Five Reasons Your Company Should Open Source More Code

Five Reasons Your Company Should Open Source More Code

Given intense competition for the world’s best engineering talent, can your company really afford to lock up its code behind proprietary licenses? Sure, if you’re in the business of selling software, giving it all away may not make sense. But the vast majority of companies don’t sell software, and should be contributing a heck of a lot more as open source.

How much more? “(Almost) everything,” to quote GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner. The post is a few years old, but judging from how the industry continues to treat software like something to be hidden, not nearly enough people have read it.

Consider this your reminder.

Reasons To Open Up

If it sounds like business model suicide to “open source (almost) everything”, it’s not. At least, not for the 99.999% of companies that sell services, not software. For this overwhelming majority, Preston-Werner offers several reasons to open source code:

1. Open sourcing code is great advertising for you and your company… translat[ing] into goodwill for [your company] and more superfans than ever before;

2. If your code is popular enough to attract outside contributions, you will have created a force multiplier that helps you get more work done faster and cheaper. More users means more use cases being explored which means more robust code;

3. Smart people like to hang out with other smart people. Smart developers like to hang out with smart code. When you open source useful code, you attract talent;

4. If you’re hiring, the best technical interview possible is the one you don’t have to do because the candidate is already kicking — on one of your open source projects; and

5. Once you’ve hired all those great people through their contributions, dedication to open source code is an amazingly effective way to retain that talent. Let’s face it, great developers can take their pick of jobs right now. These same developers know the value of coding in the open and will want to build up a portfolio of projects they can show off to their friends and potential future employers.

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