FLOSS Weekly 760 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.

0:00:00 - Doc Searls
This is Floss Weekly. I'm Doc Searls. This week, Shawn Powers and I talked with Adam Jacob, famous for Chef and now for System Initiative, about a lot of things, but a thread that runs through them are his discoveries on how to make money. What's the right way to price out value, get value and return for value. With open source, I do take something that's infinite, essentially, and not so much charge money for that, but charge for your value. And how is that value? And this is an enduring question in the open source world.And he's got some really original takes on it, and that is coming up next.

0:00:51 - Doc Searls
This is Floss Weekly, episode 760, recorded Wednesday, december 6, 2023,. Making Money in Open Source. This episode of Floss Weekly is brought to you by FastMail. Reclaim your privacy, whose productivity? And make email yours with FastMail. Try it now free for 30 days at Hello again everyone everywhere. I am Doc Searls. This is Floss Weekly, and this week we are joined by Shawn Powers himself, who, for those who are not on the visual channel, is more verdant than ever because he's greened up in the top. This is a new signature look. You matched the Pac-Man thing in the background there too.

0:01:43 - Shawn Powers
I do and you know, the Pac-Man thing is one of those things that changes colors and I had to like turn the sensitivity down so it wouldn't change. But because when I'm recording video and I like edit and post edit, it drove me nuts that the nice slow shift between the color wheel was abrupt if I cut out something, and it drove me nuts.

0:02:04 - Doc Searls
So now you have it fixed on green, like you have your head fixed on green Pretty much, and that's the one of the bad things that the Pac-Man eats, right? Is that right in the game, like the little I'm using my hands, like in Pac-Man? Right, you have the thing that looks like a piece of pie with a piece missing out of it. There's chopping down on stuff.

Pac-man, that is Pac-Man. Yes, that is the man that is. Yes, oh, the bad thing is the one that's eating. Is that I forget? No, no, pac-man is the one that eats that. Well, you know, and our guest will explain this to us, our guest today is Adam Jacob of System Initiative, and because I am ill-prepared and because you'll do a better job, adam, tell us about yourself.

0:02:58 - Adam Jacob
I mean, technically, it was my job to prepare you. So yeah, I can begin my bio by saying yes, it is Pac-Man that eats the ghost. Yeah.

0:03:06 - Doc Searls
So it's the ghost.

0:03:08 - Adam Jacob
And then they're a little maze and then they eat. The Pac-Man eats the little ghost On the okay Power pellet though, yeah, but. Pac-man eats the pellets, unless you eat the power pellet, at which point you eat the ghost. But if you don't eat the ghost, then the ghosts eat you. Right, that's all, very that's right.

Actually it's unclear what happens. Do the ghosts eat you? I was kind of assumed they ate Pac-Man, but I guess it doesn't make sense that they would. It's sort of melt him, maybe ghosts? Yeah, exactly, they kind of melt him, but I always felt like that was kind of a digestive or back channel is now shut.

0:03:36 - Doc Searls
It's a little bit of a live participants in club twit. So join club twit, because you can show us back then.

0:03:45 - Adam Jacob
Well anyway, yeah, so I yeah, I'm Adam Jacob. I'm the CEO of a company called System Initiative. It's an open source company. And then in a previous life I wrote a thing called Chef that does infrastructure animation. That was also open source, and I built that company and co-founded it and then was on the board all the way through its exit. And then in a previous life before that, I was a systems administrator, which is actually really what I am sort of at heart, all of which was, you know, my whole career was basically building ISPs and then, you know, you could just sort of trace the rise of the internet and that's sort of the rise of my own work. So, you know, went from like running modems and bulletin boards to like to getting people on the internet, to running applications and all of those things, all of which was built on open source software. I was one of the first six red hat certified engineers it was me and a bunch of people at IBM, you know.

0:04:37 - Doc Searls
So like so yeah, open source guys. We learned earlier before we were on the air. If this is air, this may be something else, but we're on this, we're on the bits that you're actually. You live in Marin and yeah, yeah.

0:04:52 - Adam Jacob
I live in San Francisco. Well, I don't live in San Francisco, you live in 415.

0:04:56 - Doc Searls
Yeah, so, so the ISPs you're involved with in the earliest days you like, with the well, I just remember the names of some of them, the little something, Well they were all tiny and I wasn't in San Francisco.

0:05:09 - Adam Jacob
Then I was in. I was in outside of Portland, as in Vancouver, Washington, the beginning of the Phoenix, Arizona, and, like you know, the one I worked for in Vancouver was like it was literally in the back of a dentist's office, Right. So like you would just walk past people getting their teeth cleaned or whatever, to the like corner, they like took one of the like operating bays I don't know what you call them. It wasn't an operating bay. It makes it sound like they were doing something particularly pernicious in the dentist's office. But you know, yeah, I mean assets kind of you know.

0:05:40 - Doc Searls
Yeah, my first ISP was the one, the first one that worked. The first one didn't work was called Netcom or something like that. I lived in the peninsula, but the one that worked was called Batnet, like B-A-T-N-E-T, and they had a bunch of old sun machines. Basically that's what they got, and they just got a bunch of sun machines. Yeah, yeah, it was a bunch of old.

yeah, you'd get a whole bunch of like sort of files A modem rack and you know the 50 modems or whatever, whatever many customers they could handle at one time and that and worked pretty well, for better know whatever happened to them. Probably the same thing happened to everybody.

0:06:15 - Adam Jacob
I mean they got consolidated, so it happened to everybody. So, like what happened is they got bought into regional ISPs and then regional ISPs got rolled up into a couple of huge ones and then they all wound up Comcast and AT&T Right.

0:06:26 - Shawn Powers
It wasn't a time to be a tech nerd then, because it wasn't like you could go and get training on running those. I mean, my first real IT job was the tech support and managing a big dial-up thing. It was at a college and you know, I just got this job because I knew what UNIX was.

0:06:43 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, exactly that was it, that was the only requirement. Yeah, yeah, do you know what these words mean? And can do?

0:06:49 - Doc Searls
things so like you know.

0:06:50 - Adam Jacob
I've been running bulletin boards since I was nine and so, wow, I was like particularly poised, you know. They were like hey, do you know how to use modems? And I was like, yes, yeah, I know how to like. What's that?

0:07:01 - Shawn Powers
It's a modem. You're hired.

0:07:02 - Adam Jacob
I got you you know and like you know, yeah, I think, and in open source, like that's how everyone, like no one knew how to run those things because no one had ever run them before. And, like you know, it was the same thing for, you know, as we got more and more people on the internet, they needed stuff to do and, like no one had ever done things on the internet before. So we had to figure out how to do that. And then we, you know, like each of those stages, we had to figure out together how to do it.

0:07:28 - Shawn Powers
And you know, I don't know how old you are, but I was like, okay, I'm, I'm 48, a little older, but I was at Michigan Tech and you know, the only computer classes were like C++, programming or whatever. And so I ended up skipping all of those and all my engineering classes to hang out in the lab to learn networking, because there was nowhere to learn networking other than figuring it out in the lab.

