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LinuxWorld.com: Firewall startup bets on open source

Dec 13, 2001, 00:32 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Barr)
"In the limestone hills surrounding Lake Travis just outside of Austin, yet another small startup is struggling to catch on and make it big. Rocksteady consists of CEO Kelly Loony, Mark Gaither, VP Web Technology, CTO Dr. Peter Mullarkey, and Richard MacKinnon, VP of marketing. Two things sparked my interest in Rocksteady: its business model and a simple twist of fate. The model is the same one adopted earlier this year by VA, and more recently by Ximian, Inc. It is the hybrid model: a mix of open source and proprietary software. Is it the path to financial stability sought by entrepreneurs in the open source/free software communities? Time will tell, but based on recent history, they won't do any worse than the pure open source plays that came -- and went -- before them.

Allow me a moment to explain the twist of fate. In the late 1980's, I was part of a migrant digital tribe whose online home was a small, West Coast site called Portal. Portal was a poor stepsister to the much-ballyhooed site called The Well. By taking advantage of PC Pursuit's deal that allowed unlimited non-prime connect time and Portal's low monthly fee, we could feed our online addiction at a bargain basement price. But all too soon Sprint bought PC Pursuit and that was the end of the unlimited connect time plan. The tribe split up, but many of us migrated to Bix after Bix made us a similar offer. One of the people who worked at Portal in those days was Richard MacKinnon. That's right, the same one who is now VP of marketing at Rocksteady. When he contacted me last month, asking if I were the same Joe Barr who used to be on Portal, I knew there was going to be a story somewhere. Here it is.

My initial visit to Rocksteady occurred several weeks ago. I met with Loony, MacKinnon, and Dr. Mullarkey. They briefed me on the history of Rocksteady and what they hope will become its premier offering. Unlike many other struggling startups in search of angels, Rocksteady already has customers. Big name customers, at that. Schlumberger, the oil services giant, and Vignette, the Web publishing people. Vignette has Rocksteady products in production environments today. Schlumberger is evaluating a custom network security product."

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