From Open Source maintainer to Founder / CEO

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From Open Source maintainer to Founder / CEO


I recently posted about my plans to take a “year off” to work full time on open source. The TL and DR of it was that I would live on savings while working on Rich and Textual, both of which where generating a bit of buzz in the Python community.

Additionally, I would work on a cloud service using both those projects which at some point would become a business.

Now this was a good plan. The money from GitHub sponsors which I had previously been donating to charity would take the sting out of not having an income for a while. While far from a salary (where I live), at around $1000 a month it would help pay a few bills.

However, even with sponsorship money a year off was a risky proposition. There’s a lot to do with Textual to make as awesome as I believe it could be. Was a year enough time to build that and the cloud service along side it? Worse case scenario at the end of the year I would have a half-finished cloud service and have burned through a chunk of my retirement fund.

I have far more confidence in that vision now that I have raised seed funding. Predicated on that cloud service, I have enough funding to hire a few developers to work on it with me. Last month I was an unemployed code monkey, today I am a Founder / CEO of Textualize. Go figure.

I am delighted with this situation because it allows me to fund both Rich and Textual for the foreseeable future, and have more than one developer working on them. The cloud service, while making use of both of these libraries, remains distinct from the FOSS code. Nothing about Rich and Textual will ever stray from their roots as open source projects. And when the cloud service is up and running there will be a tier for open source projects, if you want to use it.

I’m super grateful to those who have chosen to support Rich and Textual via GitHub sponsors, and for the ko-fis. But since I now have a salary that allows me to work on open source, I can’t in good conscience continue to accept donations — so I’ll be winding that down. I like the sponsorship model, and I’ll be doing some sponsoring of my own in the future. I’d like to encourage anyone to help fund open source, particularly if you are a business that uses that code.

I’ve been deliberately coy about the cloud service. I will be posting about that soon, but for now its in stealth mode. If you want to hear about that first, be sure to sign up for the mailing list on textualize.io.

My main focus will be Textual in the short to medium term, which I am more than happy to talk about. I want to see what applications can be built in the terminal if the tools are there to make it easy to iterate on the design. To help me achieve that, Darren Burns will be joining me as the first employee of Textualize. Darren is the developer of Ward, an innovative Python testing framework. I’m really looking forward to working with him in January.

It’s been beneficial for me on several levels to “work in the the open” with Rich and Textual. The feedback I receive from posting code, screenshots, and videos of progress has been invaluable. I intend to continue doing that in my new role. I’ll also intend to post about my experiences running a startup.

Follow @willmcgugan for regular development updates. Also follow @textualizeio for official announcements.





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