At the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Jim Whitehurst (CEO of Red Hat) made a number of great points about Free Software and how it can help companies, including his own. According to Whitehurst, “95% of software is developed by enterprises each year and is not for resale.” Furthermore, he states that “there’s hundreds of billions of dollars of wasted [on] software assets each year.” These are truly astounding numbers!
And these numbers are not for just the “software” industry, for companies like Molecular – this applies to everyone from General Motors, to Aetna, to Aegis Media. The business world could literally save a few hundred billion dollars per year by making it’s software Free Software. This approach is the same one used by academia – if universities share research, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. One common response to such suggestions to share information is that by sharing all this code/software, there will be less work to do, and therefore fewer workers required, so people will lose their jobs. This is clearly not true – in academia, there are no fewer researchers because of collaboration, there are still the same number – they just make progress faster by working on more interesting things. I could discuss points and counterpoints all day – but that’s what the comments are for.
I think companies should do just as Whitehurst suggests and Free their software, and I think he’s right to make Red Hat into a leader of such a movement. This movement to Freedom seems to be an industry trend – should Molecular and others follow suit? What do you think?