A business model for Symfony
I’ve been working on Symfony for the last 14 years! Next year will be “year 15” for me. That’s huge. I’m very grateful for the whole experience, and I would never have dreamed of such a ride. I want more! Symfony popularity is still growing after all the years. Adoption is rising. Numbers are staggering. More than 2 billion downloads for the Symfony components. Dozens of major PHP projects using Symfony as their foundation. Thousands of people coming to Symfony conferences. Along the years, we have built an amazing community. Together. From the core team to the processes that make the project tick. I’m very proud of what we have achieved together so far. I like code, but code is nothing without a vibrant community. I’ve tried to build a great community. And you have helped me along the way. Thank you!
All of this would never have been possible without the help of my other baby, SensioLabs. SensioLabs has been supporting the project from day one. Paying for my salary and paying for the salary of some other core contributors (it was François years ago, and Nicolas, Javier and others nowadays). Paying for the infrastructure (the symfony.com website, the subtree split project, ...). Financing the very first Symfony conferences. Sponsoring some meet-ups. Evangelizing the world! SensioLabs is willing to pay people to work on Symfony because it makes sense. It allowed SensioLabs to find new customers and to explore new paths. And today, the symbiosis is as strong as ever between the SensioLabs company and the Symfony project.
But I wanted something different for 2018. Something even more exciting for the project. A new challenge. So, I took a bold decision. Getting to the next step. Finding a sustainable business model for Symfony. It might come as a surprise to some readers, but nobody can work full-time for free for so many years. Some Open-Source projects can be dealt as hobby projects. Twig could be one of them. But not Symfony. Hundred of thousands of users. A crazy daily activity to follow. So many projects depending on it. Most successful Open-Source projects have a business model anyway.
As of January 2018 (yes, 11 months ago), I incorporated Symfony. Symfony SAS is now managing the Symfony project as an independent company. Grégory Pascal, my partner since the beginning and myself are the main shareholders. I’m also the one who leads the future direction of this new venture. But I’m not alone. All the people who worked full-time on Symfony at SensioLabs followed me. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work with wonderful people. Anne-Sophie and Emilie working hard at organizing conferences (9 official ones in 2019). Great developers like Nicolas, Tugdual or Titouan. Amazing evangelists like Javier. These people work 100% of their time on Symfony and now for Symfony, the company.
Currently, Symfony revenue mainly comes from SymfonyInsight. SymfonyInsight is focused on providing the best recommendations for Symfony projects and we are working on some amazing features that will be available next year. Can’t wait to share the news with you. Conferences and certification are two other paid products from the Symfony company, but they do not contribute to the bottom line.
We need to figure out Symfony’s business model. Finding our own way. Something that can scale with the Open-Source project. Good news is that we have time. When Symfony was split from SensioLabs a year ago, we were careful and we provided Symfony with enough financing for at least 3 years. And SensioLabs is still sponsoring the project heavily and is committed to do so for years to come.
Before talking about the future, let’s make something very clear upfront. We will never create a paid version of Symfony. That’s out of the equation. Symfony core is and will stay free. Forever. Makes sense right? What else then? At the beginning of the year, we introduced the Symfony Security Monitoring tool. A simple but powerful tool. It’s a great way to be alerted whenever a new security issue affects one of your projects (even if you are not working actively on it anymore). Best thing is that you are choosing the price you want to pay. Like a donation, but with getting something valuable in return.
The Cloud. We have been thinking about the best products for Symfony. We brainstormed a lot. And we came to the conclusion that we wanted a product that would help Symfony developers. Giving them a great experience when working on Symfony. From day one. From starting a new project to deploying it on production for the first time. Projects are getting more complex. They have more dependencies. Modern projects needs a build pipeline (Encore), some way to send messages (Symfony Messenger), and more. SymfonyCloud is our take on it. A unified experience between code and infrastructure. Coupled with the Symfony CLI, we provide everything you need to work on Symfony projects.
My plan is to make Symfony self-sustainable. I think we are on the right path. The future is really exciting! Talk to you soon on Github or Slack or let’s meet at the next Symfony conference.
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