Monetization via Sell the Project

AKA: Acquisition

Selling the whole or parts of the project to an interested party (e.g., big company that is using it). Can become complicated if many maintainers and contributors have rights to part of the OSS. Might require an “earn-out” period where the old owners transfer knowledge to the new owner (e.g., as an always available contact person or via pair-programming sessions).


Variants & Options:



Characteristics Value Note
Effort to set-up Weeks Contract setup; Finding a buyer might take long.
Effort to maintain N/A One-time sale; Multiple sales for parts possible
Cost to set-up Low Might get higher if bullet-proof contracts are needed
Cost to maintain None  
One-time Income Medium One-time sale with a price that heavily depends on OSS
Recurring Income Low Might be possible if parts can easily be developed & sold
Income Predictability None Unstable even if parts are sold over time
Full income Threshold N/A Valuation very volatile (and depends on revenue distribution)
Recipient I or C  
Additional Work Low Maybe extra work to transfer knowledge to buyer
Visibility None Probably buyer must approach maintainers
Necessity to pay Low Might be neccessary to block competition
Entry Threshold High Clarification of copyrights; Knowledge of Tech, etc.
Countervalue Rights Right to the OSS or a part thereof
Scalability None One-time sale; Multiple sales for parts possible
Effort for marketing High Finding buyers is difficult but if many users exist might be easier
Competitors None No other party could sell the project - but forking might be a problem
Software types All  

NOTE: Due to the nature of open-source a company could fork and build it’s own version without paying the old maintainers. While the license for the old code would stay, the changes and extentions made by the company would become closed-source.