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So much of how we build and deliver software has changed, yet so much has stayed the same.

UNIX, the original operating architecture that underpins our modern stack, was introduced 50 years ago. Linux, the dominant server operating system, was introduced 30 years ago. We rely on virtual machines, introduced 20 years ago. We leverage EC2 to serve and scale, launched 15 years ago.

These aging technologies power a $350B enterprise software market, over $1.5T in global infrastructure, and is expected to grow 3x — 4x over the next decade.

The industry saw an evolution from the 1990s with the introduction of apps, 2000s introduced hosting & web apps, and 2010s introduced the cloud and services. A veritable renaissance at the application and platform layers. …


Building a Commercial Open Source Company

In our time investing and supporting open-source companies, we’ve learned several lessons about project & community growth, balancing roadmap and priorities, go-to-market strategy, considering various deployment models, and more.

In the spirit of open source, we wanted to share these learnings, organized into a series of posts that we’ll be publishing every week — enjoy!

PART 4: Your deployment model is your business model

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  1. Serverless does not make a company: Offering a ‘serverless’ managed service for your project can be a significant boon to kick start customer adoption; it’s easy to get up and running, running a sophisticated service 24/7 is non-trivial and removes the operational complexities with devops and infrastructure. At the same time, a hosted open core does not make for a company. Offering a serverless version of your open core can be a great initial start but is not sufficient. You need to ask yourself: can your offering be differentiated enough from a cloud provider offering the same thing? Can a customer scale up on your managed service or will they eventually need to migrate onto their own infrastructure for security, residency, policy, or other enterprise needs? Can you continually build layers of value on top of your open core and deliver them all through the managed service? Or are you really just reselling cloud compute resources from AWS? Companies such as Mongo, Redis, Astronomer*, and Cockroach have gone well beyond just managed versions of their open cores in order to drive value on top of their open cores. …


Building a Commercial Open Source Company

In our time investing and supporting open-source companies, we’ve learned several lessons about project & community growth, balancing roadmap and priorities, go-to-market strategy, considering various deployment models, and more.

In the spirit of open source, we wanted to share these learnings, organized into a series of posts that we’ll be publishing every week — enjoy!

PART 3: Sequence your distribution & GTM strategy in layers

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1. Vibrant communities make for the best lead generation:
The open-source popularity of a project can become a significant factor in driving far more efficiency and virality in your go-to-market motion. The user is already a “customer” before they even pay for it. As the initial adoption of the project comes from developers organically downloading and using the software, you can often bypass both the marketing pitch and the proof-of-concept stage of the sales cycle. …


Building a Commercial Open Source Company

In our time investing and supporting open source companies, we’ve learned several lessons about project & community growth, balancing roadmap and priorities, go-to-market strategy, considering various deployment models, and more.

In the spirit of open source, we wanted to share these learnings, organized into a series of posts that we’ll be publishing every week — enjoy!

PART 2: Focus your enterprise and OSS roadmaps on developer adoption

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1. Solve for the homegrown gap

When developers struggle with deploying an open-source project into their complex internal environments or infrastructures, they build homegrown solutions instead. Solving for key areas turns developer engagement into commercial customers. This means it needs to be as easy and seamless as possible to set up and deploy in order to start demonstrating value. Whether it’s providing Kubernetes operators, specific integrations, CLIs, or UIs, make it dead easy to deploy. …


Since the early 90s, with the emergence of the MIT free software movement and popularity of Linux, there has been an accelerating shift away from proprietary, closed software to open source.

Today the open source ecosystem has over 40M registered users, 2.9M organizations, and 44M projects on Github alone. Just in 2019, 10M new developers joined the GitHub community, contributing to 44M+ repos across the world.

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Open source continues to be the heartbeat of the software community and one of the largest and growing segments of the market by IPO, M&A, and market cap; with new projects emerging well beyond low-level systems to machine learning, data infrastructure, messaging, orchestration, and more. …


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Every major technology breakthrough of our era has gone through a similar cycle in pursuit of turning fiction to reality.

It starts in the stages of scientific discovery, a pursuit of principle against a theory, a recursive process of hypothesis-experiment. Success of the proof of principle stage graduates to becoming a tractable engineering problem, where the path to getting to a systemized, reproducible, predictable system is generally known and de-risked. Lastly, once successfully engineered to the performance requirements, focus shifts to repeatable manufacturing and scale, simplifying designs for production.

Since theorized by Richard Feynman and Yuri Manin, quantum computing has been thought to be in a perpetual state of scientific discovery. Occasionally reaching proof of principle on a particular architecture or approach, but never able to overcome the engineering challenges to move forward. …


The backstory of our privileged investment into ABL Space

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Beginning of the new space economy

We are at the beginning of a new era in the Space economy. There are over 20k satellites filed with the FCC for expected launch within the next 5–8 years. Global Space activity was estimated to be $360 billion in 2018, with commercial space revenues representing 79% of total space activity, expecting to double over the next five years.

Over 90% of the satellites filed to launch are in the ‘small satellite’ (150kg — 750kg) class. Fueled by demand for global broadband, space-based observation & tracking, increased NASA activity, and more, the need for lower-cost capabilities and faster times to orbit has become paramount. This is a radical shift from the large, expensive, and time-consuming builds of GEO based satellites. …


A new generation of companies are using robotics and autonomy to change the operating experience for critical industries

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Thinking about the future of robots and autonomy is exciting; driverless cars, lights-out factories, urban air mobility, robotic surgeons available anywhere in the world. We’ve seen the building blocks come together in warehouses, retail stores, farms, and on the roads. It is now time to build robots for humans, not to replace them.

We still have a long way to go. Why? Because building robots that intend to work fully autonomously in a physical world is hard.

Humans are incredibly good at adapting to dynamic situations to achieve a goal. Robotic and autonomous systems are incredibly powerful at highly precise, responsive, multivariate operations. …


Companies such as Hashicorp, MongoDB, and Astronomer are just scratching the surface of these emerging trends.

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image source: https://blog.testlodge.com/what-is-devops/

Technology has dramatically changed over the last decade, and so has how we build and deliver enterprise software.

Ten years ago, ‘modern computing’ was to rely on teams of network admins managing data centers, running one application per server, deploying monolithic services, through waterfall, manual releases managed by QA and release managers.

Today, we have multi and hybrid clouds, serverless services, in continuous integration, running infrastructure-as-code.

SaaS has grown from a nascent 2% of the $450B enterprise software market in 2009, to 23% in 2020 and crossed $100B in revenue. …


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Quantum computing has always fascinated me. Since reading Physicist David Deutsch’s Dream Machine article in the New Yorker almost a decade ago, I’ve been enthralled with the possibility of a technological reshuffle, unlocking a new dimension of answers about ourselves, nature, and the universe.

As a lifelong student of physics and computer science, quantum computing represents one of the most critical technologies to support our longevity as humanity. …

About

Ethan Batraski

Venture Capitalist, Partner @Venrock, writing about software & hard things for developers, space, and modern computing.

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