Open Collective Inc - Investor Update
This is our 2022 update for our Investors by our CEO, Pia Mancini.
Another year went by, one marked by many challenges and great satisfactions. One of them being that Argentina won the world cup after 34 years! I learnt from this team that suffering hard is unavoidable but that cool heads and team grit will get you through, even if it’s by the skin of your teeth.
So here we are, Open Collective had its best year so far, almost doubling last years’ revenue. We crossed 1.8M in revenue and had a record single month of 283k revenue in December.
- Recurring contributions created→ up 1.5x to 40k
- Total $ raised by collectives (verified hosts) → up 2x to $54M
- Total disbursements (verified hosts) → up 2x to +$33M
- New financial contributors → up +1.2x to +70k
- OC Inc. Revenue → up 1.8x to +$1.8M
What we did in 2022
Last year we set out to increase collaboration and compensation. We wanted to increase expenses as well as contributions to support the full cycle of a collectives’ budget. We saw a huge expansion and continued investment in our virtual cards program, with over 150k in transactions per month now being done on VC's. To make cross border expenses easier to manage, we released a currency localisation feature to enable users to submit expenses in their own currency.
On contributions, we released improvements to highlight their impact. We built a new feature for budget visualization (you can see a live version on a collective here) and a tool to embed videos in updates. To make bank payments easier we recently released an ACH integration.
Our vision is that communities need a tool that enables them to collaborate with money in a way that doesn't stifle them with heavy structures or useless tasks. With this in mind we spent a lot building features to create a better environment for users on the platform in terms of privacy, user safety, anti-fraud and trust. Examples are new community guidelines, new help page, security checks and alerts on fraudulent looking expenses, collectives’ activity logs to help admins troubleshoot and freezing collectives while investigating issues as well and easily un-hosting collectives.
Open Collective is home to thousands of projects, contributors and community members. But for a small group of power users, we know that we're a place of work and that notifications from Open Collective are not supporting them as they should. Notifications were messy, we improved them by giving users control over them. For power users we also released a recurrent expense feature to avoid the hassle of creating one every month.
At the beginning of the year we set out to build up our API to let developers do everything that is currently possible in the website with it, with the goal of enabling integrations. We extended our public API to cover almost 100% of the features offered on the platform. Implementing the OAuth protocol, we started to fully support third party applications. For simpler integrations, we also iterated on Personal Tokens, allowing developers to easily authenticate with the API.
Discovery was traditionally an area where we kept coming short. We made major progress here releasing a new Discovery Tool that gives an overview of our impact since 2015 and enables financial contributors to easily discover Collectives by location or sector. Check it out, it's great.
Find a grassroots group making an impact in: arts & culture, education, open source, mutual aid, civic tech, climate justice and more!
You can also search for a group by location: New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Ukraine, New Zealand, United Kingdom and more!
We added 3 senior engineers to the team, a UX designer and a documentation/support role. We are now adding a senior ops role, a shared ops roles, a program manager and a governance role (shared with OC Europe). We are also crafting a new product role that will be shared by the fiscal hosts and oc inc to support our strategic goal of getting ready to scale through our own incubated hosts. Information about new team members is here.
Open Collective Foundation continues to grow at a crazy scale, raising +25M in contributions received in this past year (about 38% of OC INC’s revenue) and growing the team and the board. It has developed the Solidarity School with offerings like Solidarity Economy 101 and Cobudget Training.
Open Source Collective is still the largest fiscal host in open source, representing 3,400 projects who collectively accepted $13M (up 39% from 2021) in the past year and contributing about 33% of OC INC's revenue. With $7.3M (up 68%) in payments to 1,755 (up 32%) maintainers in 2022 we’re finally seeing money as an accepted part of open source. The new team progressed toward their strategic goals in 2022, making a considerable contribution to the space with Ecosystems, launching a free training and mentoring program for community leaders and working closely with OC Inc. to highlight the impact of financial contributions made through Open Collective.
Open Collective Europe has seen a pivotal year crossing the 2M in funds raised for collectives, extending their offer to support employment for large initiatives like Democracy Next. It has grown the team, developed their Impact Areas and Financial Projections. OCE can now receive donations from US donors that are tax deductible in the US and is now working on tax deductible donations across European countries. New website will be live soon!
