Skip to main content
Open Source Startup Podcast

Open Source Startup Podcast

By Robby (Cowboy VC) & Tim (Essence VC)
Join 19K listeners learning how to build an open-source startup from the founders of HashiCorp, Chronosphere, Vercel, MongoDB, DBT, and more!

Subscribe to our LaunchNotes page for updates here:
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


E52: Learnings from Chef & the Future of Open Source
Adam Jacob is the Cofounder & CTO of Chef, the infrastructure automation platform, and CEO of System Initiative. In this episode, we discuss the Chef journey, where open source shines (and where it can be problematic), and predictions on the future of open source.
September 21, 2022
E51: Enhance Your Coding Skills by Playing Battlesnake
Brad Van Vugt is Cofounder & CEO of Battlesnake, a competitive multiplayer game for web developers. The rules and game docs for Battlesnake are all open source. This episode's discussion is heavily focused on community. We discuss the community's influence on the initial product scope, roadmap, and much more!
September 16, 2022
E50: HashiCorp - Building An Open Source Company at Scale
Armon Dadgar is Cofounder & CTO of HashiCorp, the software infrastructure & security automation company that works with open source projects such as Terraform, Vault, Consul, Vagrant, Packer, and Nomad. HashiCorp went public in late 2021 and currently has a market capitalization of $6B. In this episode, we discuss the timeline from project release to mass adoption, the importance of focusing on user problems rather than a specific technical solution, incorporating the right user feedback, the hard decisions he had to make as a leader, and learnings from 9+ years at HashiCorp.
September 14, 2022
E49: Momento, the World's Fastest Cache
Daniela Miao is Cofounder of Momento, the serverless cache that automatically optimizes, scales, and manages your cache for you. Momento works with open source caching engine Pelikan which was created at Twitter. Daniela is joined in this episode by Yao Yue, a Principal Software Engineer at Twitter who is a core part of Twitter's Pelikan Caching team. Today, Momento provides a SaaS service on top of Pelikan in an Open Core model. In this episode, we discuss launching a company on top of an open source project started by a team outside of the founders, messaging and positioning for technical companies, team building, and much more!
September 06, 2022
E48: Open Source Laravel Ecommerce Platform Bagisto
Saurav Pathak is Cofounder & Chief Product Officer of Bagisto, the open source e-commerce platform based in India that has bootstrapped to 60k+ downloads and 200K users. In this episode, we discuss community contributions to product (Bagisto's extensions are 30% community-built!), building the foundation for an open source community before focusing on monetization, what "great support" really looks like for an open source company, lessons from building without VC money, and more!
August 26, 2022
E47: Open Source Device Management with Fleet
Mike McNeil is Cofounder & CEO of Fleet, a device management platform based on the  open source endpoint visibility project osquery. Fleet has raised $25M from investors including CRV. In this episode, we discuss the importance of understanding your user profile(s), the nuances of company positioning, the difference between building a product vs. building tools, community management (particularly when your users are part of multiple communities) and much more.
August 18, 2022
E46: Flexible Open Source Data Labeling at Scale with Heartex
Michael Malyuk is Cofounder & CEO of Heartex, the open source data labeling platform for building models at scale with flexibility. The company's open source project, Label Studio, has 10K stars and a community of almost 6K users. Heartex has raised $25M from investors including Redpoint and Unusual Ventures. In this episode, we discuss flexibility as a differentiator, being customer obsessed in the short-term and vision obsessed in the long-term, the importance of strong documentation, and top challenges that open source founders face.
August 15, 2022
E45: Creating Resilient Applications with Temporal (pt 2)
Maxim Fateev is Co-Founder & CEO and Dominik Tornow is Principal Engineer at Temporal, the workflow platform for building resilient applications. Temporal is the company centered on the open source orchestration engine Temporal which is a fork of the project Cadence first created at Uber. The Temporal project and company have seen tremendous interest and the cloud service for Temporal will be GA later this year. The company is valued at $1.5B and raised from investors including Sequoia, Index, and Amplify. In this episode, we discuss the origins of Temporal at Uber, use cases for their resilient workflow engine, how the company's messaging and positioning have evolved over the past year, and the company's upcoming developer experience conference Replay which will be in-person in Seattle from August 25 - 26. This is the second time we've had Temporal on the podcast. Check out our first episode on the Open Source Startup Podcast with Maxim here, which we released exactly 1 year ago, as well as the awesome blog post that Shawn Wang from their team put together on that first episode here.
