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Software infrastructure business models

Greetings Founder Dating Comrades,

Recently Facebook released their internal programming language Hack ( http://hacklang.org/) which runs on their world class VM (HHVM: http://hhvm.com/) that powers their site at scale. I went to their firstinaugural Hack-lang dev day last week and it got me motivated to write a Web Framework in the language and get it out the door as soon as possible.

So about 2 weeks from the release of the language i've got most of the web framework done. It's called Traitorous and it's hiding out on Github at the moment here: https://github.com/traitorous/traitorous .

Turns out that creating the web framework was the easy part. I have a massive amount of work still ahead of me. I need to create multiple example sites, a documentation site with a metric ton of documentation, a marketing site and even throw a blog together. Thats all good though, gives me something to do from 9PM to 1AM after the kids pass out for the evening.

If it were possible this would be something that i'd like to work on full time, which brings me around to the point of how the heck do you monetize a web framework and what my options are.

There seem to be multiple working successful case studies of support companies which exist around web frameworks (SensioLabs w/ Symfony, Typesafe w/ Scala/Akka/Play, etc). Yet, the majority of them seem to be "Professional Services" companies which i'm not sure i want to get into.

So i'm just soliciting opinions on possible business model ideas. Maybe it would even be valuable to just work on something else with this and use it as an open source recruiting tool perhaps, or would that be a bit wasteful?

Thoughts and slaps of common sense highly welcome.

- Joseph Moniz


"Wake up early, Stay up late, Change the world"

3 Replies

Mike Taylor
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Mike Taylor Entrepreneur
Web Developer
I'm not sure what you mean by "open source recruiting tool." Maybe it's this:

If I were you, I would put up a home page for your framework and create at least one example site, or at least get it going. Don't forget the Twitter account. Set up aGitTip.comaccount to solicit recurring donations, maybe even use theirbountysource.comto ask for help if you gain enough donations to spare some cash.

If that will take you a while, put up a beta launch page in place of an official home page. You could use something likelaunchrock.comto set up a beta launch page. Here's an example page of their service:http://betterresearch.launchrock.com, but you can use a custom domain. Invite developer's to check it out, contribute, and sign up for the beta launch if they want to be an early adopter, but not contribute yet.

Consider listing your project on AngelList and/or creating a Kick Starter campaign. You could potentially get investors for a framework - I'm pretty sure, the JavaScript frameworkfamo.usis VC funded, but it's probably in another league.

I think these actions will establish a presence so that when you ask people to check it out, they know there's a serious effort behind the project.

If you can't get funding/employment for the project itself, then if you have a solid example site, you can aim for employment in creating more sites with your framework. You become the expert on the framework, and when you can't handle the demand for more sites, you hire other's to build those sites while you act as a senior developer/consultant. You can then work on further documentation and scoring more ambitious projects with the framework to grow the community, while you build your own leading consulting agency on the framework. Basically, my approach is pretty much how the Ruby on Rails community grew with DHH and 37signals.

I hope this helps for some inspiration and doesn't come off like I'm stating the obvious. I know it's easy to forget about avenues and tools when you're getting your hands dirty in development.
John Arroyo
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John Arroyo Entrepreneur • Advisor
Delivering ecommerce and cloud applications, CEO of Arroyo Labs
quick answer, it's very difficult. You may get some long tail business from it, but until it's a successful open source project in and of itself there will be very little direct monetization from it.

Basically it's a long term play, any of the good open source platforms that now directly or indirectly make money for the supporting company took multiple years to see traction.

I created an open source PHP framework a couple years ago, it's a lot of work with little direct reward...but it's been fun to build and it has come in very handy on multiple projects. https://github.com/arroyo/Erdiko
We have some cool use cases and demo sites coming this year.

Good news is there is definitely a market for good PHP frameworks since many of the best ones out there are relatively slow. Frameworks that build on top of hack or phalcon could have some legs!
Rand Strauss
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Rand Strauss Entrepreneur
Transforming politics and government, Visionary at PeopleCount.org
if this is what you want to do, go for it. If not, offer it as shareware, and offer to sell it to Facebook.
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