The “open source business model” has been obvious for some time: It’s called cloud. But obvious in theory doesn’t mean it’s easy to pull off in practice. As software luminary Tim Bray once said, “The qualities that make people great at carving high-value [open source] software out of nothingness aren’t necessarily the ones that make them good at operations.” He’s correct, but it’s also true that during the past few years open source companies have become exceptionally good at cloud operations.
Just ask Confluent CEO Jay Kreps.
‘Unlocking’ customers with cloud
Confluent went public earlier this year on the promise of harnessing data in motion, or streaming data. Confluent is the primary sponsor of the open source project Apache Kafka, and to help it cover the costs of that development, Confluent rolled out a cloud service in 2017. Today, Confluent Cloud accounts for 22% of the company’s revenues. More tellingly, growth in that cloud business was up 200%, according to Kreps in Confluent’s first earnings call, outpacing the company’s overall revenue growth in the quarter (64%), and even accelerating beyond Confluent Cloud’s trailing 12-month growth rate of 134%.
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