May 3, 1999 2:15 PM PDT

Kleiner Perkins invests in Linuxcare

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Venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins has taken a stake in Linuxcare, a company that provides training and technical support for the Linux operating system.

In addition Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers general partner Ted Schlein will become a member of the Linuxcare board of directors, the companies plan to announce tomorrow.

"We've made a strategic investment in Linuxcare because of its central position in the Linux market and clear focus on enabling the adoption of Linux in the enterprise," general partner John Doerr said in a statement.

The investment is notable in light of the tension between the traditional ways companies handle intellectual property and the much freer open-source underpinnings of Linux. Linux, a Unix-like operating system, has been developed by hundreds of programmers sharing their software. On the other hand, with most operating systems developed by companies, the programming instructions are kept secret.

Despite these tensions, Linux has increasingly drawn support and investments from investment banks, VCs, and traditional computer companies.

"We are intrigued by the rapid growth of Linux and the opportunities for companies supporting the open-source model," Doerr said in the statement.

In its earlier days, Linux critics pointed to the lack of formal support as a weakness in corporate adoption of the operating system. Linuxcare, as well as Linux sellers such as Red Hat, Pacific HiTech, and Caldera Systems, have stepped in to fill that need by offering technical support--often for a steep price tag.

Linuxcare was founded in August of 1998. Dell has selected the company to support its Linux computers, and Linuxcare also provides technical support for Linux seller SuSE.

Kleiner Perkins is one of more powerful and influential VC firms in technology. The firm has invested in such companies as Netscape, Amazon.com, America Online, and @Home Network.

 

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