0:07:51 - Adam Jacob
And so, yeah, that was it and like I think one of the things that I see now sort of in open source and in and in the sort of in the movement is that there is, there's a, there's a thing that happened in that era and and that we all sort of lived through, where the part of open source that allowed you to to learn, the part that allowed you to like not only like, see the source but then to build with that source like those ISPs existed, because we could build on top of the things that we saw.

And if we couldn't have built on top of it, we couldn't have built them like that, it wouldn't have happened and the the that, I think, is a thing that it's not that we've lost it, it's just that we won so much and it was so effective and it was so efficient that now we're sort of in this moment, we're in a moment where I think people have a little forgotten that like that's actually a requirement, like you know, like it's won so much and it's been so effective that we've sort of forgotten that that was a prerequisite of the whole thing happening and then, and that if you removed it suddenly, you would actually remove this really important part of the load bearing, part of the ecosystem, yeah.

0:08:54 - Shawn Powers
Oh, you're absolutely right. Yeah, it was. I mean, I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it was a weird, weird part of history to live through. Awesome, but awesome.

0:09:02 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, so fun, but like completely gone and never will be repeated.

0:09:06 - Doc Searls
Yeah, so it's sort of like I thought of it at the time and I was a journalist covering this stuff.

Basically, I mean, I was not the only code I know is Morse, so that's how I am, but the it would look like to me, especially with with, suddenly, isps using Unix, but before that, even with Linux, it was like Unix escaped, like the big animal zoo and they were out running in the wild and anybody could tame them and ride them.

So it's sort of the way I think the Native Americans felt when the Spanish lost their horses is like we can use these, you know, and yeah, and suddenly everybody, anybody or everybody could, could, not only you know program stuff, but they're doing it for themselves, they're not doing it for the, for the big company or the university or whatever, or even within the university, you, you had this ad hociness going on, and so I'm wondering if we could trace from that, you know, through your, your chef period, to what you're doing now. Yeah, how, what's changed over that time? Because you say it will never be there again, and I kind of feel like we are there a little bit again with AI, but in a very, very, very different way.

0:10:18 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, I mean a super different way. Yeah, you know, and, sir, can I?

0:10:21 - Shawn Powers
can I interject one just to frame my whole hearing of you? Are you the person responsible for all the puns and chef?

0:10:27 - Adam Jacob
Yes, not all of them, but like I was certainly responsible for the like I was responsible for the original puns in Not that. And like chef had a lot of of People involved in its creation, both at the time of its creation but also sort of as the community grew, and like all of those people really embraced the mild level of silliness that existed within chef, so like. But like I'm the one who put the like, like I called oh hi, oh hi, because of the ceiling cat, you know, like the little cats that would pop up and be like oh hi.

You know, cuz like what it did was like pop up and tell you stuff about your system and I thought it was super funny and you know we shipped it. And then some famous people on TWiTter were like I will never use this software. I had a it has secret flag where if you sort of added a command line flag, it would go get a law cat and then translate it into ascii art and just embed it in the output of oh hi, um makes me know that I did a lot of training on chef and that would have been a great addition to mine.

Well, it got removed within a couple of weeks because it caused quite the kerfuffle there, aren't you like I will never run enterprise software that in injects long cats. I was like you People are no fun, you know? Like, just don't, maybe don't run the secret flag anyway. Yes, so a lot of that was was me.

0:11:47 - Doc Searls
This is chef that I owe, just so I, I guess I thought okay.

0:11:51 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, yeah, you'd what I mean? You'd be forgiven for thinking it was cooking. Do you know?

0:11:55 - Doc Searls
I'm saying like it well, it's hard to avoid that, or the or the you know, or the those, the book or the TV show or the movie movie.

0:12:05 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it was a good movie. But yeah, I think to answer your question of how it's changed, it's it's changed it. I mean the first way it changed was that it super worked. So my experience of open source Living through it and then building up to chef was that like, was that it enabled like every shape of my career up to that point. So, you know, I was like I moved to Phoenix, it's then somebody go to college, as in college for like an hour. Because I got it, I got a job that was paying more than the average degree graduate. Because I knew how to Build ISPs, I knew how to, like, I knew how to do that work. That was because open source existed.

You know, we, the I wound up working for an ISP that was owned by the power company in Arizona weird quirk of history, because they had, because they had power and and phone lines and parts of the lines there that nobody did. So like we brought, like we brought internet access to a lot of parts of Arizona that didn't have phone lines. They didn't have telephones but they had internet access. So like very weird, kind of strange moment in history. But you know that wound up running a bunch of red hat servers because we didn't have the cash to Get Solaris boxes, which is all the grown-ups are doing, and so we just ran, we just like, assembled PCs and we ran the ISP on PCs and racks and like, ran red hat and being able to, you know, look at the software and patch it throughout its lifecycle. And then later on, you know, we wound up building. You know, as my career progressed, you know we were building applications, we were consolidating stuff.

I was a systems administrator. I was very rarely like With the teams that were building the applications, so, you know, somebody else would build it. My job was to understand it and to run it and to figure out how to sort of make those things scale. And all of that work was work that required understanding. You know, how does the system work, how's the kernel work, how does the, how the programming angels work, how's it written, how do you build new automation and like, and you know, then you had companies start to appear, red hat, obviously, in the open source company world. But, like you know, if people remember, like Zimian and like the original known folks you know, nat and Miguel de Acasa and those people, like you know I remember when they raised money and we were all like, oh my god, you can, like you can raise venture capital to do open source, you know, and and when, as we got bigger and as my career progressed, like it was all open source all the time because that was what was necessary to sort of get you where you needed to go.

And Chef, you know, it was an outcrop of that right, it was an outcrop of Of the fact that we had been building these tools and we've been working in the open in this way and and it was sort of a natural thing that it should be open source. But then also that community effect and that ability to to impact people's lives, that happened primarily because it's open source. Like, if you look at, you know, chef, and what happened with chef and sort of how it grew, you know, the number one thing that happened was that people took chef and used it to improve their own lives. Right, they used it to to to do consulting and training, they used it to to Make their day job better. They used it in all kinds of ways that we didn't necessarily predict and it became it's became something that belonged to them in a really meaningful way.

I think over time We've, for that piece of it has been lessened Because the money piece of it has kind of become ascendant. And so if you look at, like how we run open source businesses and you look at how we, how we, think about designing what they are, the more successful they get, the less they tend to care About the part of it that was about people, the part of it that was about the impact that had on their lives, and it starts to be more about product, which makes perfect sense. But I think over the years how it's really changed is that that everyone in the beginning you know, if you were, if you were doing this work in 1996, there was, there was probably open source in your life in a way that made more sense than you know. There's definitely more open source in your life now than there was in 1996 and the dynamics are less clear because they're so powerful and they're so in the water that you just don't, you don't really have to think about them to get the benefit. Does that make sense?

0:16:28 - Shawn Powers
Yeah, it's kind of become ubiquitous. I'm so serious because it seems like your your background is similar to mine at heavier in system administration, maybe networking on that sort of and not so much development. Is that fair?

0:16:42 - Adam Jacob
I mean it's fair. But like I, I Like it became about development very quickly because my question, you know.

