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The Unsurprising Surprise of Open Source M&A

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There must be something going around, something in the water. That was how one commenter put it to me this week. How else to explain the rash of open source acquisitions? From MySQL to Covalent to Trolltech, the appetite for open source vendors appears to be insatiable - even when the acquiring firm is itself an open source play, as is the case in the Covalent deal. Speaking for many, Matt Asay’s headline discussing the Trolltech acquisition included the question: “Will any open-source companies be left to change the world?”

Tongue firmly in cheek, presumably, as Matt knows the realities of this market as well as anyone and better than most. What has interested me over the past few weeks has been the surprise - even shock, in some quarters - over the popularity of open source vendors. Not the valuations, mind you, which have provoked the expected differences of opinion over. But the mere popularity.

Which has inspired a few comments in the discussions I’ve had on the subject with vendors, individuals, and media alike.

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