How come Quora hasn’t contributed any significant open source tools?
15th September 2013
My answer to How come Quora hasn’t contributed any significant open source tools? on Quora
Releasing open source software is a lot of work. You need to extract it from your own proprietary systems, clean it up, document it, release it and them deal with support queries, incoming bug fixes, suggestions and feature requests.
There are certainly plenty of benefits: it supports the open source community, can help with hiring and a well run open source project gets external contributions that can benefit your own software.
But... it comes at a huge opportunity cost. Can you be sure that the benefits from working on the open source project outweigh the benefits of solving engineering problems more directly related to your startup’s products?
In a pre-revenue startup, every hour of engineering time counts—time is money, and the out-of-money date is a fixed point on the horizon.
Twitter and Facebook have large teams and proven revenue models, which means they can more easily afford to invest in open source projects.
I think it’s completely reasonable for a startup like Quora not to prioritise open source work over developing their own products.
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