Software, Open Source, Cloud Computing, Venture Capital
Limited partners; Marketing partner; CEO & CMO's of leading Open Source companies including Black Duck Software
Boston-based North Bridge (as of 2017 North Bridge Growth Equity re-branded as GuidePost) were active partners with entrepreneurs providing seed-to-growth financing for innovative companies looking to disrupt big markets. The firm funded more than 200 companies creating many billions in market value.
Program Overview: Over the course of its ten year history, The Future of Open Source program, has examined the issues and challenges facing CEO’s and CIO’s as Open Source evolved from a developer-centric toolkit to a business imperative.
The North Bridge led program examined the increased strategic role that open source plays in today’s enterprises, its crucial function within new technology development, and the growth of both first-time developers within the OSS community and the impact open source has in daily life. It also sought to predict where open source was headed and what are the emerging threads that are likely to become major trends in the future. The program engaged Black Duck as a partner in year five, and Forrester Research and contributing advisors from the North Bridge portfolio. In 2017, when North Bridge re-organized, Black Duck re-launched the study as a BlackDuck 360 Program.
Business Growth Challenge
Venture Capital has changed considerably as investment funds have grown in size with more money chasing approximately the same number of entrepreneurs. Over the past few years, these entrepreneurs have become more selective in the venture capitalists that they choose to work with – naturally leaning toward those firms with proven results and experience in their particular sector.
Consequently, Venture Capital funds have adjusted their approach to marketing almost overnight becoming radically transparent and developing thought leadership programs to highlight their expertise to a broad group of stakeholders — media, investors, innovators, entrepreneurs, bankers and even to their own portfolio.
North Bridge, an early investor in Acquia and several other Open Source companies could see that the software game would shift and sought to lead the industry in the conversation around open source.
MarketingRecon was given the opportunity to re-engineer and lead a program when it was still in its infancy, making detailed recommendations and implementing each segment of the program alongside the key investment partners including software partner, Michael J. Skok and Marketing Partner, Eric Jones.
Deliverables and Results
The very first survey results were unveiled at the first Open Source Business Conference in one of the breakout sessions. In 2009, Marketing Recon stepped in to inject fresh thinking and to scale the program more broadly.
Among the first changes made in 2009 was to engage a strategic industry analyst firm as partner who could add value through industry knowledge and contacts. 451 Research was the key partner and in 2012, Black Duck was invited. In 2013 with the departure of 451, a Forrester Research analyst was added as a key contributing thought leader.
The second key change was to move toward a “sales channel model” – creating a diverse network of open source organizations to form an industry-wide collaboration. No money would be exchanged, but the “collaborators” would help expand the reach of the program considerably. The engagement would grow to become the most widely endorsed thought leadership program of its kind.
Since 2011, the survey has garnered three times the respondents and the 2014 collaboration includes 45 organizations.
Initially, the results were showcased at the Open Source Business Conference, but in 2013, the program adopted a webinar format which greatly increased the reach and longevity of the program. The live webinar reaches over 500 people each year and works in parallel with live events on the east and west coast. In both 2013 and 2014, the final presentation hosted by both partners (North Bridge and Black Duck Software) was viewed by over 50,000 viewers on Slideshare resulting in dozens of media placements and social engagements. In 2015 the program will enter its ninth year.
*Additional marketing opportunities for collaborators have evolved to include:
- A distinct “FutureofOSS” Twitter channel with online discussions around the slide share, twitter channel, and blog posts.
- Inclusion of proprietary through leadership, influencer quotes and case studies inside the master slide deck and press releases
- Co-marketing of the collaborators in all activities – across all the program’s collateral and through all its channels.
- Ability to repurpose and industry leading, high quality slide deck with socially tagged slides for key data points.
- On-site interviews at leadership dinners and industry events.
- Webinar and panel participation opportunities.
- Access to key data points and slides from the presentation for use in their own presentations.
- Inclusion in key North Bridge events such as leadership dinners.
The Future of Open Source study has benefited extensively from Jackie’s steady hand over the last several years. Her extensive knowledge of the space and contacts in the Boston tech community have made her an indispensable partner in driving the program forward to hit critical milestones as it’s scaled to become the most widely endorsed open source survey. Her history with the program puts her in a unique position to anticipate roadblocks and recommend solutions making her an enormous asset as we constantly update and evolve the program. That same history with the program – understanding the yearly progression of the trends – provides a vantage point from which to help extract nuanced storylines – keeping the study fresh each spring. Her active involvement with the collaborators – not just at the time of the survey launch but throughout the year ensures we continue to build and add to the collaboration and to the voices who are contributing to the discussion around this exciting area of the technology industry today.Eric Jones, Marketing Partner, North Bridge
As the former EVP Marketing at Black Duck I had the pleasure to work with Jackie over the last 5 years on a very strategic project, the Future of Open Source Survey, which was a collaboration primarily between North Bridge and Black Duck with 30 co-collaborators. In 2014 VoltDB joined as a collaborator. This is an industry-wide annual survey gauging the pulse of the open source market, identifying insights and trends. Jackie is an essential driver, collaborator, and strategist for the program leading the team through its many components. In 2013 we had the highest participation and broadest coverage in the survey’s history, establishing it as an essential bell weather in the industry. Jackie’s professional skills go beyond marketing. She is an ambassador of sorts, able to secure the support and ongoing relationship with key partners and a loose ecosystem of collaborators.Peter Vescuso, CMO, VoltDB
Jackie’s relationship to North Bridge and to me personally spanned nearly seven years of collaboration to create and implement a wide range of marketing and thought leadership initiatives – often several happening simultaneously. Marketing in a venture capital environment is unique, involving a careful balance of relationship management, tenacity, and timing in order to be well placed with entrepreneurs and innovators. As the investment climate is constantly in flux – one has to be prepared to change direction and emphasis when needed. To that end, Jackie showed incredible dexterity – dealing with all levels of the firm’s relationships, engendering trust with me and my partners.
Among my favorite characteristics of Jackie’s service to NB was her ability to balance strategy and action, keep to deadlines, source and lead teams of marketing specialists, and leverage her own network to strengthen the projects. The results are evident in the growth of several key multi-faceted programs – the Future of Open Source and Future of Cloud Computing programs plus other significant “firsts” such as the large gatherings for keynote events such as Geoffrey Moore, Andy Jassy of AWS, and Jim Whitehurst of Red Hat, part of my Startup Secrets series at the Harvard iLab. She also strengthened keystone relationships with major partners such as AWS, Microsoft, Gigaom, and over 150 companies to design industry collaborations that made each program a success. An entrepreneur in her own right, she melded well with our portfolio companies, CEO’s, and marketing teams, raising their comfort level while being persistent about their involvement with the programs. As the firm did not have an internal marketing lead for most of Jackie’s engagement with North Bridge, she was particularly resourceful and creative in her approach.Michael J. Skok, Investor (formerly General Partner, North Bridge)