Black Duck Software

Black Duck Software

company_name = Black Duck Software
company_type = Privately held
company_slogan = Know Your Code
foundation = flagicon|USA Massachusetts, USA (2002)
location_city = Waltham, MA
key_people = Bill McQuaide, Senior Vice President of Product Development
Kenneth Goldman, Senior Vice President and CFO
Alan Facey, Executive Vice President of Sales
Peter Vescuso, Senior Vice President of Marketing
Andreas Zink, Vice President of Engineering

industry = Development Software
products = Black Duck Code Center
Black Duck Protex
Black Duck Transact
Black Duck Export
Professional Services

homepage = []

Black Duck Software pioneered the automation of mixed-origin software component reuse management. The company’s products and services allow organizations to analyze the composition of software source code and binary files, search for reusable code, manage open source and third-party code approval, honor the legal obligations associated with mixed-origin code, and monitor related security vulnerabilities. Black Duck is considered a technology industry leader and often cited in media articles about open source. [ [] “Open source lands in the enterprise with both feet,’’ InfoWorld, 6 August, 2007. ] [ [] ‘’Quacking Through Licensing Complexity,’’ San Diego Times, 6 August 2006. ] [ [] ‘’Battles over open source carve niche for startup,‘’ Boston Business Journal, 14 December 2007] ]

Black Duck Software maintains an extensive KnowledgeBase (or knowledge base) of open source and third party components - most of which are available on the Internet. In the KnowledgeBase, each component is characterized by metadata such as license, language, version, author, and known security vulnerabilities. Black Duck products use this information to facilitate search, selection, approval, validation and tracking of software components. Black Duck Software maintains the open source search engine Koders.

The availability of open source software code on the Internet enables software developers to download open source code and incorporate it into run-time environments and new software under development. Since the code is obtained without being purchased, this practice can bypass traditional procurement management and legal review. [ [] ‘’Taming the Open-Source Monster’’ Waters Magazine, 1 June 2006. ]

The use and redistribution of open source code is governed by a variety of software licenses, specifically open source licenses, some of which are quite complex. The terms and obligations of these licenses can conflict with one another or with an organization’s goals. The most common open source license is the GNU General Public License, or GPL, which includes obligations to credit the original author and copyright holder and to distribute the source code along with any derivative work. [ [ GNU General Public License] ] The Black Duck Software website includes a free service providing information and analysis about open source licenses. [ [] Black Duck Open Source License Resource Center ]

Open source software creates an efficient business model, incorporating a collaborative software development model. [ [] ‘‘Breaking the rules with open source,’’ CNET 2 August 2004.] However, modifying or redistributing open source while failing to honor open source license obligations creates legal liability for corporations and their officers. [ [] “Taming the Open-Source Monster,‘’ Waters Magazine, 1 June 2006.] In 2007, open source license infringement litigation went to court in the U.S. for the first time in a suit filed by the Software Freedom Law Center. [ [] “On Behalf of BusyBox Developers, SFLC Files First Ever U.S. GPL Violation Lawsuit,” 20 September 2007.] According to Mark Radcliffe, Deputy General Counsel for the Open Source Initiative, as current and future suits are decided, important case law precedents will be established about the remedies available to open source plaintiffs. [ [] “The Software Freedom Law Center Files first Enforcement Action for General Public License,” September 20, 2007.]

This is the context in which a niche market has developed for products and services from companies such as Black Duck Software that provide automation and information to manage the complexity of emergent composite software development models while avoiding business and legal risks.


President and CEO, Douglas Levin (Doug Levin), founded Black Duck in 2002, at a time when litigation over open source and software intellectual property began in the United States, including the high-profile SCO v. IBM case. The idea struck him that there should be an automated way to keep track of and verify software code origins.

Black Duck Software began shipping its first product, Protex, in 2004. In July 2004, the company had its first round of venture capital funding for $5 million, with investments from Flagship Ventures and General Catalyst Partners. ["Black Duck Software Gets $5 Million," Wall Street Journal, 26 July 2004.] , [ [] “Black Duck Software secures $5M in Series A,” Mass High Tech: The Journal of New England Technology, 23 July 2004.]

In March 2005, the company announced a hosted service, Black Duck Transact. [ [] transactIP product page.] [ [] “Service Offers On-Demand Tool for Finding Software-Licensing Violations” InformationWeek, 28 March 2005.] In June 2005, a second round of funding added $12 million in investment capital led by Fidelity Ventures of Boston and including Intel Capital (a division of Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC)) , SAP Ventures (a division of SAP AG) and Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT), along with existing investors Flagship Ventures and General Catalyst Partners. [ [] “Black Duck Software raises $12M in 2nd VC round,” Boston Business Journal, 6 June 2005.] Throughout 2005, the company created partnerships with other open source organizations, including Red Hat [] , the Open Source Software Institute, Sourceforge, and Olliance Group.

