One of the favourite blog topics on CAOS Theory blog over the years has been our quarterly and annual updates on venture capital funding for open source-related businesses, based on our database of over 600 funding deals since January 1997 involving nearly 250 companies, and over $4.8bn.
There are still a few days left for funding deals to be announced in 2011 but it is already clear that 2011 will be a record year. $672.8m has been invested in open source-related vendors in 2011, according to our preliminary figures, an increase of over 48% on 2010, and the highest total amount invested in any year, beating the previous best of $623.6m, raised in 2006.
Following the largest single quarter for funding for open source-related vendors ever in Q3, Q4 was the second largest single quarter for funding for open source-related vendors ever, as $230.4m was invested in companies including Cloudera, Hortonworks, and Rapid7.
As with Q3, however, the list of vendors presents us with something of an existential dilemma, as we see an increasing amount of activity by what we have referred to as ‘complementary vendors’ – those that are dependent on open source software to build their products and services, even though those products and services may not themselves be open source – as opposed to open source specialists.
The list of complementary vendors has grown rapidly in 2011, particularly around projects such as OpenStack and Apache Hadoop. If we examine the figures in more detail we find that over 30% of the funding raised in 2011 was raised by complementary vendors, compared to just 4% in 2006.
In fact, as the chart below indicates, VC funding for specialist open source vendors in 2011 was actually less than that in 2006 and 2008, and only marginally up on 2010, when again just 4% of funding went to complementary vendors.
The low amount of funding for complementary vendors in 2010 shows that the significance of complementary vendors is not growing at a constant rate, although for reasons that will become clear when we publish a follow-up post on the latest trends regarding the engagement of vendors with open source projects, we do expect that the proportion of funding related to complementary vendors is more likely to increase in the future, rather than decline.
This has implications for the ongoing trends related to open source software licensing, as covered yesterday. Examining our database of over 400 open source-related vendors – funded and unfunded, complementary and specialist – indicates that specialist vendors are much more likely to engage with projects using strong copyleft licenses than complementary vendors.
Specifically, our data indicates that 55% of open source specialists have engaged with projects that use strong copyleft licenses, while just 20% have engaged with projects with non-copyleft licenses. In comparison, 38% of complementary vendors have engaged with projects with non-copyleft licenses, compared to 24% that have engaged with projects with strong copyleft licenses.
Will will take a more detailed look at the trends related to the engagement of vendors with open source projects in the concluding part of this series of posts.