August 05, 2022
E44: Open Source Auth-as-a-Service by Aserto
Omri Gazitt is Co-Founder & CEO of Aserto, the open source enterprise-grade authorization-as-a-service platform. Their open source toolchain includes projects such as Open Policy Agent and their platform was built to be enterprise-ready incredibly fast. Aserto has raised over $5M from investors including Heavybit and Costanoa Ventures. In this episode, we discuss the importance of market education on a new capability (ie when would a user look for you in their journey), category creation, tracking success, and learnings for other open source founders!
July 21, 2022
E43: Building Supabase, the Open Source Firebase Alternative
Paul Copplestone is Co-Founder & CEO of Supabase the open source Backend-as-a-Service company that provides storage, authentication, edge functions, and a postgres database to users.  Supabase's project, also called supabase, has 36K stars on GitHub and is positioned as the "open source Firebase alternative". Supabase has raised $116M from investors including Coatue, Felicis, and YC. In this episode, we discuss positioning as an open source alternative to "x", the benefits of going through YC as an open source company, how to judge open source momentum, learnings for other early open source founders, and more!
July 18, 2022
E42: Earthly, a CI/CD Framework that Can Run Anywhere
Vlad Ionescu is Founder & CEO of Earthly, the CI/CD framework that can run anywhere. Earthly's open source project, also called earthly, has over 7K GitHub stars and a slack channel with over 500 community members. Earthly has raised $3M from investors including 468 Capital, Uncorrelated Ventures, Hack VC, and Bessemer. In this episode, we discuss the distinction between source available and open source (and why source available works better for databases), company inspiration from the build process at Google, scoring an open source launch, positioning and messaging in a new category, and much more!
July 11, 2022
E41: Real-time Analytics Powered by Startree & Apache Pinot
Kishore Gopalakrishna is Co-Founder & CEO of Startree, the real-time analytics platform that provides a managed service on top of the open-source distributed data store Apache Pinot. Kishore is also the co-creator of Apache Pinot, which was started while he was at LinkedIn. Since leaving to build Startree, Kishore and his team have raised $28M from investors including GGV, Bain Capital Ventures, and CRV. In this episode, we discuss the right time to launch a managed service on top of an open source project, the importance of relentless focus on customer needs and use cases early-on, community building, and much more.
July 06, 2022
E40: Speeding Up Internal App Development with Open Source Appsmith
Abhishek Nayak is Co-Founder & CEO of Appsmith, the open source platform for building internal tools. The company's open source project, also called appsmith, has 19K stars and is a low code project to build admin panels, internal tools, and dashboards. Appsmith has raised over $50M from investors including Insight, Canaan, OSS Capital, and Accel.
June 23, 2022
E39: Coiled & Open Source Dask - Use Python for Ambitious Problems
Matthew Rocklin is Founder & CEO of Coiled, a company that sits on top of open-source Dask which makes Python highly scalable for data scientists. Coiled makes Dask enterprise-ready and gives users access to faster cluster startup times, savings on cloud costs, and allows them to run their Python workloads faster. Coiled has raised $26M from investors including Bessemer and Costanoa. In this episode, we discuss the creation of Dask, the decision to start a company around it, the challenges that come with company building, and much more!
June 21, 2022
E38: Application Monitoring with Open Source Unicorn Sentry
David Cramer is the Co-Founder & CTO of Sentry, the open source error tracking and performance monitoring unicorn company used by over 3.5M developers and 85K organizations. The company's most popular open source project, also called sentry, has over 31K stars and lets users monitor and fix crashes in real-time. The server is in Python, but it contains a full API for sending events from any language, in any app. Sentry has raised $217M from investors including Accel, NEA, and Bond. In this episode, we talk with David about starting Sentry before open source business models were mainstream, how he's adapted as a leader holding the CEO and CTO seats at different points in time, and his candid advice to open source founders (particularly first-time founders) starting out today.
