An Important Indicator?

By April 30, 2009glue conference

Phil Becker has been my partner in crime around conferences since 2002. In that time, Phil and I have shared endless conversations around the “cycles” that occur in the technology world (economically, developmentally, innovation-wise, etc). The other day, Phil and I were discussing the recent announcement by Eucalyptus Systems (a 5.5mm Series A), and pondering the significance of it all.

Our thesis is this: Historically, truly significant periods of innovation in the world of modern information technology can be marked by some technology research work moving out of the world of pure research (be it academic or govnerment-driven) and into the world of commercial technology.  The examples (and these are just a couple) are not insignificant:

1. BSD-Unix: This history is a who’s who of open source operating systems.  From the early beginnings of PDP-11, to the 1982 departure of Bill Joy (from Berkeley) to start Sun Microsystems, BSD marks a HUGELY significant innovation cycle in technology.

2. Mosaic:  Similarly, the development of the Mosaic browser (building on FTP, Usenet and Gopher) reads like a who’s who of the founding of the world wide web. Marc Andreesen’s move from the University to the founding of Netscape (and Netscape Navigator) may be the most significant technology development of our lifetimes.

3. Google:  The movement of the google search algorithm out of Stanford and into the commercial world is well documented, and certainly backs up our thesis.

There are, of course, other examples (hell, you could argue Facebook fits this profile), but these serve as a good foundation.

Now take a look at Eucalyptus.  Eucalyptus is now moving out of UC-Santa Barbara and into the commercial realm. In ALL of our analogies, this move marks the beginning of a very serious period of innovation in the tech world.

Is the Eucalyptus move that significant? We can’t know yet. But I’d argue that the thesis certainly bears watching. And, if we’re right, then the open innovation field that Glue is seeking to explore sits on the cusp of something amazing. Perhaps I’m over-inflating things. But, perhaps not.

Join us and help me figure this out.