Funding FOSS: Ideas and Stories
Presented by: nirbheek
7 months ago
| 12 interested

When people talk about funding FOSS projects, lots of ideas are thrown about:

  1. FOSS is public commons, it must be funded
  2. Govt should fund open source software
  3. Companies should fund open source projects that they use
  4. People should donate to projects that they use
  5. Crowdfunding is extremely viable, FOSS projects should leverage it

These are all true and valid ideas, and it works in some cases: Blender, Wikipedia, Krita, Godot, Asahi Linux, etc.

But crowd-funding only works for end-user apps, and for libraries and other middleware, company donations are only viable for extremely popular libraries such as JS libraries. It has failed for the vast majority of FOSS middleware, which is the real backbone of the software industry.

It is well-known that there is no funding mechanism more efficient and effective than a business model. Unfortunately, business models around software are almost universally not aligned with the goals, needs, and priorities of a community around software. This has played out numerous times over the years, with projects/companies like ElasticSearch, MongoDB, Redis, Canonical, etc.

In these cases the business models actively harmed the community instead of helping it. But it doesn’t have to be that way! It is absolutely possible to have business models that support and flourish the community instead of being at odds with it. I have been a part of one such endeavour since 2014, and I have a lot of stories to tell. Let’s talk!

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