Values, ethics, and team spirit drive the development of Free software. But then comes ego. CEOs who sign with Microsoft do it for the money. Certain figures will always remain undisclosed. The only CEO whose personal benefits could be estimated through stock options is Novell’s CEO.
Let us recapitulate. These three men, CEOs of Xandros, Linspire, and Novell, consumed GPL code and built/repackaged a product which was based on the work of volunteers and other companies. In turn, these men did not just make money selling the work of others. Instead, these three men opted for what could be considered “bribery” in order to put in jeopardy the very same people who gave them free software. They decided to sidle with the rival and work against the supplier (the developer, that is).
For the record, I would like to present a couple of relevant quotes (emphasis mine, using bold fonts).
Hovsepian’s Personal Payoff
He received 778,470 shares of stock awarded 12/20/06.
From this page you can see he’s historically not a big holder.
778,470 @ $6.20 is $4,826,514. No doubt he was hoping for more presents under his tree. Perhaps there will be more for him after the dust settles. Certainly would have been nice for him if the Street had liked the deal and he got a good bump. Too bad.
What is transparent is the message coming out of one side of Microsoft’s mouth which tries to convince customers there is a threat of legal action against them should they dare to use Linux and/or open source software without paying Microsoft for the privilege. The biggest unknowns in the Xandros and Linspire deals is how much money Microsoft paid them to bolster that message.
More on Linspire here. They received money for patents they simply do not have (they have none). In other words, they received money just to sign a bogus patent deal.
Why finish on such a pessimistic tone? Here’s an amusing cartoon that reminds us how it all works. And here’s a video.
Update: according to this,
Linspire received $20 million from Microsoft.
Correction: oops. The guy must have been referring to the Lindows settlement. The amount Linspire received in this case apparently remains a mystery.