The open source movement is important and your company really should be part of it. This is true for altruistic concerns, as well as business reasons. There are two primary ways you can contribute to open source — by contributing to existing open source project and by open sourcing some of your own code. Both are worthwhile. The more versatile and significant your contribution is, the more the benefits are compounded. Another avenue more suitable to larger companies is funding open source projects and the associated developers. Here are the top ten reasons why your company should embrace open source.
1. You will earn a reputation as an innovative and open company.
These days, some level of involvement in open source development is pretty much a requirement for a company to be considered relevant. Large organizations such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, have all open-sourced very significant projects and code bases. Think React.js, Bootstrap and the entire .NET framework. Your company will earn respect and be able to demonstrate progress instead of just talking about it until the release of your final product.
2. You will be able to hire the best engineers.
The best engineers love open source. The personal benefits from contributing to open source are immense and if your company contributes to open source projects, especially high-profile ones, that can be a major drawing point for gifted engineers. Coding is their passion and what they do after work. It is a tremendous boon for a great engineer to be able to contribute to open source projects in order to achieve personal credit and feel the direct impact of the work — even if working for a huge corporation.
3. You will get more out of your best engineers.
The best engineers are passionate about their craft and when they (eventually) go home they often continue coding at night and on weekends and contribute to open source initiatives. By participating in the open source community, you may give them an outlet for their passion to work on open source projects relevant to your business.
4. Your engineer's morale and pride will skyrocket.
Your engineers will be proud and be able to talk about the open source aspects of their work freely with peers. They will feel that they contribute directly to the greater good.
5. Other people will help you for free.
Other people will contribute to your open source projects. Some of them will just try them and give you feedback, some will contribute small fixes to documentation and some will actually fix bugs or even suggest and implement whole new features.
6. You will be able to influence the direction of the projects to which you contribute.
You can, of course, just use open source code without contributing. But when you contribute significantly, your voice will be heard when discussing new directions or you may just directly go ahead and add the feature that you need.
7. You will have able to forge partnerships with other open source companies.
Open source provides a communication channel and builds trust between companies. You can even develop your endeavor together as an open source project, which introduces a very streamlined way of cooperation and communication between developers from multiple organizations.
8. You will be able to use open source more efficiently.
There is a wealth of very high-quality open source code out there. Many organizations don't take full advantage of it because they are not part of it. They don't have the proper source control systems and policies, their development life cycle doesn't work well with dependencies on external projects and they worry about violating licenses. By contributing to open source initiatives, your organization will be comfortable with the ecosystem and will be able to utilize other open source projects to which you don't even contribute.
9. You will save a lot on training and documentation.
If you develop significant parts of your code base as open source projects and those projects are popular, then new employees may already be familiar — and even experienced — with your technology. This is great because you save time and new employees can be productive very quickly.
10. You will not be criticized by open source advocates.
You will avoid criticism and suspicion by being open and showing the world what you do. Of course you don't have to open source everything. If you have a special sauce, by all means keep it. You will still be considered as part of the open source community if you simply contribute in a significant way in another area.