hidden by nasty toolbars or adverts. Open source is too good to be true sometimes, it creates a great community in most respects and certainly builds in respect and forgiveness to software.

  13. Frederik Hertzum (1 comments.) says:

    Free software (libre not gratis, but gratis is also great) should really be inforced by law in all countries.
    It’s not that I mind people making money from software. I plan to do so very soon (as soon as I graduate — perhaps even before). The riscs of having shackled software are simply too big to allow.

  14. Carson Sasser (46 comments.) says:

    Let’s see now. If I want to start an automobile repair service it would probably become profitable a lot quicker if I could get a bunch of people to donate their time to help me put up the building and then other people to donate the tools that I need.

    I don’t have a problem with open-source software as long as it is produced by people exercising their free will. The idea that commercial software should be outlawed is moronic.

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