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Share or pay, a new freemium business model for open source communities

CEO, Co-Founder
Jul 15, 2009

Today Joel Farris a.k.a. Senpai, made me realize that our new share or pay business model is something worth blogging about. Almost all webdevelopment projects start out as confidential specifications. Even organizations that later end up publishing their experiences prefer to do that after they finished the project. Public scrutiny can really slow down your project while you try to explain why you are doing things in a certain way, and most organizations don't have the resources to do this. A lot of companies of course also don't want to make it easy to copy their website. Last week we launched a pre-alpha version of Spezzle our platform for making specifications. Because of the above we needed to make sure that we could provide a confidential mode for these users. From the beginning we also wanted to make Spezzle a resource that would be a place where the community could work freely (as in free beer) on open specifications. We solved this by giving non-paying users only a binary choice: publish or don't publish. If a user wants to invite a closed group of people to collaborate on a specification she will have to pay for a corporate account. The beauty of this model is that everybody wins: there is a free mode for the community, companies can use the tool with all the resources right in the platform (no need for local out of synch copies) and we get some money to pay the bills. At the same time we also give an additional incentive for sharing. Do you know other web services that use a share or pay business model?

Kristof Van Tomme is an open source strategist and architect. He is the CEO and co-founder of Pronovix. He’s got a degree in bioengineering and is a regular speaker at conferences in the API, developer relations, and technical writing communities. He is the host of the Developer Success & the Business of APIs and the API Resilience podcasts.


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