Explaining the challenge (and Tidelift) to an expert audience


LLW - Sustainability and The Long Term.pdf (1.9 MB)
I regularly attend and speak at a small gathering for lawyers and other top open source people from many of the world’s biggest companies. One panel this year represented two trillion in market cap; another had about one million employees. (Each of those panels had only four panelists.) The event is organized by Free Software Foundation Europe, but with a definite focus on being constructive.

Since I heard last year at this conference that sustainability isn’t a problem (“all the open source developers I know get well paid”) I wanted to speak this year to address that misconception. Attached is my slide deck and notes addressing that point. It was just a 15 minute spot (I believe the conference called them something like “provocative” slots this year, designed to stimulate discussion rather than be complete) so I did not go very deep, and it will be fairly basic for most of you. But it did lead to several interesting discussions and hopefully soon some sales :slight_smile:

also + @jonschlinkert who asked me about this when I mentioned I was traveling.


@luis thanks for the mention, and thanks for posting this!

A number of the quotes from developers really hit home. On that point, as a maintainer myself, I find it ironic that OSS probably generates more economic value and growth than any segment in any other sector. Yet, in contrast with every other economic model that comes to mind, success in OSS often leads to projects being abandoned by maintainers. This is the result of a tipping point where the maintainers feel that the benefits of a project no longer outweigh the maintenance burden (e.g. economic value is created, but not captured). You touched on the value creation/capture point as well as the developer sentiment in your deck. That resonates.

Looking forward to the next one! Thank you for sharing!

1 Like

That hits a nail right on the head in a way I’ve been struggling to capture - thanks! Will definitely get used in future talks :slight_smile:

1 Like

On a related note, I just learned something about one of our projects that hints at another data point that might be useful or at least interesting.

I spent some time refactoring one of our projects to optimize code recently. Last week I published a major version that reduced the package size from 4.78 MB to 0.28 MB, which will save NPM users 45 terabytes of bandwidth every week.

That’s one package. One version. This kind of optimization doesn’t happen when maintainers aren’t motivated to be aligned with the needs of their users.

edit: Which reminds me, those numbers are for NPM downloads alone, but the package I mentioned, micromatch, also ships with Chrome. You won’t see those stats because it’s cached. I wonder how many TB of bandwidth end-users will save when downloading chrome every day?