June 13, 2022
E37: SeMI & Open-Source AI-Based Database Technology
Bob van Luijt is the Co-Founder & CEO of SeMI Technologies, the company behind the open-source project Weaviate which is a vector search engine for ML models. Weaviate uses machine learning to vectorize (ie represent) and store data in order to more easily find answers to natural language queries. The project has 2.5K stars on GitHub and an almost 1K person Slack community of data scientists, data engineers, and software engineers. The company has raised over $17M from investors including NEA, Zetta, and Cortical Ventures.
June 08, 2022
E36: Open Source Origins & Predictions (& GitHub's Role in the Ecosystem)
Erica Brescia is the previous COO of GitHub and is currently an MD at Redpoint Ventures. Jono Bacon is a renowned Community Consultant who also has roots at GitHub. In this lively episode, Erica and Jono discuss their unique backgrounds in open source, how the ecosystem has evolved, open source business models & licenses, and advice for open source founders.
June 02, 2022
E35: Open Source Backend Engine Encore
André Eriksson is the Founder of Stockholm-based Encore, the open-source backend development engine.  Encore's core open source project, also called encore, has almost 3K stars and helps developers escape the complexity that historically comes with setting up and managing distributed backend infrastructure. The company has raised $3M from the Open Source Startup Podcast's very own Tim Chen of Essence VC as well as Crane Venture Partners and Third Kind VC. 
May 19, 2022
E34: Open-Source WebAssembly Tools with Fermyon
Matt Butcher is Co-Founder & CEO of Fermyon, the company building open source, WebAssembly-powered cloud tools.  The company's most popular open source project, spin, has over 1K stars and is a framework for building and running fast, secure, and composable cloud microservices with WebAssembly. 
May 12, 2022
E33: Evidently AI and Open Source Machine Learning Monitoring
Elena Samuylova is Co-Founder & CEO of Evidently AI, the open source ML monitoring platform. The company's open source project, also called evidently, has over 2K stars on GitHub and is used to evaluate and monitor ML models - from validation to production. The project's Discord channel has over 500 participants. Evidently AI is a YC company from the S21 batch and is HQ'd in San Francisco.
May 05, 2022
E32: The Fastest Open Source Time-Series Database QuestDB
Nicolas Hourcard is Co-Founder & CEO of QuestDB, creators of the fastest open source time-series database questdb. Their database project has over 8K stars on GitHub and their Slack community has over 1.2K individuals.  QuestDB has raised over $14M from investors including 468 Capital, Uncorrelated Ventures, and Episode 1. 
May 04, 2022
E31: Understanding Your Open Source Usage with Scarf
Avi Press is Founder & CEO of Scarf, the platform that helps open-source companies understand how their code is being used.  Scarf has raised over $7M from investors including Race Capital and Freestyle Capital. 
April 27, 2022
E30: Open Source Time-Series Data (simplified) with TimescaleDB
Ajay Kulkarni is Co-Founder & CEO of TimescaleDB, the simplest SQL time-series database. The company's open-source project, timescaledb, has 13K stars and their slack community has over 8K participants.  TimescaleDB has raised over $180M from investors including Tiger, Redpoint, Icon, NEA and Benchmark. 
April 22, 2022
E29: Building Data Intensive Applications Fast with Source-Available Materialize
Arjun Narayan is Co-Founder & CEO of Materialize, the platform for building data-intensive applications with materialized views. The company's source-available project, also called materialize, has 3.9K stars and their slack channel has over 1.4K participants.  Materialize has raised over $100M from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Redpoint, and Lightspeed.  YouTube version of the episode here.
