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Could Open Source Fuel the Next Bubble

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Greg sent me this article at the New York Times,"Silicon Valley Start-Ups Awash in Dollars, Again" and Stacy says (via Matt ) Ballmer is hunting for Open Source Start-Ups.

"We will do some buying of companies that are built around open-source

products," Ballmer said during an onstage interview at the Web 2.0

Summit in San Francisco.

A refusal to consider acquisitions of open-source developers

"would take us out of the acquisition market quite dramatically,"

Ballmer said--a tacit acknowledgment of how thoroughly open-source

development has reshaped the software market.

This gets me to thinking...

With the Yahoo! acquistion of Zimbra for $350 million and the

Citrix acquisition of Xensource for $500 million is there an impending

feeding frenzy for open source companies? It wasn't that long ago that

Red Hat bought JBoss and Oracle acquired Sleepycat. Maybe these are just the beginnings of a bigger trend.

So back to the boys from Redmond, so who does Microsoft buy and why?

Well I would think you

need to discount the database market, they wouldn't want to compete

with MS SQL.They probably would stay away from CRM because of Microsoft Dynamics.

Perhaps they should buy a company for the technology and something

complimentary to their portfolio. Granted a company with a large

community might be nice but could be quickly alienated because of

anti-Microsoft sentiment that prevails in many open source communities.

What might be even better is an open source software company that they

can take from obscurity and fueled by the Microsoft channel and their

hordes of cash. These are the areas that come to mind.

  • Systems Management - They could grab a monitoring

    company since they don't really have a hetergeneous management

    solution. I won't even dive into this for reasons of my Zenoss connection. [Of course there's an idea. Wink]. They could go big and acquire publicly held SourceFire

    for their security offerings. With the recent addition of ClamAV to

    their portfolio maybe Microsoft could pre-install open source virus

    software on Windows servers. I bet Symantec and McAfee would love that.

  • Advertising and Web Marketing - Well they just gobbled up Atlas Solutions maybe they should look at buying someone in open source who's early stage and can run on Micrsoft serverr, Loopfuse (Marketing and Sales Automation) or web ad server maker OpenAds .

  • Other ideas--Here's some other creative ideas:
    • They could stick it to Google on the search front and acquire Appscio

      (formerly Avidence) for their video search technology unless they are

      shedding their open source ambitions with their old name.

    • Alfresco for document management makes sense, and it runs on Windows. I also doubt there is too much anti-windows sentiment in their user base.

    • Maybe take CleverSafe's p2p storage technology and incorporate their technology with Sharepoint somehow.

Maybe they should just create an open source incubator and start

funding open source start-ups centered around promising open source

projects. Maybe They could seed them in Microsoft's Codeplex and bring them them up under the rainbow colored Microsoft Windows umbrella.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

For more Mark Hinkle, visit his EncoreOpus blog.

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