• For-profit Freedom Forges

last modified March 31, 2017 by strypey

A few years ago, Loom.io was established to develop web-based, free code, decision-making software. Instead of following the for-benefit "Foundation" model that has been standard in free code development since the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation, they set up as a worker-owned cooperative, employing paid staff who supervise and support each others' work in radically democratic way. Since then, I've become curious about how many software businesses are out there paying staff to develop code in the public interest, how they earn revenue, and how sustainable the different business models seem to be. There may be detailed lists out there already, but a web search didn't find them straight away, so I'm going to scratch this itch and see where it leads.

EDIT: Some businesses develop free code software, and others resell it. Now this isn't a clear division, because a lot of free code software is built from free code components built and maintained by others, and resellers often tweak the software they sell and send good quality bug reports and patches upstream. But it's still probably use to have two lists, businesses that mainly develop their own software (including offering a hosted service on top of it), and businesses that mainly resell software developed by others (including offering a hosted service on top of it). For example Automattic would in the first list, other companies that run commercial WordPress farms would be in the second list, even if their engineers are contributors to WP as an open source project.

- Strypey

  • Loom.io (AGPLv3) - web-based, decision-making platform. Pricing is based on ability to pay, with one-on-one helpdesk and hosting extras offered for user organisations which can afford to pay.
  • OpenGroups/ GroupServer (ZPLv2.1) - web-based email group hosting platform. Enterprise is sustained by commercial hosting, although selected not-for-profit projects are given gratis hosting, including the NZ Open Source Society, and CreativeCommons Aotearoa/ NZ 
  • Red Hat, Sun, MySQL (before Oracle acquisitions), Loomio, Catalyst, OnlineGroups, SilverStripe
  • also a number of companies supporting Drupal websites and Koha in libraries, Automattic and other companies supporting WordPress sites
  • The rest of the companies in the Collaborative Technology Alliance http://qttr.at/1r71