Subject Re: [Firebird-general] Firebird money matters
Author Helen Borrie
At 06:30 PM 25/02/2006, you wrote:
>The biggest difference between FB and its competitors, including
>MySQL, is money. Money pays for more developers, more publicity,
>more pressure on ISPs, and also provides the ability to attract
>people like Jim Starkey away from the competition.
>So regardless of the relative technical merits of MySQL and FB,
>MySQL is streets ahead because it has muscle. Its muscle comes from
>an operating model which generates money.

Actually, this is simplistic. MySQL AB is a commercial vendor. MySQL
AB had money before it started generating money. Pots and pots of
money, from dotcom speculators. We don't really know whether they
are generating money at all. They've just sucked in a whole lot more
financier money. Sadly, it looks to me more like struggling to
survive against superior closed source vendors. So they went shopping
for miracles and found Jim. Let's hope for the best for them
because, on a software level, the stuff that people pay for (and that
pays for what their freeloader users get) has to make a lot of
progress real fast.

Though Fb is competing in the same space as the commercial end of
MySQL AB, Firebird a *lot* different. We don't pay salaries. We
don't have an advertising budget because what funds we have goes into
grants to help our key people to do what they do without too much
sacrifice. Most of the people who are making money out of Firebird
just take the software and take none of the responsibility. They
don't want to give anything back.

Technically, it's ludicrous to consider MySQL as a competitor in the
free database space. It's a DBISAM database. Some of our low-end
users could get away with using it now, but it would be a big
loss. When they get to need upscaling, they will have to launch into
unknown technical territory AND pay for the privilege.

>This is what we should be discussing. How can FB generate cash?


>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.

In fact, your company (like most companies that make money out of
Firebird) is a freeloader.

>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.

>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 don't want to pay rent or taxes; I want free computers and free
books; I want my lawns mown for free. I want free petrol. Who
wants to pay for anything?

I don't follow your logic. The kind of users who use FB as part of a
product like yours have already paid. You propose that your
customers, not you (the beneficiary) should carry the payback obligation.

>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.

OK, I see. It is an act of business to take what the Tooth Fairy is
giving away, but an act of charity to give back a financial token to
help the elves to make an even better one for next time you are
lining up for the freebies.

>So, as a community, we need a mechanism for turning those millions
>of users into serious cash. If such a mechanism depends on changing
>human nature, then it will fail, so rather than fighting against
>human nature, we need to use it.

We have a mechanism already. Out of those hundreds of thousands who
are using Firebird, about 150 are channelling some of the benefit
back into Firebird development. It's a serious mechanism, believe
me. Most of these people are people with just your kind of
involvement, i.e. they are making their living from products that
they developed with Firebird and with free help from fellow community
members. And they are carrying you.

>Here is an idea.
>Let the FB Foundation

i.e. "anyone but me.."

>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 could be a small leaflet, describing the Foundation, and a
>donation form, looking a bit like an invoice. The documents can be
>given to the client, and the developer can suggest that making the
>donation is the decent thing to do. Developers can modify the
>donation form to show an amount of money which is appropriate for
>the specific country or the specific client.
>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.

Oh? are these "selfless" developers the same ones whose free use of
Firebird makes it possible for them to charge their customers a bit
less? or to skim off a bigger margin for themselves without raising
their prices?

> He can also
>show his client the support newsgroups, so the client sees that he
>has access to resources beyond the single developer, should it ever
>become necessary.
>The idea also has the benefit that the donation does not seem to the
>client like just yet more money for the developer.

No, that would never do, would it?

>It brings the
>client in to the FB community, and may even make him aware, for the
>first time, that he is using a Firebird database. And so the
>process helps with FB publicity and public awareness as well.
>Shame will help.

Ahem, what is shame? :-)

> The client needs to know that the developer will know whether he
> made the donation.

I wonder why, if the developer isn't himself a contributor.

>The developer, perhaps, can show
>the client a sample certificate which the developer will get from
>the Foundation on receipt of the client's donation. He will pass
>the certificate on to the client, to be hung on the wall, and it
>says something like
> "My Client Inc
> is a contributing associate of
> The Firebird Foundation"
> for the year 2006

Ah, OK. Now let's have an international community competition for
the best scheme whereby "someone" could process all these $1
donations and print and post out certificates in return for receiving
and processing each of these $1 donations from everywhere; with
bonus competition points for listing all the banking institutions
that will handle deposits in multiple currencies for fees of less
than $27 per transaction. (Oh, and before anyone starts talking
about PayPal - which takes a mere 4% in commissions - PayPal won't
accept $1 payments.)

First prize will be one licence to the latest release version of
Firebird, with unlimited free deployment licences.

As a matter of fact, anyone can be a donor or sponsor to the Firebird
Foundation's funding scheme. Those who join as Associate members pay
$50 (once, or annually) and get the right to use the appropriate
Foundation logo on their website, stationery or long as
their support lasts.

And, no, we don't send out certificates that anyone would want on
their wall. We send receipts and thanks, in PDF format.

Not that I disagree that some physical memento would be a nice thing
to offer. Dmitri Kouzmenko even drafted something like that last
year...but, alas, so far, the Tooth Fairy has been somewhat
ungenerous with free colour printing, postage stamps and elves to
stuff envelopes.