Open Source Financial Freedom
Our roadmap towards the financial sustainability of open source
Open source software has been an unequivocal good for the world. It produces billions of dollars a year in economic value, billion dollar companies, and hundreds of thousands of well paying 21st century jobs for developers like me and you.
Why then, is it so hard to sustain Open Source? Programmers who work on popular open source projects often do it as a labour of passion. It’s often unpaid or under-paid work. It’s often lonely and thankless work.
One way of measuring the resilience of a an open source project is by its Truck Factor. From A Novel Approach for Estimating Truck Factors:
Truck Factor (TF) is a metric proposed by the agile community as a tool to identify concentration of knowledge in software development environments. It states the minimal number of developers that have to be hit by a truck (or quit) before a project is incapacitated.
Did you know that many of the most popular open source packages only have one or two maintainers?
Projects that only have one or two maintainers do not pass the Truck Factor Test. If someone gets hit by a bus, does the project die with them?
These maintainers are overworked, underpaid, and face a unique problem. When their labour of love grows into a mission critical piece of infrastructure, they have to decide: should I accept help from the community (which is hard to validate), or maintain this ever-growing pile of unpaid work myself?
Our mission requires we solve this problem.
Our mission at Gitcoin is to grow open source. It’s our north star. It informs everything we do.
In order to fulfill our mission, we must hack away at the sustainability problem. We’ll tell you about our journey thus far, and the paths we’re excited to walk next.