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"There’s Still No Viable Open Source Business Model"

via gestaltit.com/podcast/tom/ther

SourceHut proves this wrong. Every single line of code we've written is open source, since day one. There are no periodic code dumps, no prototyping in private, no open core with paid extensions. We accept patches from the public. Our company is 100% bona-fide open source.

We've been profitable for 2 years, and our profit margin continues to grow. We published our Q3 financial report last week:

sourcehut.org/blog/2020-11-11-

It's still early, and we're still small. We did not take on any outside investments, either. But the model works. You CAN make money in open source.

@sir > small

that's the problem, you're not employing 500 people and selling stock on NASDAQ
@sir (although honestly? I think Red Hat already proved FOSS is viable a very, *very* long time ago)

@sir The example of sourcehut is the kind of sustainable slow growth business that should be the norm.

@urusan @sir For a while.

Is there a supported enterprise like package?

@jordan31 @urusan nope, and we won't need one. We're already profitable, and infinite growth is (1) not one of our goals and (2) mathematically impossible and socially irresponsible

@sir @urusan How is having paid support for businesses socially irresponsible?

I understand your goal is not to become the next Github. But I see no harm in providing support to paying customers (once your at the stage to provide it). If I'm not mistaken sr.ht will become a pay to use (excluding your exceptions) once it leaves alpha or beta?

@jordan31 @urusan my comment on social responsibility is a reply to "for a while", which I interpreted as suggesting that the business model won't be sustainable forever.

@sir @urusan Ah, ok now that makes sense. I do think it could hit stagnation at some point. Which could force one to expand their revenue generation from the business, but will being open-source and fair.

But I am not for these rapid fast growing companies that bill themsevles as lean, mean, money producing machine in order to be bought for a large sum.

I really dispise those with a passion.

@sir @urusan Now let clarify something, I know sr.ht is your baby and something you are passionate about. Anything I say is not a negative comment to you or sr.ht. I'm purely looking at things from a business point of view while still trying to hang on to the open-source ideaology.

I for one use and support sourcehut and your idea/business you are growing. And hope for nothing but the best.

@jordan31 @urusan I understand. And to issue you a similar clarification, I am aware that sr.ht as a business is unusual, and that I have to retrain people's thinking a bit to make them understand how it works, and why it's a valid and sustainable way of doing business.

@jordan31 @urusan @sir The supported package, with equal and open access for all, is the baseline with SourceHut.

Privileging some customers above that baseline is how you end up with feature creep and unbalanced motivations that take your product down evolutionary dead ends.

I hope SourceHut avoids that particular tarpit.

@urusan @sir I think what they meant with "business model" is "something that works for greedy VC funds"

"You don't sell free software, you work around it by selling services"
-RedHat director.
@mangeurdenuage He's right. No typical business would want to adopt LibreOffice unless it came with paid support, for example.

@sir
@verita84 Actually, yes. I used to work at a company who were happy to be a 'Microsoft Partner'. Even so I don't believe that's the right question to ask.

Companies are happy to throw money at software licences if they feel they'd benefit. Free Software doesn't come with a price tag so it's not immediately appealing unless they can get some kind of paid support.

@mangeurdenuage @sir

@sir Also Plausible Analytics is arguably pretty successful using a lot of the same ethos as an open source company.

@sir I thing many companies including sourcehut have proven that you can make a living working on foss. It does seem like certain kinds of software are easier to sell like this than others.

Services like sourcehut is one model that seems to work. Enterprise support like Redhat another.

It seems like desktop apps are a little harder but it could work. Ardour open source and still kicking, but there seem to be fewer examples.

@sir I remember hearing an interview a while back with the head of Invoice Ninja which is open source. He said most of there clients used there paid service, but the ones that self hosted more than made up for the lost revenue in high quality bug reports and patches.

@zethra there are several self-hosted instances of sourcehut and I'm pretty sure all of them have sent multiple patches upstream each

@sir @zethra mine hasn't, mostly because i haven't (yet) found any bugs to fix ^^
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