0:16:51 - Shawn Powers
I mean, how do you come about them? Because chef is very developer centric and that was one of my I mean personally, was one of my personal struggles. I it was the first major dev ops tool that I had to Dream on and like train others to use and it was like, yeah, I mean I understand why Ruby, that was kind of like a gem of the time and so, but you know, something like Ansible kind of spoke to my inner sister administrator better it was, you know, came out a little later but yeah, so was that. That was an intentional, like we have to really focus on development to make this well.

0:17:24 - Adam Jacob
Accessible. Yeah, I mean, I've always kind of believed that the gap there is is is kind of false, that if you think about the way people learn and the way that they sort of rise through the technology, it's kind of like you're walking up different sides of a pyramid and, if you like, if you meet a sufficiently advanced systems administrator, they're indistinguishable from an application developer, right Like, the specifics of the wizardry that they can do are different, but the shape in which they do it and the way that they think about problems, like they tend it tends to converge. And so for me, I had spent a lot of that time Creating stuff. I like to build things, I like to create new stuff, I like to think about how systems work. I like to create new systems. I like to. I like to think about the the, the bigger the shape and the bigger the problem, the more interesting it is to spend time thinking about it and Trying to figure out ways to fix it or trying to wait how to build new technology.

And I think with chef it's, and for my career, like I am a systems administrator but I wound up having to build all my own tools because the tools that existed were insufficient to the task or they didn't quite fit for the problem, and then the only thing to do is build new tools.

And how do you die? Learned to build new tools, like I went to build new tools because I looked at the tools I was using, understood how they worked and then wrote new ones that work kind of like they did but were a little different. Like you know, one lens you can look at my whole career is like Mark Burgess wrote CF engine 2 and and like my ability to look at CF engine 2 and like Luke Knieze wrote puppet and my ability to understand how puppet worked. Then leads directly to how chef worked, which then all of that work to understand how chef worked, but you know habitat and led to a bunch of other tools that I've written, and then that leads system initiative and it's all one sort of unbroken line of both learning and and understanding and hacking and yeah, yeah for what it's worth.

0:19:09 - Shawn Powers
It was a. That pyramid Example is is pretty profound, because you know, I had to. Of course, when you, when you teach something, there's no way to learn, like the need to teach it, and so I had to learn, chef, and the whole time I'm learning, I'm like Do you know how many complicated bash scripts I've written over the years to do this exact thing? Oh, I thought I would have been a yeah. Yeah, so I mean it, right sense. I was just curious how you got to that point.

0:19:33 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, that's how I got there, because I like to build things. And then, and then also my like, my people, the people I resonate most with are Are I recognize, like our systems administrators, you know. Like you know, when I pitch, like I met venture capitalists for the first time, some of them yesterday, right, and we met lots of them. But like, when they asked her, like well, who are? Like, who are you, what's your background? Like I'm still the systems administrator. Really, right, there's a lot I do. That isn't that's more and more all the time, but like, really, that's who I am and those are the people that I best know how to serve. That's why I keep building tools for Operations and DevOps and like, that's why that's the space I'm in, is because, like, it's the space I like and those are the people I and I like and those are the people I understand and like, that's the.

That's what I resonate with and Open source is what allows that to exist in a way that isn't just having a relationship, you know, like, like using chef wasn't like using Excel, right, like there was a community of people and they were there and you could talk to them and they would support you and like fear, went to a chef comf. You know, like a lot of, most of chef comp wasn't about us, right, it was actually about everyone who came. It was about, like, what they were doing it was about. It was about how they were talking to each other.

0:20:49 - Doc Searls
So I'm wondering what the so we haven't gone into a system initiative yet. Um, and that's your, that's your work now, um, tell us about your role in that. Did you start it? Do you run it? What is it a business? Is it not what's?

0:21:03 - Adam Jacob
what's? Yeah, it's yeah. System initiative is basically a. It's an attempt to sort of rebuild DevOps from the ground up. So and I'm this CEO and I'm co-founded it, I think, and Really what we're doing is basically looking at the workflow of DevOps and saying that, for all the work that we've done which was fantastic the outcomes tend to not be as good as we hope.

You know, if you're actually especially for the big enterprises, you know, like you, we wanted you to deploy whenever you wanted to.

Now you kind of can't, you know, maybe you deploy once every 20 more, you know once a week, once every six months which, look, if you roll the clock back to 2008 and you deployed every week, you're doing is super happy dance, but but it's not what you wanted.

What you wanted was the ability to sort of collaborate together effectively and Efficiently and deploy as many times as you needed to sort of whenever you felt like you needed to, in a way that was seamless and collaborative, and we didn't really get it. So system initiatives are attempts to sort of think differently about the workflow and the way that people work and build something fundamentally new to change the way that people do it. So, basically, gives you a visual interface for doing composition over the top of this, like big, complicated hypergraph that allows you to write code to describe how everything behaves. And so it's this programmable machine with a really collaborative, real-time interface to work together to build your infrastructure. That's all open source and venture backed, and so I think you know part of it is is the technology is interesting, but another piece that's interesting is that, like, every line of code is open source, so there's there's no piece of system initiative that isn't open source and there and won't be, and so it's the same model that, like red hat for example, follows.

0:22:44 - Doc Searls
So I want to get a little further into how Having this in the world changes what you put in the world. But first I have to let everybody know that this episode of Floss Weekly is Brought to you by FastMail. Make email work for you with FastMail. Customize your workflow with colors, custom swipes, night mode and more. FastMail now has quick settings. From the quick settings menu, you can easily choose A new theme, switch between light mode and dark mode and change your text size without leaving the FastMail screen you're looking at. Quick settings will also offer options related to the FastMail screen you're viewing, such as generate a new masked email address, show or hide your reading pane, switch between folders and labels and more. Choose to auto save contacts or choose to show public images from external services like gravitar, set default reminders for events, change how invitations are handled or turn notifications for calendar alerts on and off. Now buy or add a domain through FastMail and they will set up all the records for you. So it works immediately. FastMail gives you the ability to send and receive emails from your own domain and manage multiple email addresses in one space, which helps keep you organized and protects your personal data.

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FastMail is moving email forward with new internet standards and open source innovations that power many email services other than their own. Don't get left behind by substandard email providers. Reclaim your privacy and boost productivity with FastMail. Try it now free for 30 days at That's So, adam, one of my favorite lines from Marshall McLuhan is we make, we shape our tools and our tools shape us, and we do things differently with a Mars smartphone that we did with a landline right. I mean, yes, of course, these all changes. So you've got you've kind of done this twice, first with chef and now with this. How's it changing the actual output, what people are actually doing with DevOps?

0:26:10 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, so I mean that's. I love that quote to you know, one of the things with with the DevOps world that Happened very quickly was we sort of bifurcated ourselves into two lanes. There was the culture lane. That was like, hey, it's, it's not so much about the tools you choose because you got lots of choices, it's more about that culturally, you sort of understand that these are the people parts to do. I think we kind of missed the second part, which is that you know culture is actually what you do now, what you say, and so you know the shape of our tools are the shape of our culture. Right, the way we do the work is. That is in fact what we mean when we say like, what is your, what is your culture?

