Ton has mentioned a couple of possible methods of continuing Blender development and I thought I might propose a third method. The first (and preferable to me) method for continuing Blender is essentially Open Sourcing it. The second method would be to allow another company in the industry to carry on the development of Blender. While I would very much like to see Ton take the Open Source route I’m all too aware that there are irritating real life concerns that we all need to take care of like making sure you get a paycheck every now and again. Plainly, sometimes life gets in the way of things we’d like to do. This is why if Blender continues development with another company I’d like to see Ton Open Source an older version of Blender. v1.8 or v1.5 should be new enough to make it useful to the community yet old enough that a company who might carry on development wouldn’t consider the Open Source version a threat. This would ensure that there will always be a free, high quality 3D app for people to learn and discover with. Open Sourcing a version of Blender would give Blenderheads a fall back position so that if the company behind Blender fell off the face of the Earth development could always resume.
Some might say that even if Blender development forever halted you could just download old versions and learn from that. While this is of course possible very few people (esp a 3d newbie) are going to start learning a dead program with no future and probably a small or (by then) nonexistent community to help them along.
It certainly has been a bumpy and uncertain ride for Blender users and employees. I like many have spent a good deal of time with Blender and have more than once thought that everyone’s efforts (developer and community alike) in Blender would lead to a dead end. Now let me say that I don’t feel Ton owes this to anyone but I do know that Blender is his baby and he doesn’t want to see anything happen to bring Blender to a halt if he can help it. Obviously Open Sourcing Blender helps the users and also secures Blender’s freeness and development possibilities. Hopefully make everyone (Ton, the community and any potential buyers) feel happy and secure about the future of Blender as long as the company acquiring Blender understands Blenders roots and heritage.