Dear developers, dear community members,
sorry for popping into this discussion so late!
Regarding any thought of gaining commercial revenue out of collabtive, i hope the last word has not been spoken yet.
Since i came to like the open source idea more and more i think there always should be a free available and up-to-date self-hosting release of collabtive if you want to pushing it any further, if not keeping it alive. On the other hand i understand the 'monetary' demands of contributing developers very well. At a first glance I see this as a sort of dilemma, where something has to be combined which does not fit together at all.
I actualy see many possibilities, very few but at least some of them can combine both the commercial and the "free" world at the same time:
1) open core, optional commercial add ons - the evolutionary approach
I pretty much like the idea of having a free and up to date open source version with basic functions. As soon as it comes to individual add ons it's time for some money making. I think of small to medium companies with individual demands for organizing their workflow. Also, if i use collabtive for commercial purpose i should be ready to invest some money in its development.
There should be clarity about the question whether these sponsered add ons should be available to the community. I think generally yes because if you want things to keep alive, you have to constantly change it. It is very likely that new and freely available features could inspire others to extend them or even develop additional improvements.
There even could be some sort of top 10 with most demanded features and a time/cost estimation accordingly. People could then join together and rise funds for them. Also, if there is a new sponsored module, the community can decide if it is worth for an extension of the open source core or not.
Actualy i see recent efforts for developing a plugin system as a perfect basis for such a combined strategy: The core software is Open source, add ons / mods / extensions / skins can be commercial. Pretty much like extensions for Thunderbird.
With this i regard some sort of unique speciality or strength in terms of a certain feature, usage system or whatever as a crucial criterion for the success and sustainability of collabtive. Lets call it a vision, where all development of collative shall lead to. I suggest keywords like "simplicity", "flexibility", "usability", "collaborative", "interactive", "workflow-oriented", "democratic" for defining such a vision.
I'm very aware that there are lots of different workflows and methods of 'getting things done', not to mention the permanently changing traditions of how people organize themselves in a team. All that should constantly inspire the development of any tool which claims to be useful in these things.
Any sort of commercial service for addons must be very visible to possible sponsors. If you precisely know the workflow of highly specalized companys, you can provide ideas for helpful and supportive tools. I think that especially companys with a focus on media production like film/TV/postproduction houses or advertising agencies are a valuable target group, since they work highly collaborative and team based. Well, actualy i am talking about myself here...
2) commercial and open source version - a collaborative approach
To keep it short: A commercial stable version with included support, documentation, installation, hosting etc and modular pricing on the one hand, a free open source version as playground for new ideas on the other. Each of them provide advantages for different purposes and users, each of them helps the counter part to evolve and survive. Companys are asked to use the commercial version. Students, indviduals, public institutions and very little enterprises are welcome to use the open source version. Similar strategies can be found with many other open source projects.
3) commercial open source - the capitalistic approach
Everybody who is contributing to the project becomes a valuable part of it. Why should not she/he participate in possible revenues? Basicaly i am talking about a real commercial open source project: The actual software is commercial, maybe in combination with a free version for students, public institutions and so on. Everybody can take part in the project an become a contributing member. The software is completely free in this case.
People who register themselves as contributors are regarded as share holder and get revenue of the commercial distribution according to their actual contribution.
The project is lead by all members like in a regular open source project, but all revenues are collected in a friendly society. The work of the community members will be paid by this money, the rest -if there is any- can be invested in PR or other open source projects.
Thats it for the moment, i hope some of you find anything usefull in here.
Design / VFX / Postproduction