So you know, part of what brought me to system initiative and also why I sort of love open source more broadly, is that that intersection of if we want to change the way people work, if we want an order of magnitude different or better outcome, we have to have an order of magnitude change in the way that people work, like in the literal thing that they do. So a good example there is right now when you sit down to think about how you manage your infrastructure. You probably reach for terraform or plume or the CDK, right? Maybe you don't, maybe you use the web consoles, but, like for a lot of folks, they would say the right answer. There is like infrastructure as code, and we kind of know what the outcomes are if you use infrastructure as code, like it's kind of great, it does exactly what it's supposed to do, and also it gets kind of unwieldy and difficult, especially at large scale, and so you wind up with a set of experts who understand sort of not only what the cloud providers are doing but also how to manage the shape of the infrastructure as code code base, which itself becomes a huge code base that needs to be managed.

So part of what we think about is like if I want to change how that functions, I have to think differently about how I represent even the information. Right. So we build visual interfaces that are built on top of digital twins. So we're doing like one to one modeling of your infrastructure assets and then letting you build like simulations on top of them.

But to your Marshall McLuhan clothe, like, the reason that works is because it lets us change the feedback loop so that you know when you design something in system initiative, we're qualifying it all the time in real time according to your changes, so we can tell you immediately, like hey, you fat fingered the name of that docker image and suddenly what you get is like an immediate feedback loop that's like shows you that the configurations turned red. We can only do that because we have a big model of what's possible and what good inputs are and what what bad ones are, and we can tell you what works and what doesn't. That's, you know, that's not a thing you can do if you let the tools stay in the shape that they're in, right and and it's that. That's that's sort of how system initiative thinks about it, but it's, I think, broadly applicable to, to, to lots of different things like so that's what's being creative. You have to think differently about the rules a little and so does it.

0:29:07 - Shawn Powers
It does it go on top of existing types of things, or I mean, is this like another layer that manages things beneath, or is this, yeah, a replacement?

0:29:17 - Adam Jacob
abstraction of the. It's kind of a replacement. It's not kind of. It is a replacement, so like yeah, we basically fundamentally change the shape of how it sits at the bottom, so like, instead of what's sitting at the bottom being source code, what sits at the bottom is this really high fidelity model that's backed by this by a, by a hyper graph of functions, and then on top of that, we can then generate things like code. We can then generate things, we can do all kinds of stuff on top of that model, but at the, at the root, it's not, it's no longer code, it's actually like an active data model you can program.

0:29:49 - Shawn Powers
So is there a migration process from doing something another way, or is it a yeah so yeah, so you know, we're using your, your product very early days with system initiative.

0:29:58 - Adam Jacob
So, like today, the only people who should be using system initiative are people who are super nerdy about the space, like if you're not very deep, and nerdy, like it's not ready for you yet, just so we're clear. But if you are, like the way it works is that we've we separate out the, the tracking of states. So if you think about how infrastructure is code works now, where there's like a state tracking thing that does in the middle, so you write your code, then you have some state and then you have the actual cloud Provider state and you synchronize them. What we do is break them apart and we track them both separately so you can actually go. In the end, you'll be able to go from the final state of something running and we can inspect that and build the model backwards. Yeah, so so in the end, that's how you're going to get, that's how you'll do it.

0:30:43 - Shawn Powers
Today you have to go get, but yeah, Okay, so the goal is eventually to have like migration paths kind of thing, but now it's help us make it worth migrating to.

0:30:57 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, I mean now it's basically look, our ambition is to be an order of magnitude better than the existing tool chain and like that's an incredibly hard ambition. Like I'm not I'm, I got plenty ego or whatever but like, but I'm not so egotistical as to think I can just sort of do that in a single throw. So so, yeah, our focus is really on like let's build the technology that does get us that outcome and then and and we'll build that up with the next to the people that we know will care and that we will understand why it's valuable and over time, that will. That will turn into something everyone can use.

0:31:30 - Doc Searls
Okay, yeah, so. So I'm wondering here. I'm looking around on your website and and I'm wondering how your own team works. You're distributed, I guess, all over the place. Is that is that right, are you mostly? Yeah?

0:31:48 - Adam Jacob
we're all distributed with people all over the United States, brazil, the UK, northern Ireland. Yeah, we have a person who's going to be in Australia here in a hot minute.

0:31:58 - Doc Searls
How many? How many people overall in the in your community?

0:32:04 - Adam Jacob
Well, in the community there's thousands are there's about 1000 ish people in the discord right now? And then you know the company has 18 people. Yeah.

0:32:16 - Doc Searls
Yeah, so you're first here. We got you from the the enterprise show because you started, yeah and that's, I think, and poached you from there saying this guy's great, we got to have more on our show. You've had a window on the enterprise to some time. Now what it? What changes are you seeing in in how it works? I'm especially interested in whether or not at all the fact that companies using open source changes that company.

0:32:49 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, I mean, look, using open source absolutely fundamentally changes how companies work. I think there's a couple of related things happening all at once. So you know, when we talk about open source and we talk about companies both the companies that build the open source and sell it for money, and then also the companies who consume open source. In general, large enterprises are consuming open source as products, right? So a good example here is like Red Hat makes OpenShift. Openshift is essentially the Air Kubernetes distribution. It's got a couple of other pieces tied together to it, but that's really what it is.

Red Hat's making over a billion dollars a year in ARR, so, which is insane. So in case you're whatever, not a business nerd, a billion dollars a year in ARR is ridiculous. It's basically double Hashicorp's revenue, completely right, which is nuts. And they sell that to the large enterprise and you know they didn't build Kubernetes. You can get it from other vendors, you can get it from. There's all kinds of places you can get it from. But lots of large enterprises buy it from Red Hat because they like the shape of that product, they want it to be supported, they want to understand the supply chain. There's a million reasons why it's valuable to them to acquire that software as product from Red Hat.

What then happens inside of those organizations is that people like me, people like Sean, like we, wind up working inside those large enterprises, and our ability to see the source code, to understand how the system works, then allows us to better both support the enterprise and the work that they do, but also to then collaborate with our vendors in changing how the solution works. Right, and that kind of symbiotic relationship doesn't really exist outside of open source relationships with your vendors. Right, if I have a vendor and you know if I use, I'll use Honeycomb because they're my friends none of it's open source. If I need a new feature in Honeycomb, I got to go call my friends at Honeycomb and I got to be like please, open, shift. In theory I could do it. I could be like let me show you what I mean, like let me push this thing through together alongside you.

Right, and that is a transformative way of working with a vendor, and it changes both the expectations of what a large enterprise thinks they should be getting out of their relationships with their vendors. It also changes the way that the company thinks about their relationship with their customers. Right, it's the difference between how people feel about like what's your relationship with Microsoft when you use Excel? Yeah, you know, like the answer is you don't have one. You're like you're pleased that Excel exists, like you're glad that it works, but you don't have a relationship. And no matter how much you love Excel, it's pretty difficult for it to grow into a relationship with Microsoft rooted in your ability you know what I mean Like it just doesn't make sense.

0:35:51 - Doc Searls
Yeah, it is similar. At least with Microsoft, you might be paying them, but with Google, you know, I mean, we're using a Google document here to organize the show. So I don't think any of us has any sense that we're going to influence Google in any way. No, you're going to have no relationship with Google, right? None? And so you don't want one. It's go out of their way to not have one.

