Study: foundation-managed open source projects do better than corporate managed ones

From these results it follows as an obvious recommendation that vendors participating in open source development and business, should look into participating in collaborative community developed projects – where the standard and familiar governance form is a non-profit foundation. If a vendor is currently in control of an open source project, it should explore the option of transferring the project to an existing foundation, or alternatively creating its own foundation for it. Since the original vendor is always the strongest candidate to become the leading vendor also in a collaboratively developed project, the vendor could, as a rule of thumb, expect this strategy – if properly executed – to result in a 10x growth in the project and product, but also 10x larger addressable market, of which the vendor can expect to capture 50% or more as its own market share.

Here are the conclusions from an important study undertaken by Henrik Ingo:

“By studying a selection – believed to be more or less complete – of the most popular open source projects and correlating their size with governance model, we have revealed a strong, and to some possibly surprising result:

* There are 9 projects (Linux, KDE, Apache, Eclipse, Perl+CPAN, Mozilla+Addons, Gnome, Drupal and GNU) that stand out as significantly larger – roughly 10 times – than any others.

* All of these projects, categorized as “XtraLarge”, are developed as collaborative community projects governed by non-profit foundations. No single vendor project has so far been even close to reaching their magnitude.

* There appears to be a glass ceiling limiting the growth of the Large single-vendor projects (MySQL, Qt, OpenOffice, Mono, JBoss).

* While the unfathomable magnitude and velocity of the Linux project is well studied and commonly known, and the preference of collaborative foundation governed projects has started to become a generally accepted fact, it was surprising to find as many as 9 projects that all clearly stand out from the rest. A 9 to 0 is statistically a very strong result in favor of the foundation governance model.

* The other factor strengthening this result is the clear gap between the “XtraLarge” group and the other projects. This gives further confidence in the validity of the result. Even if the underlying data was deemed to be of poor quality, it is clear it does not have errors that could explain a difference of this magnitude.”

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