FLOSS Weekly Episode 772: Raspberry Pi From The Man Himself

This week, Jonathan Bennett and Elliot Williams talk with Eben Upton about the Raspberry Pi! The conversation covers the new Pi 5, the upcoming CM5, the possible Pi500, and the Initial Public Offering (IPO) that may happen before too long. There’s also the PCIe port, the RP1, and the unexpected effects of using Broadcom chips. And then we ask the Billion Dollar question: What’s the money from an IPO going to fund? New hardware, software upgrades, better documentation? Nope, and the answer surprised us, too.

Did you know you can watch the live recording of the show right in the Hackaday Discord? Next week, we’re talking with Julian Lam about NodeBB!

Direct Download in DRM-free MP3.

If you’d rather read along, here’s the transcript for this week’s episode.

15 thoughts on “FLOSS Weekly Episode 772: Raspberry Pi From The Man Himself

      1. I can’t think of a specific example, but it seems like every time there is a great company that goes public, they say, “we have no reason to change how we work”, and then it turns out that reasons happen, and then the changes happen. So having heard the whole interview, I still have this concern, myself.

        On the other hand, I was concerned when Raspberry Pi Foundation spawned this commercial entity that designs and makes the chips, and this has gone rather well, so I will try to be optimistic.

      2. I did. (I’m not the person who commented earlier, though.)

        There was an error or a lie in the interview. The duty of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for shareholders. A corporation has no other purpose. (There are “B Corporations”, and notions such as the “triple bottom line”, but these have nothing to do with corporation law or securities trading law.) By definition, profits must be maximized.

        I’m also interested in the disconnect between Raspberry Pi’s warm, friendly image and the ruthless behavior of its supplier, Broadcom. It surprises me how quick we tech. geeks are to ignore misdeeds, even if they might directly affect us. When Broadcom acquired VMWare, remote work was eliminated immediately.

        I’m a Silicon Valley software engineer. I have bought a few Pi 5 boards but I wonder whether my money isn’t contributing to a degradation of working conditions in my own field. I like the extra exercise and sleep I get from not wasting 2 hours a day commuting, and I like the hundreds of dollars I save every month.

        I think we should at least be aware of incongruities in a company’s story, such as a claim that Raspberry Pi won’t be profit-driven after an IPO (no, a corporation must be profit-driven), or a sense that Raspberry Pi’s benevolent image might influence its choice of suppliers (no, Broadcom is actively undermining working conditions in the tech. industry).

        1. No, your statement about maximising shareholder value is incorrect. Its a common misconception. It is not the duty of a corporation to maximise shareholder value. https://www.legislate.ai/blog/does-the-law-require-public-companies-to-maximise-shareholder-value . Broadcom is just one supplier of parts for Pi, and that is just what it is, a supplier relationship. Broadcom supply chips to most phone makers etc, so picking out Pi seems a little harsh.

        2. I think that Pi Ltd, the profit-making part of Pi, has always worried about profitability. Whether expansion is funded by debt or equity… meh. I don’t think it matters all that much, honestly.

          Anyway, it’s all pre-planning phase at this point anyway.

          1. Indeed. Corporations are always focused on profitability. It is not a change. It’s the potential false impression of some warm, fuzzy purpose — past, present or future — that I find problematic.

            The article that the other poster linked to is interesting, and I was glad to read it. The professors of any business school would disagree. If directors shouldn’t be maximizing shareholder value, what else should they be doing? Minimizing it? The debates in the article center on disagreement about what course of action will maximize shareholder value, not on the motive itself. Sure enough, business judgment controls. Directors can plausibly argue that one course of action will generate more value in the long term than in the short term, for example. This doesn’t mean that they can consistently favor charity, employees, or any party other than shareholders.

            The point about UK versus US law is well taken. Mine is a US perspective. Still, I very much doubt that the warmer, fuzzier provisions in modern UK corporate law would be interpreted to allow directors of a UK corporation to consistently prioritize any stakeholder other than shareholders. We are talking about consistency and a long-term future, no?

            I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a profit motive. I do think it’s wrong to pretend to other motives. Man cannot serve God and mammon. (And again, to be really clear, I don’t think profit, mammon, is bad. I just don’t think a corporation can faithfully serve more than one master — its shareholders. Let’s be plainly aware of the profit priority.)

        3. Maybe in the US but this is a UK company and the IPO with be in London. UK law describes a duty to promote the success of the company and that can take many forms. There is no specific duty to maximise profits.

  1. I agree that there is no way that the Raspberry Pi could have come out of a focus group, but at the same time, when you’ve got a really focused focus group, like a couple of Hackaday geeks bending the ear of the top dog, good things can happen. Thank you for doing this interview – it was great.

  2. Look, it isn’t a “Law” that they will have to maximize profits, no. But the simple act of going public means you are forever beholden to investors. Meaning if you don’t want to tank, you WILL put profits first.
    Pretending it is anything other than this is a delusion.

    1. I wonder if that’s because technical details are undecided or if they want to avoid publicizing the expected ship date.

      I’m interested in the CM5 but not enough to sign an NDA.

  3. One of the interviewers expressed minor frustration to Eben about still having to boot a Pi400 from an SD card. You don’t have to any more. You can install the OS onto a USB3 flash drive and boot from that. It’s almost as fast as running from an SSD. The smallest only protrude about a half inch from the back of the casing so you forget it’s even there. I’ve been doing this for well over a year with no problems at all.

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