0:36:08 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, you'll go out of your way not to Well, and also Google is bad at it. So but like, but sorry, google.

0:36:15 - Doc Searls
But you super are.

0:36:17 - Adam Jacob
And I think you wind up with this interesting that impact of open source in the enterprise, like it does feedback. What becomes interesting when you look at the software the open source software itself and then the companies maybe that build it is that as you sell into the enterprise, what you realize is that people are buying your product and there's this long tail of people who don't care about your product, they care about the software. Yeah, so like they actually like there's lots of people who care about Kubernetes, that don't care about OpenShift, they care about and, and a lot of those people will never buy OpenShift because they don't work in the large enterprise. They don't, they don't need those things. And this is how you wind up with, like HashiCorp deciding to change their license. Right, because HashiCorp winds up. You know they got this huge customer base in the enterprise. They're really attached, they have a relationship with HashiCorp. Maybe they look at the source. Mostly they don't. You know how many people patch it? Not very many, you know.

And so you wind up with these relationships that then tend to look. If you don't, if you're not careful about tending that garden, if you're not thoughtful about how you evolve, you wind up with this huge customer base that's willing to say that treats the software as a product. You know you're selling that product. And then there's this huge set of people who are getting all this value for no money. They're not paying me anything to get that value, they're just getting value out of the software for free and they start to look wrong because the customers you care about are the ones that pay you. Yeah, so like there's an interesting dynamic in in how we think about open source and how we think about its impact in companies that, like that enterprise's ability to have a deeper relationship with the vendor is a glorious, beautiful thing. But as that, as those relationships emerge and as people relate mostly to that product, it does actually have this really somewhat deleterious effect on the on the long tail.

0:38:06 - Doc Searls
That's interesting. I mean I just before we're talking here to share with our friends here that you know we have construction going on outside our house. It's very technical actually. They've got a thing that there's a guy sitting there looking through an instrument that sees into the ground and sees the head of a drill going on in the ground. And they've got there are seven pieces of excavators and heavy machinery in our backyard. I'm out there. I want to know how they work, you know, and there's no secrets about it. I mean, even this thing is looking into the ground.

I just spent 45 minutes talking to these guys about this. They're happy with it, they like it. I suppose there may be some, but I'm. What I'm saying about this is that there's an open sourcey part to this and this says that they don't have any secrets about what they're doing at all. You know we're paying them to do this, excavating and and stuff like that, and learning some of their vernacular is interesting too. Like this way.

This is called Salem Limestone that I'm surrounded by in our basement here and it's building limestone. It's some of the most important building limestone in the world. Actually it's quarried here and our backyard is a quarry at the moment, but these guys call it Bluestone because that's the color it is when they drill it out of the ground, and it's all known as and. So knowing that little bit of vernacular helps. You know, and and I feel it's not so much I'm bonding with these guys. I'll hang with them for two or three days and then they're gone. I'll never see them again, probably.

But there's a knowing how things work at a human level as well as a technical level matters. You know, and I and I think that's one of the pieces of what open source brought to business that wasn't there before. You know, you hired Oracle in the past. Right, you had a big Oracle database. You know how it worked. You didn't. You were supposed to know how it worked. It's probably still opaque, but you know. But Oracle bought Sun and they bought, they bought into open source to a large degree because they had to.

0:40:02 - Adam Jacob
Well, think of it this way All companies became technology companies. It doesn't matter what your industry was, and it used to be that it wasn't. You know, like now you go talk to the guys out front who are drilling the limestone like that's an incredible piece of technology. They have right, it's not just a drill.

0:40:17 - Doc Searls
It's this. It's an incredible, it's a smart drill. It's got a $25,000 head on it, yeah Right.

0:40:22 - Adam Jacob
And it's got a, it's got a monofilament camera. That's like coming up to the machine and like think it's incredible what they can do, right. And when you think about like they're a technology company every company is essentially a technology company at this point and when you look at that, you know we started this conversation about ISPs and that how interesting that moment of evolution was. You know that evolution was spurred by the fact that we were technology companies. We were inventing a new kind of technology, that we were thinking to sell that technology to consumers. That drove this massive industry, that drove this incredible adoption that leads us to be, you know, on a podcast with high-finality video.

It's incredible what's happening right now and and that what happens in open source and why it matters in the enterprise. They are also now innovative technology companies. If you ask them, if you go to a bank and you say where are you innovating, they'll say, well, our you know our mobile app is the best. Our like it's the it's, it's. There's lots of places they're innovating. It's all technology.

And how did we what is open sources place in that? Well, it turns out open source is an incredible engine for innovation in technology companies Like it is an incredible way for people to learn and to work together, but not only to learn, but to build and to to build things that make sense for them. And that ability to build on top of other people's technology not just to understand it, but to build on it is critical to the, to that quick delivery of innovation. That is now the thing that every company in the world needs, and I think the it's not that you can't innovate on top of closed source software or that you can't build on top of closed source software. Of course you can, but like, but it's not quite the same, yeah.

And and and I think that that transition has really happened in the last 15, 20 years that, like you know, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, it was a risky thing to say. You were going to build on top of open source, right? You know, when we started using Red Hat at the ISP, people were like you can't use Red Hat in production to run an ISP. Like you got to go buy some Solaris boxes, that's like that's what the grownups do and like. But we didn't have to do that. It worked just fine, you know, and it worked. It got better over time. Yeah, there were like rough edges, but we fixed them because we could and you sort of that innovation cycle kicks off and I think that shape in the enterprise is also really true.

And so when you think about it in the macro like that ability to to, you know, come talk about the jargon, to get into the details, to understand what it is when you look at the impact on business, it is that that has spurred that innovation cycle that we all benefit from all the time. And it's such a powerful impact that people don't actually believe it's happening Because you can't really measure it. It's not like it's not like you can measure it the way I can measure a sales pipeline. You know like you come into my orbit as a marketing qualified lead and then I get you to money at the bottom, like I can measure that. I can be like, oh, I'm moving Sean through my pipeline, you know I'm going to get, I'm going to get Sean to pay me, but I can't measure the, the impact of the innovation cycle that happened inside pick, a giant bank, because they decided to adopt chef.

It happened. They'll tell you it happened. They'll tell you, like the human beings can tell you what the impact was, but I can't measure it in an abstract way. And so we wind up in this very interesting thing where there's this incredibly powerful force that if you've experienced it or you've lived it or you've seen enough to understand how it all attaches, you know that it's there, but it's a little spooky action at a distance still you can't actually describe Like what exactly is it?

0:44:03 - Doc Searls
So Sean, keeping with this hair color, which is green, has some money questions which we'll get to after this break. Right now, all right, okay, so Sean, go for it, man.

0:44:18 - Shawn Powers
So I was sitting here thinking like remembering back, and I honestly don't remember the how chef made money out of, remember what part you paid for. If you paid for chef, which may not be a good thing for the company, I mean, look, it's a good question.

0:44:33 - Adam Jacob
We made plenty of money. I got no regrets. Yeah, yeah, but I'm curious one.

