Babel’s rise to financial sustainability

Making a living making open source

Alanna Irving
May 21 · 7 min read

What is Babel?

How did you get involved?

“Like many maintainers, I just showed up and stuck with it.”

Why did Babel start fundraising?

How has your financial base developed?

“More companies should step up. Many open source projects are used by thousands of companies who don’t even know which ones they rely on or who is behind them.”

What has money made possible for the project?

“We need to think long-term. Any of the sponsors could stop donating at any point.”

How are you working for long-term sustainability?

Babel’s top sponsors (May 2019)

“Base Support sponsors can get feedback on urgent issues much sooner, which is really worthwhile for them.”

How did you get the current base support sponsors—Airbnb, Trivago, and Adobe—to come on board?

“The more companies give major support to open source, the more normal it becomes.”

“When I think, ‘This isn’t your job…aren’t you supposed to just code?’, I remind myself that if I don’t do this, no one else will.”

What is your advice to projects seeking to 20x their sponsorship, like Babel has?

“The main thing is: make it easier for companies to fund you. People have no idea who you are, even if they use your code.”

Final thoughts about sustainability for open source?

“You can make all the money in the world and still burn out — learn to say no when you need to.”

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Alanna Irving

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