A while back Henrik Ingo was asked to do a study of the most popular open source projects to see what governance model they used and whether the governance model had any impact on how successful the project was (as measured by the size of the developer community) and how much business it generated for vendors. The results are remarkable.
Henrik found that nine projects Linux, KDE, Apache, Eclipse, Perl+CPAN, Mozilla+Addons, Gnome, Drupal and GNU stood out from all the rest because they were so much larger, by about 10 times, than any of the others. Another common characteristic of all of these projects is that they are collaborative community projects governed by non-profit foundations. Henrik found that there is no single-vendor project, such as MySQL, Qt, OpenOffice, Mono, or JBoss, that comes even close to reaching this size. Henrik hypothesized that there is a "glass ceiling" that limits the growth of single-vendor projects.
Based on his study Henrik recommended that vendors participating in open source development and business should seriously consider participating in a collaborative community run by a non-profit foundation. He suggests that a vendor currently in control of an open source project could, as a rule of thumb, expect this strategy to result in a 10x growth in the project and product and a 10x larger addressable market, of which the vendor could potentially capture 50% or more as its own market share. Certainly very attractive from a business perspective and perhaps one of the reasons that companies like IBM and Oracle support non-profit foundations.