Over many years I have been fascinated by the commercial use of Open Source software.
I co-founded an Open Source startup in the late 90s, one of the first companies in Europe to commercialize Linux and Open Source Software. I was CEO from 1997 to 2001. The company grew from 2 people to over a 100 with $15m in venture capital funding. The details of the story are here. I was able to sell parts of my shares and the company was later on acquired.
After I left the company I was curious to research the field more and wrote a thesis about Open Source business models. Essentially my thesis was that the value creation of Open Source Software is huge but the value capture opportunities for companies are limited. Looking back this is absolutely confirmed by the success of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon vs. the limited number of public Open Source companies (Red Hat, Hortonworks, Cloudera).
Open Source as business foundation
For over 3 years I was head of innovation and business development for Utimaco, back then one of the leading encryption companies. We were using Open Source technologies to build secure disk and email encryption systems as well as key management for enterprises. The company was later sold to Sophos for over EUR 200m in a “take private” off the German stock exchange.
The story continues with my excitement about Bitcoin, Ethereum and Blockchain technologies in general and my investments in Protocol Labs to pioneer a decentralized internet, and Blockstream (Bitcoin core contributors) to scale trust on the web.