Open source developers, especially those who work on lesser known projects, do not get much attention or money for the work they do. While some developers are paid to work on open source projects as a part of their day jobs, they can get overwhelmed by the amount of work these projects require.
Tidelift’s business model can be compared to Netflix where anyone can pay a subscription fee to the startup in exchange for using open source software. The startup takes a cut and distributes the rest among the open source projects used by the subscriber.
You would think why a company would agree to pay Tidelift for software they can use for free?
The reason is support and maintenance of the software. In exchange for a fee, the subscriber gets an assurance that the software they are using is updated regularly and remains compatible with other programs too.
When a customer subscribes to Tidelift, the customer’s codes are analyzed to find what open source software it depends on, and how many open source projects those programs further depend on.
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Based on the number of participating projects the software relies on, Tidelift charges a customized subscription fee to the customers. In return, it also looks out for potential issues with licenses, known security vulnerabilities, and provides fixes for the same.
As far as the participating open source developers are concerned, they need to ensure that their software doesn’t contain any known vulnerabilities and must commit to providing future updates and fixed to other technical issues.
So far, Tidelift has managed to raise $15 million in venture capital and announced that it has $1 million allocated for new developers who’d join the program. Over a period of 2 years, developers will be paid at least $10,000 — which isn’t enough but works for now.