From: Bob Leif
Today's New York Times and yesterday's Public Radio carried the story of Red
Hat's initial public offering. Evidently, to quote Orwell, "Some
individuals are more equal than others." From the Times, "Red Hat finished
the day with a valuation of around $3.5 billion. Red Hat's co-founders,
Robert Young and Marc Ewing, each retain 14 percent of the company,
according to the prospectus." Thus, each of these gentlemen is now worth
$490 million. Unfortunately, according to Public Radio, many of the Linux
developers did not even get a chance to buy shares at the initial public
offering price. E*Trade did not believe that they were financially qualified
to purchase the stock. Red Hat had set up a deal to let the developers
obtain the stock at the offering price.
Karl Mark in his strongest denunciations of Capitalist exploitation never
thought of the above. The workers obtain nothing for their services and the
capitalists make a bundle, which will be taxed at the very low capital gains
rate of 20%. This makes Bill Gates look like a true philanthropist. At
least Microsoft pays its workers and has made many of them millionaires
through stock options. Even the temps at Microsoft are paid comparatively
In short, "Free Software" can result in the developers being ripped-off.
The open source concept of providing the sources is excellent; and as I have
pointed out (1), it has many advantages to the software provider. I have
suggested that the developers should share in the fruits of their labor. I
will continue this discussion at SIGAda 1999 Commercializing Ada Workshop.
Parenthetically, if a company providing Linux is worth about $3.5 billion,
an Ada POSIX with an XML front-end should be worth at least 3 times as much.
The best way to prove the superiority of Ada and increase its usage, is to
make a very large amount of money on an Ada product.
1. R. C. Leif, “SIGAda ‘98, Workshop: How do We Expedite the Commercial Use
of Ada?.” Ada letters XIX, No 1 pp. 28-39 (1999).
2. R. C. Leif, “Ada Developers Cooperative License (Draft) Version 0.3”,
Ada letters XIX, No 1 pp. 97..107 (1999).