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Avner Ronen is the founder and CEO of Boxee, a freeware media player software platform. Prior to founding Boxee, Avner co-founded Odigo, an instant messaging service.

Boxee CEO Avner Ronen on the challenges and opportunities of open source.

Topic: Boxee.


Avner Ronen: To us, that means that whatever we do, almost everything that we do is in the public sphere as every line of code that we’re writing. When you download Boxee, you can download the source code. And that means that people can, you know, look at whatever we’ve done. They can improve on it. They can add to it.

We’re working together with a project called XBMC, it’s the XBox Media Center, that’s what it use to be. And those are people from all over the world, Australia, France, Germany, Israel, US, New Zealand, all over. And they’re coming together once a year now. And we’re spending time with them and we’re going over, you know, what can be done more, where do we need to focus, and that sort of stuff.

But at the end of day, it’s not managed, open source, its people doing it at their free time based on their passion. And the innovation is really dependent on how much the community is active. You cannot drive… It’s not an organized process.

I think for Boxee, it’s great. We have a small team where 12 people. Because it’s an open source project, there’re many more people contributing. So that makes it much easier for us to deal with development challenges.

And I hope that would also help us keep an edge because, if we don’t have a certain idea or direction, but someone else out there has that idea and he’s passionate enough about Boxee, he can mess around with the source code on his own. So I think, overall, it’s very positive for us. It’s important for the industry to have a solution that is open source in that space. So it’s not just controlled by big corporations.

And, overall, the result of it being open source means that Boxee is always going to be very user focused ‘cause if we’re going to be failing on that mission, someone is just going to take the open source code that is out there and build a better product. So that keeps us on our edge. It’s good.


Avner Ronen: I think, we probably need to get better at it, I mean, working even closer with the community. Because right now, we’re, you know, chasing our own deadlines and sometimes patches are being submitted or there’s a new code that is available for us and we just don’t get to integrate it. So I think we need to improve on it.

But overall, it’s a huge opportunity to be able to work with all those different people in different places and get the benefit of, you know, their innovation. I think there’re only upsides there.


Recorded on: April 20, 2009