0:44:37 - Shawn Powers
My question, though, is how does system initiative going to make money? I realize it's really early days, but I mean there must be a plan. You don't seem like somebody who would go into this thinking if you make something, money will happen.

0:44:50 - Adam Jacob
Yeah. So here's what like is a long cycle and chef. The answer is chef made money every way that it's possible to make money on open source. We tried, yeah, we. The initial plan was that we were going to have a hosted SaaS service and the software would be open source and if you wanted to run it yourself you could, but you would pay us to run on a SaaS. We were like ridiculously too early to do that. The people's appetite to do that was like zero. Really, if you were small you would, but otherwise you just weren't interested in having a hosted configuration management platform. You know, toward the end of chef's life, 15 years later, everybody was like where's the hosted version? And it made me want to die because I'm like I shipped that for you 14 years ago and you didn't care. But you know, cheers.

0:45:37 - Shawn Powers
So was that shift when things went to the cloud more readily? Do you think I mean when things, when everything was then? Yeah, I mean, is that where the ship I?

0:45:46 - Adam Jacob
mean we built the hosted service as the cloud was coming up. So I mean it was a contemporary of like EC2, right, okay, but like. But it was just too early, people just weren't ready and so we sold it on-prem. And that was a huge problem. It was a. We argued about it a lot. So basically we took then we had like an enterprise version that was the same software that we use to run the hosted platform. That wasn't open source and if you paid for it you got that version or you got the open source version.

That eventually sucked for a number of reasons, like the tension with the community. Which features are in, which features are out. There were two separate code bases. So then we finally just open sourced it all, open sourced all of the server. And then it was like about premium features. So it was like, oh, we'll build the chef automate platform which sits on top of the core of what chef does, and that thing will be for enterprises. So it'll have like better role-based access control, it'll have you know, better auditing, it'll have you know compliance reporting and all this stuff inside of it. That's what enterprises really care about, right, and then we'll sell that part for money, but we'll give the chef part away for free.

This also filled with shenanigans, right? So, like you know, in any given moment here's a story that really highlights the monetization struggle here. So, like we were selling to a company that was really very large let's call them, you know, fortune, easy, fortune 100, right, probably fortune 50. And year-long bakeoff between chef and its competitors. Right, they choose chef, they send us an email, they go congratulations, you are the, you know, configuration management vendor for this fortune 50 company and and also your massive dummies, and we're never going to pay you a dime, because everything we actually want from the software we get for free. So cheers.

0:47:34 - Doc Searls
Awesome, they actually said that.

0:47:36 - Adam Jacob
They actually said that out loud Well they actually kind of swore in the email they, which I can't do because we talked about this earlier in the thing. So like yeah, in the email they were like you were, you know because you were massive dummies, they dropped bombs.

Wow, yeah, they weren't full-eyed about it and you know so. Imagine you find yourself on the receiving end of this email and your sales rep is like you know, like that's bad, and you know that's what it's like to sell open core software. Because we, just for that customer, for that individual person, what they saw value in was the core thing that chef did, not all of the enterprise stuff that we had stuffed into this other product. And because that was all the value they needed, you know, they didn't need to pay us and so they didn't. And the chef that they got from me was 100% identical to the chef that I gave to my customers. So they were getting all the quality, they were getting all of the supply chain guarantees, they were getting all of the support, all the care, all of that that my paying customers got, and that was bad. So in the end, we changed our business model to have 100% of the software be open source. So, instead of having some things that were enterprise and something that weren't, everything was open source. But if you wanted chef chef, brand chef, you could only get it from me under commercial terms, so you could take the software and do whatever you'd like with it. It was all under the Apache license, feel free, but you didn't get was my brand and the assets that we produced at chef. So if you wanted the chef client or you wanted any of those things, the only way to get them was to be a customer of chef and pay them, or at least accept that you had to get it under commercial terms.

We made that move, and that same customer who sent us that email came back to us and was like congratulations, here's the check. Because the alternative suddenly was getting chef, the software, from someone else, and in this case there was a fork. It was called sync. I'm so pleased that that fork exists. I'm I love the people who make it and maintain it to this day. They're fabulous human beings.

But the question now for that Fortune 100 was not do I pay chef for chef? The question was do I get chef from the people who make chef or do I get chef from the sync people, whoever they are, under whatever terms they do it and whatever way they package it up and whatever way they distribute it? This was better for us as a company. It was a significant mover of our revenue. It really made a huge difference, and so that model is roughly equivalent to how Red Hat works today. It has always worked and it turns out.

That model is fantastic. It aligns the community to the company because the software is free, and if you want to collaborate on the software together, for whatever ends, you want to collaborate on it with us, feel like let's do that together. If you want to build a business that competes with system initiative or with chef, you can. I don't know that you will be better than us at it, but you might. You know, like in God bless you, you should be able to and and. But if you also just want to consume that as a product, you can, and the way you do that is paying for it.

0:50:58 - Doc Searls
We have. We have some questions queuing up here, but first on our back channel, but first we'll take our last break. Here we go, all right, okay, so.

0:51:08 - Shawn Powers
Sean. So it's funny, while you were describing that, me and Jonathan and our one of the other cohosts in the back were saying so basically, you're describing red hat and sent to us, and then you finished up the segment referencing red hat. So, yes, we're all on the same page. Yeah, we're all on the same page Without things worked there. My question, though, is so it sounds like you are set up perfectly to understand all of the pitfalls and nuances of trying to pay your mortgage while working in the open source world. So how, how is a system initiative now handling that?

0:51:46 - Adam Jacob
I mean the exact, that exact model that we discovered last iteration that I have to tell you, like that journey, I wrote a whole thing.

There's a website it's S F O S C dot org. Sustainable, free and open source communities. Like I wrote, like it's it's not a book but it's like longer than an essay, you know, sort of like I had a whole like long, dark night of the soul trying to figure out like why is there this tension between the open source community that I loved and our business's ability to be sustainable and to and to and to thrive? I'm like why are those two things in tension? And I just liked that tension so much that I was never going to be in open source again other than as a creator. I was never going to start a business that was open source but having. But eventually I did figure out sort of how to resolve that tension and so I think, yeah, the the, the way that that works for a system initiative is identical.

Like we every, all the software we build is open source, all of it. You can take it which can't do is build system initiative. You got to call it Sean powers, right, and build your own version of it and do what you want to do with it. And Sean powers has to figure out how to build and support and run that thing and whatever it is you need to do. But if you want to collaborate with me on the software, if you're like, hey, I want to add this feature to this thing we both love and care about. I'm going to work with you all day, every day. Twice on Sunday, right, cause that's fantastic and it serves us both.

0:53:11 - Shawn Powers
Yeah, has the, has the recent and I mean I'm not going to get too far in the weeds here, but the the recent red hat sent to us kerfluffle, is that? Is that a cautionary tale to you?

