There are quite a few independent developers that develop open-source products or projects, and the reasons for doing so are varied. To start, such open-source ventures create a community of users who help develop the product, ensure transparency, and lead to the development of safer products because more people saw it and could thus raise any red flags. However, monetary income is not one of these reasons to start open-source projects. But with all due respect to the stars at GitHub, developers, who have invested tens and hundreds of hours on projects, would not mind getting some recognition from time to time, as small financial grants.
Invested in 20 projects
The Israeli startup Appwrite, which develops the open-source Microservices platform for web, mobile and Flutter developers, has announced the establishment of a new fund called the Appwrite OSS Fund which aims to invest in open-source developers.
The new Appwrite fund will stand at $50,000 in its first year, which will be distributed to various open-source software developers, unlike funds granted by venture capital. Appwrite has launched a page on its website where open-source developers can apply or recommend other developers for funding from the OSS Fund. The projects that apply will be selected by a committee set up by Appwrite and will include company representatives alongside prominent representatives from the open-source community.
The Israeli startup notes that the open-source community is necessary for the continued functioning of the entire network, when currently between 70% and 90% of all software on the network is open source. On the other hand, many developers who maintain the most critical projects embedded in the systems and products we use, get very little pay– or no pay at all.
Eldad Fux, CEO and co-founder of Appwrite, told Geektime that the fund will grant $2,500 to 20 open-source code contributors and projects annually. “Our plan is to grant money to a multitude of different projects, on the condition that they don't have any other funding sources, like that from a venture capital firm, and wouldn't be benefiting from the business model. When this fund completes its mission, we will consider establishing another one with additional operations to help the open-source world," Fux added.
Last year, it came out that Marak Squires, an American developer, deliberately pushed committees that destroyed two JS libraries and harmed thousands of other developers. Even before this event, the developer expressed that he was not pleased with the fact that he had done all this work which was then available for everyone online for free and was used by large corporations and commercial companies that then made money from it yet did not pay it forward to the community. What do you think about this case? Do you think initiatives like that of Appwrite can prevent such cases in the future?
"You don’t have to agree with Marak's actions to understand his frustration. Almost every company today benefits gravely from open sources and only a few of them return such benefits to the community. While our initiative is modest and will not solve industry problems, I think it sends a very strong message. We hope to see more companies, large and small, come together to help open-source developers and help build a healthier ecosystem around their technology."
Fux says the money is coming straight out of the startup budget. But even though they are not a cash-rich unicorn, the move was still welcomed by investors. "It was clear from day one that we were doing everything we could to stay true to our sources as an open-source company. Without the open-source community, we would not have reached where we are today. It only makes sense to do everything we can to make sure the system around our technology stays healthy. And we are always looking for other ways in which we can help open-source projects thrive."
Appwrite was founded in 2019 by Eldad Fux, and it maintains open-source products on the SaaS side of things. Last month, the Israeli startup raised $27 million from Tiger Global and other firms. Upon announcing this round of funding, Fux told us that 95% of the company's developers are people who have previously contributed to the company's open-source product. If you are an open-source developer and interested in receiving a grant from them, the application page is here.