During 2006 Black Duck integrated Protex with the IBM Rational [] management platform [ [] “Black Duck Software Expands Integration Of protexIP/development 4.0 In Ready For IBM Rational Software Validation Program,” Enterprise Open Source Magazine, 7 December 2006 ] and released the Black Duck Export product. [ [] “Black Duck debuts US encryption compliance,” Infoworld, 16 October, 2006.] Also in 2006, the company expanded its distribution network to include resellers in Australia, New Zealand, [ [] “Open Source Firm Black Duck Expands Reseller Network In Australia And NZ,” AjaxWorld International, 2 August 2006.] the UK, [ [] “Black Duck flies into UK with Atos Origin,” Computing, 30 June, 2006.] Israel, [ [] “Black Duck Software Expands International Reach With New Distribution Partners in Israel and the United Kingdom” Press Release14 November, 2006.] and Korea. [ [] ”Black Duck's CEO Douglas Levin to Deliver Keynote at LinuxWorld Korea” Press Release 5 June 2006.]

In February 2007, Black Duck Software completed a third round of venture capital investment for $12 million, led by Focus Ventures and also including existing investors. [ [] “Valley firms join $12M Black Duck round,” Silicon Valley San Jose Journal,14 February 2007.] The company joined the Open Solutions Alliance [ [] Open Solutions Alliance home page.] in April 2007, received IBM SOA Specialty acceptance in October [ [] “Black Duck Software Accepted Into the IBM SOA Specialty,” Press Release 15 October 2007] and, in November 2007, added distribution partners in Hong Kong. [ [] “Black Duck Software Further Expands its Presence in the Far East” Press Release 19 November 2007.] Also in November 2007, the company began a distribution partnership with NEC in Japan. [ [] “NEC and Black Duck Software Partner to Offer Software Component Management Solutions in Japan” Press Release 19 November 2007.]

On January 28, 2008, Black Duck introduced Black Duck Code Center, a role-based management system for mixed-origin software development. [ [] Black Duck Code Center product page.] [ [] Linux Insider: Black Duck Offers Developers a New Tool to Manage Code.] On April 28th 2008, it was announced that Black Duck Software would acquire the assets and technologies of open source code search engine Koders. The Koders search engine will remain free of charge. [ [] "Black Duck acquires" ]


Black Duck Software products include Protex, Transact, Export, and Code Center. Each application uses the Black Duck KnowledgeBase to identify and manage the reuse of open source and third party code. The Black Duck KnowledgeBase is continuously updated with downloadable code from Internet sites and software vendors, including development kits, proprietary applications, operating systems, and the associated proprietary and open source licenses. [ [] KnowledgeBase product page.]


Black Duck Professional Services offer consulting about software compliance, open source software use and creating code reuse policies and procedures using Black Duck products. Black Duck also offers training and customer support services. [ [] professional services page.]

Partners & Alliances

Black Duck Software collaborates in various ways with other companies and organizations in the open source sphere.

Technological integration with IBM Rational adds Black Duck functionality to executive-level software management. Open source consultancies work with Black Duck Software to help their clients adopt and implement open source policies that honor licenses while capturing the cost savings of open source software reuse. [ [] Black Duck partners page.] Similarly, Black Duck has established partnerships with a number of law firms to provide accurate determination of software pedigree—especially helpful when preparing software asset valuation for mergers and acquisitions. [ [ Black Duck legal partners page] ]

Black Duck is a member of the Eclipse Foundation, the Open Solutions Alliance, and the Open Source Software Institute. Black Duck initiated the Compliance Vanguard Alliance to work with other open source technology firms by providing educational events and information to encourage best practices in managed open source adoption. [ [] Compliance Vanguard Partners page.]


The company was named after a pet duck that founder, Doug Levin, found and nursed back to health when he was seven years old. [ [] Black Duck name page.] In the Wikipedia article on American Black Duck we read it has long been considered a prize game bird, as it is “fast on the wing.”

ee also

*EnterpriseDB - Develops and supports Postgres Plus Advanced Server, a commercial product based on the open-source PostgreSQL database
* [ FOSSology] - Open source software license analysis tool, launched in January 2008 by Hewlett Packard
*Funambol - Funambol provides both commercial and open source software for mobile applications
* [ GroundWork] - Provides open source software to deliver IT & network monitoring solutions
* [ JasperSoft] - Open Source Business Intelligence
*Ohloh - Open source network that connects people through the software they create and use
* [ Palamida, Inc.] - Distributor of open source software development tools
* [ Sourcesense] - Sourcesense is a pan-European systems integrator and service provider specializing in open source


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