“There was never an exit strategy; there was naked ambition…”

Uncategorized Posted Mar 5, 2006 by metropolis

That’s how Marc Fleury answered the last question at his keynote at the recent MIT Enterprise Forum open source event. He lived up to the audience’s high expectations. He’s still funny, irreverent and sharp. The Oracle rumors were flying, so it made the timing interesting, and the question was one individual’s attempt to get at the Oracle rumors.

Darryl Taft/eWeek did such a great job of wrapping this up that I’ll just point you to his piece and flag a few notable quotes that Darryl didn’t include:

  • We spend 30 cents versus $2.50 for the typical software company to acquire $1 dollar of maintenance. The profitable part of the software model has always been the maintenance.
  • Most of the marketing department in typical software companies spends time creating leads. We spend a lot of time killing leads. Out of 100 leads, we ask, which 3 will yield revenue?
  • There’s very little litigation in the open source world vs. the proprietary world — 3-4 orders of magnitude less litigation.
  • On the developer side, I run a music label. I go around the world and hire the best rock stars. They’re a demanding bunch.

Here’s the funny anecdote (borrowed from Darryl’s article) that closed his session:

After leaving his job at Sun Microsystems, “I go to see my wife who was pregnant with our first kid,” Fleury said. “And I say, ‘Baby, I’m writing software for free.’ And she turns around and says, ‘You’re stupid.’ So I was a little taken aback.”

Then, “We moved to Atlanta to my in-laws’,” Fleury said. “So we’re not even a garage company: I’m my-in-laws’ garage company. And so I told my wife that if I could do one year and make 60K I could make a living. I did training and 20 people came to the first one, and I made 60K. ‘I am king of the world!’ I couldn’t believe it,” he said, smiling.

However, “My father-in-law had the big-boy talk with me that amounted essentially to, ‘Why don’t you get out of my place, you bum?'” Fleury said. “And I didn’t get it at the time. He was like, ‘A young man your age needs his own place.’

“My mother-in-law was a great cook, I put on 10 pounds, my wife was happy after a difficult time in Silicon Valley. It was a happy time for me.”

Fleury added, “Then David Skok [venture capitalist at Matrix Partners] came along and things got difficult for me.”

I sure hope his in-laws are alive and well to see his success.