In 2021, we once again saw many cases where some companies tried to use open source as a business model and changed their licenses to fend off competitors who were leveraging their codebase. This is nothing new in open source, but it is a troubling trend. We invited Matt Yonkovit, Head of Open Source Strategy – Percona, to talk about the topic. The gist of this very valuable discussion is that the adoption of open source is increasing and so are the stakeholders. Now there are more users who can commercialize open-source projects, which is changing the market dynamics as no single company is now in full control of the open-source.
Many companies who don’t fully understand or embrace open source see this adoption as a threat as they see other players monetize from their code. This adoption has also attracted venture capitalists who see millions of downloads of those open-source projects, thousands of active users including Fortune 500 companies, and see these users as a potential source of revenue. That puts additional pressure on companies to find ways to retain full ‘control’ of open source. Many such companies resort to using licenses as weapons. They change the license so other players can’t use that code for commercialization, essentially betraying the very community that helped build that code. Unfortunately, since these companies don’t fully understand open source, they don’t realize that the same community can easily fork the codebase and move on. Matt sees this as a threat to open source as those companies who always looked at open source as a business model have started to play a game that turns open source from a positive-sum game to a zero-sum game.
Percona is a leader in providing best-of-breed enterprise-class support, consulting, managed services, training and software for MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, PostgreSQL and other open source databases in on-premises and cloud environments.