The shift is related to, although not dependent upon, a predicted move away from vendor-dominated open source projects towards vendor-dominated open source communities.
I wondered if we might have some data at hand that proves or disproves the theory that the balance has shifted back towards open source communities rather than vendor-controlled projects and turned to our database of investments in open source-related vendors.
The results are pretty interesting. Below is a chart showing the proportion of series A investment deals in each year for open source-related vendors depending on whether the underlying open source development project is controlled by a community or a vendor.
What the chart indicates is that while vendor-controlled projects remain the preferred approach for VC-backed open source-related vendors, the vendor-controlled approach has declined in the past two years.
Meanwhile following the early dominance of community-controlled projects (a result of the early Linux start-ups), the popularity of community-controlled projects has been rejuvenated in the last couple of years.
Of course, those communities are now dominated by vendors, but they are built on a foundation of collaboration and (there’s no other word for it) community – that is often lacking in many vendor-dominated projects.
Of course, this chart only includes VC-backed open source related vendors so two major constituents of the commercial open source ecosystem are missing: previously proprietary vendors using and contributing open source code, and bootstrapped start-ups.
I’ll return to this subject to take a look at those projects in another post.