Our Investment in Tidelift

by Ryan McIntyre

We are pleased to announce that Foundry Group has made a Series A investment in Tidelift. Tidelift gives software development teams dependable—professionally maintained, secured, and licensed—open source software from a single source, while introducing a new way for open source creators to get paid for doing the work they love.  

Tidelift was founded by Donald Fischer, Havoc Pennington, Jeremy Katz, and Luis Villa, who have more than 70 combined years of experience working and investing in open source at organizations like Red Hat, Google, Mozilla, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Their vision is to build a new win-win model for open source. The professional development teams trying to avoid things like Heartbleed and the Equifax breach get software they can depend on while helping fund the next wave of innovation. Meanwhile, the open source maintainers who have been building all of this amazing software we all rely on get paid—ideally a lot—from their work, which encourages even more investment in open source.

We were originally introduced to Tidelift because our partner Chris Moody had previously worked with Donald and his co-founder Havoc. All four Tidelift founders have demonstrated a long obsession with this problem space, having lived and breathed this open source air for two decades. They deeply understand the perspectives of both open source maintainers and the professionals using their code. And they have been a part of the creation of the enterprise subscription model that has now turned Red Hat into a $30B market cap company, so they understand how to make professional open source work.

Tidelift’s approach—an innovative B2B take on the marketplace business model that has fueled the rapid growth of some of the most successful consumer startups of the past ten years—is what makes this company really stand apart. Tidelift nicely straddles our marketplace and distribution themes, while also serving software developers, which a number of our portfolio companies do, including SendGrid, Mapbox, mLab, Pantheon, and VictorOps.

Tidelift has the opportunity to do what companies like Red Hat, Cloudera, and Docker have done to professionalize individual open source projects, but for the hundreds of thousands of open source projects that don’t yet have a professional model.

We see Tidelift as a way to invest in the innovative potential of the entire open source community at once.

As the Tidelift team gets this flywheel going, and open source maintainers gain a new direct financial incentive to focus on the software they create, it will encourage even more people to start new open source projects or step up the innovation and dependability in the projects we already have. And the more smart people that start investing their time and energy open source, the more amazing and innovative startups that can be built on the software they create. That’s a great thing for investors like us, it’s a great thing for software as a whole, and it’s a great thing for the world that depends on the things they create.

Check out the Tidelift website to learn more about the Tidelift Subscription, see Tidelift’s post about this financing, and sign up for updates here.