Creating an Open Source Startup with Sheng Liang

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There are many potential benefits to adopting the open-source approach to building a start-up and here to discuss some of these and his experience in the field is SUSE's President of Engineering and Innovation, Sheng Liang. In our conversation, we get to share in some of Sheng's wisdom and business know-how, talking about pragmatic solutions to common issues from the world of open-source and start-ups more generally. Sheng explains why he thinks open-source is a smart path for businesses but is not the answer to every question. He gets into why the agility of open-source can also be of benefit to companies in their early phases, and the lessons that he learned during his work at cloud.com, prior to joining Rancher Labs and SUSE. Sheng makes the point that without developing a relationship with your users and creating something that people actually care about, your ideas will never have an impact, and believes that being able to pivot when a great idea does not connect should always be an option. So for all this and more from our inspiring guest, be sure to listen in!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The beginnings of Rancher Labs and Sheng's experience of starting an open-source company.
  • How the open-source philosophy figured into the initial plans for Rancher.
  • Differentiating an open-source approach from other business models.
  • Sheng's perspective on when going the open-source route is smart for business.
  • Addressing the problem of the number of non-paying users in the open-source model.
  • The two typical communities that open-source markets to: developers and users.
  • Balancing innovation and stability at a new start-up; Sheng's best advice to this end.
  • Sheng's approach to keeping the start-up spirit alive within Rancher now that it is a part of SUSE.
  • The most important considerations when deciding about whether to follow an open-source route.
  • Advice from Sheng about software startups and the central question of creating engagement.
  • Weighing the feedback your company receives and what to take most notice of.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Alan Clark

Sheng Liang on LinkedIn

Citrix

cloud.com

Chris Aniszczyk

Linux Foundation

CNCF

Red Hat

Elastic

MongoDB

Confluence

HashiCorp

Kubernetes

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