0:53:24 - Adam Jacob
How does that affect how you're doing things, how you think about things, or yeah, I mean, look, these things are always fragile and, and I think, what with red hat and sento, as in particular, there's always this ebb and flow of you know, even even when you can align the incentives as well as red hat has which, let's be honest, it's fantastic what they, that they have been able to do that, as long as they have in the way that they have and I bet it hurts to, you know have around a layoffs and watch your friends go home and at the same time, have people who what they do is take the software that you put a bunch of money and effort into, repackage it and sell it for money and, and you know, meanwhile your friends are getting laid off. That's not the greatest feeling you've ever had in your life, and so it's unsurprising to me that, in those circumstances, they reacted by trying to figure out how they could put more differentiation between their commercial product and someone else's commercial product that is roughly equivalent, but that they tend to sell for less right, and I don't know that in. In that, the cautionary tale to have there is that you have to just stay open to the true value of the open source part of what you're doing here, which is that that software raises everyone up, that that software creates the opportunity for people to create what they need to create, and and it's easy to close your heart and to turn that into a competitive game where it's zero sum. But it doesn't have to be zero sum, right. The reality is every person who decides to buy Oracle Linux is an easier sell for Red Hat than somebody who decides to use Ubuntu. Right, and and that you know so the market gets bigger. That's better for Red Hat.

Does it suck that you lose those deals? Yes, does it particularly suck when your friends are getting laid off? And they were the maintainers of some of that software and now they don't have jobs? Yes. So the cautionary tale there is that even in the dark moments, when it's really difficult to maintain that footing, you just can't. You just can't give up on that truth that it is better for everyone that we work together and that we collaborate, and that sometimes that collaboration is easy and sometimes it's hard. But but that openness is the point. From a business model point of view, it changes nothing, which is the most efficient way to monetize open source in most circumstances. So here are the qualifications there. It's not always the right way but it frequently I think it is is actually to say what we do is build a product and we sell it for money full stop, which is what they do, and I think that's the best way.

0:56:15 - Shawn Powers
Have you? You said that the community is like thousands of users have you found the community around system initiative to be pretty open and willing to talk about and discuss those kind of tough, tough things? You?

0:56:32 - Adam Jacob
know like, or the potential. Nobody's using it in production yet, so it's a little all fun and games. You know, like, like, and I'm not charging anyone money for it, so it's not like somebody who wants to try a system initiative right now has to be like oh, am I going to pay Adam $5 for the privilege of giving it a shot? You know like, if I was, we'd be having more conversations about it, you know, I think. But yeah, the conversations we have had, you know, have tended to be with people who are quite philosophical about the space. There are people who are pretty deep and open source and they're pretty deep in the history of it and they want to know, like, how are you going to monetize this software? You know, are you going to rug, pull me eventually? You know, are you eventually going to close this off? Because that's an awful feeling, right, if you've put time and effort.

You know, I think Kelsey Hightower said this about Hashi Corp and I kind of felt the same, like you know, whether he'd contributed a line of code to it or not, he had spent a significant amount of his time talking about it and going out in the world, evangelizing it as a thing people should use and they should learn and they should grow on top of. And suddenly what he was doing was being a corporate shill for proprietary software, and I don't think he'd have done that if it hadn't turned out that way. And so you know people are really worried about that shape, and so we've had a lot of conversations about the well, are you going to rug pull me? You know what's the capabilities here? I think you know our answer to that question is we're not, and the software is all open source. You can always take it and do what you want to do. You can relicense it if you wanted to. You can do whatever you needed to do without us, okay.

0:58:06 - Shawn Powers
And I appreciate that your website now, even though it's early days and you're not charging, I mean the pricing model is very clearly put up there. It's not like you're, you know, the drug dealer trying to get everybody hooked on your product and then say, all right, now is the day, you know.

0:58:20 - Adam Jacob
no, I'm being really clear that I'm at that, it's right there, yeah, so what I do is I build an incredible product that I want to sell to you for money. That's why I'm building open source software. That's what I want to do. I also want to build a giant open source community. I also want you to be able to take that and do what you want to do with it. I want that too, and those two things don't have to be intentional with each other, but it does mean I have to say it out loud.

If I don't say out loud look, I'm going to monetize this thing. You're going to like if you consume system initiative from me, you're using this, you're using my product, and you're going to have to accept it on my commercial terms. And if you don't want to, that's okay. There will definitely be a fork of system initiative. I can't and I'm stoked for it as soon as that fork arrives. It's because there's enough value there and people love it enough that they're that they don't, that they're unwilling to take it. On my terms, that sounds great Like. What that means is there's a much bigger community of people who care about that software and care about that value. It's only going to make it better over time.

0:59:20 - Doc Searls
It's interesting to me that what you're selling is the value of yourself and not just of the code, because otherwise it's available for free anyway. Right You're, anybody can have it. Yeah, and it's an interesting thing. I mean it's like the your customer's value, you and what you bring to the table that is original and even if the goods themselves are, are duplicable or other, you know other people can use them in any other way. They want that it's yours.

0:59:54 - Adam Jacob
I mean it's personal, I mean it's an interesting aspect of it that Well, but if you think about it right, like if most software engineers tend to be the people who have the most trouble understanding this, because what they value is the software, because they know how to write software, they know how to run it right, they're like I don't need you Companies, other regular human beings in the world back to take it back to your limestone drillers. If they just rolled up with all the gear and dropped it off and we're like doc, have a party drill. You know that's not better. Right, you need a product and the product they're selling you is I'm going to show up with the gear and the expertise and I know how to make this happen and I will drill it for you and it will work in the end. You don't want the software, you don't want the drill, you want the homies who run the drill, right, yeah. And the same thing is true when we sell software products. Like I got an iPhone right here. If you gave me all the software and all the specs to build an iPhone, I don't want to build an iPhone, I just want to buy a freaking iPhone. Like I just want to move on with my life, like I just don't need to exist in that level and what's great about this model and what's great about open source is that we get to exist on both levels.

You get to say look, there is a community of people who get value from the software as software. The value they get of it is how they is, that they can explore it, is that they can change it, is that they can collaborate with us. It is that they can build their own things on top of it. It is that they can take it out and do what they want to do with it. That's fantastic. Those people are never my customers, right? They don't want. They're not getting value from the product, they're getting value from the software.

Fantastic. Get value from the software Lots of other people. They need to get value out of it as a product and what we do is sell products to those people. That are incredible and we and like it's. It's actually really straightforward.

It's fascinating to me that, as an industry, we have wound up building the open core model as the de facto answer to monetization and open source. Because if you actually described what I just described to you, I think is pretty straightforward. The open core model says build something of incredible value, chef, you have to give away 99% of what makes Chef valuable all of it, if you want to be honest, right, so like you could build some of the biggest companies in the world on top of Chef and not pay a dime for 15 years of it. And we did that because there were also people who value the software right, and because those people who value the software needed it to do that way. We also hamstrung our monetization and wound up building this incredibly Byzantine mechanism to talk about what real, what they'll really value. It's insane that that's how we landed.

1:02:34 - Shawn Powers
It drives me crazy now you think that it's because of the way that things progress? I mean, do you think that had you started with the model that finally worked at the beginning, it would have worked? Or do you think that the industry and the community and everything else had shifted to a point where that?

