How to incentivize and pay the developers of open source software is a problem as old as the Internet.
The braintrust behind the software company Tea thinks it is has the answer with a project-in-progress that will provide both security and monetization for creators of applications and programs on the blockchain. The group—Max Howell, Luke Stokes, Timothy Lewis, and Scott Walker—hatched the idea in a bar after discussing Howell’s experience following his creation of Homebrew, an open source program that has become ubiquitous among developers.
“Max created and open sourced the most downloaded software application in history," said Scott Walker. "When I asked him how that worked out, he said Google sent him a blanket and Square sent him an iPad. I thought, 'This is the most fundamentally broken system I have ever heard of in my life.'"
And yet, however meager the rewards Howell received from grateful corporate tech giants, they amounted to more than most open source developers ever receive for their work.
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Tea doesn’t aim to take the "free" out of open source, its members are quick to clarify. Rather, it seeks to provide a path to monetization if developers choose to use it. Crucially, the platform allows programmers to track the use of their work to monitor and improve security.
The team has high hopes for the blockchain-based project.
“This can literally change software as we know it,” Walker said. “And change the entire ecosystem of the internet.”
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