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From: David A Boller (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2000 - 20:20:41 PST

Fringes of the open source culture march into the exploitation complex


Blinded by Dollar Signs in the VA Linux-Andover.Net Deal

The media was heavy on conflicting numbers but short on analysis when VA

Linux announced a deal to purchase Andover.Net, operator of a suite of

Web sites for the open source community. VA Linux will now own the news

site Slashdot and the software site Freshmeat, as well as Andover.Net's

other properties.

Most articles focused on the terms of the deal. CBS MarketWatch reported

that VA Linux Systems said it would exchange 0.425 shares for all 15

million outstanding shares of Andover.Net. MarketWatch's Steve Gelsi

reported that the deal was valued at about $813 million, "with a

reduction of $60 million in cash payments to Andover.Net stockholders."

But an article from put the deal's value at

$872.5 million, and Reuters reported that the deal had an "initial net

value" of $975 million.

Whatever the exact price, few bothered with the deal's substance. The

Reuters story didn't even mention Slashdot until the last paragraph, and

the NYT/TSC article didn't mention the news site at all. Perhaps

concentrated media ownership has simply become too common to remark

upon, but's Andrew Leonard and Wired News' Joanna Glasner

noted that Slashdot is now owned by one of the companies it frequently

covers. "[A] linkup between a major systems distributor and a content

hub looks like a dangerous combination" to some in the open source

community, wrote Glasner, although VA Linux said it wouldn't try to

control content on Andover sites.

Salon's Leonard recalled a conversation in which Slashdot founder Rob

Malda explained why he didn't want to be acquired by VA Linux. "One of

his main concerns in choosing who Slashdot would be acquired by was that

it not be a Linux company," wrote Leonard. "The potential for

compromising Slashdot's editorial integrity would be too great." Leonard

concluded that no matter how scrupulously Slashdot maintains its

editorial independence, the appearance of compromise is inevitable, and

that "the world of free software is all the poorer for it." As is the

world of tech journalism. - Michelle Goldberg

The Billion-Dollar Linux Deal,1151,9481,00.html?nl=mg

The Shape of Open Source to Come

VA Linux Snaps Up Andover (Reuters),1367,34076,00.html

VA Linux Buys Andover.Net (


[Registration required.]

VA Linux Systems Buying Andover.Net

About the VA Linux-Andover Deal,1367,34082,00.html

VA Linux Systems Agrees to Buy in $900 Million Deal

[Paid subscription required.]

Linux Love: VA Linux Buys,4586,2432284,00.html

David Alan Boller
Organic Machines LLC
9419 Flicker Ave
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
714-593-0455 fax

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