As part of MindTouch’s 2009 open source best practices research,  we asked C and VP level Open Source Executives who they thought are the most influential people in the industry today.  Over 50 votes from Executives in Europe and North America were cast to determine the 2009 edition (note: they could not vote for anyone in their own company).  What makes this list remarkable is that industry insiders were the judges.

There were a few surprises from outside of the open source industry.  For instance, Steve Ballmer was voted in because of his negative remarks on the open source industry and its subsequent positive impact.  Vivek Kundra was voted in because of his contributions to the industry inside the US Federal Government (in fact the site was revamped with open source software).  Notably absent however are any influential women.

This list of the top influential Executives of the 2009 is ranked by the effect these individuals have had on the open source industry.  Not all are recognizable, but these leaders are the movers, shakers and thought leaders of the open source industry.   Want to know the future direction of open source?  Just ask a few of the people on this list.

1Larry AugustinLarry Augustin is CEO of SugarCRM.  One of the group who coined the term “Open Source”, he has written and spoken extensively on Open Source worldwide. In 1993 he founded VA Linux (now SourceForge, NASDAQ:LNUX), where he served as CEO until August 2002. While CEO he launched and led the company through an IPO in 1999.
2Matt AsayMatt Asay has been involved with open source since 1998, and is one of the industry’s leading open source business strategists. Asay currently manages sales and business development activities in the Americas for Alfresco.  Asay also writes a very influential open source blog on CNET.
3Marten MickosMårten Gustaf Mickos was chief executive officer (CEO) of MySQL AB. He served as chief executive officer from January 2001 to February 2008, when Sun bought MySQL AB. He served as senior vice president of the database group at Sun Microsystems until February 2009. In February 2008 he was announced as member of the board of Mozilla Messaging, in May 2009, he also joined the board of directors at RightScale. In September 2009 venture capital firm Benchmark Capital hired Mickos as their Entrepreneur In Residence.
4 Jim WhitehurstJim Whitehurst was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Red Hat in December 2007. Whitehurst joined Delta Air Lines in 2002, serving in various roles, most recently as Chief Operating Officer, responsible for Operations, Sales and Customer Service, Network and Revenue Management, Marketing and Corporate Strategy. Prior to joining Delta, Whitehurst served as Vice President and Director of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and held various leadership roles in their Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Atlanta offices.
5Dries BuytaertDries Buytaert created Drupal in 2001 and has led the software project ever since. He has guided it through rapid growth and to widespread acclaim. Dries is able to motivate the burgeoning community of users and developers by communicating ‘the big picture’ while paying careful and measured attention to the technical details essential to good software development. These two factors have been crucial to Drupal’s popularity and success to date.

Honorable Mentions

IndividualTheir CompanyIndividualTheir Company
Mark RadcliffeDLA PiperMark ShuttleworthUbuntu Project
Andrew AitkenOlliance GroupRod JohnsonSpringSource
Marc FleuryRetired (JBoss)Scott McnealySun Microsystems


Tom Erickson, Sam Ramji, Brian Gentile, Steve Ballmer, Doug Levin, Greg Schott, John Powell, John Roberts, Jonathan Schwartz, Roger Burkhardt, Tim Yeaton, Vivek Kundra, Walt Johnson, Zack Urlocker, Aaron Fulkerson, John Lilly

The accomplishments and influence of these executives highlight the story of the most significant changes in open source this year.  We will continue to publish this “insiders” VIP list each year as part of our comprehensive analysis of open source best practices in sales and marketing.

Additional categories: Industry Trends