Financial Incentives in Open Source

Moderated by:
Rob Lanphier (Wikimedia Foundation)
Todd Crowe (Todd Crowe Web Design & Development), Leslie Hawthorn (Red Hat), Stormy Peters (Red Hat), Donald Smith (The Eclipse Foundation)
Location: E145/E146
Average rating: **...
(2.33, 3 ratings)

If you are responsible for the health of an open source development project, you may be considering using financial means to improve the dynamic in some way. Perhaps you want to accelerate development, make the community more vibrant, or just thank people who have contributed a lot. Hiring and assigning staff to solve problems is a traditional means of using money to help, but not the only method out there. Bounties, awards programs, and contract work are all methods that are frequently employed by open source projects, especially projects that have a little money to spend, but maybe not enough to hire full-time staff.

Financial motivations can be fraught with peril though. Even a well-implemented program can produce poor results under many circumstances. While a financial incentive may increase motivation for some, it might be demotivating for others. Worse, some incentives even demotivate the person receiving them.

This panel is made up of individuals with a broad range of experience in incentive programs, contract work, and community management. We’ll talk about what works, what doesn’t work, and what to look out for when using money to spruce up a project.

Photo of Rob Lanphier

Rob Lanphier

Wikimedia Foundation

Rob Lanphier is a seasoned community manager who has launched two major open source initiatives: Linden Lab’s Second Life client source release and RealNetworks’ Helix initiative. During his nine years at RealNetworks, Rob was a key contributor to two important multimedia standards (RTSP and SMIL). He’s also worked at a number of companies, including Microsoft, Asymetrix, Conjungi, and also worked as an independent consultant specializing in MediaWiki development.

Todd Crowe

Todd Crowe Web Design & Development

Todd Crowe has over twenty years of experience in the computer industry. In that time he has worked for many large and well known software and internet companies including Microsoft, IBM, Netscape and America Online.

Before leaving America Online to work independently, Todd worked on several internet applications that were used by millions of internet users. His last project, which he lead the design and development of, was a service that supports several America Online applications used by millions of people every day.

More recently Todd is focusing his work on managing, designing, and developing the websites of local companies and organizations. His currently clients include several businesses as well as the Pacific City – Nestucca Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Nestucca Rural Fire Protection District.

Photo of Leslie Hawthorn

Leslie Hawthorn

Red Hat

Leslie Hawthorn is director of developer relations at Red Hat. An internationally known developer relations strategist and community management expert, Leslie has spent the past decade creating, cultivating, and enabling open source communities. She’s best known for creating the world’s first initiative to involve pre-university students in open source software development, launching Google’s #2 developer blog, and receiving an O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2010. Her career has provided her with the opportunity to develop, hone, and share open source expertise spanning enterprise to NGOs, including senior roles at Google, the Open Source Initiative, the OSU Open Source Lab, and Elastic. She lives with her partner in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. You can read her thoughts on her blog. If you cheer during movies when you hear the words “I fight for the users” or “Get your head out of your cockpit,” the two of you will likely get along famously.

Photo of Stormy Peters

Stormy Peters

Red Hat

Stormy Peters is a senior manager for community leads at Red Hat. Passionate about open source software, Stormy educates companies and communities on how open source software is changing the software industry. Previously, Stormy was vice president of developer relations at the Cloud Foundry Foundation, led developer relations at Mozilla, was executive director of the GNOME Foundation, and worked at OpenLogic, where she set up the OpenLogic Expert Community. She is a compelling speaker who engages her audiences during and after her presentations. Stormy holds a BA in computer science from Rice University.

Photo of Donald Smith

Donald Smith

The Eclipse Foundation

Donald Smith, MBA, MSc, is Director of Ecosystem Development for the Eclipse Foundation, an independent not-for-profit foundation supporting the Eclipse open source community. Prior to joining Eclipse, Donald was Director of Technology Evangelism at Oracle and has also worked for startups WebGain and The Object People. He brings over a decade of worldwide industry experience, from small “dot-com” through Fortune 50 companies. Donald speaks regularly about community development, persistence, business integration and politics at conferences and events world wide, including Java One, Oracle World, Sun Tech Days, Evans Developer Relations Conference, OOPSLA, JAOO, Server Side Symposium, Colorado Software Summit and others.

  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • (mt) Media Temple, Inc.
  • ActiveState
  • CommonPlaces
  • DB Relay
  • FireHost
  • GoDaddy
  • HP
  • HTSQL by Prometheus Research
  • Impetus Technologies Inc.
  • Infobright, Inc
  • JasperSoft
  • Kaltura
  • Marvell
  • Mashery
  • NorthScale, Inc.
  • Open Invention Network
  • OpSource
  • Oracle
  • Parallels
  • PayPal
  • Percona
  • Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc.
  • Rhomobile
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • Silicon Mechanics
  • SourceGear
  • Symbian
  • VoltDB
  • WSO2
  • Linux Pro Magazine

Sponsorship Opportunities

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Sharon Cordesse at

Download the OSCON Sponsor/Exhibitor Prospectus

Media Partner Opportunities

Download the Media & Promotional Partner Brochure (PDF) for information on trade opportunities with O'Reilly conferences or contact mediapartners@

Press and Media

For media-related inquiries, contact Maureen Jennings at

OSCON Newsletter

To stay abreast of conference news and to receive email notification when registration opens, please sign up for the OSCON Newsletter (login required)

OSCON 2.0 Ideas

Have an idea for OSCON to share?

Contact Us

View a complete list of OSCON contacts