Tim Yeaton, President & CEO, BlackDuck Software
Founded in 2002, BlackDuck Software is a provider of consulting and software for enabling enterprise adoption of open source software (OSS). Headquartered in Burlington, the company is the partner of choice for open source software adoption, governance and management.
The arrival of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in the U.S. for trade talks earlier this year indicates that it is an opportune time to reflect on the rapid changes happening in China's technology sector, particularly the rise of free and open source software (FOSS) as a key part of the innovation happening there today. By way of background, I have been working with Chinese technology companies since 1997, and was recently named a Chinese Open Source Promotion Union (COPU) Advisor. Needless to say, the change that continues to play out has been rapid and dramatic.
As recently as the 1990s, China's technology industry was still centered largely in electronics assembly and manufacturing, driven primarily by labor costs rather than innovation. Yet the government, particularly the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT, though back then it was MII), was focused on turning China into a technology innovator, starting with electronic components and semiconductors.
During the last decade, these efforts enabled China’s tech sector to move beyond being the world’s contract manufacturer. China became the world’s dominant electronics component supplier, despite the Western perception of being great at replicating existing technology cheaper and faster, but with limited original innovation.