In the process of finishing the third piece of my Release 1.0 report Open Source Community: How to win friends and influence developers, I spoke with a number of people who asked if I knew of any VP of Marketing types to join their open source company. The truth is I came up pretty much blank. Word on the street is that no less then six open source related companies are looking to fill that role (email me openresource at this domain.com and I will tell you who they are). So why is it so hard to find?
Marketing is already hard, throw in the open source angle it gets even harder
Open source, in general is so new that there isn't a pool of long time experts. You can count the influencers on two hands (Tim O'Reilly, Matt Asay, Larry Augustin, Brian Behlendorf etc.) but how many marketing guys do you know besides Zack at MySQL? Compounded by the fact that marketing is such a nebulous task and that few business schools are teaching people how to market in this atmosphere, it's going to be a tough slog. The person in the VP of marketing role is one who has to understand and communicate with the community, in addition to standard marketing fare like competitive analysis, PR, and channel strategies. Either of these is a tall order, but both requires a unique skillset.
Finding the needle in the LAMP stack
On the corporate side, there are two main weaknesses in the VP of marketing search methodology. First, most recruiters, even the highly paid retained search firms, don't really understand the market and tend to focus on the wrong type of background. I spoke with several recruiters all looking for someone from big, generally proprietary companies like Adobe, Macromedia, BEA because of a perceived understanding of the enterprise space.
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