New Linux Companies Hope To Get Rich Quick

Fake News written by James Baughn on Saturday, January 22, 2000

from the will-the-bandwagon-get-pulled-over-for-speeding? dept.

The Linux bandwagon is rolling at full speed down Wall Street. In the last few months a huge wave of new Linux-oriented businesses have popped up hoping to cash in on the bandwagon. Some, like LinuxOne, have even less potential than Humorix does, while others, four of which we review in this article, could become The Next Big Thing(tm).

Adopt-a-Beowulf

Every geek dreams of owning their own Beowulf supercomputer. Very few people (except for dotcom billionnaires) can afford to build one, but the folks at Adopt-a-Beowulf can provide the next best thing: a virtual beowulf. For US$49.95, you can "adopt" your own 256-node Beowulf cluster. You won't own it, or even get to see it in person, but you will receive photos of the cluster, a monthly newsletter about its operation, and a limited shell account on it.

The company hopes to branch out into other fields. Some slated products include Adopt-A-Penguin, Lease-A-Camel (for Perl mongers), and Adopt-A-Distro (in which your name will be used as the code-name for a beta release of a major Linux distribution or other Open Source project).

Linux Collectibles

Don't throw out that old Red Hat Linux 3.0 CD. A group of entrepreneurs are hording vintage Linux items in the hopes that they will become hot collector's items in the coming decades. The venture, called "Money Grows On Binary Trees", hopes to amass a warehouse full of old Linux distributions, books, stuffed penguins, promotional material, and Linus Torvalds autographs.

"Nobody thought pieces of cardstock featuring baseball players would be worth anything... what fools!" the founder of Binary Trees said. "That 'Linux For Dummies' book sitting in your trash can could be the next Babe Ruth card."

The company organized a Linux Collectibles Convention last week in Silicon Valley, drawing in a respectable crowd of 1,500 people and 20 exhibitors. The big attraction was a "Windows For Dummies" book actually signed by Linus Torvalds. "He signed it back at a small Linux conference in '95," the owner explained. "He didn't realize it was a Dummies book because I had placed an O'Reilly cover on it... Somebody at the convention offered me $10,000 for it, but that seemed awfully low. I hope to sell it on eBay next month with a reserve price containing a significant number of zeros."

OpenEgo

In the Cathedral and the Bazaar, ESR mentions that one motivation behind Open Source software is ego-gratification. That's where OpenEgo, Inc. comes in. For a fee, the hackers at OpenEgo will produce a piece of Open Source software and distribute it in your name, thus building up your reputation and ego. You can quickly become the envy of all your friends -- without lifting a finger. Want a higher-paying tech job? With OpenEgo's services, you'll look like an Open Source pro in no time, and have dozens of hot job offers from across the country.

Says the OpenEgo sales literature, "Designing, implementing, maintaining, and promoting a successful Open Source project is a pain. However, at OpenEgo, we do all the work while you reap all the rewards..." A page on the OpenEgo site claims, "We produced a Linux kernel patch for one customer last year that was immediately accepted by Linus Torvalds... Within days the person gained employment at Transmeta and is now on the road to IPO riches..."

Prices range from US$1,000 for a small program to $5,000 for a significant kernel patch.

IPO Factory

The buzz surrounding Linux and Open Source during the past year has produced a large number of billionnaires. However, people who weren't employed by Red Hat or VA Linux, or who didn't receive The Letter, are still poor. The visionaries at The IPO Factory want to change all that.

As the name suggests, this company helps other businesses get off the ground, secure investments from Venture Capitalists, and eventually hold an IPO that exits the stratosphere. "You can think of us as meta-VCs," the IPO Factory's founder said. "You provide the idea... and we do the rest. If your company doesn't hold a successful IPO, you get your money back, guaranteed!" He added quickly, "Of course, if you do undergo a billion dollar IPO, we get to keep 25% of your stock."

Some of the services that the IPO Factory provides in their EZ-IPO(tm) Package include:

  • Intensive public relations and shameless promotion. "We'll get your business plugged on Slashdot in no time," an IPO Factory salesperson boasted. "Or you could opt for the Transmeta Strategy and keep your product line top-secret while leaking rumors out to the press. We won't be able to hire Linus Torvalds for you, although we have several lookalikes available."

  • Patent snatching. Patent attorneys will invent and file as many patents on your behalf as possible, and then sue any and every business they can. "There's nothing immoral about abusing the intellectual property laws... as long as you're the one doing it," says the company's chief litigator.

  • IPO underwriting. The IPO Factory will file the necessary paperwork and bribes with the Securities & Exchange Commission. PR agents will infiltrate stock discussion boards and execute an Astroturf campaign promoting your company, even during the SEC-imposed "Quiet Period".

The company's first customer, LinuxOne, has been a failure. "From now on we're only going to service clients that actually have a viable product," an IPO Factory salesperson admitted. "Oh, and we've learned our lesson: it's not a good idea to cut-and-paste large sections from Red Hat's S-1 filing."

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