You can read our latest case studies about our collectives here, I highly recommend them!
I want to specifically mention the Ukraine Solidarity effort - projects on Open Collective raised a total of 9.3M. The majority of this effort is led by 1K Project who dispersed this via Open Collective, a total 8.5M (1K stands for a gift of $1000 per family, so we reached 8,500 families). This project pushed the boundaries of our ability to deploy funds at scale efficiently and cheaply. We are super proud of the work we did here and also worth noting the work Wise did supporting us in it.
Also worth mentioning is the work done by SUCHO, a volunteer collective of more than 1,300 cultural heritage professionals – librarians, archivists, researchers, programmers – working together to identify and archive at-risk sites, digital content, and data in Ukrainian cultural heritage institutions while the country is under attack. We continue to be inspired by the mutual aid, education, youth empowerment and climate justice groups we support via Open Collective Foundation. We began making short documentaries about our Collectives and the first documentary about the Kola Nut Collaborative time bank in Chicago, was featured on PBS.
We were featured on PBS, Wired, NonProfit Quarterly, and more. I presented all over the world, including at Unfinished Live at The Shed in New York City, DevCon in Bogotá, New Frontiers in Philanthropy in London, JP Morgan 40x40 in Paris and Money2020 in Las Vegas among others. We made a documentary about our team and started building out our Design team to clarify our brand and create decks, content, and visual communication to make our story clear and compelling across Collectives, Hosts, and the wider community.
Exit to Community
We are still thinking, writing, learning about this option for Open Collective’s ownership to be shared with the community we serve. We did a feasibility study to understand the financial options Open Collective has, we wrote a thought piece about it in Wired and we are editing a 4 episode documentary podcast we recorded last year and we have a plan to hold community conversations about this, as well as a strategic bootcamp in NY in March with the Common Trust team.
2023 Strategy: Getting ready to scale
The next phase is about getting ready for scale. We are focusing on maturing and streamlining our platform and improving how we work across teams. We believe that we are poised for immense growth; what we have achieved so far will seem like a drop in the bucket; and so we want to be able to scale in a thoughtful and sustainable way. There are still many things we need to get right before we scale and we will work on these with the hosts already on the platform. The ones from our constellation.
The idea is to build these core foundations for the hosts already on the platform before focusing on a solution for all organizations in the wild. We have learnt the hard way over the years that catering for many different groups ends up slowing progress, making a mess out of the tech and bloating our support requests. This is us saying no to a lot this year in order to say yes in the future.
1 - TEAM All these years we have focused on investing resources in engineering (mostly), followed by design and lastly product (minimal). This year we are focusing on hiring in other areas, Support/Ops, UX, Product and HR. This is important to our internal health as a company, and critical for the overall experience people have when interacting with us.
2 - COMMUNITY We will continue to live up to our unique, trusted reputation as a values-driven, commons-oriented, solidarity tech platform and ecosystem. We will create even more learning initiatives that draw upon our Collective’s educational projects and our Fiscal Hosts’ offerings, including the Open Collective Foundation’s Solidarity School, Open Source Collectives’ Sustain podcast, All for Climate’s Resilience Academy and learning on discord, and Social Change Nest’s trainings.
3 - PLATFORM: FOCUS ON UX Our platform is the foundation that underpins our work. It allows our hosts to raise and manage money on behalf of thousands of projects. It reduces the accounting burden on organizations so they can focus on supporting them more efficiently and with better tooling. This year we will focus on strengthening those foundations, including more of our users in our development process and on building toward a more coherent and cohesive vision for the platform.
4 - SCALE WITH HOSTS In this phase we will scale the usage of the platform by refining our workflows to allow the hosts we incubate to scale. Our greatest success has been to incubate nonprofits and other legal entities which serve as fiscal hosts. These hosts are interdependent by design, with shared service agreements with OC Inc. and shared staff. The vast majority of OC Inc.’s income comes from three that we founded: Open Collective Foundation, Open Source Collective, and Open Collective Europe, and the majority of Collectives on the platform are hosted by them. The decision to focus on the needs of these hosts instead of focusing on all potential hosts was a difficult one, but we feel it is important in order to prepare the platform to be able to scale in a next phase with the influx of fiscal hosts that we do not incubate.
Here's to a great 2023!
Pia and the Open Collective team