The Second Billion Dollar Open Source Company

March 29, 2012 --

Yesterday, Red Hat reported its FY 2012 results (their Fiscal Year ended Feb 29), and, in line with expectations and predictions, it broke the billion dollar in revenue at $1.13b.

That makes Red Hat the second billion dollar open source company.

Who was the first billion dollar open source company? Am I such a dinosaur in the open source industry that nobody else remembers the headlines when

MySQL was bought by Sun?

Funny also that, in 2008, Infoworld called MySQL a Billion Dollar Baby, and that yesterday, just before the Red Hat results were released, Wired titled Red Hat Becomes Open Source’s First $1 Billion Baby.

Of course, you can’t compare a billion dollar valuation with a billion dollar revenue. Even I, in marketing, know that. And I don’t intend to downplay the tremendous work that the Red Hat teams have been doing, building a large, profitable and sustainable open source business. Red Hat is clearly the poster child of commercial open source, and we are all proud to have them lead the pack.

Still, the parallel is hard to miss. 4 years ago, a billion dollar in open source could only mean one thing: an exit, over a very hot technology or trend. Today, a billion dollar in open source is not different from a billion dollar in traditional software.

All it took was four years. (Red) hats off.