As I've been working with open source technologies for a few years now I've noticed, comparatively recently, a gigantic leap in the quality of the 'products' themselves. At the same time, and not coincidentally, somewhere between many and damn nearly all of the latest and greatest rapidly growing companies are relying on OSS technologies for their growth. Some of these companies can be called startups and some are not. Another pattern has emerged, that of the long touted "code reuse" actually happening.
The question that comes to mind is: why?
But this is not the whole story. As these guys grew up some, understandably, got an interest in the industry in general and how one went about going from HTML to coding to coding-for-someone-good. 99% of the software industry is about making boring stuff for boring people (one of the reasons the GenX NIH thing kicked off). The HTML generation have approached the problem from a different angle: instead of being better they appreciate the need to look better, hence an appreciation for publicity, hence open source.
Seriously. It's the greatest ever platform for a coder to demonstrate their wares and has led to things like Guido van Rossum becoming a "household" name, DHH of rails fame making himself a PITA at every possible opportunity, and a big BIG desire within the up and coming coders to be seen. In a world where nobody wants to work for Microsoft anymore, career building has changed and open source is both the vehicle and the benefactor.
Previous next big things include development of the capture and intermediate compression technology in iShowU-HD; design and implementation of a small advertising network; the refinancing, technical direction, and a lot of the donkey work for Virtual Katy; technical direction, project management and (again) donkey work for VoiceQ; creating code and intellectual property around load balancing that was acquired by Allied Telesis; and the research and an implementation of the h.264 video compression protocol.