Open source startup Tidelift today announced a $15 millionSeries A investment led by General Catalyst, Foundry Group, and former Red Hat Chairman and CEO Matthew Szulik. With the funding, Larry Bohn, managing director at General Catalyst; Ryan McIntyre, co-founder and managing director at Foundry Group; and Matthew Szulik have all joined the Tidelift Board of Directors.
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. A recent Tidelift survey found that open source code is used in more than 90 percent of commercial software projects, and 83 percent of commercial users are willing to pay for professionally-maintained open source components.
"Open source is amazing, but there is an opportunity to make it even better," said Tidelift CEO Donald Fischer. "With Tidelift, development teams get dependable open source software for a reasonable price, while open source maintainers make good money doing work they love."
Tidelift's co-founders—Donald Fischer, Havoc Pennington, Jeremy Katz, and Luis Villa—together have more than seven decades of experience working with such technology and open source leaders as Red Hat, Google, Mozilla, HubSpot, and the Wikimedia Foundation.
A Professional Approach for the Rest of Open Source
While professional models do exist for some large open source projects like Linux, Cloudera, and Docker, the vast majority of the tens of thousands of open source components incorporated into commercial applications lack any form of commercial support. Meanwhile, many open source maintainers create projects that attract millions of developers—yet are not directly compensated for their work. This often limits their ability to invest time into innovating and ensuring their projects are well maintained.
Tidelift addresses the needs of both professional development teams and open source maintainers through the Tidelift Subscription, a new way to purchase professionally-supported open source software, with commercial-grade security, licensing, and maintenance provided directly by the people who created it. The Tidelift Subscription already supports an array of popular open source technologies, with more coverage being added continuously.
"When we first built a software subscription model for Linux at Red Hat almost 20 years ago, people thought we were crazy," said Matthew Szulik. "Today the subscription model is the de facto standard for buying and consuming software. Tidelift has the opportunity to lead us into a new model, covering the rest of open source and lifting everyone—those who use software, those who make it, and the world that benefits from their efforts."
Tidelift's open source project Libraries.io—the world's largest public source of open source information—provides the data powering the Tidelift Subscription. It tracks more than 2.6 million open source packages, helping users discover projects, build applications, and understand relationships between dependencies.
"Open source powers the world. Yet today, very few projects have the fundamentally necessary commercial-grade support. We've backed the Tidelift team from the start for two reasons: their over-the-horizon vision for professionalizing open source and their solid plan to bring that vital element to market," said Larry Bohn.
"Tidelift has designed a unique 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," said Ryan McIntyre. "Foundry Group invested in Tidelift because we saw a veteran team obsessed with the problem domain, a large market with unfulfilled demand, and the opportunity to invest in the innovative potential of the entire open source community at once."
Tidelift makes open source work better—for everyone. Through the Tidelift Subscription, we professionalize open source software, giving software development teams a single source for purchasing and maintaining their software, with professional support and maintenance from the experts who know it best.
Tidelift gives open source maintainers and project teams a platform and market for building highly profitable businesses around their projects. Tidelift provides the tools and audience necessary for them to deliver a professional and financially viable software experience.
Tidelift is making the space for open source to thrive, so we can create even more incredible software, even faster. For more: tidelift.com
About General Catalyst
General Catalyst is a venture capital firm that makes early-stage and transformational investments. We back fearless entrepreneurs who are building market-leading technology companies like Airbnb, BigCommerce, ClassPass, Datalogix, Datto, Demandware, Gusto, The Honest Company, HubSpot, KAYAK, Oscar, Snap, Stripe, and Warby Parker. With offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York Cityand Boston, our portfolio companies benefit from a bicoastal network of talent, customers, and opportunity. For more: www.generalcatalyst.com.
About Foundry Group
Foundry Group is a venture capital firm focused on investing in early-stage information technology, Internet, and software startups. In addition to providing the necessary venture capital to get a company up and running, Foundry Group is committed to leveraging their experience in starting and growing companies, expertise in the technology industry, and network of relationships to help great entrepreneurs turn great ideas into great companies. Foundry Group is based in Boulder, Colorado and invests in companies located across the United States. For more: www.foundrygroup.com.
About Matthew Szulik
Matthew Szulik is the former Chairman and CEO of Red Hat, where he grew the 40-person open source startup into a 3000-person, publicly traded technology giant. Prior to Red Hat, Matthew led technology companies including Interleaf and MapInfo for more than 20 years. He became the national winner for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2008. Over his career, Szulik has been recognized by CIO Magazine with its 20/20 Vision Award, named Technologist of the Decade by Computer Review, and was inducted into the World Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.