Philo Farnsworth is credited as the inventor of the television picture tube. He was a rare genius that (for better or worse) changed our country in a profound way with his invention. However, his later life is a depressing taleas the riches from the invention went to RCA, who capitalized on his expiring patents and aggressively went to market.


Since we have moved here, Portland has been lauded as the mecca of Open Source Software (OSS) in the U.S. With organizations like OSDL (and Linus Torvalds), OSCON, OSU OSL, we are well positioned to live up to that vision. But are we actually doing anything to truly capitalize on it?


I sat across from two Bay Area VC's a few days ago that are investing heavily in OSS companies. They asked about some of the exciting companies coming out of Portland, and I didn't have an answer for them. All the companies doing great things with open source were in the Bay Area.


Certainly the ethos of open source is less about business and more about opening up technology, which is great in and of itself. But the business side of OSS is inevitable -- companies will make money on it and create economic value. And some of us are passionate about the business side of the model too.


I'm sure there are some interesting OSS companies in Portland that are popping up, but none seem to be making the headlines that companies like Jboss, MYSQL and SugarCRM are commanding -- certainly none were top of mind for me. So my question is, how can we get capitalize on this before it's too late? Can Portland be both Farnsworth and RCA?