Right from the start of our Open Source program it was clear that we want to implement some company policy changes beneficial to the Open Source movement.
Starting Nov 2014 Futurice financially sponsors Open Source contributions done by our employees on their own time. These contributions are entirely voluntary and are not related to any company projects. The purpose of the sponsorship program is to sponsor hobby contributions to a good cause.
There are ideological and socio-economical arguments both for and against Open Source. The arguments against, we see both by parties supporting proprietary software with strong copyrights, and organizations such as FSF. The latter see Open Source as inadequate, or missing the point.
While this debate is interesting and worth consideration, I prefer a pragmatic approach.
Reasons to establish this benefit:
Reasons to make use of this benefit:
Some collateral good:
Check out this actual report by Oleg:
At the end of the month, I will go through the contributions reported into the Flow.
Offering people money for something they have been doing for fun, can be a risky endeavour. We recognize that and have given it some thought. We will know more in a few months, but the initial reception has been very positive across the board.
Based on the reactions so far, we can encourage other companies to consider this type of arrangement as well.
Please feel free to copy our implementation — you can find all the details at our open source program site. If you make improvements, it would be awesome to share!
Currently this benefit is limited to our full-time employees. I am not happy about that and neither are our part-time employees. There are reasons for the limitation, but I hope we soon find a better solution.
This also easily becomes a benefit solely for the technically oriented. It does not need to, but that’s how the open source scene is — the entry barrier for people who don't code is high. People with other competence areas and interests will require support, specifically for selecting projects and finding ways to contribute. We are working on that. For the academically inclined, legitimate peripheral participation is a good starting point.
So what are we really sponsoring here? Let’s distill it into haiku form!
skills valuable at work
awesoming the world
Open Source is one approach to that, but there are certainly others! Our people are already participating in comparable activities, such as code schools for kids and other voluntary work.
Learning while doing good should be an integral part of our company culture. Limiting it to Open Source is suboptimization. We want to generalise, zoom out, identify the patterns and establish the relevant laws governing the intrinsic motivation in our environment. This will lead, amongst other good things, to increased Open Source activity.
This sponsorship is in effect until March 2015, or when our budget runs dry. Whichever happens first, I suspect the decision to stop or continue will be easy.
You can find this article with some extra details and materials on our Open Source program site.
UPDATE 21.7.2015: The sponsorship is going strong! We have sponsored hundreds (soon thousands) of Open Source contributions. Currently we are working on better metrics to measure the produced value (for the individual, the company, and the society), and also finding new ways to get people to contribute.
Are you looking for new job opportunities? Take a look at our open positions at futurice.com/careers