OpenCollective is now open source

OpenCollective is on a mission to give more economic power to communities. Greater economic power means greater impact. It should be easy…

OpenCollective is on a mission to give more economic power to communities. Greater economic power means greater impact. It should be easy for people to come together, pool money and spend it transparently without worrying about legal entities or bank accounts.

Transparency is key. Without it, it’s harder to trust and collaborate. In that spirit, we have open sourced our entire codebase under the MIT License.

It was always the plan from the beginning. We were going to pull the trigger as soon as we were “ready.” Meaning, as soon as we clean the code, document it and bring enough people on staff to support incoming requests.

As we spent time with people in the community (like Eddie Monge at Yeoman) and found some who were running entire companies on an open source codebase (like Sytse Sijbrandij at Gitlab), we realized we had it backwards. We were applying closed-source software mentality to evaluate when we should open source. It would have taken us months, if not years to feel “ready.”

We were still thinking of the open source community as “them”. And thus raising the question of when will we be ready for “them”? What additional work would “they” create for us? Instead, the magic of open source is that “them” and “us” are same things.

When we think about our culture, we want transparency throughout the organization and the platform. We want a worldwide, distributed team — not just our employees in every country, we want to foster communities in every country. We want more eyes pouring over our work to increase security and stability. We want to build an “antifragile” system — not built just to handle stress, but built to thrive under stress. It should get stronger and work better over time. All of these things are core tenets of the open source community.

Product designers know the power of default choices in a UI. Most users will not exert enough energy to change the default and so it sticks and drives predictable user behavior. We believe this applies to actions in a company culture. We want our default choice to be full transparency. For anything less, we want to hear a strong case (and there are legitimate reasons occasionally like the discovery of a security flaw).

We also want to build a global network of host organizations and a community of developers to support them, all around the world. Geography is largely a limitation of the pre-Internet era. While a perfect tool to completely eliminate physical distance still eludes us, we plan to experiment, support and contribute to those tools that allow seamless work across timezones. We think that’s the future of organizations and we want to promote that vision for both our employees and anyone who contributes to OpenCollective.

Even in the few days since we opened our code base, it’s already humbling to see contributions from the community. Thank you for all who are already diving in. For others: check out our help wanted page or join our slack channel.

Thanks to pia mancini and Xavier Damman for reviewing earlier drafts.