VA Linux

Feb 8, 2022

In 1999, one of the hottest IPOs was an open source company named VA Linux ($LNUX). The stock opened 10x in its first day of trading. The stock was offered at $30, opened at $300, and was $8.50 a year later. The company later launched SourceForge. In 2015, it become a subsidiary of Gamestop.

VA Linux was the largest vendor of pre-installed Linux computers. Red Hat had just gone public earlier that year. The company had Intel and Sequoia as investors in its seed round, and the founder was classmates at Stanford with Yahoo founders Jerry Yang and David Filo.

Open source popularity has seemed to ebb and flow with the good times in the market. Whoever can grow the fastest can command the greatest valuation. And there's few better tricks than open source to get distribution for software. There were rumors of VA Linux killing Windows 98 (it turns out that 1999 was not the year of the Linux desktop), outmaneuvering Dell, and disrupting Sun. When the music stops playing, it's all about value capture.

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