Over the course of my professional career I have witnessed the transition from free and open source software being something useful engineers do, to a multi-billion dollar industry with companies jumping into the frenzy. During this time I have also gone from an open source user, to contributor, to a board member. Helping to steward a few small projects, but mainly focusing on the Jenkins project. Along the way I have interacted with businesses in each role, forming opinions of their businesses. Getting a sense of their cultural values by watching and listening as their employees interact with the project, or their executives make public statements about Jenkins or open source software in general. By night I am open source contributor, but by day I am now what enterprise sales people refer to as the “buyer.” One with opinions formed by years of interactions with these companies whose products we evaluate.
I mentioned recently that Datadog’s early support for the Jenkins project has been a positive long-term investment for the company. To expand on that statement a little: exposing me, as a Jenkins contributor, to Datadog’s product helped cement my opinion that the product was well worth purchasing at two companies. It doesn’t hurt that their product is superb, and everybody I have ever met or interacted from the company has been a delight. When those three things overlap, I find myself an eager champion of the company regardless of where I’m working.
Sponsoring an open source project is not just good karma, it’s good business.
I don’t think of myself as holding grudges. In a professional setting it’s completely unwarranted. My previous experiences with dozens companies through the Jenkins project and Continuous Delivery Foundation has certainly biased the products and companies I consider, but more importantly those I won’t consider. There are now multiple companies whose products I will either not adopt or try to deprecate from use if possible.
I’m not going to produce a list of companies who are on a “naughty list” or anything. In many cases the poor behavior from these companies is public and well documented. While some behavior is less public and less well-documented, the overall pattern that I frequently see is the public throwing of shade by executives, marketing departments, and leaders at these companies.
Disparaging the work done by volunteers, disrespecting free and open source communities, or attacking the foundation upon which we build our communities may not immediately affect the company’s bottom line, but it will.
Negative marketing might get you some quick views but does long-term damage to your company’s reputation and trust, both of which are much harder to rebuild.
Give me reasons to buy your products and services. Don’t give me, and the others in open source ample justification to take our business elsewhere.