Open-source software has source code that anyone can inspect, change and improve—usually for free. According to OpenSource.com, these initiatives foster collaboration and sharing because they allow others to make modifications to the source code and incorporate the changes into their own projects.
However, it’s difficult for the developers behind these software programmes to profit from their hard work. Creating a subscription-based, dual-license model is challenging, and many programmers don’t have the systems in place to pull it off.
Xs:code, an Israeli startup, has developed a platform to turn this passion for programming into a potential income stream.
“Open source developers face a unique challenge, uncommon with other professionals,” the company wrote in a blog post. “They spend thousands of hours of their spare time, creating incredible software, used by millions. In exchange for their efforts, they are bombarded by a torrent of bug reports, pull-requests, support and feature requests.”
“Years of waiting for donations, and next-to-zero compensation for their contributions, is making many of them think again about putting in the same amount of effort.”
The startup provides a monetisation platform to allow open-source programmers to be paid by offering a dual-license model for the code. One version has the raw, open-source code that’s freely available to the masses, whereas the commercial license offers additional features chosen by the developers.
“Unlike donation platforms which are pretty popular today, xs:code allows open source developers to provide added value in exchange for payments,” xs:code co-founder and CEO Netanel Mohoni told TechCrunch. “That comes on top of what they offer for free. This added value can be a different license, more features, support services or anything they can think of.”
The paid version is set up in a private repository on Github, and developers use the xs:code app to import it to the platform. Paid users then receive a unique web address to access the code.
Developers can even distribute the funds earned from the subscriptions to the community contributors who modify the original open course code and help make the project better.
“Companies pay for accessing the code, and they enjoy better software created by motivated developers who are now compensated for their work,” Mohoni explained. “Because our solution makes sure that the code remains open-source, developers can continue accepting contributions so the community enjoys better code than ever before.”
Currently in beta, the company has raised $500,000 in pre-seed money.
Xs:code takes care of the billing, payment processing, invoices and other business operations, including partnering with Payoneer to offer programmers a secure, global payment solution. Once the subscription starts to earn money, the startup takes a 25 percent commission.