The Open Social Foundation is a new :
"non-profit entity jointly proposed by Yahoo!, MySpace, and Google. The goal of the OpenSocial Foundation is to ensure the sustainable and open development of the OpenSocial initiative and related intellectual property."
You can read the proposal for the foundation here and read liveblogging coverage of the announcement here.
The Open Social Foundation joins the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit which makes and protects and markets the Firefox Browser, among other open source software tools (Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Camino, etc). The Foundation runs a commercial company which some estimate to be worth $1.5 billion+. When will it take the company public? According to Mozilla.org and others - never. According to analyst Henry Blodget, this year or next. If you'd like to get in on the prediction market around this issue you can do so here.
Another example is the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, one of the ten most visited websites in the world, day after day, month after month. The Foundation is an organization that has been in the news a great deal, with questions being raised about its close links to venture capitalists, its need to develop a sustainable business model, and the practices of its founder. Since Wikipedia lives because of the active involvement of its millions of contributing writers (anyone can participate) it faces a level of community accountability and connection that other nonprofits can only dream of.
So what for philanthropy?
- Intellectual property is the key asset of these organizations. This embodies the trend I've been writing about since 2000 - knowledge is the base of the new philanthropy and will be at the core of emerging philanthropic capital markets - how they work, how they set value, how people use them, etc.
- Each of these organizations is a blend of tech money and products, commercial interests, and nonprofit structures. They embody the hybrid structural organizations and priorities that we will see become ever more common. And which I've been writing about for years.