A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog article called “The Tipping Point”. It was focused on the recent announcement of our QuickLogic Open Reconfigurable Computing (QORC) initiative and the reasons why I thought it made a lot of sense for QuickLogic to embrace open source development tools and platforms.
At the time there was some skepticism that moving forward aggressively on the open-source front would mean that our company would give up certain revenue streams and reduce our potential for growth. I argued that “we should not mistake freedom for free” and that pursuing an open-source strategy would ultimately lead to greater revenue, more leverage, and ultimately a higher growth rate for QuickLogic.
Now we’re starting to see others communicating a similar message. A recent article in ZDNet by George Anadiotis confirms that venture capitalists are beginning to embrace start-ups built around an open-source model. The article is called “Open-source growth and venture capital investment: Data, databases, challenges, and opportunities“. Interestingly, the subtitle is “Open-source software used to be poorly understood by commercial forces, and it’s often approached in a biased way. A new generation of investment funds goes to show that things are changing”.
Exactly as we expected. While the article is focused on database companies, the same principles apply to programmable logic and processing platforms, and their associated development tools and kits.
Runa Capital is a VC group focused on investing in open-source software companies, and the article quotes one of the principals as saying, “the common perception on the market was, well, how to make money off of something which is totally free and could be easily copied and so on. That has changed. Now the market understands how open source works. And open-source companies can get quite high prices.”
The article goes on to talk about the advantages of open source tools including decentralization, cost efficiency, and customization – things that we recognized early on and have been actively advocating. Our own QORC initiative has leveraged a complete suite of open source tools and platforms from RTL-to-Bitstream, including simulation, logic synthesis, and Place-and-Route. That effort has dramatically broadened our potential user base and increased design activity for our devices. We are confident we are on the right path and are pleased to see others recognizing the benefits of this approach.