Open Source and Coopetition Are the New Normal

Ron Miller | TechCrunch | November 17, 2016

In a month of unexpected outcomes, we have also seen some tech partnership announcements, ones we thought we might never see. In fact, just this week we witnessed Microsoft joining the Linux foundation and Google joining Microsoft’s .NET foundation. You cannot minimize just how at odds these announcements are with what has been the reality of the tech industry over the last 20 years. These are organizations that have battled one other in a bitter war of words and technology visions. The idea that they would someday be working together was a highly unlikely outcome.

And yet it happened surprisingly fast, as the changing nature of the industry has forced companies who once diametrically opposed one another to start working together for the sake of their customers. Back in the day when companies lived inside their proprietary stacks, they could afford to make it difficult to work together. Those days are gone, and in the age of the cloud, customers are demanding interoperability — and the big platform companies are duty-bound to give it to them.

We saw a similarly curious partnership play out last year at Dreamforce when Satya Nadella appeared on stage at Salesforce’s massive customer conference. You have to have followed the industry for the last decade to truly understand how implausible this would have been just a few years ago. These were two companies at each other’s throats suing and counter-suing one another. There seemed little likelihood that the company CEOs — Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Nadella — would ever appear onstage together, but here they were smiling and shaking hands and appearing for all intents and purposes to be best buddies...