April 19, 2022
E28: Rudderstack & Open Source Data Pipelines
Soumyadeb Mitra is Founder & CEO of Rudderstack, the open-source bidirectional data pipeline platform. Their primary open source project rudder-server provides an open source alternative to SaaS platform Segment and has over 3K stars with a community of over 1.7K on Slack.    Rudderstack has raised $82M from investors including Insight Partners and Kleiner Perkins. 
April 13, 2022
E27: Security Operations at Scale with Panther (And, from Open to Closed Source)
Jack Naglieri is Founder & CEO of Panther, the platform to run security operations at scale. It includes detection-as-code, a robust security data lake, and huge scalability with zero-ops. The company started as open-source but closed sourced in 2021.  Panther is a unicorn company having raised $140M+ from Coatue, ICONIQ, Lightspeed, and 645 Ventures. 
April 11, 2022
E26: - Open Source Headless BI for Building Data Apps
Artyom Keydunov is Co-founder & CEO of, the headless BI platform for building data apps.'s open-source project, cube-js, has almost 13K stars on GitHub and helps data engineers and application developers access data from modern data stores, organize it into consistent definitions, and deliver it to every application. has raised over $20M from investors including Bain Capital, Decibel Partners, Eniac VC, 645 Ventures, Slack Fund, and Betaworks. 
April 07, 2022
E25: Real-time Open Source Data Pipelines with Meroxa
DeVaris Brown & Ali Hamidi are Co-founders of Meroxa, the platform for building real-time data pipelines. The company's open-source project Conduit lets users build and run their data pipelines.  Meroxa has raised almost $20M from investors including Drive Capital, Root VC, and Amplify Partners. 
April 05, 2022
E24: Open-Source Messaging & Collaboration with Mattermost
Ian Tien is Co-founder & CEO of Mattermost, the open-source messaging and collaboration platform with customers including Fastly, Samsung, Bosch, NASA, AIG, Wealthfront, and the US Air Force. The company has multiple open-source projects focused on collaboration and 34K+ stars across them all.  Mattermost has raised $70M from investors such as YC and Redpoint. 
March 30, 2022
E23: The Fastest Way to Build Data Apps with Open-Source App Framework Streamlit
Adrien Treuille is Co-founder & CEO of Streamlit, the open-source app framework for Machine Learning and Data Science teams to build data apps. The company's underlying open-source project, also named Streamlit, has over 18K stars and a community of 1.4K+ on Discord.  Streamlit raised $60M+ from Sequoia, GGV, and Gradient Ventures and since the recording of this podcast was acquired by Snowflake for a reported $800M.  
March 28, 2022
E22: Open-Source Collaboration with Liveblocks
Steven Fabre is Co-founder & CEO of Liveblocks which provides open-source APIs and tools to create collaborative experiences. The company has a repo (also called Liveblocks) that contains open-source packages for building performant and reliable multiplayer experiences.
March 24, 2022
E21: Airbyte & Open-Source Data Integration
Michel Tricot is Co-founder & CEO of Airbyte, the open-source data integration platform. Airbyte was launched in 2020 and since then the company's open-source project (also called Airbyte) has picked up 6K stars and their Slack community has 6K+ data engineers actively participating in it.  Airbyte is a unicorn company, having raised $180M+ from investors such as Benchmark, Altimeter, and Accel. 
March 21, 2022
E20: Building Programming Language & Infrastructure Company Dark
Ellen Chisa is Cofounder & CEO of Dark, a programming language, editor, and infrastructure that makes it easy to build backends. Dark is source-available (open-source "adjacent") and raised $4M from investors such as Cervin Ventures, Boldstart (where Ellen now works as a Founder-in-Residence), Data Collective, Harrison Metal, and Xfactor.
March 16, 2022
E19: Hugging Face & the Open-Source AI Community
Julien Chaumond is Cofounder & CTO of Hugging Face, the AI community with deep roots in open source. Hugging Face has many open source projects including transformers (59K stars), datasets (13K stars), tokenizers (5K stars), among others. The company has raised $60M+ from investors such as Addition, Lux Capital, and Betaworks. 
