10 open source companies to watch

Products range from databases to data integration

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 Company name: Acquia

Founded: December 2007

Location: Andover, Mass.

What does the company offer? Provides support and services for open source social publishing system Drupal. Acquia also has its own distribution of Drupal code-named Carbon and a set of network services code-named Spokes.

Why is it worth watching? This is the first commercial distribution of Drupal, which has racked up two million downloads and is quickly becoming a popular content management system in the open source community and beyond.

How did the company get its start? Acquia co-founder Dries Buytaert created Drupal in 2001 as a student bulletin board application at the University of Antwerp. Buytaert and Jay Batson saw a growing interest among user organizations for support.

How did the company get its name? The company says the Web is all about the process of discovery. During World War II, the U.S. military utilized Navajo Code Talkers for secure communications. According to the code talker’s dictionary the word for locate is "a-kwe-eh," translated literally to "spot." Our translation "Acquia," fits nicely with the water metaphor in the Drupalsphere.

CEO and background: Batson is Acquia's CEO and co-founder along with Buytaert who serves as CTO. Acquia is the second technology company Batson has co-founded, and is his second commercial open source effort (the previous having been Pingtel, which was acquired by Bluesocket in 2007).

Funding: Investors include North Bridge Venture Partners, Sigma Partners and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures.

Who's using the product? Acquia's product line is currently in beta and will be generally available in the fall 2008. More than 250,000 Web sites are running on Drupal software, including Warner Brothers Records, Sony MyPlay, Popular Science, The Onion and Amnesty International

 Company name: Openmoko

Openmoko's Neo FreeRunner

Founded: March 2006

Location: Taipei, Taiwan

What does the company offer? Recently released its Neo FreeRunner, a free and open source mobile platform that enables development of customized mobile devices and applications. It's a computer in the form of a phone.

Why is it worth watching? When Openmoko says open they mean it, even encouraging users to crack the case and have a go at the hardware. Freerunner can be a phone, but users can craft it into any sort of handheld device by developing their own applications or loading ones built by the Openmoko community. Openmoko has published the software, industrial design and most recently published the schematics for its Openmoko Neo 1973 and Neo FreeRunner phones.How did the company get its start? It all started when Openmoko software engineer and electronics enthusiast, Sean Moss-Pultz, said "I can never upgrade or customize my phone. If I want new features or software, I have to buy a new phone every few months!" Inspiration followed and Moss-Pultz set out to free the mobile phone.

How did the company get its name? Open means developers and consumers have the freedom to contribute value to the platform however they like. Moko is abbreviated for Mobile Kommunikations, with the "K" dedicated to the hacker community who helped create software that powers the Openmoko platform.

CEO and background: Sean Moss-Plutz was raised in San Diego, before joining First International Computer to head up special projects. His fluency in Chinese and understanding of the mobile market led him into the CEO role at OpenMoko.

Funding: Openmoko is wholly owned by First International Computer.

Who's using the product? Corporate customers are all under nondisclosure agreements, but the product currently sells to developers.

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