How May We Serve You?

Will Schroeder | Kitware Blog | September 6, 2011

In our never ending pursuit of the perfect description of the open source business model we've developed some analogies that resonate with many of our customers and collaborators. In particular there are two that seem to cause light bulbs to go off and lots of head nodding to occur. These revolve around tried and true professional services models, tax and legal assistance, two large industries with which we are all familiar. Plus, if these analogies hold true, they lead us to believe that we are in line to receive lucrative TV and movie deals if we play our cards right :-)

Let's start with the US Federal Tax Code: just how big is it? Well no one is completely sure but it appears to be over 3.5 million words and something like 72,000 pages long. Of course nobody actually understands the whole thing, so a large service industry, measured in billions of dollars, has emerged to help prepare tax returns and provide tax strategy advice. And by the way, the tax code is "open source" in that anyone can read it and prepare their own taxes, theoretically we don't need specialists (or for that matter specialists' knowledge embedded in tax-return software) to actually use the tax code. Giving away the Tax Code doesn't seem to have damaged the tax preparation industry; if anything it's given rise to many jobs and thriving businesses...