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FOSS Foundations Enable Community Growth


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A talk I gave at Open World Forum 2011, Paris. FOSS projects grow until they reach a certain size but can grow no further. FOSS Foundations enable projects to grow to reach their potential by providing the legal structures and tools to enable corporate contribution and wider adoption. This talk looks at a brief history of foundations in the FOSS space, and what tools they provide to help community projects grow.

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FOSS Foundations Enable Community Growth

  1. 1. FOSS  Founda*ons  Enable  Community   Growth   Stephen  R.  Walli   September  2011  
  2. 2. What  is  a  Founda*on?  Founda8ons  are  non-­‐profits*  that  provide:   Legal  Structure   Business  Opera8ons   Technical  Services   *  But  they  are  s8ll  businesses  
  3. 3. Founda*ons   *  But  they  are  s8ll  businesses  
  4. 4. Corporate  Projects  
  5. 5. Why  does  it  ma?er?   Neutrality  encourages  contribu8on   Clean  IP  encourages  adop8on  Founda8ons  act  as  community  centre-­‐of-­‐gravity  
  6. 6. Founda*on  as  Community  Centre-­‐of-­‐Gravity  
  7. 7. Crea*ng  Strong  Communi*es  •  Support  an  Architecture  of  Par8cipa8on  •  Make  it  easy  to  join  the  conversa8on    •  Support  and  grow  commiPers  •  Support  lines  of  communica8ons  •  Provide  technical  services  (forges,  code   signing,  etc.)  
  8. 8. Neutrality  Encourages  Contribu*on   (Inbound)  
  9. 9. Neutrality  and  Ownership  •  Henrik  Ingo  sta8s8cs  on  founda8ons  and   project  ac8vity  (hPp://  
  10. 10. Neutrality  and  Ownership  •  Successful  Projects  Grow  and  Evolve  un8l  …   –  Apache  So[ware  Founda8on   –  OSDL/Linux  Founda8on   –  Eclipse  Founda8on  
  11. 11. Clean  IP  Encourages  Adop*on   (Outbound)  
  12. 12. Legal  Structures  are  Important  •  License  (inbound/outbound)  •  Assignments  and  Contribu8on  Licenses    •  Provenance  tracking  •  Liability  and  risk  management  •  CommiPer  indemnifica8on  
  13. 13. Ques*ons?   Stephen  R.  Walli   Technical  Director,  Outercurve  Founda8on   hPp://  hPp://    (Once  More  unto  the  Breach)   hPp://   @stephenrwalli