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Innovators & Influencers: Smells Like An Open Source Success Story

Sourcefire's Snort may lead Martin Roesch's company to a successful IPO next year

After a setback, Roesch stands ready for another chance at open source success
The security technology Martin Roesch created in 1998 as a side project to sniff out malicious traffic entering a network has nosed its way into the mainstream. The Snort open source intrusion detection and prevention application has been downloaded about 3 million times, and more than 40 security vendors now use it as the basis for their products. Says Roesch: "Open source is powerful because it gives you mindshare."

That's why Roesch and his team at Sourcefire are confident the timing is right for an initial public offering next year, as they seek to raise $75 million. Sourcefire also sells proprietary network security products.

It's a heady move for a company that's never made a dime's profit. Sourcefire almost reached the promised land earlier this year, when Israel's Check Point Software Technologies agreed to acquire it for $225 million. But the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, an interagency committee chaired by the treasury secretary, scotched the deal in March.

Sourcefire rebounded and in May secured a $20 million investment from Meritech Capital Partners. Snort is once again smelling like an open source success.

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