Newsflash: It’s tough to make money writing open source software

By Deane Barker on November 30, 2009

Open Source Proves Elusive as a Business Mode : An examination of why commercial companies gobble up open-source companies when it’s so hard to make money off open-source software.

“There’s only one company making real money out of open source, and that’s Red Hat,” said Simon Crosby, the chief technology officer at Citrix Systems, which acquired the open-source software maker XenSource for $500 million in 2007. “Everyone else is in trouble.”

[…] In some cases, dominant technology companies have used open-source projects as pawns. Google, for example, has needled Microsoft by providing financial support to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which oversees of the development of Firefox. I.B.M. has been a major backer of Linux, helping to raise it as a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows and other proprietary operating systems.

I Googled for a while but couldn’t find any resource that indicated whether or not MySQL AB is profitable.  I saw revenue figures of between $60 and $70 million (which means Sun bought at 14-16 times revenue), but no discussion of profit.  Does anyone know?

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