The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

FLOSS, Larry Augustin, VA Linux IPO, one of my many missed opportunities...

One of the bet things since I joined IV was discovering FLOSS Weekly, the podcasts from Leo Laporte's TWiT network with Randall Schwartz (and originally Chris DiBona) on Free, Libre, and open Source Software.

I'm going back and listening to old podcasts as well as new ones.  While driving between Seattle and Portlamd, or while exercising on the elliptical machine at the gym.

Today listened to old Episode 6, with Larry Augustin, founder of VA Linux, SourceForge, etc.

They mentioned VA Linux's IPO, and how Chris DiBona ran the program... heck, quoting wikipedia:

Many authors of free software were invited to buy shares at the initial price offering as part of a friends and family deal.

I'm not sure why I was one of the 1500 Open Source developers invited to join the IPO.  The invite letter did not say.  Chris DiBona said he went through source code control history records.  Probably something I had contributed to RCS (-I. / -I$) or CVS (although I don't remember anything getting into the CVS distribution).

I was at university at the time. I was invited to buy shares at 30$ - I don't remember how many, maybe 1000$ worth, maybe more.  But I do remember was that it was more money than I had at the time.  I remember discussing with my wife, saying that it might double in a year, but I didn't think that VA Linux was making money, so the money might be lost.

The IPO price was 30$.  Trading opened at 299$, peaked at 320$, closed at 239$ on the first day.

Sigh.  If I had purchased the IPO...  but then, I would have probably held on too long, riding the stock price until it was essentially not worth the IPO price.


There is a moral here:  I was right about the overall poor prospects for VA Linux. (I think.)  But riding the wave can be very profitable, even though it ends up as nothing on the beach.