Simon Willison’s Weblog


Geomys, a blueprint for a sustainable open source maintenance firm (via) Filippo Valsorda has been working as a full-time professional open source maintainer for nearly two years now, accepting payments on retainer from companies that depend on his cryptography Go packages.

This has worked well enough that he's now expanding: Geomys (a genus of gophers) is a new company which adds two new "associate maintainers" and an administrative director, covering more projects and providing clients with access to more expertise.

Filipino describes the model like this:

If you’re betting your business on a critical open source technology, you

  1. want it to be sustainably and predictably maintained; and
  2. need occasional access to expertise that would be blisteringly expensive to acquire and retain.

Getting maintainers on retainer solves both problems for a fraction of the cost of a fully-loaded full-time engineer. From the maintainers’ point of view, it’s steady income to keep doing what they do best, and to join one more Slack Connect channel to answer high-leverage questions. It’s a great deal for both sides.

For more on this model, watch Filippo's FOSDEM talk from earlier this year.