At tea we've recognized that open-source software maintainers and contributors often aren't adequately rewarded for their efforts in creating and maintaining open-source software. This lack of incentives has lead to poorly maintained, vulnerable, or low-quality software. With this issue in mind, our goal is to develop a protocol that enhances the sustainability and integrity of the software supply chain by allowing open-source developers to capture the value they create.
The Internet is built on open-source projects, developed by global developer communities whose codebases are freely available. Over the past 80 years, open-source software has shifted from a niche hobby to the foundation of all innovation. However, these developers receive no tangible rewards for their significant contributions.
For example, Max Howell created Homebrew (“Brew”) in 2009 – one of the fastest growing and most used open-source projects of all time. Brew achieved similar scale and reach as other notable open-source projects such as Java, Python and Linux. Despite the success and widespread adoption of Homebrew, Max could only afford to maintain the OS project as a “hobby” while working as a developer at Apple to pay the bills. Max’s story is common amongst OS developers.
Enterprise software, a multi-billion dollar industry, is built on this open-source foundation, yet the developers maintaining this base see little value in return. Despite vast enterprise fortunes made, open-source software remains a public utility with no effective means for developers to capture the value they create.
Why is this a problem worth solving? Why Now?
Since the inception of the idea of open-source software, developers have maintained these projects thanklessly and with little to no reward or recognition from dependents, including enterprises who rely on the open-source public utility to continue to build the products we rely on every day.
The absence of adequate incentives has resulted in diminished morale, burnout, and, in extreme cases, the outright abandonment of projects. As this trend persists, there is a growing risk of a potential collapse within the open-source community, jeopardizing the core infrastructure that our daily lives rely upon. To safeguard the sustainability and ongoing expansion of the open-source software ecosystem, it is crucial to recognize and reward the contributions of open-source developers.
tea’s decentralized protocol aims to improve the sustainability and integrity of open-source software. It allows developers to benefit from their work in a trustless way, thanks to an impact metric, reputation and incentives. We believe that good rewards for open-source work can't happen unless there's an independent and autonomous system for recognizing impact and a way for community members to share their discoveries and constructive opinions on a project or a developer's work.