UpFRONT

Strictly On-Line, LJ Index and more.
LOOSE TALK

When we announced at Lotusphere that we'd be porting Domino to Linux, we got a standing ovation. From ten thousand people. —Don Harbison, Marketing Manager, Notes/Domino Product Marketing, Lotus Development Corporation

We did an internal survey of six hundred people to determine populations at levels of Linux knowledge. At the bottom level you had to know how to spell Linux. All 600 could do that. At the top level, you had to be able to hack kernel code. To our amazement, we had 120 in that group. —Felicity McGourty, Director, Problem Management, Tivoli Systems

Inprise (http://www.inprise.com/), still better known to most developers as Borland, is jumping into the Linux space with both feet. Their own Linux developer survey (which drew respondents from Slashdot and Linux Today) showed a high degree (72.3%) of interest in Rapid Application Development (RAD) and Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), which have long been a Borland/Inprise specialty. In fact, the top answer to “Which language are you primarily interested in developing in on Linux?” was Inprise's own Delphi (43.9%). The first Inprise product for Linux is VisiBroker for Linux, a new version of the company's popular Object Request Broker (ORB).

Cosource.com (http://www.cosource.com/), the new cooperative market for open-source development, launched a live beta just before LinuxWorld Expo. During the show, the number of proposals to develop open-source projects increased to 10, and financial commitments to the same projects jumped from $50 to $1,640. Driven by the rising interest in open-source development, Cosource.com expects these numbers to multiply over the next few weeks and months, leading up to the official launch of the service.

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Due to numerous complaints about subscriptions and other unresolved problems with our subscription house, we have brought subscription fulfillment back in-house. We value our subscribers and want them to receive the best service possible.

All information from the outside fulfillment company is now in our own database, with a reworked computer database system specially designed for the task. Visit the LJ web page at www.linuxjournal.com/ and click on “subscribe”. Our secure form is at www.linuxjournal.com/xstatic/subs/customer_service.html. Using the 8-digit subscriber number on your mailing label, you can inquire about a current subscription, as well as order back issues, LJ archive CD-ROMs, renewals and new subscriptions, and pay an invoice. The information displayed will be current as of the time you made the inquiry. Your questions, problems and concerns will now be handled much more quickly, by a knowledgeable staff, using Linux, of course.

Another benefit to subscribers is free access to all back issues on-line at interactive.linuxjournal.com.

Thank you for your patience during this period of transition.

STOP THE PRESSES

Now that Red Hat has gone public, other IPOs (initial public offerings) are on the horizon. We are sure to see one from VA Linux Systems and Andover.net. In addition, don't be surprised to see IPOs from other Linux players over the next year.

As most of us are computer gurus, not stock market gurus, I thought it appropriate to find out how an OpenIPO works. I asked Michael Ackrell of WR Hambrecht + Co to explain it. Here are his responses to my questions.

Q: What is OpenIPO?

A: WR Hambrecht + Co, the new investment bank founded by industry veteran Bill Hambrecht, uses a Dutch Auction method, dubbed OpenIPO, to price and allocate shares in an IPO. Under the auction, orders are received for shares at various price levels. At the end of the auction, orders are accepted starting with the highest bid price and continuing at the lower prices until the number of shares being offered has been sold. Each investor pays the lowest price accepted, or the clearing price. In addition, investors bidding above the clearing price will receive full allocation at that price. Investors bidding at the clearing price will receive pro-rata allocation. Investors who bid below the clearing price will not be allocated shares. For example, a company files a 2 million-share IPO with a filing range of $12-15. Orders are received as follows: 1 million shares at $18; 500,000 shares at $16; 750,000 shares at $15; 500,000 shares at $14; and 500,000 shares at $13. For this offering, the clearing price is $15. Investors who bid above $15 receive full allocation; investors who bid at $15 receive pro-rata allocation; and investors who bid below $15 receive no allocation.

Q: What are the advantages of an OpenIPO over the traditional approach?

A: OpenIPO, as the name implies, is open to any investor, including large institutions, the over 1,400 small- to medium-sized institutions, and the significant number of retail investors. Institutional investors like the system because they are able to receive the full amount of shares they want, if they bid appropriately. Retail investors like the system because it provides them access to IPO shares, and their orders count the same as those from institutions. Issuers benefit from the system because their stock is available to a much wider group of potential investors. Furthermore, the auction attempts to establish a more efficient pricing environment, one that captures the true demand for a stock in the IPO price rather than in the aftermarket.

Ultimately, through OpenIPO, the market, not the underwriter, prices the IPO. While the system will not alleviate all aftermarket price fluctuations, it should put more money into the hands of the issuer.

For the Open Source community, OpenIPO is a way for developers to actually receive shares in an IPO. Under the traditional approach, they would not be able to get any shares. OpenIPO provides better pricing for the issuer and better allocation of stock. Red Hat left a lot of money on the table, as the price rose significantly on its first day of trading and it was unable to get stock into the hands of its developers.

______________________

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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