March 14, 2022
E18: The Open-Source Serverless CMS Webiny
Sven Al Hamad is Founder & CEO of Webiny, the open-source serverless CMS. Founded in London, England, the company's open-source project has 5K+ stars and their Slack community has 1K+ members.  In this episode, we talk about open-source and serverless as differentiators, understanding your open-source users (telemetry, being plugged into the community, etc.), the importance of strong documentation, content strategies, and advice for other open-source project owners looking to turn their project into a company.
March 03, 2022
E17: Posthog - the Open-Source Product Analytics Alternative
James Hawkins, Co-founder & CEO, PostHog James is the Co-founder & CEO of PostHog, the product analytics company that started as an open-source alternative to SaaS products such as Amplitude. They've raised up to a Series B from investors including YC Continuity and GV.     In this episode, we discuss the early days of PostHog, GTM benefits of open-source business models (particularly at larger enterprises that have infosec requirements), open-source alternatives to SaaS products, and advice to other open-source founders at the earliest part of their journey. 
February 01, 2022
E16: Open-Source Observability with Chronosphere
Martin Mao, Co-founder & CEO, Chronosphere Martin is the Co-founder & CEO of Chronosphere, the open source-based observability platform that started with the open source metrics engine M3. M3 has almost a 1K person Slack community and was started at Uber where the Chronosphere team initially worked on it. Chronosphere is a unicorn company and has raised $255M from Greylock, General Atlantic, Lux Capital, Addition, Founders Fund, Spark Capital, and Glynn Capital.  In this episode, we discuss open source as an industry shift for observability, the early days of M3 at Uber, the opportunity for Chronosphere as an independent company, the right business model for Chronosphere, and product / team-building advice for other open source founders. 
January 24, 2022
E15: Vercel & the Frontend Movement Around Next.js
Guillermo Rauch, Founder & CEO, Vercel Guillermo is the Founder & CEO of Vercel, the company behind the open-source project Next.js. Next.js is a React framework used by frontend developers to build websites in a Jamstack format. Next.js has 79K stars on GitHub and a Discord community with over 33K members. Vercel has raised over $300M from GGV, Accel, Google Ventures, and Bedrock Capital. In this episode, we discuss Guillermo’s extensive experience in open-source, early architectural decisions to set up for scale, what a great “developer experience” really means, creating a complex distributed system that appears simple from the user's perspective, Vercel’s culture of excellence, and advice for open-source founders early in their journey.
January 07, 2022
E14: Great Expectations for Your Data (Or, Building Superconductive)
Abe Gong, Co-founder & CEO, Superconductive & Kyle Eaton, Growth Lead, Superconductive  Abe and Kyle are from Superconductive, the company behind the open-source project Great Expectations which has almost 6K stars on GitHub and a 5K+ person Slack community. Great Expectations is an open-source library for data quality, allowing users to always know what to expect from their data. It helps data teams eliminate pipeline debt, through data testing, documentation, and profiling bringing the best processes from software development to data teams.  In this episode, we learn how they were able to shift from building a healthcare data consultancy to Superconductive, turning a tool they built for themselves into a business. Abe and Kyle also share insights on their growth strategy, business model (and taking learnings from the GitHub business model), what goes on in their Slack channel, and their fundraising experience. 
December 16, 2021
E13: Open-Source Data Streaming with Vectorized & Redpanda
Alex Gallego, Founder & CEO, Vectorized Alex is Founder & CEO of Vectorized, the data streaming platform that released the open-source real-time streaming project Redpanda. Redpanda has 3.1K GitHub stars and a 1.2K person Slack community. Objectives for Vectorized are providing a faster version of Kafka and an amazing developer experience.  In this episode, we discuss Alex’s journey from technical architect to CEO, why experimentation is important for open-source companies, what a great developer experience means, the tradeoffs between monetization and happy open-source users, coming up with a pricing model (Vectorized had Confluent as a benchmark), and building a high-quality team in today's environment. 
