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Showing posts from May, 2014

Commercializing Open Source Licenses

Nearly a year ago in this blog, I had a post up arguing that Richard Stallman's position on the necessity of using strong copyleft licenses to protect the open source movement was misguided. I'm following that post, now, by explaining that, in fact, not only are strong copyleft licenses inappropriate for certain business cases, but, in others, they are a powerful tool in the monetization of commercial software - where Stallman seems to want to live in a world where copyleft licenses exist only to promote the open source movement as a whole. Let's review:

A "strong" copyleft license is a software license that requires all distributed derivative works of that software to be licensed under the same terms as the original license, which typically includes distribution of source code. E.g. GPL.

A "weak" copyleft license may allow works that are bundled with the original software to be distributed under a different license, as long as the original copyleft sof…

Revisiting AOL - Profits down 90% in Just Two Years

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Last August I wrote this post:
Of the $541M in revenue, $361.2 comes from advertising, or almost precisely 2/3 of all revenue. Further, an entire $166M comes from subscriptions, which is codeword for dial up subscribers. That's right, a full 30.6% of AOL's quarterly revenue comes from people with dial up modems. So, AOL generated 97.6% of its Q2 income from advertising and dialup. That means that all of AOL's other products, besides advertising and dialup, account for less than 3% of its income. That is not a good sign. Just to review, AOL defines "subscribers" in its 10K as:

As of December 31, 2013, we had approximately 2.5 million domestic AOL subscribers. Our subscribers are important users of Brand Group and Membership Group properties and engaging our subscribers, as well as former AOL subscribers who continue to utilize our free service plan, is an important component of our strategy. Our paid subscription plans provide bundles of products and services rangin…

So it Begins: Startups Getting Hurt By Net Neutrality

But don't take my word for it.

Via MIT Technology Review, here is Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures:

The cable industry says such charges are sensible, especially when a few large content providers like Netflix can take up a large fraction of traffic. But if deep-pocketed players can pay for a faster, more reliable service, then small startups face a crushing disadvantage, says Brad Burnham, managing partner at Union Square Ventures, a VC firm based in New York City. “This is absolutely part of our calculus now,” he says.Burnham says his firm will now “stay away from” startups working on video and media businesses. It will also avoid investing in payment systems or in mobile wallets, which require ultrafast transaction times to make sense. “This is a bad scene for innovation in those areas,” Burnham says of the FCC proposal. Just a reminder to everyone, that recently, Mozilla proposed the following changes to the proposed FCC Net Neutrality Regs:

Mozilla's plan is a somewhat …