Rimer's Rules for Open Source
For 10 years, Danny Rimer was in the thick of the startup action in Silicon Valley as an investment banker and venture investor. In 2002 he gave it all up to move to London to open the European office for VC firm Index Ventures. At the time it may have seemed an odd career move. Silicon Valley-style venture investing was on the downswing in Europe, in favor of more old-fashioned and safer buyout deals.
The move also put Rimer at ground zero of the open-source revolution. Open-source companies are just now emerging out of Silicon Valley, but for years the revolution has been rooted in Europe.
Rimer has made investments in companies across the open-source landscape, including MySQL, so far one of the more successful open-source startups; Zend, which created the popular "PHP" open-source programming language; TrollTech, which is using open source to go after the mobile device market; and his newest investment, Seattle's SourceLabs, which aims to become the middleman between open-source projects and big companies.
Few other venture capitalists have been in so many open-source deals, but Rimer is still cautious about how many big companies will emerge from the current funding frenzy. BusinessWeek Online reporter Sarah Lacy caught up with Rimer to chat about his European advantage and why he won't make certain open-source investments. Following are edited excerpts of the conversation.