Ok. You try to frame things as if I need to offer an alternative to your current approach, but all I’m saying is that you should stick to what Nextcloud told us was the business model – working with the community to create fully open software without restrictions, and selling professional support, SLAs, and consultancy to large enterprises. I don’t need to propose a new idea – I was quite happy with that one! Originally, it was specifically stated that the target customers were very large enterprises into the thousands of users, not small organisations. This idea that any installation with needs beyond the size of a family unit must be a business that should pay up (and the attitude towards them) is something that’s crept in over time, and I think it’s detrimental to the project.
If you were looking for ways to monetize smaller organisations, I think you made a mistake by not offering your own hosted service. I realise that this might seem counter to the idea of a private cloud, but I don’t really think that makes much sense. In the end, if people trust you to create the software that protects their privacy, they might as well trust you to provide a private hosting service, too. By using third-party hosts we have to trust two parties instead of just one. And, crucially, anyone that chooses not to exercise that trust still has the option of running their own server. To my mind, that is a very acceptable offer from the company to the community – you are free to expend your own resources on supporting your own installation, but we can offer good value on running it for you. I think that really is a win-win, with no need for shenanigans.
In terms of you trying to grow the company to the point where it can single-handedly take on Microsoft, I’m certainly not harbouring that delusion, and I hope you’re not either. But the logic that whatever action is good for the company’s profits is therefore good for the open source project is clearly flawed. One doesn’t have to look very far around the open source landscape to see that. That’s what Owncloud was (allegedly) doing, and then it got forked…
The strategy that might actually make a difference (and the one many of us bought into), is to build up a healthy open source community that works together towards the stated goals, by keeping the needs of the community and the company in balance. I think very few people are going to be interested in contributing to Talk, when clearly the real action is in the HPB. Going down this road of embracing open core functionality, and trying to extract from smaller organisations, is very short-sighted - what you are actually doing is limiting yourself to being a relatively small player. IMO, this is not the way to build the sort of community project that attracts such wide buy-in that it disrupts the industry (and they do exist). I also think that the attitude you’ve taken recently will actually work to limit the potential of Nextcloud in that larger sense, even if your balance sheet has seen a boost.
I’m not suggesting that you rewrite the HPB and OnlyOffice, which is clearly infeasible. The limitations of both Talk and OO for community users have recently both been sharply highlighted. Resources spent on Talk and OnlyOffice could have been spent on integrating Jitsi and Libreoffice Online (which impose no proprietary restrictions) and helping to improve those projects. In terms of suggesting positive ideas, that would be one of them.
In the case of Talk, we must bear in mind that Nextcloud, Spreed, and Struktur AG cannot really be thought of as separate entities. If Struktur/Nextcloud really wanted to stay fully open, they have the option of open-sourcing the HPB tomorrow – no rewriting required. I doubt that’s going to happen though, because it’s all about selling the proprietary product.
In terms of what I’m saying not having any positive purpose or proposed solutions, that’s entirely wrong. I’m saying that there has been a clear change of direction and attitude in recent times, which I think are mistakes for the project, and I would like to see the course corrected to bring the needs of the company and community back into better balance. In particular, this attitude of suspicion and derision towards anyone with needs beyond those of a small household needs to stop.