Black Duck Software, a company best known for its services and software for the procurement and re-use of open source software, has acquired Koders, and with it the popular Koders.com search engine for free and open source software code (FOSS). Black Duck plans to integrate Koders' search technology into its own product line, while promising to enhance the Koders search engine while leaving its basic nature unchanged.
In the exchange of pleasantries that is traditional in an acquisition, Douglas Levin, president and CEO of Black Duck notes that the announcement marks the company's first acquisition. "It makes perfect sense, insofar as we add search capabilities to all the other capabilities we have," he says.
Darren Rush, Koders' founder and CEO, adds, "This really presents a great opportunity for us. Koders' evolution up to this point has always been about establishing some significant traction in the developer's community, something that I think we've done pretty well on Koders.com. What we've found in Black Duck is a great partner with very complementary assets. We think it's a win-win situation for the organization and the community at large."
In the last four years, Koders has emerged as one of the largest code search engines on the Web. According to information supplied with the announcement, Koders provides access to some 766 million lines of code in 32 programming languages, and receives some 30,000 hits per day.
With the acquisition of Koders, Black Duck significantly expands its repertoire of services and products. Until now, Black Duck offered tools for tracking license and policy compliance, cryptography, and original and third party code -- but not for tracking specific elements of code. By gaining code search acquisition via Koders, Black Duck now has the potential to directly challenge such FOSS procurement rivals such as Palamida and Hewlett-Packard.
According to Levin, Black Duck has a team of six people overseeing the merger of the two companies. The list of Black Duck products that will benefit from Koders' code is still unannounced, but Levin says that the current plans specifically call for integration of Koders' search capacity into Black Duck Code Center. He describes Black Duck Code Center as a tool "Which allows companies to have a clearing house for their software fragments and components, and an approval and work flow process to support reuse in the enterprise."
Asked what advantages Black Duck might have against procurement competitors, Levin said, "Those technologies that you mentioned are all respectable in themselves, but they are limited. What Black Duck offers is a comprehensive platform, which is enterprise-ready and enterprise scalable."
However, what many in the FOSS community may be more concerned about are Black Duck's plans for the Koders' search engine. In an effort to forestall any fears about the acquisition, Levin emphasizes that, although Black Duck plans to merge Koders' code with its own product line, "We intend to keep the Koders site as a free and independent site for developers. In addition, we have plans to add significantly more functionality to the Koders web site, while not diluting the great work that Koders did in initially establishing it. So, we have a couple of ideas that we hope that over time will be added. But it's important to note that we will not commercialize the site and transform it into something that detracts from the searching capabilities."
Peter Vescuso, Black Duck's senior vice president of marketing, offered some of the few specifics that are currently available. Speaking of the Koders' site, Vescuso says, "We're going to enhance that content with content from Black Duck's knowledge base, which is our portfolio of open source projects that we've been using and collecting in our other software offerings. So, we think that we can greatly augment the content available on the Koders' site. The Koders' site covers about 80,000 open source projects. The Black Duck knowledge base covers on the order of 160,000. I'm not exactly sure how much overlap is in there, but there's going to at lest two times the content available."
So far, Black Duck has not set any policy on whether more ads will be displayed on the site. "We're going to have to figure out what the model is going forward," Levin says.
The announcement is only the first in what Black Duck hopes will be a series of acquisitions, according to Levin. However, at this point, Black Duck is understandably disinclined to mention specifics.
"We certainly couldn't name names," Vesuco said, but the plans call for acquisition of properties "That will help us augment our capability to meet developers' needs. On the Black Duck side, we're talking about our portfolio of products that will help developers who are doing commercial development. So, we're looking at all the tools and all the ways that we can add value to what they're doing today and accelerate development using open source. There are forms of certification that might make sense in that role, but we really don't want to say more than that."
"The end game," Levin concludes, "involves helping enterprise, helping government, and helping developers in general get a better handle on the software development needs ot today."