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Re: seL4 Availability (Was: L4.sec)

From: Jonathan S. Shapiro
Subject: Re: seL4 Availability (Was: L4.sec)
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 11:38:00 -0400

On Sat, 2007-06-09 at 16:38 +1000, Gernot Heiser wrote:
> Shap posted a few opinions about seL4 and our commercialisation
> agenda. They contain some significant misunderstandings/confusions,
> which I'll try to clarify.
> On Fri, 08 Jun 2007 10:22:52 -0400, Jonathan S. Shapiro wrote:
> shap> [...]
> shap> Unfortunately, I suspect that the C implementation will never be
> shap> released in open form.
> This is a claim that is based on assertions (below) that are
> incorrect.

Umm. No. It was a suspicion based on reasonable speculation, but I was
careful to characterize it as a *suspicion* rather than as a statement
of fact.

Thank you for correcting me.

> shap> They have 30 people employed
> shap> already. For those of you who don't have any experience with corporate
> shap> finances, 30 people cost between $6M US and $7.5M US per year...
> I'm impressed about your knowledge of OK's finances, Jon. Particularly
> the external investment/loan is news to me. But it has been publicly stated
> before that OK is funded from revenue.

For the record:

1. This was speculation, which I clearly stated.

2. The source for the "30 employee" number was Gernot Heiser, in a
statement he made at the most recent HCSS workshop.

3. The source for the annual cost estimate of 30 employees is my own
experience building corporate financials for companies and departments
of companies. As I stated, it is likely that the dollar figures are
lower in Australia, because software salaries there are generally lower.
That being said, I would be very surprised if my estimate of their run
rate is off by more than 15%-20%. Even if this is so, it's a lot of

I am *delighted* to hear that OK is funded from revenue. That is better
all around than investment money. It also reduces the "loan compounding
effect", which is where business founders tend to lose operating control
of their companies.

> A release of the Haskell prototype is overdue. Unfortunately,
> releasing stuff from NICTA isn't quite as easy as from a
> university. There are lawyers involved :-(

You obviously haven't worked at Hopkins. :-) Our technology transfer
people don't understand the requirements of business success at all --
to the degree that US east coast investors have learned to simply walk
away when they hear that Hopkins technology transfer is involved in a
deal (that's a paraphrase, but I've had three major venture investors
independently tell me exactly that).

I hope that things are a little better at NICTA. Regardless, it sounds
like you navigated them successfully, which is great.

Aside: we could not have started anything like OK from Hopkins. The
Hopkins rules on Conflict of Interest prohibit the kind of close
relationship that OK and NICTA have.


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