GitHub Expands Sponsors Program for Developers

Our lives run on code and every single business on a global scale relies on open source code for business functions. Amazon, American Express and more combine to expand GitHub’s Sponsors program for developers.

It’s no secret that there is a shortage of coders worldwide. There are a variety of reasons for this, but that’s not the topic on tap for today. Earlier this month, it was announced that Amazon Inc., American Express Corp., Daimler AG and Stripe Inc. are coming together with Microsoft-owned GitHub in a new program, which is really an expansion of their sponsors program for developers, that allows them to directly fund open-source projects and software developers that are essential for their business.

This new project expands GitHub’s Sponsors program for developers, which has been around for about a year. The Sponsors program was designed to let individuals support software projects and fund the global developer workforce which uses the platform to collaborate, share and store code. That program has already generated enough income for some devs to rely on it for full-time work, and this expansion that will allow businesses to do the same will only enhance the experience of everyone who uses the platform.

Devon Zuegel, GitHub’s Director of Product for the Communities department, said, “Historically the only way you could get paid for your open-source work was if your project was super-crucial for a single company. That worked really well for some projects — Linux is super-critical for a lot of companies who are willing to pay for development time. But there’s all these other libraries that are one tier below that and they were left out of in the cold.”

Not only will this project enhance the ability of a developer to increase their income, but the hope is that it will also ease some of the fragility of the open-source ecosystem. Currently, companies all over the world use open-source code for various systems and features. But without reviewing that code (which we highly encourage), there was no guarantee that everything will remain secure and stable.

GitHub has already tested this service with some customers and learned that there will be different ways companies choose to use it. Some companies will use it to not just back projects they know they need, but to offer bounties for new features they want. Microsoft is even letting in-house engineers nominate projects they want to support. There are likely even ways this program will be used that haven’t been thought of yet.

Developers rely heavily on open-source code for almost every project they have. GitHub is more than that, though, it’s also a place to collaborate with other devs, to pick the brains of others who understand what you’re trying to accomplish and maybe come up with a fix for multiple issues in one fell swoop. 

There’s another problem this will solve besides what has been discussed above. It’s been widely noted that there is a shortage of coders available today. Given that issue, allowing businesses to fund developers for projects means they don’t incur the cost of an annual salary but they still get their projects completed. For devs, it means the opportunity to work on projects for multiple companies instead of being tied down to one employer. This benefits everyone involved, and may even change the landscape of how businesses run their development teams.

Nat Friedman, GitHub’s CEO, has the right outlook on the project, “It’s about building a new 21st Century model of employment for developers. A lot of open source software is written by full-time engineers who get hired by one of the companies that depends on the software that they build. They’re hired into this 20th Century full-time employment model. We don’t think that’s what the future is going to look like.”

After almost a year of remote work taking over the global economy, it is certain that the future of employment is already changing. Businesses are learning that remote work has benefits for everyone and that digital transformation means that most work can be completed anywhere in the world. GitHub’s latest project provides a platform for engineers to do just that, on top of the other benefits it provides. It’s still in the early stages, but keep your eyes on this project. It’s definitely going to change the landscape of software development.

About the Author

Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner of PWV Consultants, leads a boutique group of industry leaders and influencers from the digital tech, security and design industries that acts as trusted technical partners for many Fortune 500 companies, high-visibility startups, universities, defense agencies, and NGOs. He is a 20-year software engineering veteran, who founded or co-founder several companies. He acts as a trusted advisor and mentor to numerous early stage startups, and has held the titles of software and software security executive, consultant and professor. His expert consulting and advisory work spans several industries in finance, media, medical tech, and defense contracting. Has also authored the highly influential precursor HAZL (jADE) programming language.

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