ag-Grid started life as an open source project and true to these roots, it now comes in two versions; ag-Grid Free and ag-Grid Enterprise. ag-Grid Free is a feature rich datagrid that is and will always remain free to use.
Living The Coder’s Dream
We have somehow managed to live the coder’s dream — transitioning an open-source project into a successful commercial offering.
We found ourselves in a unique position with a strong revenue stream and the ability to contribute to the community we started in.
For us, the path forward was clear, continue our mission with ag-Grid Enterprise, supporting and improving the product with the idea of giving back always in mind. We were just looking for the right opportunity.
I met Sean — one of the webpack maintainers — at ng-Vikings in Copenhagen earlier this year. I have been impressed by webpack since coming across it a few years ago. It was a pleasure to meet Sean and realize he was an absolute gentleman. We had a good conversation about our respective projects and comparing our funding models.
Donations vs. Company Expense
One thing that stood out was ag-Grid’s unique position in the market. Because we offer a datagrid component, companies can justify spending money on it. I think this is because you can show a datagrid to your users and they immediately see value. It is more difficult to illustrate the value of tooling as your users don’t resonate with a product that makes the life of a developer easier.
When ag-Grid started, there was a donation button on the website. In the first year it raised £800. It was great to get those donations and motivated me to continue working on the project however it wasn’t going to pay the bills when compared with a salary in London.
Once ag-Grid Enterprise launched, one or two licenses quickly added up to more than the previous year’s donations. It felt like there were people waiting in the background to use the product and once it went commercial, they could purchase through their company.
We found that users were far more likely to convince their employers to purchase ag-Grid than make a personal donation.
ag-Grid Giving Back
As the commercials aligned with our desire to contribute to open source, we wondered what we could do for our unrelated cousin webpack? Apart from giving them generous amounts of money every month? Well, not much, so we have decided to give them generous amounts of money every month.
One open source project with revenue helping what we believe is a very deserving open source project.
I got back in touch with Sean and said “Hey, can our projects be partners? We’d really like to be a major source of funding for you” and Sean was like “Hell yeah!”. So we have decided to contribute $2,500 per month to webpack and see where it takes us.
All of the funding for webpack is completely transparent through the excellently managed Open Collective. So if you are a user of either project, you can be happy that some of our revenue is funding webpack and you can track exactly how it is spent.
If ag-Grid had a conscience, it would be proud of itself right now.
Corporate ‘Open-Source’ Social Responsibility
We have chosen webpack as our first as it’s a deserving project. In the future, who knows where this is going, baby steps for now, but wouldn’t it be great if we had an ag-Grid open source collective??!!
If you are a profitable company, then I urge you to do the same. Great projects like webpack do need help and companies like us can provide that help. It is not possible for these projects to survive on donations alone.
No time to help contribute? Want to give back in other ways? Become a Backer or Sponsor to webpack by donating to our open collective. Open Collective not only helps support the Core Team, but also supports contributors who have spent significant time improving our organization on their free time! ❤