1:02:53 - Adam Jacob
will work? I think no. If Chef had started with that model from the jump, it would be a public company today. Wow, that's interesting. The reason it's not a public company today is because we didn't start with that model. If we had started with that model, we'd have continued to build. That community would have continued to thrive and it still is. Don't get me wrong Progress the people who bought Chef. Chef is still doing great. They're making plenty of money. Their customers are happy. There's not shade on progress but our ability, I think, to weather some of the disruptions that happened in Chef's business.

Chef was disrupted way more than most companies are and still grew handsomely, quarter over quarter, and that was the power of that open source, part of what we did. That wasn't our commercial monetization being hyper efficient. That was people loved Chef, even beings who used it. They loved that community, they loved each other, they loved the things that they built, and so, even when something disruptive and new came along, they wanted Chef in their lives. It mattered to them.

And it didn't matter to them because of what it did. It mattered to them because of what it represented and what they could do with it, and that is what drew, that kept Chef strong far longer than if it had been disrupted as a proprietary product ever would have. And I think nothing about all of that community growth and that relationship that we had with the people who built the software and then the people who used it all of that would have been even stronger. Could we have just expressed the truth in the beginning, if we had just said from the beginning that that's what we wanted and that's what we valued, and then tied that concretely into the future of the company's business model, which is what Red Hat has done from the jump, essentially, it would have been better, it would have worked, and that we didn't figure it out till late is a real regret.

1:04:52 - Doc Searls
It's interesting. We're actually, I think, maybe past time for the end of the show. A quick question is one that Jonathan often asks what's the weirdest thing that's been done, either with Chef or with System Initiative, that you've experienced so far?

1:05:16 - Adam Jacob
What's the weirdest thing that's been done?

1:05:19 - Doc Searls
The most entertaining.

1:05:22 - Adam Jacob
One of the things that was best about Chef was that Chef was very pragmatic and System Initiative is too, and so we had some people who had used it at a huge entertainment company and they were super excited and they called us up and they were like come look at what we did. It's so awesome. And so we came to this meeting, which was like what a lovely thing, right? So we go to this meeting and we're like can't wait to have them show us this awesome thing that they did. And what they did was just wrote a bunch of Ruby code inside of a Chef cookbook.

They didn't use Chef at all, really. They just wrote a program that did what they wanted and executed it with Chef. And they were like check it out and it worked. They automated all of their application deployment inside Chef by just writing raw Ruby. And my reaction to it was amazing Look at how you solved your problem, right? Because they really did this long standing problem they just fixed. And then I was like let me show you how to use Chef to do that. Maybe you could have done it this way, not that way.

1:06:23 - Doc Searls
So, being out of time, we always ask two questions. That ended up what are your favorite text editor and scripting language?

1:06:31 - Adam Jacob
Yeah, my favorite text editor is now NeoVim and my favorite scripting language is Perl, but not the one I use as much anymore. But my whole life rests on the fact that Larry Wall was amazing and the Perl community was incredible and they taught me how to program. So Perl Larry's fun. I'm terrified of meeting him, so I have no idea. Oh really, he's a cool guy.

1:07:01 - Doc Searls
I've seen him 20 years Everyone.

1:07:03 - Adam Jacob
I know who knows him. I have friends who are like he officiated our wedding Larry's great and I'm like yeah, yeah, he comes from the church actually. It's important that I not meet Larry Wall. I'm terrified of meeting Larry. If you're listening, larry, I'm so sorry. I'm sure you're a delight and also.

1:07:18 - Doc Searls
I just need you to remain. You may just show up at your house you won't know who he is to say something I would.

1:07:24 - Adam Jacob
I would 100% know who he is. I have seen him in person. I'm like he's been across a room for me, you know, like we've been in the same spot, and then I turn around and leave. I'm like nope, too much, you know, like I can't do it.

1:07:37 - Doc Searls
You're very terrifying to me. Anyway, this has been great having you on the show. We'll have to get you on all the TWiTch shows, I think. Now let's make the rounds, Ask you around to all the shows. This has been great and good luck with the system initiative. Yeah thank you so much. Yeah, it'll be, you know, and you have to come back and tell us how it went after.

1:08:01 - Adam Jacob
You know after 15 years from now, I'll come back and tell you how we could, we could probably do is shorter than that.

1:08:08 - Doc Searls
The things happen fast.

1:08:10 - Adam Jacob
We can check in along the road, you know indeed, indeed.

1:08:14 - Doc Searls
So thanks a lot. Yeah, my pleasure. So, sean.

1:08:19 - Shawn Powers
Yeah, and you said earlier in the back he's going to come back and he's going to say what we found is that if we had the core be free, what we ended up doing is having all of the additional things be enterprise, and that just worked so well.

The best part of me saying that is I know he's muted in the background still, so he can't even reply, but it was cool. I'm, you know, so a large part of gosh when chef and puppet and Ansible and Salt Stack and CF Engine and all basically, when DevOps became a thing, a large part of my career was making training for people so that they could, you know, figure it out. And it's interesting to hear some of the history about chef and stuff, because that was interesting. What I'm really curious to see is what the system initiative ends up looking like and being in. You know there's probably, you know I could probably go and find like this is what it looks like. I probably will, because I'm curious. It feels a little bit like a next stage of DevOps, and so my interest is peaked.

1:09:26 - Doc Searls
Outstanding I've been to see. She's the kind of wish I was a DevOps guy, Because you guys are having fun, know what you're doing, no that's not.

1:09:39 - Shawn Powers
You don't know. Nobody knows what they're doing in DevOps.

1:09:43 - Doc Searls
You, just you know it's just so many, so many things you do in a lifetime, so give us your plugs, your own plugs?

1:09:52 - Shawn Powers
Oh, I don't really have. You know, I got a new job so I'm not really doing too much outside of that. Yeah, the stuff on the screen there, my newsletter hopefully I'll have some issues with that. But yeah, I'm not doing a whole lot outside of just ramping up the new job, which is training.

1:10:05 - Doc Searls
Are you bringing the cartoon back? It's a boy.

1:10:07 - Shawn Powers
I hope so. I'm hoping that's like my wintertime morning entertainment is drawing the comic again. I haven't done it in so long, but yeah, I'm getting into a groove. I'm back to training Now. I'm training on Google Cloud stuff, so yeah, fun. I'm glad you're gainfully operating there, yeah me too, it's nice to live indoors and eat food.

1:10:33 - Doc Searls
And you live up there in a snow belt too. You're not that far from me, actually. You're like 300 miles, 200 miles north of here, but yeah, you don't get snow here we get like a lot of snow and that's the thing.

1:10:44 - Shawn Powers
And it's cold, but it's fine. It's been mild so far. I don't have snow tires on our car yet, which my wife is not thrilled about, but we haven't, you know, we haven't needed the snow tires yet.

1:10:56 - Doc Searls
So we had to drive somebody to the airport this morning and the heater went out in the car Actually the blower, the thing that blows air at you which might as well be out of heat. So that should get with an old Subaru. Those things happen anyway. So next week, next week, we have and I had it up and yeah, okay, great, it's going to be Bradley Kuhn or somebody else from the Software Freedom Conservancy. So that's been planned for a while. We've wanted Bradley on here, but there are a number of people there that are cool and that's going to be our thing next week. So thank you Sean, so thank you Adam, and we will see you guys then.

1:11:40 - Leo Laporte
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