Go to the networking and speaking events of any local startup community in America and you’ll quickly discover a dominant theme: investment. Read any startup news site and you’ll see the same hyper-focus on fundraising.
Websites like AngelList and CrunchBase are wholly dedicated to facilitating capital acquisition and documenting who’s succeeded at it. With so much of the conversation in these circles centered around how to attract early-stage investment through an image of extreme profitability, open source businesses easily fly below the radar. I’ve felt this tension firsthand. My company, PencilBlue, an open source content management system, was instantly dismissed by a well-known venture capitalist because, as he put it, “No website creation tool makes money unless it completely gets rid of the need for developers.” This is someone who made seed investments in multiple household-name tech startups, and he had no clue that more than 70% of all websites are created by developers and that the $21 billion web development industry is ruled by open source platforms.