Every day I come to work, I get excited about the possibilities of the power of participation: to solve complex problems, to share knowledge, to bring people together. Opensource.com has been a great vehicle for me to learn and participate in a dialog about the power of open source principles–-especially when applied beyond software.
I believe together we can solve many of the most complex problems our world faces. I also believe strongly that we, as a society, will never fully realize the full potential of the power of participation unless and until we find vehicles for individuals and institutions (both public and private) to directly profit from it.
So, while it might sound strange, I believe one of Red Hat’s most valuable contributions to the open source way is our profitability. We have clearly demonstrated that a company can be a good steward and catalyst in open source and be a profitable enterprise as well. I hope this serves as an example and inspiration to others to enter and participate in open source.
In order for the open source way to thrive, there must be ways for individuals and institutions to make a return on investments made in participation. For most, these returns are non-monetary or are derived from the later use of the end product of that participation--IBM’s and Intel’s participation in Linux are good examples of the latter. But there still needs to be catalysts in communities to start, foster, and grow collaboration. These business models are less common, but, I believe, vital to accelerating communities of participation.
Red Hat is an example: our mission is to be the catalyst in communities. Our community/enterprise model clearly works, but we need to find more business models to encourage others to play catalytic roles and foster their own communities of participation.
I’d like to start a conversation. Do you agree with this premise? Do you have examples of other business models that are working for catalysts? Do you have new ideas of what next-generation business models might be? Let me know.