Company-led Projects: Liferay

liferay logoHaving been writing about commercial open source for years, I finally decided to start a new blog category at SourceForge blog to cover the business side of open source. I’ll be posting on SourceForge blog interviews to people who can tell us stories about how they combine open source and business at SourceForge blog, and I’ll comment on them here.

Bryan Cheung, Liferay’s cofounder and actual CEO, while sharing his experience about how Liferay grew its project into a product provided me with additional information.

During the call we have been surfacing the ratio of the number of Liferay users over the number of Liferay customers. Having precise and accurate numbers, especially for the number of users, maybe tricky, so Bryan told me Liferay customers/users ratio is between 1/250 and 1/400.

While other open source vendors showed different ratios, the general take is that the more users the better. I remember talking to Matt Asay about the importance of investing in PR.

Among other take aways from the call I’d definitely mention the following.

1. At some point you need a product manager able to integrate customers’ needs into product’s features.

2. The importance of moving to a plug-in architecture, enabling third-parties to add features,

3. Long maintenance matters in the enterprise market,

4. Both Product and Customer development are key to your success,

5. Channel partners and marketplaces are a must unless you want to build a lifestyle company.

Take your time to read the full interview.