Brad Feld

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Open Source Hardware

Jul 31, 2007
Category Investments

I’ve loved the phrase “open source hardware” from the first time I heard it from Peter Semmelhack, the CEO of Bug Labs.  It made me think “software” which is exactly what Peter was trying to do.  Bug Labs is starting to emerge after a year of hard work – Fred Wilson has a short post on it explaining that it’s about software/services and Dave Winer has a great post summarizing the dinner he was at last night where he got introduced to Bug’s stuff.

The phrase “open source hardware” has expanded some into “an open, modular, consumer electronics web services + hardware platform. Designed for the general audience, not just the technically inclined, BUG is intended to bring to the world of hardware gadgets what the Internet, open source, XML and web services have brought to the world of software and media.”

Like all great platforms there is a clear “enabler” component – this time it’s the hardware which – even as a software guy – I can deal with and relate to.  Everything about the software is intended to be open source and driven by the community.  Fundamentally it’s going to be a hardware and software hackers delight – no more legos for me.

I’m really psyched that my friends at Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital are investors here.  I’m a small investor and have been cheering loudly from the sidelines. Fred describes it as their most “out there” investment.  Maybe, but in the category of big or nothing ideas, it’s a big one.  My Ph.D. advisor and academic Yoda – Eric von Hippel – must be smiling.  I imagine a bunch of my fraternity brothers, including Colin Angle and John Underkoffler can’t wait to get their hands on it.