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Interviews: Ask Larry Augustin What You Will 48

Former chairman of VA Software and venture capitalist, Larry Augustin, co-founded VA Research in 1993 and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Sourceforge. VA bought in 2000, acquiring a number of media sites, including Slashdot. He serves on the board of several companies and is currently the CEO of SugarCRM. Larry has agreed to take some time and answer your questions about the world of venture capital, open source software, and surviving the dotcom bubble. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post
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Interviews: Ask Larry Augustin What You Will

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  • Dear Larry, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @12:36PM (#46455429) Journal

    Do you agree with the Slashdot Beta program ?

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Do you agree with the Slashdot Beta program ?


      This isn't a troll question. Its something valid to ask someone who once owned slashdot.

      And really, do any of you think that someone with a mid range 4 digit id would stoop to trolling on slashdot?

  • What a ride... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Slartibartfast ( 3395 ) <> on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @12:38PM (#46455443) Homepage Journal

    Hey, Larry -- you don't know me (shocker), but I've been a fan since back in the day -- indeed, VA's IPO helped buy me my first LCD monitor. (Go, SGI 1600SW.) Anyway, Linux, open source, the web, and technology itself has certainly seen lots of change since the "olden" days of the mid-90's; which parts do you reflect on most fondly, which parts have surprised you the most, and, of course, the proverbial: "If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?" (I realize that technically, that's three questions, but I think it's really three questions in search of one answer.)

  • What's your opinion on crypto-currencies? Do you think SHA-256 currencies have no future because only the big guys can afford mining rigs? Do you think there's way too many Scrypt currencies?

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @01:02PM (#46455649)
    Currently, advertising pays for the web as we know it. From my perspective as a non-marketer, it is very much ineffective and yet a lot of money is changing hands over it. We live in an age where someone can make $50,000\day on a free mobile game that display ads that most people do not even tap on, and avoid directing their attention to. The web doesn't seem much different, and that strikes me as unsustainable. Do you foresee a future bubble burst based on an industry-wide, sudden realization that current advertising models do not work anywhere near as well as the powers that be currently believe the do? What would be the consequences of an advertising bubble burst and what might support the web afterwards?
    • From my perspective as a non-marketer, it is very much ineffective

      How, as a 'non-marketer' are you qualified to comment on how effective web marketing is?

      Unlike many other marketing mediums, online advertising is usually very measurable in terms of rate-of-return on advertising dollars spent.

      In many companies (like the one I work for) marketing dollars are very tight and are only spent in areas where we see a return. Online ads are a prime example.

      • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )

        How, as a 'non-marketer' are you qualified to comment on how effective web marketing is?

        Simple: I am a consumer. It is very rare I click on on ad out of interest. Typically I mis-click because the go away button is too small or ambiguous. Mostly when I click on ads, it's to support a website I like in hopes that it's set up as a simple click through. Then I close the page.

        • I assure you, if the typical consumer were like you or me, the media would look a whole lot different. The ads are going after people who will click on things that interest them, and perhaps buy them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I recently ran into a problem with SugarCRM where I need the relationship between a lead and an account (ideally through REST), but apparently I cannot get access to that information.

    After speaking with a few engineering and our developer support there is currently no way for an On-demand customer to have direct access to the relationship tables.

    I have attached this case to Enhancement Request

    Why can't I get that data, and can I get a timeframe/priority for the enhancement request?


  • You were prominently featured in the documentary Revolution OS.

    Do you think it is time for a similar documentary to be made, this time avoiding or minimizing the financial aspects?

  • by CQDX ( 2720013 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @01:09PM (#46455725)
    Hello Larry, Since you are an EE and started out hacking systems together, I assume you loved working with technology and the open source down at the nuts and bolts level. Now you are a suit, a very successful business man running companies that serve business (CRM!). What's the appeal of sitting in Board meetings, wheeling and dealing on the phone or in teleconferences and all that? It seems to me, if you still had a passion for tech, you would have taken your riches and either started a new company on something cool. Or just retire and use your free time to play with tech.
    • I ain't as famous as Larry but I can tell you this one thing -

      As a geek, I equate my time spent on sitting through a board meeting as worse than hell.

      Regarding the "wheeling and dealing on the phone", I do not do that.

      I still go down to the face-to-face level.

      No matter if the other fella happens to be a big shot like that Larry fella or a wide-eyed young entrepreneur-in-training looking for a seed funding, a face to face session can gain me a lot of valuable info (mostly subliminal / body language) that I

  • I & my company are dedicated to open standards, open source software & open source hardware. We also need to make a living, which has been very difficult for too many years now. Where would you recommend I look for information with which I can educate myself on monetizing technology development while remaining true to my cypherpunk & libertarian philosophy? Regardless of what some (who presumably have never had to make payroll) may say, not all information wants to be free, as it will never be c
  • Larry, I just want to express my appreciation for the way you handled the IPO. I've never made much money from doing software. Your gift of VA shares to many open source developers paid off my student loans, got me out of debt, and there was enough left over to buy a bunch of O'Reilly books. Very classy. Hope you've done well in all your endeavors over the past years since then.

  • What is your recommendation if you have a dream that can not produce a decent business case for venture capitalist to join?

    What if you project is something crazy that may not be consider usefull at first?

    Any recommendations?
  • I've been a member since 2000-01-06 17:58:21: []

    Even if I'm mostly using GitHub for new stuff... It was a real encouragement and inspiration back then. It is like when someone turns on a light bulb in the middle of the night in a kitchen desperate for a drink of water and the light bulb is so bright you can't even look at it but lets you find the sink, and then when the (open source) sun comes up in the morning, you almost forget the lightbulb is still on compared to the sun.

  • Hi Mr Augustin, What is your reaction to your users defecting from your proprietary version now that there's an open source version that does the same as SugarCRM Pro. Did you factor that into the business model of SugarCRM?
  • Hi Mr Augustin. Can you tell me the reasons why SugarCRM has walked away from open source software?
  • Hi Mr Augustin. Can you tell me why the SugarCRM CE 6.5.x is slowly crippling with the introduction rather than fix bugs ( iCal integration broken on 6.5.16 for instance)?

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"