Open source companies to watch

Newcomers focusing on everything from a Microsoft Exchange rival to server virtualization and data integration

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Wikia believes this project is important because search and its “supersecret” algorithms is one of the few areas of the Internet that is not open and transparent. “We’ve seen this explosion in creativity in Web 2.0 and we haven’t seen it in search,” Penchina says.

How did the project get its start? Penchina and Wales developed the idea and recruited Jeremie Miller, who founded the open source IM protocol Jabber, to lead the technical aspects of the project.

How did the company get its name? Like Wikipedia, Wikia is an obvious variation on the Hawaiian word “wiki,” which is used to refer to collaborative Web sites that can be edited by users. Wikia has supported the creation of more than 3,000 wiki communities in more than 70 languages.

CEO and background: Penchina worked at eBay for eight years, ultimately as vice president for a region of Europe, before leaving in March 2006.

Funding for the search project: $4 million from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar; Lotus Software founder Mitchell Kapor; and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. Amazon has also contributed an undisclosed amount.

Company name: XenSource

Founded: January 2005

Location: Palo Alto, Calif.

What does the company offer? Server virtualization products based on the Xen open source hypervisor. XenEnterprise, the company’s first product, came out in December 2006.

Why is it worth watching? In a market dominated by VMware, smaller vendors like XenSource are poised to gain ground because hardware improvements designed by Intel and AMD have made it far easier to write virtualization software. As an open source vendor, XenSource figures to attract customers looking to expand virtualization without paying hefty license fees.

XenSource is about to be acquired by Citrix Systems, which agreed to buy the company for $500 million on Aug. 15.

How did the company get its start? Wall Street bankers urged Ian Pratt, leader of the Xen hypervisor project, to start a vendor that could meet their unique support and feature needs. The founders of the Xen hypervisor subsequently started XenSource.

How did the company get its name? XenSource was chosen because the company’s product line is a natural extension to the Xen project.

CEO and background: Peter Levine was a managing director of the Mayfield Fund before joining XenSource, and has more than 20 years experience in software organizations, including Veritas Software and MIT’s Project Athena.

Funding: Venture capital (amount not disclosed) from Ignition Partners, NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sevin Rosen and Accel.

Who’s using the product? More than 500 customers, including Harvard University, Palm, AmerisourceBergen, and the Miami Herald.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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