San Diego’s MindTouch Uses Open Source to Develop Software—and Strategy

9/22/09Follow @bvbigelow

Aaron Fulkerson begins his story about San Diego-based MindTouch in the middle. He says MindTouch today is a Web-based business collaboration and integration platform, with 20 million users and hundreds of thousands of active installations. The company’s software is meant to help engineering groups, business teams, and others collaborate on projects by sharing documents, information, images, and other information.

“Nobody, except maybe Microsoft [Sharepoint], has the installed base that we have,” boasts Fulkerson, the CEO and a MindTouch co-founder. “And we’ve done it entirely through shoestring guerilla social marketing with T-shirts and spending $5,000-a-month on Google ad words.”

Aaron Fulkerson

Aaron Fulkerson

Fulkerson attributes the viral growth rate at MindTouch at least partly to an early decision he made with co-founder and chief technology officer Steve Bjorg to build their business around an open source wiki program. “One of the very important strategies we settled on at the beginning was to make it open source,” Fulkerson says. “We wanted to create an application that was easy-to-use, and in a Web-based environment that enables you to stop losing information and makes it easier to share that information with your colleagues.”

In recent weeks, the company’s collaboration software has ranked from No. 27 to No. 135 on the list of most-popular open source applications at SourceForge.net, the Web-based source code repository for software developers. “Even being consistently ranked in the top 200 open source applications on SourceForge and hitting the top 20 from time to time is a very good thing indeed, seeing that we have over 200,000 projects hosted,” SourceForge director of community Ross Turk writes in an e-mail.

Before launching MindTouch, Fulkerson and Bjorg worked together at Microsoft under then-CTO Craig Mundie in the software goliath’s advanced strategies and … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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