FundSpring: OSS Crowdfunding

Background

Underfunding is a consistent threat to the sustainability of important yet uncool open source software. The Linux Foundation’s projects tend to be adequately resourced, but what if a project isn’t a good fit for the LF? What if the core maintainer is a hardcore FLOSS type and strongly objects to OSS foundations in general?

As services like Patreon attempt to accommodate software developers in addition to artists and writers, new contenders like Open Collective sweep up hot projects like Webpack, and old standbys like Gratipay/Liberapay go the way of the dodo due to the enormous legal and financial compliance burdens of running a crowdfunding site, the Linux Foundation felt it was uniquely well-positioned to produce a killer product in this space.

Greenfield products like FundSpring can also serve the purpose of a prospecting ground, enabling the LF to monitor the market’s interest in emerging OSS projects from a new vantage point and build a fresh pipeline for “the Github generation” of OSS projects and maintainers.

My Role

FundSpring was atypical for me — an inherited product being built by an agency. I was responsible for change management between engineering teams, onboarding the agency, assisting with lingering requirements and solving weird compliance issues (ask me about the gotchas lurking throughout Stripe!). This product required all the security of detailed oversight from LF Legal and Finance, but at the speed of a nimble startup. In 3 months, we built a working proof-of-concept, integrated with LF’s new Auth0 tenant and Stripe, to be tested by a handpicked cadre of projects.

After putting the MVP in the hands of that initial cadre, soliciting feedback and reviewing usage data, our next step would be to prioritize that feedback against feature parity with competitors and collaborate with our Marketing team on a broader rollout timeline.

Results

This product is currently being built by the Linux Foundation and Two Bulls, targeting a Q2 2019 general release.