Herds of cats

Steve Holden steve at holdenweb.com
Fri Dec 23 18:07:52 CET 2005

Alex Martelli wrote:
> Nicola Musatti <nicola.musatti at gmail.com> wrote:
>    ...
>>>>Ah, the closed source days! Back then you could just buy the company
>>>>and be done with it. Now you have to chase developers one by one all
>>>>over the world... ;-)
>>>                    .
>>>You propellor-heads (I write that in all fondness, Nicola) are
>>>all laughing, but I'm certain that the right elaboration of
>>>that proposition could make it into the *Harvard Business Review*
>>>(or *IBM Systems Journal*, which seems to have tilted irreversibly
>>>in that direction).
>>I was only half joking, actually. Compare Python to Delphi. If a
>>company wanted to acquire control over Delphi, they'd try and buy
>>Borland; to acquire control over Python what are they to do? Well,
>>hiring Guido and Alex is probably a step in the right direction ;-) but
>>would it be enough? Programming languages are not the best example, but
>>if you change it to Mozilla and Opera my argument makes more sense.
> Not a bad point at all, although perhaps not entirely congruent to open
> source: hiring key developers has always been a possibility (net of
> non-compete agreements, but I'm told California doesn't like those).
> E.g., Microsoft chose to hire Anders Hejlsberg away from Borland (to
> develop J++, the WFC, and later C# and other key parts of dotNet) rather
> than buying Borland and adapting Delphi; while acquiring companies is
> often also a possibility (e.g., Novell chose to buy SuSE GmbH, rather
> than trying to hire specific people off it, despite SuSE's roots in open
> source and free software).

The essential difference, it seems to me, is that buying the company 
gets you control over the company's proprietary technologies, whereas 
hiring the developer only gets you access to the development skills of 
the people who've been involved open source developments.

The open source projects remain outwith the control of the company; I 
don't expect Google's employment of Guido to have a significant effect 
on the development directions for Python. I'm happy to say I *do* expect 
  Python's development rate to improve hereafter.

I'm also happy that Google are a significant and public supporter of the 
Python Software Foundation through (among other things) their sponsor 
membership of the Foundation, and their sponsorship of PyCon.

Steve Holden       +44 150 684 7255  +1 800 494 3119
Holden Web LLC                     www.holdenweb.com
PyCon TX 2006                  www.python.org/pycon/

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