December 07, 2021
E12: Open-Source Feature Management with Unleash
Egil Østhus & Ivar Østhus, Co-founders, Unleash Egil & Ivar are Co-founders of Unleash, the open-source feature management platform. The underlying project, unleash, has 4.5K GitHub stars and the company's enterprise product is run in an open-core model. In this episode, we discuss the origin story for Unleash (solving a problem the founders had themselves), how the open-source project spread, the Unleash paid product journey, why open-source works for regulated industries, new tooling areas for the open-source model, and advice for early-stage founders.
November 19, 2021
E11: From Open-Source Project at Uber to
Leland Takamine, CEO & Co-founder, Leland Co-founder & CEO of, the first "shift left" mobile development platform for high-quality mobile experiences. Their software finds bugs and performance issues before a new mobile release goes out. The origins of are in the project nanoscope, which Leland open-sourced while at Uber. The number and quality of companies using nanoscope signaled the need for better mobile development tooling. Since launching, has signed enterprise customers such as Reddit and raised funding from Cowboy Ventures along with strategic funds and angels such as Essence VC, President of Coinbase Emilie Choi, VP Engineering from Robinhood Surabhi Gupta, "Building Mobile Apps at Scale" author Gergely Orosz, Founder of Kong Marco Palladino, and mobile influencer PY Ricau among others. In this episode, we discuss the decision to create and open-source nanoscope, how nanoscope led to, the "Shift Left Mobile" movement, and Leland's journey as a leader - particularly on going from technologist to CEO. is also hiring. Check out open reqs for Android Lead, Frontend Lead, and Device Cloud Engineering Lead (all remote)!
November 09, 2021
E10: Prefect - Open-Source Data Flow Automation
Jeremiah Lowin, CEO & Founder, Prefect Jeremiah is the founder of Prefect, the data flow company that sits on top of the open-source workflow project Prefect Core as well as the recently released orchestration engine project Prefect Orion. Unlike many open-source companies, Prefect didn't start out as open-source. Two years into the company-building journey, Prefect Core launched and the traction from there has been very strong.  Today, Prefect has a Slack community of over 10K members and has raised from VCs including Patrick O'Shaughnessy, Tiger Global, and Positive Sum.  In this episode, we discuss the early Prefect story, open-source as a social network, different ways to approach fundraising as an open-source company, product positioning, and more! 
November 05, 2021
E9: Tristan & dbt (or, Becoming the Industry Standard for Data Transformation)
Tristan Handy, CEO & Founder, dbt Labs Tristan is co-founder & CEO of dbt Labs (previously Fishtown Analytics), the company that sits on top of the open-source data transformation tool dbt.  dbt has quickly become the industry standard with more than 5K companies using it in production supported by a Slack community of over 15K members. The company recently reached unicorn status raising their $150M Series C round at a $1.5B post-money valuation with investors including Sequoia, a16z, Altimeter, and Amplify.  In this episode, we discuss the origin story behind dbt, why timing for open-source projects matters, building community, Tristan's perspective on fundraising, the 'Modern Data Stack', and his personal growth journey as a leader.  Transcript here
October 07, 2021
E8: Open-Sourcing Business Applications; Calendso's Story
Peer Richelsen, Co-Founder, Calendso Peer is co-founder of Calendso, a company launched earlier this year. Calendso is an open-source calendar application ('open-source Calendly alternative’) that has 6K+ GitHub stars, 500+ forks, and a 700+ person Slack group. After an incredible launch, they rocketed to #1 Product of the Month in April 2021 on Product Hunt. In this episode, we discuss Peer’s unique founder journey and how he found Calendso’s CEO, the company's launch, prioritizing objectives at an open-source company, building community, and open-source eating business applications.
