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

Stefano Sabatini stefasab at gmail.com
Tue Jan 14 17:54:22 CET 2014

On date Sunday 2014-01-12 16:01:40 +0100, Robert Krüger encoded:
> Hi,
> 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
> atm).

I'm not the "project", but I can share my opinion. SPI money can be
used for refunding travel expenses and hardware or hosting
expenses. So far we had only a few refund requests related to travels
(indeed there are apparently not many developers liking the idea to go
to conferences/events). As for hardware I don't know, it is probably
that given the small budget no one felt like he wants to take from

Also in theory we could spend the money for relatively small
maintainance or development tasks nobody will do otherwise. Granting a
small amount for fixing old bugs could be another idea. For example I
wouldn't be against paying a web developer a reasonable amount to vamp
the website design (OTOH we are not selling stuff so we have really no
high priority need to improve our website visibility).

This is all theoretical since until this moment we hadn't many
refund/expense requests (again this may be due to a lack of need for
such refunds, or because the current fund doesn't allow it).

Funding development is a bit more complicated. As I wrote during the
meeting, if one or more companies/individuals want a feature and they
do a donation, we can't guarantee that the expense will be approved by
SPI, so for such form of sponsoring maybe some different system is
needed, for example a crowdfunding/bounty platform.

Again this is somehow theoretical since no one proposed such a task
yet. During the meeting I proposed two such tasks I'd do myself, and
I'll probably create a crowd funding/bounty project if and only if
I'll find an interested partner.

Same for an internal Summer-of-Code alike project, but in this case we
could at least have the informal guarancy from SPI that it will be
approved before we launch the program. OTOH organizing such program
would be a time-consumming work, and would implicate several

The good thing with SPI is that it involves very low overhead on the
project, most related work consisted so far into acting as
intermediate when there is a refund request (which so far happens
seldom), doing some accounting work when I need to publish the
semestral report, monitor and report in case of suspect donations.
> 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.

We could use trac for that. Currently we allow people to propose a
bounty (by adding the "bounty" tag), and they can upvote a ticket to
highlight their interest towards a given bugfix/feature.


> 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.

We currently have a projects section on the website. We could as well
add a "Companies" section showing companies *willing* to state they
use FFmpeg, and another one listing Sponsors.

> 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.

This is interesting but we probably lack the organization and the
manpower and/or will to achieve that.
FFmpeg = Frightening and Faithful Mortal Pitiless Extensive Gymnast

More information about the ffmpeg-devel mailing list