The community and industry response to Flynn has blown us away. We launched the project site two weeks ago as an easy way to explain what we were working on to potential collaborators and users. The crowdfunding campaign was only added at the last minute– we thought it might raise a few hundred dollars to help cover airfare for the team. Two weeks later more than 50 donors have contributed over $75,000 – almost the entire budget for the project. This support and enthusiasm from the industry, open source community, and potential users means the world to us.
We used a contribute button (powered by Selfstarter.us and Stripe) to avoid the all-or-nothing limitation of Kickstarter. We always planned to build Flynn with or without financial support. Cash would allow us to ship the project sooner and add more features, but we were committed to creating Flynn on our own if necessary. The amount raised so far will allow the core team to spend more time on the project for the rest of the year than we hoped. This improves our chances of staying on schedule and implementing all the core features. If you have not contributed yet, please consider doing so– more money means more features and the best chance of shipping on time. We are very excited about the list of reach features like autoscaling, ACLs, and log aggregation which are not funded yet. We will continue to accept contributions as we develop the project as well.
Everyone on our team is a major contributor to open source from creating SuperHappyDevHouse, Hacker Dojo, and Tent to publishing hundreds of open source repositories. We have also all been primarily employed by startups. Those experiences have left us wondering if there was a better way to fund major open source projects. Major open source software projects usually either start small and grow organically or have the support of a large organization. While open source software is widely used, few users contribute back to the maintainers. For some projects, even the MVP takes months of full time work. The success of crowdfunding models suggested another way: developers could publish a spec or description of a project online and request support in advance. Instead of rewards, reach features are promised if funding goals are reached. Finally, we strongly disapprove of early access or open sourcing a project as a reward. We believe that open source projects should be developed in the open and permissively licensed from day one. With your support this model allowed us to meet all those goals.
We thank the organizations and individuals who already sponsored Flynn, the Lockitron team for creating Selfstarter, the dotCloud team for the creation of Docker and their incredible moral and technical support, and the growing community who have reached out since we launched. We are honored by the opportunity to contribute back something as substantial as Flynn and look forward to the opportunity to serve the needs of the community.
We plan to ship an MVP by the end of October. Until then stay tuned to Github, this blog, our mailing list, and IRC channel for the latest on our progress.