How to work full time as an open source maintainer and get a Google employee level salary

Mr. Philippe Valsoda, who left his job at Google and continues to live as an open source software maintainer, explained how he became independent and how he earns income.

I'm Now a Full-Time Professional Open Source Maintainer

Mr. Valsoda worked in encryption and security-related jobs at Cloudflare and Google, but in May 2022 he became independent and switched to maintaining open source software. Since around September of the same year, he has been involved in various open source projects such as Go cryptography , age , and yubikey-agent , and as of February 2023, he is working with six companies. Mr. Valsoda spends most of his time on maintenance, is involved in projects using the expertise he has built up, and has grown to receive the same rewards as when he was at Google.

Mr. Valsoda says that he does not sell the time to support others or the deliverables of difficult projects, but he provides the following three values by being involved in the project himself.

1: You can reduce the business risk that a project that a specific customer depends on will not be maintained, affecting security and development speed.
2: Establish channels of mutual access, ensuring better results for both customers and projects.
3: The highest-level contract allows companies to be advised on any topic Valsoda specializes in, beyond the strict scope of open source projects.

Mr. Valsoda appeals that providing the above three types of value will benefit the company. Also, as you can see from the ``highest level contract'' in the third above, Mr. Valsoda seems to divide his contract level into several stages.

Mr. Valsoda has only a continuous employment contract, not an hourly contract or a pay-for-performance type with a specific function as a deliverable. There are three tiers of agreements: Silver, Gold and Platinum, with Gold including initial and quarterly face-to-face meetings and Platinum including advisory services beyond open source projects as described above.

It is said that it takes the form of sending a proposal to any company first, selling it to the person in charge and decision maker for several weeks, closing the deal, and sending monthly invoices for payment. The contract remuneration for each rank is about several million yen per year, which is much cheaper than a full-time employee, but when totaled, it seems that you can earn at the same level as other software engineers.

``Despite the work that impacts the Internet, and thus the economy as a whole, virtually all open source maintainers are either volunteers or full-time employees of large companies,'' Valsoda said. 'A few projects are raising money by selling support contracts or getting sponsorships on a feature-by-feature basis. But these are clearly not sustainable.' The reason is that volunteers are more susceptible to changes in their living environment, and full-time corporate employment does not scale up over time.

``What I'm doing is different and more sustainable,'' said Valsoda. I hope that in the long term it will become known as a professional path.'

in Posted by log1p_kr