Subject RE: [Firebird-general] Firebird money matters
Author Steve Summers
Roger Vellacott wrote:

>My company, like thousands of others, uses FB commercially, and we
>deploy it to a significant number of our own clients. My single
>download of FB 1.5.3 will be deployed to 20+ different sites, and
>around 100 users. So actual users of FB around the world must
>number many millions. I am not familiar with Foundation finances,
>but I would guess that even $1 per year from every FB user would
>help a bit.

Yes it would.

>My whole business depends on FB, yet I have never paid a penny for
>it. And of course, I don't want to pay for it. I sometimes think I
>should make a donation, but I am running a business, not a charity,
>and when it comes to the moment of deciding whether to give money
>away, or hang on to it to help with the payroll, then my charitable
>instincts do not win.

Shame on you! <g>

You shouldn't look at it as charity. What would it cost your business if FB
stopped being developed? The point of open source software is that a whole
bunch of people who benefit to greater or lesser degrees from its
development, voluntarily share the cost of that development, by donating
money or developer time (which costs money!)

Our company was paying Borland $20-$30K per year for Interbase licenses
before we switched to Firebird. We are now gold sponsors of the foundation,
which costs us a lot less than the IB licenses, but helps keep FB moving.
You should consider doing the same. Your business volume might not be enough
to justify $6000 per year, but if you considered just $20 per installation
as the cost of goods sold for the database component of your product, that
would be $400. If just another 20 people in your situtation did that, we
could hire another part-time developer.

>Let the FB Foundation provide some inspiring, official Firebird
>documentation which developers can pass on to their users, which
>enable users to make a direct annual donation to the foundation.

There are a couple problems with this idea. First, your users couldn't care
less what database they're using. Many of them don't even know. They run
YOUR product. They pay YOU for your product, and assume they're done paying.
You are the one who is benefiting from Firebird, not your customers. If you
provided them with SQL Server or Oracle instead, you'd have to include the
cost of the database in your price. You'd either have to make a lot less
money for yourself, or charge them more and sell fewer of them. Either way,
you are the one making money from Firebird, not your customers, and you are
the one who needs to see fit to contribute a small slice of that back, so
the product can continue advancing.

>The developer has the benefit that it makes him look good - he is a
>member of an international community of highly skilled people, and
>he is working selflessly to support that community.

How is he (you) "working selflessly to support that community"? You're using
a product you didn't write, for free, and making money from it. You've
thought about donating a little money to that cause, but your "charitable
instincts do not win".

>The idea also has the benefit that the donation does not seem to the
>client like just yet more money for the developer.

Yes it does! It tells them that YOU got the database part of your product
for free, but you'd like THEM to help pay for it! Here's an idea- include,
in your original invoice, a note that says that you're providing, as part of
the price of your product (and taken out of your profit), a $20 (or $50?
That's what we contribute) donation to the FB foundation for the database
part. When they ask what that is, you can explain it to them, and suggest
that they might want to become an associate member too.

>Shame will help.

Hope you mean that, because my tone here might be taken as a little

Bottom line. People who make money selling systems that rely on Firebird are
the ones who are benefiting. We would have had to spend more money (even if
they'd used MySQL, which charges a license fee in cases like that) for the
database part of our products otherwise. If Firebird is to continue being
competitive, it needs more companies like yours and mine to become sponsors.
We are, to the tune of about $50 per system we sell. You should consider
doing the same- not as charity, but as an insurance policy to reduce the
chances that you'll need to rework your product to run on something else, if
the Firebird project dies.