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The DL - Open Source - Mo Money, Mo Problems, New PNW Reality Show, Where to Fly in 2021

February 1 · Issue #79 · View online
The DL
Well if you thought bitcoin was stupid, the financial markets always have something new to surprise you! For millennials and Gen Z, it turns out that bitcoin was a good store of value, SPACs were a better store of value, and meme stocks are the ultimate store of value. More on $GME below, but the main focus of this week’s DL is looking at what’s happening to open source software.
This week’s DL covers:
  • Elasticsearch is no longer open source
  • The PNW’s newest “reality” show
  • The best articles and tweets on $GME
  • What’s happening with flights in 2021
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Elastic: NOT OK. AWS: Fishy.
Open source software (OSS) started as a reaction to companies like Microsoft and Oracle making “unfair” profits on software, so developers created Linux and MySQL and made them available to anyone for free. Now OSS has gone full circle. AWS is profiting from open source, and Elastic is very mad.
– Quick sidebar on the current state of OSS business models –
In today’s world, many open source projects are built within a for-profit company (e.g., Elastic, MongoDB, and Confluent), and 90%+ of the contributions to a project often come from the company that is commercializing the software. These companies normally allow customers to try their software for free but offer premium features and managed services to enterprise customers.
For these open source software companies, the primary benefits of being open source are the community (which helps with product discovery, feedback, and QA) and the ability to “sell” directly to developers (who can try something without going through a lengthy procurement process).
– End sidebar –
The evolution of OSS business models has led to some tension, and last week, Elastic and AWS got into a big fight on the future of Elasticsearch and Kibana (two open source projects maintained by Elastic).
  • Elastic published a long post announcing that they are changing their software license, so that AWS cannot use their software anymore
  • They also listed off all of AWS’s misdeeds (stuff like trademark violation and misinformation about AWS’s collaboration with Elastic), and ended each bullet point with a very angry “NOT OK.”
  • AWS published a rival blog post saying Elastic’s license changes mean that Elasticsearch is no longer open source and linked to several influencers (BrasseurQuinnDeVault, Jacob) who called them out for it
  • AWS’s plan going forward is to fork these two projects under the AL v2 license (what Elasticsearch used to be) and maintain them as a “truly open source option.”
The discussion around Elastic’s announcement has been interesting. It seems like most developers don’t like AWS profiting from open source software that they didn’t help build. At the same time, from a principles perspective, they feel like AWS should be able to do whatever they want with software that is licensed as open source, and Elastic is setting a bad precedent.
Last year, Elastic and MongoDB each made $400M+ of revenue, and AWS clearly wants a piece of their markets. It’ll be interesting to see what happens now that they have both moved to the SSPL license, which the Open Source Initiative has declared “not open source.”
My prediction is there will be a split for the next generation of OSS companies. Some will continue pursuing “pure” open source, but more will take steps like Elastic to protect themselves from the cloud vendors. Mo money, mo problems.
New PNW Reality Show
If you’ve finished Bridgerton and need a new show, check out Rival Peak. It’s a Survivor + Big Brother-style reality show set in the Pacific Northwest, and audience members can interact with their favorite contestants to help them win challenges and stuff.
But the crazy part is… the show runs 24/7 on Facebook Watch, and it’s possible because all of the contestants are “AIs.” Any time you want, you can jump in, zoom in on a character, help them out with challenges, and make decisions on what they do next. Then once a week, there is a recap with a real human host who reviews the highlights from the past week.
Honestly, Rival Peak is a bit boring right now, but the idea is super cool. Why should people only be able to watch (or bet on) football on Sundays if “digital players” can play 24/7? Rival Peak is the best example of an “AI” game/show so far, but Blaseball and Salty Bet are two other interactive games that got popular last year, and it’s fun to imagine what’s next.
Other stuff Dan's talking about
Friend’s nephew setting a $GME price target 😂
Friend’s nephew setting a $GME price target 😂
🚀 $GME - SO much entertainment last week. Here are my favorite things: Best explainer (Matt Levine). Best tweets (Chamath). Worst tweet (Sequoia). Best profile (WSJ w/ DeepF-ingValue). Worst crisis response (RH giving employees $40 DoorDash credit in exchange for their morals)
💊 Cost Plus Drugs - Mark Cuban launched the Everlane of generic medications (transparent, low price, etc). Funny to see this launch at the same time that Hims (profit off of generic medications) goes public via SPAC
💰 WA Billionaire Tax - Here’s the bill that Dan Price (minimum wage guy) is trying to introduce in WA to tax billionaires 1% of their assets (with the first billion exempted). What do ya think?
✈️ Scott’s Cheap Flights 2021 Report - I paid for a “cheap flights” newsletter because I’m sad we haven’t traveled in a year (and have no plans to either 😢). But it’s nice to read about how other people are planning to travel and which airlines take what types of COVID precautions
Please hit reply! (Or subscribe or forward!)
About me: I’m an investor at Madrona, a Seattle-based venture capital firm that has been early partners with companies like Amazon, Smartsheet, Snowflake, Apptio, and Redfin.
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