The open revolution shows no signs of slowing as more open ways of doing things continue to replace old approaches. A lot has happened since our last look in Open: The Rising Prefix. Here are some highlights from over the past year.
Equity crowdfunding took such a long time to get rolling that Fortune even questioned why didn’t equity crowdfunding take off? This year marked several high profile success stories. Industries such as hospitality and banking took the spotlight from 3D printing projects on Kickstarter. Owner of the restaurant chains Fatburger and Buffalo’s Cafe, FAT Brands, is raising $24 million in a crowdfunded IPO to fund its acquisition-based growth plans and the purchase of Ponderosa Steakhouse. British digital banking company Revolut saw more than 40,000 people pre-register for its crowdfunding round, generating £17 million in pledges on a £4 million target.
Growth in equity crowdfunding has been overshadowed by the emergence of Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs. Investors purchase a company’s Bitcoin-like cryptocurrencies in the hopes that the company’s success will lead to large, rapid returns. Filecoin’s ICO set a $257 million record in early September. The company hopes to decentralize the online storage market by providing an exchange for businesses to sell the unused capacity of their data centers. Meanwhile, government regulators are scrambling to react. China’s government banned ICO’s completely. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission takes a more permissive stance that applies securities regulations to ICO’s on a case-by-case basis.
The scientific community continues to move towards more open modes of conducting research. We told you last year about Europe’s commitment to open science and innovation. That continued this year as the European Union funded the €3.2 billion Orion Project to open participation in fundamental scientific research to larger communities - including the public. The European Commission launched its Open Science Monitor, a website that tracks trends in Europe’s development of open science.
Many of the barriers to open science identified by the Open Science Monitor appear in a recent survey of academics around the world which found that scientists remain reluctant to share their data due to inexperience, a lack of institutional incentive, and concerns over the impact of openness.
But there are incentives to taking the open approach. This year’s $230,000 Open Science Prize went to developers of an online tool to track virus DNA mutations. The real-time tool could speed responses to viral outbreaks like Zika or Ebola.
Increased accessability is a central tenant of open government and September saw a further step in this direction with the US Senate passing the OPEN Government Data Act. This means that any government agency infomation published on Data.gov must be in a "machine-readable" format and easily searchable.
Citizen participation has also seen as boost. On September 30th, Ireland commenced a "ground-breaking process in democractic decision-making on climate change" through the Citizens' Assembly. The Assembly was established in 2016 and provides a platform for 99 randomly selected citizens to discuss crucial issues facing Irish society. Following a public consulation, the Assembly will discuss the issue of climate change and put forward recommendations, which the Irish Government is obliged to consider and respond to.
With so many countries passing laws requiring the use of open source, the folks at Network World decided it was time to map the status of government open source procurement. San Francisco launched a $300,000 evaluation of open source-based voting machines in response to hacking concerns. Russia, with hacking concerns of its own, certified the open source Sailfish smartphone operating system to reduce its reliance on foreign, proprietary technology.
The US Army’s recently launched open source initiatives are already showing results. Among the benefits: development times are shorter, shared development lowers project costs, and independent verification increases confidence in performance claims.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled his open government project, USAFacts, which creates a “data-driven portrait” of American government’s financial health at the local, state, and federal levels.
Ballmer’s old company made open source news of its own at the end of 2016 as Microsoft joined the highest tier of the Linux Foundation’s corporate membership. Once viewed as a “cancer” during Ballmer’s reign, open source is driving Microsoft’s growth under current CEO Satya Nadella.
Chinese search giant Baidu also made waves in the open source world when it released its PaddlePaddle machine learning tools on GitHub. Baidu promises the artificial intelligence community a simpler, more efficient toolkit than those provided by Facebook or Google.
With the sustained popularity of open source across the private and public sector, staffing may be the one thing that holds it back. The Linux Foundation’s latest Open Source Jobs Report found that employers are struggling to hire qualified professionals, especially in high-growth areas like cloud computing and big data. While bad news for employers, expect salaries for those with the right skills to rise.
How have open trends affected you or your business over the past year?