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Who cares about ebdex’s API? You should if you want to make money!

Dave Stephens, CEO of Coupa commented on Competing with the “Open Source Way" at his Procurement Central. Extracts from his comments (modified to suit):

Sourceforge has over 100,000 active opensource projects. Sometimes particular projects, gain good interest over time, like with But wait a minute, isn’t an open source firm. Closed source firms and service providers (Google & Microsoft included) are beginning to open up around the edges and use the movement where it makes sense for them.

Then I commented on his blog:

We will make our API “Open Source”. It does not make commercial sense to make “ebdex Document Exchange” “Open Source” given its a hub and spoke solution.

For which, one visitor commented:

If I am a developer, why would I care if your API is open source or closed source? If it is not standards based, what’s the incentive for me to make use of your API? If it’s not LGPL based, what’s the incentive for me to evaluate it? If you are going to make money ultimately through your commercial entity, why would I contribute my time and effort for your cause, unless there is some benefit for me as well? If it is based on some standards, if my interest is to implement the standard, I will probably write the API myself. But if I want to make use of your API into my own applicatation, the moment it’s not LGPL, then I wouldn’t care a bit.

Now, if I am a end user, why do I care if your software is open source, if it’s java or COBOL as long as it can get my work done. The reason why your company’s webserver is using Apache 1.3.26 with Frontpage on a Red-Hat Linux is probably not because Apache’s code is available as an open source for you to look at the code, but because it’s “free” to either your or your hosting company.

Here is my response:

If you are an end user, it should not make a difference. If you are a developer, you should be interested, provided that you operate within an applicable industry, otherwise it would not make sense. ebdex was never meant to be a single entity. It’s existence depends on partners who understand and share risks and rewards. For example, our strategic partner, Affno is working with ebdex on a risk-reward partnership (cannot reveal the details due to commercial sensitivity, sorry!). We are looking at our Channel Partners (sales) to work on similar strategy. Our Trusted Partners can operate ebdex Document Exchange without our day-to-day involvement managing their client relationships. In addition to Affno, we need software development companies to work with us, especially in terms of developing interface drivers to exchange structured documents with thousands of disparate systems (accounting, ERP, CRM and others). We also need developers who work in vertical markets to extend our offering (perhaps companies like Coupa). We need developers to build interconnectors with competing networks (e.g. with Ariba, Exostar, Covisint, etc). Its all about sharing and generating wealth for us and our partners. Would you believe if I say we are not an IT company? It is true! We can only become an IT company with your help, Mr. Developer.

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