September 07, 2021
E7: From Open-Source Project at Uber to
Maxim Fateev, Co-Founder & CEO, 1:17: Maxim digs into his extensive experience with distributed systems and how it led him to build Cadence, the open-source project behind his company Temporal 5:10: We discuss why open-source is important and how it helps projects last vs. keeping them within a company where they will most likely die 9:30: Maxim talks about finding product-market fit through open-source before raising venture capital; one signal was the quality of engineers from top companies in their 1K person slack channel   14:35: We discuss the importance of building trust with users, especially with developer tools running in critical production systems, and the importance of founder credibility (Maxim and his cofounder had been working on distributed systems for 20 years); building trust took years as the project matured and Maxim marketed it through speaking at conferences, etc.  19:15: We dig into Temporal's product positioning  24:50: Maxim discusses Uber’s response to the team forking Cadence to create Temporal; the most contentious part was not making it backward compatible; migrating the community was also a challenge 28:50: We talk about the commercial side of the product; Temporal is delivered via API and sold as a hosted service and has a usage-based pricing model  37:07: We discuss evangelism and the importance of marketing for a new category (also - Temporal is hiring dev advocates!)  39:30: We end on advice for other open-source company founders - the key being to just start
August 05, 2021
E6: Product Positioning for OSS Startups
Emily Omier, Positioning Consultant for Commercial Open-Source Companies 2:53: Emily discusses the positioning of the 2 products OSS companies have: the OSS product & the paid product  5:30: Emily talks about her process & how she interacts with ‘super users’ to understand what they use the project for (hint: it’s often not what the project owner had in mind) 8:02: Emily digs into competition and how most OSS startups are competing with a manual process vs. other companies 10:09: The hard parts about positioning an OSS startup are discussed: resource challenges, focus, and engineers as challenging buyers 14:36: Emily talks about common mistakes OSS companies make 18:54: We dig into the right team set-up for OSS companies 21:10: Emily talks about the key areas OSS companies should think about when coming up with their positioning: expectations on what the product does and does not contain, expectations on related tools, competitors, and target users (type of app, workload, product, use case, etc.) 35:45: We talk about monetization and how to think about targeting the right customers 37:50: Emily ends on advice for early-stage OSS founders: don’t try to create a completely new category, bring well-understood concepts together, and position as the best option for a small market early-on
July 16, 2021
E5: Open-Sourcing Kubernetes & Building a Company (Heptio) Around It
Joe Beda, Founder & CTO, Heptio 2:00: Developing the Kubernetes project at Google & deciding to open-source it 4:48: The origins of Heptio & building a company around Kubernetes 13:29: Open-source business models & 'open extensibility' as the new model 24:36: Scaling open-source businesses: metrics to track & interacting with the community 31:55: Good areas for successful open-source products & advice for founders
June 24, 2021
E4: How Pulumi Launched an OS Project & Company at the Same Time
Joe Duffy, Founder & CEO, Pulumi 1:17 - Background on Joe & Pulumi - the company was started to give infra engineers tools to help them innovate faster. 3:05 - Why OS as a core part of Pulumi’s strategy - getting community buy-in was important as it created trust and authenticity. Joe also saw the power of open source when he was at Microsoft and they started exploring an OS strategy. 5:29 - Pulumi launched as a company and OS project at the same time. The benefit of this was they could be thoughtful about the business model from the get-go instead of it being an afterthought. 9:53 - The SaaS attach rate was insanely high - 2/3 adopted the SaaS. It was the default experience that developers opted out of if they wanted to. The business model was close to what AWS offers - a full managed service. 12:13 - Finding product-market fit with the OS project and business at the same time was tricky. It took over a year to release the OS project, however they had their first paying customer before they open-sourced anything. 14:28 - They decided to charge for enterprise features only (identity, policy enforcement, webhooks, team management, etc.). 20:25 - When measuring the health of the open-source, they focused on engagement over growth metrics. They wanted end users to be really successful. Joe continues to be baffled about investor conversations that center on stars - it’s one light measure of momentum but there are much stronger signals around health from Stack Overflow, Hacker News, Reddit, etc.  25:20 - Joe took on the role of the developer advocate himself early on. In fact, he did parts of every function before hiring for them to make sure he understood all parts of the business.  26:53 - In raising money for an OS company, focusing on typical SaaS metrics as well as OS metrics is important. Both need to be worked on in tandem. 28:55 - Early on, the focus was on building the OS community over the SaaS product. The ratio was 10:1 for people working on the OS vs. SaaS. 31:10 - Advice Joe has for OS founders - don’t sweat monetization too soon as once it’s introduced it averts focus away from top of funnel OS growth. 33:05 - Joe wishes investors understood developers more. They’re a tough group to make happy and the tech changes rapidly. It’s not just about momentum metrics but solving big problems for the community (TensorFlow is a good example). 35:08 - Joe’s final piece of advice is focus on making developers happy and starting in a niche vs. making a solution too broad at the start. 
