The Difficult Decision to Open Source

Author Erik

Date 15 - 08 -20

Reading Time 5 minutes

open source swiss knifeBy the title, you would think I was talking about struggling with the decision to build GreatAlbum on open source software. Actually, that was a no brainer, as discussed in Why we built GreatAlbum on Drupal. Instead, I'm talking about the decision to be as open as possible about how we are building GreatAlbum, our journey, our mistakes, our lessons learned and our achievements.  This decision was inspired by a number of different reasons.

First, it's very much my style to be as transparent as I can. I tend to find that if people are truly interested in achieving success together, information enables them to understand what's working, what's not and how they can help each other to be more successful. 

GumroadThis was reinforced by an article I read recently, Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company by Sahil Lavignia, Founder & CEO of Gumroad. This article is his story about how his side project became a VC-based start-up, grew for a year, then tanked and laid everyone off, and eventually became a lifestyle company. I love how in the end he discovered that it isn't all about "grow or die", and that part of his mission is to create more value than he captures in his revenue stream. One of those ways he's done that is to open up his financials. As a result, Founders starting their own companies have learned from his mistakes and utilized their data to make better decisions. This shift has also attracted new investors and strengthened Gumroad's engagement with its customers. 

This philosophy of transparency and authenticity creating much stronger connections to investor, lenders, partners and customers was also strongly reinforced when I recently read How I Built This book by Guy Raz. In numerous examples, Raz relates stories by founders that he's interviewed over the years about how they've solved tough problems and avoided losing their companies by being open, honest and authentic with their customers. He cites many compelling examples of this.

So, as my team here at GreatAlbum embarks on our journey of realizing my Dream, I want it to create value not only for our customers, but also for members of the Drupal community who can hopefully benefit from some of our innovations, much the way we have benefited from innovations like the Open-Core of OpenSocial. I also hope we can share insights that will benefit other founders who have to endure similar journeys on the way to launching their dreams. 

 

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