Open-source funding in 2019

Back in January 2019, I created the Null company. My goal: help developers work better, through products, training and consulting. My secondary goal: make some of that work open-source.

Last year, I was able to work on Bref and its documentation, various open-source projects, articles in this blog, the serverless PHP newsletter, as well as share through conferences, meetups and podcasts (a first for me!).

That was awesome! Now I want to look back at 2019 and see how I am doing with funding that open-source work.

Open source funding

Of all the revenue earned by Null, here is the breakdown for 2019:

Development services

Most of the revenue was related to development services, aka freelance work and code audits.

Serverless services

Next, I have a specific category for serverless-related services. That includes:

  • serverless consulting
  • training (hint hint)
  • serverless or Bref support

I separate this category from the first because this is a category I want to grow. I am happy with this result for the first year, especially since it is growing a lot lately. As of March 2020, I have already surpassed 2019 for this specific category.

Open source work

Okay, here we are:

In 2019, Null earned around 2000€ directly related to open-source work.

Needless to say, it is a small share of the total revenue. After taxes and company expenses, that would roughly be equivalent to 750€ as net income for me.

That year, I spent around 50 days working on open-source (conference talks not included). I also hired a friend to work on Bref for a total of 10 days. While 2000€ is probably most than most open-source developers, it would not cover 60 days of work.

That revenue comes from different sources:

And finally, bref/symfony-messenger-sqs should have been my first open-source package whose development was paid by a company. However that bill was never paid. Ironic that my only unpaid bill is for open-source work ;)

Obviously, this is a category of revenue that I want to grow as well. In 2020, I can already see the trend improving as I am finding more sponsors. I still expect most of the open-source work to be paid for by other activities (i.e. sponsored by Null).

2020 goals

2020 started pretty strong: more open-source sponsors, brand new services finding their first clients (🤫), a growing interest in serverless… The future looks bright!

As for the goals:

  • increase the "serverless services" category, because I love working with it: this is a technology that can transform, for the better, how we work
  • work even more on open-source, which means finding more sponsors (thanks CraftCMS and JetBrains for leading the way!) and trying out new formats like sponsorware
  • create paid products: this is new for me, and it could help a lot to fund the open-source work, stay tuned…

There is so much more to say about open-source funding. But I would rather publish that article as it is than store it somewhere and never finish it.

See you next year!

PS: you can read also Open-Source Sustainability Report (2019), a similar article by Christian Lück.