Many huge firms use open source code, but its developers are rarely acknowledged — let alone rewarded — for their efforts. Homebrew, the package management software founded by Max Howell, claims to be the most contributed-to open-source software program in the world. Still, firms who have used Homebrew, such as Square and Google, haven’t appreciated Howell’s efforts in any meaningful manner, he told TechCrunch, though they did send him some branded gear, like a blanket.
Despite the fact that “90 percent of [Google’s] engineers” use the software Howell built, he was notoriously denied a position at Google because he couldn’t answer a specific technical issue by hand. Compensation for open source developers has been a contentious subject since that 2015 tweet, and in 2019, prominent developer site GitHub debuted a tool that allows users to offer tips to their favorite open-source coders. The emergence of new web3 initiatives, according to Howell, presents a chance to alter how open-source workers are rewarded for their work.
To that aim, he just announced the creation of Tea, a new company he co-founded with three other engineers to assist compensate open-source programmers for their efforts in web3 projects. Tea referred to itself as “brew2 for web3” in its launch, an homage to Homebrew. The Puerto Rican business also revealed that it has acquired $8 million in seed investment led by Binance Labs, the venture capital arm of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by transaction volume. XBTO Humla Ventures, Lattice Capital, Darma Capital, Coral Defi, Woodstock, Rocktree, SVK Crypto, and MAKE Group are among the other investors in Tea’s round, according to the business.
Volunteer open-source programmers who produce widely used software, according to Howell, are frequently under pressure to iterate and debug the code they built without getting compensated for their efforts. He used the example of a cybersecurity flaw identified in the popular Log4J open-source program, which drove users to express “quite a lot of hatred and resentment” toward the original developers once it was discovered. “They rectified the issue,” Howell added, “but they pointed out rather properly that no one finances their effort or pays them for their own time.”
Open-source developers frequently create a product or technology because they require it and then opt to share it with the rest of the world for free. This, according to Howell, was his original motive for starting Homebrew. “Like a structure of blocks, when an open-source developer donates [their code] to the community, it becomes a critical element of the machinery that powers the internet… They’re now compelled to maintain these things, otherwise, the internet would be broken,” he continued.
Tea intends to deliver value to open source developers using digital contracts, which Howell likened to a “loyalty system,” in which sponsors of open source projects may obtain privileges like privileged access to the project creators in exchange for their investment. Its platform would make it easier for corporations and people that use open-source software to support its creators by automating the process. Tea, according to Howell, can help the web3 ecosystem expand in a way that is more encouraging to open source developers than the internet, or web2.
“Most web2 firms’ stacks are open source in 80 to 90 percent of cases. They provide a little, and they feel horrible about it, but they don’t have a proper framework in place to distribute that value to all of the open-source they utilize. “The quantity of people required would be enormous,” Howell added. “So here we are, presenting a new way of automating it for them to the point where they can genuinely support the ecosystem on which they rely.” Tea’s worth appears to be based on its capacity to provide security and stability to users of open-source software projects, who will be rewarded for such assurances by compensating Tea developers.
Users will be able to utilize Tea-developed software for free, which is a basic premise of many of the open-source community, while developers will be able to get pay for their work indirectly, according to Howell. Tea’s “inflationary process” will analyze each project’s popularity among the community and distribute prizes evenly across the Tea ecosystem, even if a sponsor does not actively support it. If a developer wishes to be eligible for prizes, they must finish their project and register it with Tea’s “graph,” or database. According to Howell, the graph will also record any dependencies that the project relied on in order to be constructed.
Tea’s graph will be bootstrapped from Homebrew, which means it will begin with a database of projects that have also registered with Homebrew. Tea adds a new security layer when a project is produced that will inform both the users and owners of that project if something in its stack is broken, he added.