During the opening day SpringOne keynote yesterday Interface21 explained how they plan on using the funding they recently secured. Later in the day, I spent a few minutes with Neelan Choksi, COO at Interface21.
Neelan explained that for Interface21, the use of an open source license (Apache License 2.0), an open development model and a free product with paid support business model is about one thing, developing software. Yes, Spring is open source software, but that was a pragmatic choice. A choice born out of the market landscape at the time, not from an ideological love of all things open source.
Keeping this in mind, it shouldn’t surprise you that Interface21 announced they’d use their funding to, amongst other things:
1] Rod & business functions are setting up shop in Silicon Valley to be closer to partners, investors and advisors
2] Setting up small, but growing, product development centers in the UK (Southampton), US (Melbourne, Florida) & Canada (Vancouver) because they feel co-located employees speed product development
3] Hiring seasoned Sales reps to go after larger enterprise deals
4] Hiring seasoned Marketing professionals to market to VPs and CXOs
5] Continuing collaboration with Microsoft to bring Spring to .NET developers
Clearly, Interface21 is going to do a lot more with the funding. I wanted to highlight these 5 because they are counter to “conventional wisdom” we hear from OSS visionaries.
Moving key staff to Silicon Valley, co-locating development teams, hiring professional sales teams (i.e. the expensive professionals driving Porsches), spending significantly on marketing and working with Microsoft are steps you’d expect from a software vendor. Good to see Interface21 acting like a software vendor and leaving others to play the part of an open source software vendor.
One other thing that Neelan mentioned that gave me the warm and fuzzies. He spoke about the funding process and how many VCs came to Interface21 explaining that using open source meant they wouldn’t have to spend much on sales or marketing. These VCs were, shall we say, excluded from the shortlist, because as Neelan and Interface21 understood, that’s a piece of conventional OSS wisdom that doesn’t hold when you’re trying to scale the business.
Interface21 is pragmatic about building a viable software business. Good on them.