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Why the open source founders summit?

3 min. read


Remy Bertot

15 May, 2024

Passbolt & 05F5

As you may have seen on our social media channels, passbolt is actively participating, with Emily Omier, in organising Open Source Founders Summit, which will take place in Paris this year May 27th and 28th. Why, you might ask, would an organisation like passbolt become involved in event organising?

We have always been passionate about the open source ethos. If you’ve read our genesis blog series, you'll know that before building passbolt, our founding team members worked in a web agency or non-profit organisation, and relied on open source software to thrive. 

In the late 2000s, we had the chance to meet some open source business leaders before their businesses took off. We met Mathieu Aubry in Chennai, when he was working on PhpMyVisit, the early version of Matomo. We met with Fabien Pinckaers in Delhi when he was seeking integration partners for TinyERP, the precursor to Odoo. In the 2010s, we collaborated extensively with Thomas Oberndorfer from Mailvelope, as well as Tacos Potze and the team from Open Social. More recently, we participated in an incubator program with Philippe Humeau from CrowdSec and met even more open source industry leaders at various conferences, from Peter Zaitsev of Percona to Frank Karlitschek of Nextcloud, and many more.

These encounters with open source business leaders always had a positive impact. We met entrepreneurs who believed that users should have the right to view, modify, and distribute code freely, proving that these values are compatible with running a successful business. We witnessed firsthand that hard work coupled with a clear vision compounds over time, and that success in our field may take longer to manifest. They shared tips to avoid mistakes and advice on approaching challenges. Some of these encounters turned into friendships, with mutual support when needed. 

Despite these individual, ad-hoc opportunities to connect with other open source entrepreneurs, we still felt like the open source business community lacked a place to come together, share knowledge and support each other. We’ve heard of a lot of open source entrepreneurs, but we haven’t met many of them. 

Open source businesses face numerous challenges, from the rise of generative AI to the shift of some companies to source-available licences. We believe the success of open source businesses hinges on sharing best practices and creating resources tailored to their unique needs. We need a community where leaders can support each other in balancing complex technical, community, ethical, and financial goals. Traditional startup networks and investor groups often fall short in providing the necessary guidance for open source-specific issues, highlighting the need for a dedicated forum for open source entrepreneurs.

If we’re all about community, why do we struggle to create it for ourselves? Our friend, Emily Omier, who runs a business consultancy in positioning for open source companies and hosts a popular podcast on the topic, shared the same conclusions and aspirations. While we’ve witnessed or participated in several attempts to address this, such as online discussion groups or panels at events, the community never fully coalesced. During a meeting at All Things Open, we agreed it was time for open source business leaders to meet in person at a dedicated event. Once Emily took the bold step of booking a venue in Paris, we couldn’t back down.

Fig: Loft des Écluses (source: Le Site des Lofts)

We’re thrilled that the Open Source Founders Summit will take place at the end of May in Paris. The journey has been incredible, with nearly a hundred participants and half a dozen sponsors offering great talks and workshop ideas. This enthusiastic response confirms our belief that such events and networks are essential. We’re confident it will provide valuable lessons and takeaways for everyone involved.

If you agree that leaders of open source businesses need to work together, share their experiences, and support each other, join us.