Man made lightning

Imagine how cool this thing would be to see in action.

the JIN is a directed-energy-discharge system mounted on a remotely
operated armored vehicle. The system uses high-voltage electrical
discharges from a remote-controlled boom to prematurely detonate IEDs.

Hydraulic Ford hybrid

This is a really interesting story, if true, (via digg) about a new drive system that Ford is working on that can give a standard F-150 pickup (I’m a GMC man myself) 60mpg.

Hydraulic
Hybrids work in the same manner, only instead of batteries, excess
energy is stored in hydraulic cylinders.That in itself is not
revolutionary, except for the fact that Nickel Metal Hydride batteries
used today are not an efficient way to store energy, and hydraulic
storage blows them away with 3X the efficiency.

It’s also a perfect example of how disruptive developments are beyond prediction and defy current trends. For years critics have been saying vehicles have to be smaller just like the enlightened Europeans because they get better fuel economy, and then later because big vehicles are unsafe. As it turns out, the large platform that a truck offers is perfect for this kind of system.

The tax breaks for buying one would be huge based on the fuel saving over comparable 2002 models, and if I’m a small business owner and I buy a big enough one I get to write off something like 75% of the total cost, and I’d get one of those HOV access stickers for buying one, sweet.

More on this topic (What's this?) Read more on Energy, Nickel at Wikinvest

What exactly are you getting when you acquire an open source company

Lot’s of news lately about Larry and the Wild Bunch setting their sights on open source companies, which begs an interesting question of what it is you are buying when you acquire an open source company.

Technology:
Natch but it’s not so straightforward. One of the interesting quirks of copyright law is that in order to license something, even under a public license like GPL, someone has to own it, which also means that the owner reserves the right to change the license at any time.

Any company that offers a product under the GPL can change the terms of that license but it would not grandfather to product that was already put out. In other words, you can change the terms of the license to make it a proprietary product for version 2.0 but you can’t change the GPL terms of version 1.0 ever.

What this all means is that any product put out under an open source license can in fact be “forked” to create a new product on the same code base and licensed under subsequent version as GPL even if the originating product is reverted back to a proprietary license.

Brand:
Absolutely, and this is probably one of the most valuable components in any of these deals, which pretty much blows to shit the notion that the most valuable intellectual property in any deal is the technology itself. Companies like Red Hat, JBoss, Apache, and MySQL have fantastic brands as a reflection of their commitment to their communities and the strength of their products in their customer base.

In all of these companies brand is carefully cultivated as a reflection of the open source community, their technology saavy as being a critical enabler of the community process around their products, and increasingly, their enterprise bona fides as open source moves up the food chain.

Community:
Definitely. In fact, this is the single greatest asset that any open source company holds, and what ultimately defines the barrier to entry to new competitors in what is essentially a level technology playing field because according to the technology point above, a company can create a competing product off the same code base. With open source it’s not just the community of people who are deploying and using the software, it’s the community of developers that are extending it as well and while they may be fickle they are also terribly loyal and resistant to change.

Conclusion:
There are definitely some interesting aspects of open source M&A deals, indeed things that challenge the traditional M&A mindset. It would be easy to dismiss an acquisition in this area as a commodity buy but I don’t believe this to be the case at all. Just because someone can take the codebase and create a new open source company doesn’t mean they have an easier path to building a company around that product. The one caveat that I would seriously ponder before doing any acquisition in this area is how the support and community process dovetails with the acquirers tradition and reputation because poor support will result in a loss of value quicker than any other aspect, and create an opportunity for a new competitor to exploit.

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Google Guys interview in Time is lame

Time did this softball interview with the “Google Guys”.

TIME: YOU TALK ABOUT THE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY IN THE BUSINESS. WHAT PROBLEM ARE YOU ADDRESSING?

SCHMIDT:
With all the headlines we’re making, we don’t want our announcements to
surprise or confuse anyone. We don’t want our partners to think we’re
competing against them.

but later Larry Page makes this comment in response to another question.

IS THERE A GRAND STRATEGY FOR GOOGLE? IT SEEMS AS IF YOU’RE DIVING INTO ALMOST EVERYTHING.

SCHMIDT:
We try very hard to look like we’re out of control. But in fact the
company is very measured. And that’s part of our secret.

PAGE:
We don’t generally talk about our strategy … because it’s strategic.
I would rather have people think we’re confused than let our
competitors know what we’re going to do. That’s an easy trade-off.

So what is it, do you want be transparent about what you are doing or do you want to be opaque? How come the Time interviewer doesn’t say “hey, you just said you don’t want to confuse anyone and now you are saying you do? What’s up with that?”.

And then there is this gem.

HOW MUCH DO PEOPLE USE GOOGLE TO LOOK FOR PORN?

PAGE: It’s a
small, single-digit percentage. We generally think that having more
access is better, as long as you’re not a child or overly offended. But
we can help people do filtering if that’s what they want, though there
is no technology that can tell with 100% accuracy if an image or
website is pornographic.

More access is better, unless you are in China then scrub rule #1 because less access is actually better.

SAP invests in MySQL

MySQL AB, developer of the world’s most popular open source database,
today announced the completion of an $18.5 million Series C round of
financing led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), the Menlo Park,
California-based venture capital firm. Corporate investors in the round
were Intel Capital; Red Hat; SAP Ventures, a division of SAP AG; and
Presidio STX, the U.S.-based venture investment subsidiary of Sumitomo
Corporation.”

We are also an investor in Zend.

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Oracle contributes to Gov. Jim Doyle, wins no-bid contract

Oracle wins a no-bid software contract up in Wisconsin, shortly thereafter Oracle executives start contributing to Doyle’s campaign… and they all are from out-of-state.

One would think that the massive problem that California found itself in (budget and political) should cause pause for public officials contemplating no-bid contracts.

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