Re: Open source stuff should be free ...
Sorry but that's utter bollocks.
Open source makes progress by allowing others to stand on the shoulders of giants and re-use their work, while hopefully improving it for the mutual benefit. A lot of open source projects are infrastructure components (operating systems, web and application servers, databases, compilers and interpreters for programming languages etc). I am yet to hear someone complaining about the lack of commercial competition in these areas.
Other popular open source projects such as graphic, photo and video editors, office software struggle to compete with commercial products and are often aimed at those who cannot afford to pay. Again, I am yet to hear that someone failed to sell a photo editor because Gimp stole all the market.
Then there are such things as web browsers which are a bit difficult to categorize. By the same logic, would flock to buy them if only others did not give them out for free.
People and companies make and save a lot of money on open source by using it in their products and not having to re-develop the wheel that is also compatible with an axle.
Many people and companies behind the open source products are making good money on it:
- by selling the product as a managed service (SaaS/PaaS/IaaS etc) - that's usually a lot of money.
- by using a freemium model when functionality commonly required by large enterprises is only available in the paid version.
- by selling commercial support or professional services.
- by finding sponsors (often large-scale product users or outright commercial competitors that would otherwise risk attention from regulators for monopoly power).
Open source developers should not be poor souls, far from that. If NGINX was sold from $670M, it means, there's good money to be made.
Imho for Babel it is just the same mantra as for many US tech startups, both open source and not: no business plan needed, just grow the user base: if we quickly grow too-big-to-fail, and lots of people use our product or depend on it, we will find a way to monetize it later or promptly sell it for big millions and someone else finds a way to monetize it.