What happens when a corporation tries to restructure (or even power grab) an open source project? Miro found out the hard way, when they tried to reorganize the development of Mambo. The case could prove to be a warning for all open source projects that have associated corporations.
Miro International is an Australian company which started developing the Mambo CMS in 2000. It released the code almost immediately as open source, forming a community of developers that helped it to flourish. Miro then forked the project, taking Mambo’s code and making a commercial CMS; they called it Mambo 2002 and later renamed it to Jango. For quite a while one volunteer, Robert Castley, oversaw the Mambo open source project. The rest of Miro’s focus was on Jango and selling CMS related products.
Since then, Mambo solidified itself as a superior CMS, with more brand-power and larger user base than Jango. The CEO of Miro, Peter Lamont, says that Robert Castley resigned due to “work and family commitments, combined with the increasing responsibility of a growing open source project.” Castley was replaced by Andrew Eddie, Mambo's second Director of the Mambo Project Team. The bonds between Mambo and Miro were very loose. Mambo’s evolution was determined by the developers’ needs, and it was coordinated by the MSC (Mambo Steering Committee). According to Eddie, “Miro had merely played a back seat roll, providing Mambo with valuable infrastructure and sometime legal support.” Miro was left out of the formula, but it had contact though the MSC. This loose structure works for small development teams, but Miro may have decided it was not working any longer.
Miro started Mambo, but after a few years its primary (and perhaps exclusive) involvement in Mambo was financial. The company held Mambo's copyrights and trademarks, paid for Mambo’s web hosting and downloads, funded its promotion, and hosted the Mambo community. The company also was in the line of fire when Connelly filed copyright lawsuits against Mambo for reportedly using his code. Aside from the legal problems, however, the costs of maintaining Mambo were not unreasonable. Still, it isn’t exactly surprising that Miro executives have a feeling of ownership and responsibility about the successful project.
However, the community of developers, who work for the love of the software, also feel responsible for project. They took the initiative to guide, code, and debug Mambo. Each developer spends roughly 4 or more hours each day working on the software; because the work is done for free, they feel very personally about it. The software was directed and developed with the blood and sweat of the community, not Miro.
With Mambo’s accomplishments in CMS software, Miro definitely saw the importance of the project growing. Many third parties wished to contribute financially to the project. However, they did not wish to contribute to a corporation like Miro. The lawsuits also showed everyone that Miro, by holding Mambo's intellectual property, was subject to any lawsuits against the software. Also, the way trademarks were drawn up, Mambo advocates could not even print their own t-shirts. Brian Teeman and Andrew Eddie, the two developer representatives on the MSC, presented the idea of a nonprofit organization to collect these contributions and hold the intellectual property. This is how the foundation was proposed originally. It was to be a link between Mambo and Miro that made these things less complicated.
In addition to this, Miro may have viewed the development effort as poorly organized, as the community may have growth beyond its ability to manage itself. This was not an express purpose of forming the nonprofit organization, but offering more structure was an open possibility.