Not in any way an official reply, just some thoughts of mine, in the tradition of "I’m sorry, I did not have time to keep it short):
- Note that the foundation we wanted to setup would be a bit like the Free-QT foundation. Purely protecting the future, not doing any day-to-day stuff like development. The idea would be that it owns the trademark and if Nextcloud GmbH would go bankrupt or get sold or something, the foundation could give another company the trademark. Basically just to avoid what happened to ownCloud.
- It’s true that there is a gap for support for home users and small businesses that self-host. We’d love to help here, but we simply lack the capacity to do it and can’t afford to hire people for it - we’re not venture-capital-funded, remember, we have to earn what we spend, first. And it would barely be profitable. I can recommend you get support from https://www.hanssonit.se/ for example - he offers this. And if somebody else wants to do that - go ahead, we won’t stop you (just like we never stopped him). We’re actually aiming more and more for larger organizations as that’s where we can give the most benefit, so we absolutely don’t object to people providing support for home users or such!
- If you’d want to set up a foundation that does development, your biggest issue is going to be money - just setting it up and keeping it alive probably costs more than you’d get from donations, at least if I look at how much donations came in over bounty source over the years. And then doing actual development - good luck. Seriously, development is expensive. Just look at other open source projects like Krita - they are SUPER successful - and can pay, like, 1 or 2 full time developers and 1-2 interns. And again: that is SUPER successful and with everyone involved being OK with a very low salary. I see no reason to expect a Nextcloud foundation to get even 1% of what Krita is bringing in.
Oh and you don’t want to set up something “like the libreoffice foundation” - at least not until you’ve talked to some of the people involved. The sad truth is that it is terribly disfunctional, possibly doing more harm than good. Yeah, it doesn’t make me happy either, but that’s what I hear.
Now all that said, we’re absolutely aware there is more we can and should do for private users. That is why we do maintain things like SQLite support and simple sign-on - I’m sure you all realize that those things provide very little benefit to our customers In general, we could probably earn more money if we wouldn’t spend effort in keeping Nextcloud easy to install and run!
As was said above, our current approach is indeed to grow as quickly as we can so we gain the critical mass needed to really compete and be profitable. We’re quite successful, even though there’s still a long way to go, but the idea is that the bigger we get, the smaller (relatively speaking) the resources are we need to maintain Nextcloud - which means there is more room for doing ‘extra’ things. Like developing features our home users care for, for example.
It took our first 2 years to reliably break-even, and that was with working overtime by pretty much everyone on board. And with not exactly impressive salaries, either. Now we’re financially healthy and getting closer to normal, 40 hour work weeks, but we have to hire to keep the hundreds of new customers happy, support-wise. (If you’d be interested in a sales engineering role, shoot us a mail)So it still isn’t easy, even if it’s better than in our first years.
If (and that’s a big IF) we can keep our growth up, I think in about 2 years, we’ll really get to a point where we can do feature development for home users, on top of the enterprise features and support we need. But that is only if we can find significantly more customers - and big ones. And if they don’t decide they don’t need to bother paying us as they get all they need for free. Which is probably the biggest thing holding back our growth. I don’t want to complain too much - we decided to be a 100% open source company, and that comes with lots of potential customers not bothering to contribute anything. But it is important to understand that if, say, 30% of the companies >1000 employees that use Nextcloud for free would start to pay, we’d have an easy time developing all the cool stuff you lot would love to see. And more. So this isn’t irrelevant.
Another thing to keep in mind - we started this entire thing to help people regain their privacy. Companies have no right to privacy - making them happy isn’t what MOTIVATES is, it’s just what pays the bills. So we want to get to this point of being able to build a better Nextcloud for you all, really.
Maybe the way we do it isn’t the best way, maybe it is. We obviously think about this all the time and we think we are going about it the best possible way, but feedback is always welcome - though, best delivered at a conference or something, it’s hard to discuss these things on a forum
Please, continue your conversation - I don’t think we block community pull requests and I wouldn’t want us to block conversations from users who genuinely want to help Nextcloud be better.
I appreciate you care! And the work you do - helping fellow users, advocating for Nextcloud, it is motivating for us and it helps us do better, too. You all matter, a lot.
Have a good weekend and stay tuned for Tuesday!