Single-Vendor Open Source Firms and Intellectual Property Strategies (Video)

In this video, I explain the single-vendor open source business model (also: multi-licensing, open core) and in particular its intellectual property strategies. This talk is partly a reaction to the recent licensing changes by commercial open source firms and the resulting confusion. An upcoming article will go into more detail next year.

Next to the Youtube embed, there is also an ad-free version courtesy of FAU, my main employer, as well as a simple download available. Fast forward to the slides as well.

Anecdotal Experience with Public Startup Funding in Germany

Sweble is a research project that I started in 2009 with the goal of helping Wikipedia. It is now a startup that is bringing GitHub-style collaboration to office documents. To that end, we acquired 720K Euro of seed funding from Germany’s EXIST Forschungstransfer (in German) startup fund. This is free money, as it is a gift and no equity is lost. However, with that, the trouble started.

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Enabling Open Innovation with Open Data using the JValue Open Data Service

Today I gave my JValue Open Data Service talk at USM (University of Sciences, Malaysia, at Penang). I am grateful for the opportunity and the recording.

Abstract: Open data has the potential to create significant practical value for its users through open innovation. Yet, to realize this value, we need an open ecosystem, next to open data, that allows app developers to create that value. In this talk I present my view of this open ecosystem of open data and how it should be structured. I then present the JValue Open Data Service (ODS), an open source software under development at my research group, that provides a key piece of this ecosystem. The goal of the JValue ODS project is to enable open innovation through app developers.

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The Perfect Professor for University Startups

A professor, so my belief, can play an important role in generating startups from University research. Most professors don’t, but some do, and I wanted to summarize my experiences as to what would be the perfect combination in one person.


There are three ingredients to get a university startup set-up and off the ground: (1) team, (2) idea, and (3) seed funding. Team, as anyone in startup-land knows, is by far the most important ingredient, as the others ultimately follow from it.

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Cargo Cult Startup Incubators

The continued creation of me-too startup incubators reminds me of the (South Seas’) cargo cult. Richard Feynman tells the story this way: The cargo cult people were natives of the South Seas who, during the world war, benefited from Western civilizations bringing cargo to their land. After the war ended, and the cargo stopped coming, the natives built wooden artifacts that looked like planes in an attempt to bring back the good old days of free supplies. Obviously, it didn’t work.

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The Challenge of Product Management in Commercial Open Source

Open source is a viable business strategy for software vendors to disrupt existing markets and conquer new ones. Just why is it easy in some markets and hard in others? I argue that you need to cut the product in such a way that there is a clear separation between what a never-paying community-user wants and what a commercial customer needs. In addition, you need to tie the commercial features closely to your company’s intellectual property and capabilities to keep competitors at bay. If you can do that, you are in the right place. If you can’t, you may want to get out of there.

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The Cardinal Sin of Commercial Open Source?

Redis is a popular open source database. Its proprietor, Redis Labs, recently announced that some add-on modules will not be open source any longer. The resulting outcry led to a defense and explanation of this decision that is telling. I have two comments and a lesson about product management of commercial open source.

The two comments are about messaging, both ways: What Redis Labs is telling the world and what the open source world is telling Redis Labs and the rest of the world.

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Professors and Startups

My primary goal in becoming a professor was to turn my (hoped-for excellent) research and teaching into startups. For that reason I created the Startupinformatik program and set-up my teaching to support it. Sadly, I’ve been noticing over the years that things don’t seem to get easier but harder. Specifically, “the system” (I’ll explain below) seems to view professors with mistrust rather than as the natural allies they should be when it comes to leading students to create a startup.

Let me illustrate this using two experiences:

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