What are the unique challenges and opportunities for businesses which sell Free Software as a service? This was the question that I tackled in a presentation at the Chaos Computer Club Congress this month. Following a period of reflection on the economics of different Open Source business models, and which requires the lowest risk with the highest chance of success, I wrote this talk and spoke in Hamburg on December 28th.
The audience was brilliant: the half hour Q&A which followed was wide ranging with 6 participants identifying themselves as Open Source business owners themselves. One comment which I’ve dwelt on since was “what’s the best way for the Open Source community and your community of customers to interact?”. Getting the answer to this right is both hard and important — it’s easy to keep these two groups of key stakeholders separately siloed, and lose the great synergy they could create. What could be the benefits of these two groups, both experts on your product, meeting and sharing knowledge and ideas?
33C3 was my first Congress and won’t be my last. After eight years of speaking at technology conferences it’s rare to have an entirely new experience, but Hamburg was that. Congress provides a sort of global leadership for the hacker scene; it both reflects and sets the focus of a wide range of technology communities, and is of unique benefit to Germany as a beacon of IT innovation and expertise.