April 14, 2021
E3: Building & Scaling MongoDB
Max Schireson, prev. CEO, MongoDB 1:20: Max started his career at Oracle where he became frustrated with the limitations of relational databases. He then moved to MarkLogic where he discovered XML databases and the flexibility of that format got him excited about the potential for new databases. From there, he moved to MongoDB as CEO just as NoSQL started to take off. There, he was exposed to the distribution potential of open-source. With an open-source business, people used your product well before you sold it to them. The company was very early when he joined. There were 20 employees and $10Ks - $100Ks of revenue. However, they already had a fair amount of open-source adoption. 7:40: Technical support became incredibly challenging at MongoDB since users were so sophisticated. 11:50: The transition away from support as a business model was necessary as users were finding fewer issues with the product. Max walks through the shift towards an open core model bifurcating free and paid functionality.  13:40: Deciding between paid and unpaid features was challenging. They discovered that paid features were good for operating at scale, and while they could have made more money by charging for additional support, they felt that having the best free open-source product on the market should take priority.  17:50: They didn't focus on stars as a core metric as it is only a rough measure of momentum. Instead, they focused on things like Google Trends (how often people searched for MongoDB), how often someone would put MongoDB on their LinkedIn as a skill, and if MongoDB was posted on Indeed in job recs. 22:20: Marketing and community came in the form of grassroots efforts and informal presentations. These included 'Mongo Days' where they organized engineering events across the country. Developers liked the honest and genuine nature of how MongoDB was sold to them with the sales team using phrases like “people use Mongo because the alternatives suck”. 25:30: MongoDB used an incremental approach to monetization (support then additional product functionality). They could have prioritized monetizing more sooner but instead focused efforts on the open-source. 27:15: A piece of advice from Max to open-source founders: focus on production workflows for monetization where you'll see real volume. 29:50: Open-source works best in a cloud delivery model. If someone downloads your open-source and uses it on-prem, it’s hard to track and fix issues since you don’t know who all is using the software (in a cloud model, you can fix issues for everyone at the same time). 32:05: Open-source can be seen as just a distribution method, but cloud products can have other great distribution methods. 36:15: A common mistake when building an open-source company is focusing on open-source adoption OR monetization instead of both.  38:20: Open-source licenses are important to protect your IP. MongoDB had a specific license that restricted how developers could use the product, which was risky since it added friction, but it didn’t end up hurting adoption for them.  43:10: At MongoDB, the greatest ‘growth hack’ was having a great product experience from the get-go; implementation was quick and users saw value very early.
March 18, 2021
E2: The Kong Story
Marco Palladino, Co-founder & CTO, Kong 0:50: Kong's origin story 5:48: How Kong’s underlying open source project generated early adoption 9:37: Shifting from open source adoption to commercialization 16:09: What enterprise features Kong prioritized building first 21:37: Hiring the early team balancing open-source and commercialization expertise 24:48: How to think about protecting your open-source IP 30:00: Marco's advice for open-source project owners who want to start a company
February 03, 2021
E1: From Open Source at InfluxData to Closed Source at EraDB
Todd Persen, Co-founder & CEO, Era Software (prev. Co-founder & CTO, InfluxData)  In this episode, we'll dig into the InfluxData founding story as well as Todd's decision to make his new company, EraDB, closed source. We'll also discuss the metrics to determine if an open-source project is a success, what features users will pay for, and the benefits (and drawbacks) of having an open-source component at a startup. 
January 12, 2021