Ethics, Business, Closed Source Software

How would I behave if I had no need for money?

This has been on my mind more than ever lately. And essentially, I'd do a lot of making friends and pursuing subjects out of passion and trying to do good for the world.

Obviously we do have a need for money. We need to exist within this system. How can we do it in the most ethical way possible?

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How would my interactions with people who pay me now change if I didn't need money, but still wanted to give them something I made?

I'd listen. I'd try to make something they actually needed, and that the world needed. I'd try to make friends with people. I'd form communities.

How would my interactions with collaborators be like, if I didn't need money?

I'd use this chance to pay people as much as possible, and try to help people out who I knew would really be helped by the opportunity. I'd use this to improve communities. I'd want to build relationships here too.

What would I make?

I'd do some pursuing passions. I'd solve hard problems that inspired me and made me think in creative ways. I'd try to balance this and combine this with making and building things that directly benefit the world, on a variety of levels.

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The fact is, however, that I am constrained. I do need money.

We thought long and hard about what to do with our business and how to be ethical.

On a business level, I believe passionately that treating people well and building genuine friendships and giving back to the community by any means possible not only leads to happiness, but also happens to often be good for business.

And then there's the tech side.

There are lots of elements at play here. We couldn't think of a reliable way to make money on free and open source software. We need income. We are starting to get frustrated supporting projects that net millions of dollars and only taking a fraction (both here and in our full time careers). We can make good money on contracts, but are always looking of ways to strive for better. If we could make enough money on a product, fairly and ethically, we could use the extra time and money to give back more.

We feel like the work we do is valuable, and it's ethical to make enough money to support ourselves doing the work. In fact, I want more software authors to be able to make enough money supporting themselves outside of any large company, on tech they built. I think the world would be a better place if more people could be free in this sense.

I hear artists talking about this constantly-- artists deserve to see money from their creations. Programmers can perhaps more easily get a full time job in a company, but that doesn't change the fact that more programmers should see money from creations they give away for free.

I fully support free and open source software. I want more of it and I actively support it. I also want to do a lot more to give back to my community. This should not be at odds with trying to be free and independent by making money off of a closed source product-- in fact, these things complement each other quite well.

If I'm able to be free and truly independent-- in this system, that is partially financial-- I think I'll be able to do even more good. And I think I can gain this freedom in a way that still helps people, that still builds genuine relationships, that still gives back a lot. That's the goal here.

Burnout and Mental Health

On Friendship and Code