When I first discovered open source, the idea of building a business around it seemed counterintuitive. However, as I grew more familiar with the movement, I realized that open source software companies were not an anomaly, rather a result of the freedoms open source offers. As GNU project founder Richard Stallman said of free software, it’s “a matter of liberty, not price.” Open source is, above all, about the unhindered liberty to create. In this sense, the innovation and creativity demonstrated in open source business models is a testimony to the ideals of open source.
Although most open source projects do not start as or evolve into companies, companies can grow with open source at the heart of their business model. If you’d like to build a business around open source, here are four successful models to consider.
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