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Capitalizing OpenGeo: An Explainer

Last week we announced an investment by In-Q-Tel, an important step in our company growth and a key follow-on to our funding from Vanedge. In-Q-Tel is the US government’s venture capital arm, and is passionately interested in the open source mission of our company because it meets key goals of the many agencies it represents. These investments enhance our strength as an organization and accelerate our development of more robust offerings that better support our customers as they take up open source geospatial technology for their enterprises.

Not everyone believes that taking on outside investment is a good thing. Recently I read about Jack Dangermond’s opinion on this topic in an interview with Inc. Magazine. There he is quoted as saying: “I don’t understand why young entrepreneurs feel this pressure to take venture capital or go public… Staying private is a lot more sane.”  Now, I’m not all that young, so I can appreciate what Mr. Dangermond is talking about. Things can be simpler and saner if an enterprise remains private – especially for family-owned businesses like Esri!

However, capitalizing your company is not a one-size fits all issue. Every organization must evaluate many factors, including the maturity of its product offerings, the depth of capabilities of its team, the overall demand for its services in the market, and its interest in enabling employee ownership of the firm. Most importantly all companies have to muster adequate financial support to execute on the vision of fully supporting customers needs in implementing their “mission-critical” applications.

While it may seem risky to raise capital, a company can just as easily miss the boat, underachieve on its potential, and under-serve a growing market by being too cautious to take on the resources needed to strengthen its team and product offerings. Without adequate resources to get the word out about how the market benefits from open source technology, the message can get lost amidst the “openwashing” of legacy incumbents battling to preserve their declining market share.

When a sector is controlled by a monopolistic legacy provider, innovation is stunted. Investment allows more forward-thinking companies to challenge incumbents and provide customers with an escape from the status quo. Investment allows us a way to do things better, faster, and serve our customers more effectively. We are listening to our customers, and they need us to expand our capabilities more quickly and increase our headcount, and we’re working with strong investment partners to make that happen.

At OpenGeo, we believe in the quality of our software. We see the growing market demand for open source geospatial tools. And we recognize the wisdom of working with excellent investor partners like Vanedge and In-Q-Tel to fund our initiatives and help the long-underserved geospatial software market move forward from GIS to Spatial IT.