>>= Acceptable Business Models

There are a number of business models that can work for Libre Software. Today I had a conversation with one of my new colleagues at the Catalyst Cooperative about the ones they have considered. There were three that seemed feasible and acceptable.

  1. Donations & grants: The coop’s work could help turn the tide on climate change. They’ve recieved a few grants on this basise. For important causes, this could be a good approach.
  2. Consulting services: Catalyst has also on occasion been hired to perform specific analysis based on the data they prepare. For this to work as a primary business model, you’d need to treat your Libre Software efforts as, essentially, a marketig tool for your consulting skills.
  3. Software as a service: This is not one they’ve tried, but might in the future. Catalyst is dedicated to providing both the data and the software used to prepare it as Libre software, but in principle they would be comfortable hosting an API and charging for the convenience.

Neither advertising nor proprietary add-ons made the list. All three of these approaches rely very heavily on others interest, generosity, and good will, especially as compared with proprietary business models.

We also talked about the nature of wealth. Fundamentally, neither I nor my colleague are doing this for the sake of obscure licenses. We’ve seen decades of a system built around the idea that maximum profit is the highest good, but it hasn’t worked out well for a lot of people. We might do well to optimize for something else, such as the number of humans thriving.