How can Open Source best influence proprietary software? Jason van Gumster makes a modest proposal: A 1-day crowdfunding campaign to raise enough cash to purchase 1% of Autodesk stock on behalf of the Blender community.
For years and years, it’s been a common refrain that it’s entirely impossible for an individual to influence the development of closed source software like we can in the open source world. It turns out that isn’t entirely true. It is possible to drive the development of proprietary tools. All it takes is money.
Every year around this time we see alarming stories about companies like Autodesk or Adobe “buying” Blender and doing unpleasant things like changing licenses or only offering BaaS (Blender as a Service) by way of their cloud subscription services. Fortunately, that’s not possible.
However, why have we never stopped to consider the reverse scenario?
Autodesk is a publicly traded company. With enough shares of Autodesk stock, anyone can be an influential driver of the decisions that Autodesk makes. It doesn’t take much. Case in point: for the past two years, Autodesk has been struggling—ahem, negotiating—with “activist investors” with just a 5% stake in the company.
So, based on that, I’m launching a 1-day campaign to purchase an influential share of Autodesk stock on behalf of the Blender community! I don’t think we’d need a full 5%. By all accounts, even a 1% stake in the company would be enough to make things interesting. Think of it! We could get a Blender interaction mode in Maya and 3DSMax. Right-click select everywhere! FBX could be relicensed to be GPL-friendly. Hell, maybe we could even get the source code to Softimage (may it rest in peace).
Autodesk’s market capitalization is about USD $18.7 billion. So for our 1% share, all it will take is just $200,000,000. For just two hundred million dollars, Autodesk users can almost have the same kind of benefits that we get for free with Blender. Let’s do this!
Find more details at http://avoidtheinternet.today.
(Of course, we could also just keep using and developing Blender and enjoy the benefits of open source software like we’ve already been doing for over ten years. I guess that’s also something we could do.)