SourceForge Acquires Ohloh!
First, congratulations to Scott Collison (Ohloh CEO) and the Ohloh team. [Caveat lector: I've been an advisor to them for some time.] It's a great exit for a great little company. As with all the companies I advise, there needs to be something unique going on. Ohloh has always been unique. As I described in January:
When a potential open source user wanted to find out "what open source software is available" to solve a problem, they were invariably left hunting across Google, SourceForge, and sites like java-source.net and FreshMeat. There was no consistency. The depth of information was sketchy. Some of it was bleeding edge software, some tied to the site. There was no sense of "what's good" unless you were already involved in a particular community, and even then community bias could get in the way. This gave way to a collection of directory solutions and companies that tried to bridge this gap.
Ohloh has always had the most useful and interesting directory for me. First, they have no direct sales model tied to the directory, so my trust in the depth and breadth of the information is high. Second, the beauty of the analysis is that the core data is metrics based on what programmers do, not what they say. I can see how big or small a community is, how long it's been around, how active it is, and this provides hard data when one then looks at the qualitative commentary. Third, it's always been comprehensive across the open source world and getting better all the time.
Over their several year history, they have continued to expand and add features to their core statistical analysis. They've built the community and expanded the number of repositories they support. Once one finds a project, one can see other projects immediately that are related through the tagging and stacking other Ohloh users share. The site is a proper social network for open source developers. It's been used to get a project manager's view of an open source project by the project's own leadership. As a resource for job hunters and recruiters it's invaluable to be able to see the visual resume of a developer. They've evolved their offerings to act as download host, and provide job and support services classifieds.
In one commentary, Jon Sobel (SourceForge group president of media) made reference to "Another advantage for SourceForge ... is that Ohloh's data will help the company deliver advertising that is more targeted and effective." This is the real key to the acquisition. A primary revenue driver for SourceForge is advertising across the forges and online media properties. Ohloh has been successfully developing a data service that would wildly improve the ability to target technology advertising and provide data rich feedback for high-tech marketing campaigns. [Frankly, Google should have acquired Ohloh.] They have a number of large corporate customers. So through this acquisition:
- Ohloh can improve SourceForge's advertising revenues.
- The Ohloh data service itself provides an excellent additional revenue stream in the high-tech corporate marketing world.
- The Ohloh community site is complementary to SourceForge's forges, providing open source communities better tools for understanding their projects.
This is a great acquisition for SourceForge. Hopefully along the way, the original and unique aspects of the directory that make it so valuable to open source users (as opposed to open source developers) are not destroyed or lost, and that SourceForge continues to recognize the difference between the core data competency Ohloh represents, the core value proposition to SourceForge's customers, and its complementary uses as a separate directory at strengthening the SourceForge brand in non-revenue producing ways.