My company’s most recent project had been incubating in my head for the last six months or so. The whole point of this project revolves around an idea for a business that I had: “Develop open source software that everybody needs, but no one wants to develop for free.” The problem is that those types of projects can cost a lot of money to develop. While there are certain benefits for companies that pay for the development of open source projects and release them, companies generally recoup their investment of resources in those projects by exploiting the competitive advantage of having the software and not their competitors. Individuals generally don’t have enough need for these projects to want to invest the funds required.
Pledge4Code is an attempt to give companies and individuals a new opportunity to invest in the development of open source projects by lowering the perceived cost and delivering maximum value to end users by releasing all project deliverables under OSI approved licenses. Lowering the investment a company has to make in order to get a needed project developed while that company still receives the benefits of using an open source product allows more companies to justify actively using open source software. Pledge4Code works on a “reverse bounty” system where we post prepared project specifications, and then interested businesses and individuals pledge a portion of the development cost. We begin development once all of the needed funds have been pledged. Everyone who had pledged gets to vote to decide if the project is complete, and once voted complete the source code and other deliverables get released under an OSI approved license.
Initially Pledge4Code is going to focus on development tools and libraries, and then branching out as we get a better feel for market demand. One thing we are keeping an eye out for are projects where there is no open source equivalent because it requires more than just expertise in writing good code: legal, financial, and regulatory expertise isn’t cheap. Despite the fact that a lot of open source software is free, we think open source software has more value than traditional proprietary software. Pledge4Code is looking to cash in on that value and help the open source community at the same time.