What Business Can Learn from Open Source (and blogging)

What Business Can Learn from Open Source (and blogging) (This essay is derived from a talk at Oscon 2005.)
So these, I think, are the three big lessons open source and blogging have to teach business: (1) that people work harder on stuff they like, (2) that the standard office environment is very unproductive, and (3) that bottom-up often works better than top-down.
One of his point is that the emerging investor-investee (horyzontal) relationship is much better than the employer-employee (vertical) relationship. It is much better from everyone’s point of view: the one receiving the money (was employee / is investee [*]) works on stuff she likes and choosed and hence she works more and with greater joy and productivity, the one spending the money (was employer / is investor or founder funder) gets more return of investment and has to care less about keeping the other part productive. It is probably better also for society at large: it is better to have a country of people happy about what they are doing and feeling like they are doing something worthy. From client-server architecture to peer-to-peer also in economy!
[*] I think there is a typo in the essay: he writes “the investor-founder relationship” and, if I’m not wrong, investor and founder are synonyms. I made up the word “investee” for the one receiveing the money but it is probably not the correct word.
UPDATE: thanks to the comment of Francesco, I understood that there was no typo. The correct word is “founder” (as Paul writes) and represents the one who receives the money and founds the company. I confuse “founder” with “funder”. Thanks Francesco!

4 thoughts on “What Business Can Learn from Open Source (and blogging)

  1. Francesco


    I think Paul is right, the investor gives the money to the founder, who starts up the company. Maybe you confused founder (in italian, “fondatore”) with funder. Usually the investor and the founder are both shareholders (in Italian, the first is called “socio di capitale”, the second “socio d’opera”).


  2. paolo

    Hi Francesco, thanks for the correction, one of the initial ideas for keeping a blog was to improuve my English. I think this is the least successful goal with a blog: nobody cares about helping me with English sentences, writing simething like: “this sencente is orrible, you could have written so…” or “this word is wrong”. But I can understand it, I would never do it for someone else as well, it is just too boring. ;-)

    So, are you a founder of some company? Want to hire a smart blogger? ;-) [Yes, that’s me in case you’re wondering: I cannot stay on the side of investor for now but easily on the side of founder]

  3. Riccardo (Bru)

    I’m afraid trouble starts when there’s some job nobody wants to do and you (as an investor, now employer) have to find somebody (investee, now employee) to get it done ;)

  4. Francesco

    Hi Paolo, my blog is full of horrible spelling mistakes too.

    I think founding a tech startup is becoming ingreasingly cheaper, although it requires a wide array of competences other than the strictly technical ones. Along with Paul Graham’s essays (the one I like most is “beating the averages”, which I found to be really matching my experience, with the notable difference that he became millionaire with his first startup) you can read:




    Yes, back in 2001, I contributed to found (not fund) a tech start-up, it has been a terrific experience, which gave a healthy shake-up to some of my values. BTW, the company is now funding by phd. Maybe, I will tell you the whole story next time we meet…

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