[FFmpeg-devel] Sponsoring and generating money in general (IRC meeting follow-up)

Robert Krüger krueger at lesspain.de
Sun Jan 12 16:01:40 CET 2014


I am starting a new thread as I think the IRC meeting thread itself
otherwise would potentially become a monster nobody could follow.

I am trying to summarize a few things that were discussed and add some thoughts.

Does "the project" want to generate more money?

It appears at least some people keep bringing up the topic and there
seem to be at least some ideas on how to spend it for the benefit of
the project.

If the project generates more money, where will it go? (very
legitimate question by j-b)

Apart from the small things like some hardware, travel expenses or
stickers the most obvious thing to me is to sponsor developers for
work on ffmpeg so they don't have do all of it in their spare time. If
this cannot be done, because of the legal setup, this whole thing hits
a wall (currently it is unclear whether SPI can be used for that, as
far as I understood Diego this is what ffmtech does today but due to
the beef between the two projects this does not seem to be an option

What ways are there to generate money?

1) Offer development projects as crowd-funding projects and hope
enough interested companies (more likely than private individuals)
pledge so a financing goal is reached and the proposed package is
implemented. For this to succeed to me two things are crucial:

- Choice of the feature that is implemented because one has to know or
be confident there is really enough commercial or private interest in
that. Since I believe many companies who work with ffmpeg (either
command line or API) read the mailing lists, it would not hurt to post
ideas there and see if there is informal feedback by people/companies
who would give money for a given cause or help spread the word to
lobby for it.

- Have a well-defined goal. "Improving filter/codec/command line tool
X" is certainly not enough. If someone inside a larger company needs
to convince their boss to pledge 1000$ or more for such a project, the
boss will most likely ask if the project would make feature X in their
software work or not or what the concrete improvement will be

With the current legal setup the individual developer(s) who implement
the offered feature/improvement for a given price that has to be
matched by the pledges of project backers, would be the contractor(s)
with the crowd-funding platform and no money would go to ffmpeg itself
(unless one would make it a condition that devs doing this would have
to donate X% of money generated through this to ffmpeg via SPI if the
project was advertised through official project channels like ML or
website or something like that).

So, the next step would be to discuss ideas together with people who
offer the actual work on the ML.

Btw. I forgot to credit Diego for making me aware of the Bountysource
platform which at first glance looks better suited than Kickstarter
and the like.

2) Offer a sponsoring program, something along the lines of companies
pay a certain annual amount to reach a certain sponsor status and are
listed on a page on the web site. I like the idea of treating small
companies differently, i.e. to reach bronze, silver, gold status a
company of 5 people has to pay a lot less than a company of 10000
people (that was the linuxfoundation example Michael gave but hey, I
am biased here as I run a small company).

This is a no-brainer as the only thing needed AFAICS is defining the
terms and see if there are interested companies out there. I would
volunteer to make a first proposal how that could look and later do
some lobbying with companies I am/have been in touch with. Yes,
Kieran, there are probably many companies out there where bold
assholes work that sell standard ffmpeg features as their super-secret
invention and those you won't get. But there are countless others and
the few I have talked to have expressed the wish to be seen out there
as fair players and supporters.

3) More ambitious approaches

Stuff like offering a support program or similar things or generally
really building a business on top of ffmpeg (like the JBoss example I
mentioned in the meeting) is most likely possible but that requires so
much work and dedication and is probably almost a full-time job for
quite some time to set up and I don't see anyone doing that (I
certainly cannot), so I will not make any suggestions regarding that
for now.



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