Building PhoneGap at Nitobi and then Adobe: Free Software in Small and Large Corporations

Location: E145 Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.33, 3 ratings)

This talk will walk through the history of the disruptive PhoneGap project, built on a bootstrap, grown into a large community, and the transition of a small consultancy working on a project to a team in a large company working on that same project.

The journey begins with the Nitobi Software backstory, life working at a boutique software consultancy, and trying to find our place in the large, hyper competitive, consultancy marketplace.

From there we get into the genesis of PhoneGap and the challenges of balancing client work, free software contribution, and, hardest of all, supporting our community. Somewhere along the way we found our stride. We had built a sustainable business on a free software ecosystem, identifying pain points, which we turned into opportunities for revenue.

The talk will close with a look at where we are today and whats next for the project and contributors. It can be said that change is the only constant in software. Late 2011 brought new challenges to the PhoneGap project and the employees of Nitobi. We were acquired by behemoth Adobe Systems. Our transition to a big company was not, unsurprisingly, seamless (though it was quick). PhoneGap was nominated for incubation at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under the working name Apache Cordova. Our roles as employees changed and our relationship to the community we created has changed.

Key takeaways:

- how to work on free software and make money doing it
- how build a diverse contributing community
- how to advocate and work with open source in a large organization

Photo of Brian LeRoux

Brian LeRoux

Adobe Systems

Former lead of development at Nitobi Software and current hacker of PhoneGap at Adobe. Chair of Native Web Apps Community Group at the W3C. Incubating at Apache. Hacking mobile JavaScript since it wasn’t cool to do so.


For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Sharon Cordesse at (707) 827-7065 or

View a complete list of OSCON contacts