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Tidelift’s contribution to open source sustainability

Chris Grams
by Chris Grams
on June 25, 2018

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Over the weekend, Danny Crichton at TechCrunch wrote an in-depth piece entitled Open source sustainability about some of the challenges facing open source, and the efforts—like Tidelift—that have sprung up to address them.

Danny’s article points out that open source has in some ways become a victim of its own massive popularity. As we’ve highlighted previously, open source is now the de facto standard for software development, used in pretty much all modern application development.

Yet despite the overwhelming popularity of open source, many of the creators of popular libraries have not benefited financially from their projects’ successes, and many users of open source don’t have access to the basic assurances they expect from professional-grade software.

We formed Tidelift to give open source maintainers a new way to be compensated for the value they create by delivering the additional assurances professional users need. Danny quotes Tidelift’s Donald Fischer in the article:

“We felt frustrated at some level that while open source has taken over a huge portion of software, a lot of the creators of open source have not been able to capture a lot of the value they are creating.”

For Tidelift, the answer to helping the creators of open source software is a market-driven solution that gives professional development teams a way to pay for assurances around maintenance, security, and licensing for the open source software they are already using. And because this isn’t a charity-based model, but instead one where money is exchanged for assurances that are of great value to professional organizations, we believe it offers a compelling way for open source maintainers to do better than simply sustaining their work.

Again from the article, Danny quoting Donald Fischer:

“[Tidelift] wants the community to move from a model of ‘get by and survive’ with a ‘subsistence level of earnings’ and instead, help maintainers of great software ‘win big and be financially rewarded for that in a significant way.’”

Danny ends the piece with a simple call to arms for those who care about the future of open source:

“The change though can happen through all of us who work on code — every software engineer and product manager. If you work at a for-profit company, take the lead in finding a way to support the code that allows you to do your job so efficiently. The decentralization and volunteer spirit of the open source community needs exactly the same kind of decentralized spirit in every financial contributor. Sustainability is each of our jobs, every day. If we all do our part, we can help to sustain one of the great intellectual movements humanity has ever created, and end the oxymoron of open source sustainability forever.”

The full article is on TechCrunch here.

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