Hire Open Source Developers -- or Partner With Them?: Page 2

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Then you have open source projects that demonstrate clear benefit to businesses, non-profits and self-employed individuals. Projects that meet these requirements are able to position themselves to become software as a service. This ability, to provide a definable service with open source software, is largely where I see the future of the industry.

The only upgrade I think I could make to the idea, is the creation of what I like to call the true open source business.

Open Source is more than just code, it’s a way of doing business

There is really nothing new about contemplating different open source business models. Over the years, the vast majority of them have revolved around the idea of building up services around free open source software.

But what about taking the same open source products, and building a business around them in such a way that anyone with the right skill set can enjoy the fruits of their non-development contributions?

Imagine building up a community based sales team that not only has a vested interest in promoting the product for free to casual users, but they also make a commission for each enterprise user that signs up under their assigned user number. This translates into the software being freely available, at the same time finding a means of sustainability in hitting enterprise users that might be interested in the software as a service.

Those who are dead-set against profiting from their efforts could have the charity option in which their commission could go to the charity of their choice. In theory, one could even build up charity drives by selling subscriptions to the software as a service. This provides the community surrounding the project with three great options:

  • Take the Mozilla Firefox approach, which promotes the software to end users out of the desire to see its adoption take full hold.
  • Help to sell the enterprise version of the product, but opt to donate the proceeds directly to a charity.
  • Help to sell the enterprise version of the product, but instead choose to earn income from your efforts.

Developers as partners

To those companies out there interested in hiring open source developers in hopes of attracting others to follow along and work on your project for next to nothing, consider the following. Hiring new employees is fine, but bringing new partners from the open source development community could very well bring in the kind of grass roots support your company is looking for.

Despite the fact that many open source projects have done wondrous things from mere volunteers, imagine the rewards to be had simply by empowering those volunteers with financial incentives that go beyond the one time only software bounty.

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Tags: open source, Linux, developer, services, software

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