Episode 57 – Tokenizing the FOSS Package Ecosystem, with Max Howell, Founder of Tea.xyz


Max’s blog post on our announcement day is a great summary of our mission, he touches on how difficult it was making homebrew without compensation and how we’re setting out to fix “the Nebraska Problem”: Something new is brewing

This link has a good summary of our white paper, and a link to the paper itself: Tea Releases Whitepaper Outlining Decentralized Protocol for Rewarding Open-Source Developers

Here is my favorite interview Max has done (so far!), a “Dev & Tell” with the Developer DAO community.

Michael Schwartz: Hello, and welcome to Open Source Underdogs! I’m your host, Mike Schwartz and this is episode 57, an interview with Max Howell of Tea.xyz. Max is the third Web3 guest – see episode 37 and 56 for the other two.

He has some notoriety as the founder of the Brew repository. That’s relevant here because Tea is a next generation Web3 package repository toolkit that developers can use to build properly incentivized open-source ecosystems. It’s a wildly disruptive vision of how we can make open-source software more equitable, more secure, and more innovative.

Tea’s published a white paper about how they intend to build a new layer one blockchain, but Tea’s also a well-funded startup that’s making a two-year roadmap to make all this Web3 tokenized repository ecosystem stuff a reality. If you’re like me, some of this blockchain jargon may go over your head. For example, what’s the difference between Proof of Work and Proof of Stake? What’s a DAO? What are Cosmos and Polkadot? My advice is, just go along with the jargon, hit pause, and do some Googling in the background.

Web 3

With that said, without further ado, let’s cut over to the interview with Max. Big welcome to Max Howell, CEO of Tea Inc. and renowned founder of Homebrew, the ubiquitous package manager for macOS. Max, welcome to the podcast.

Max Howell: Thanks for having me here.

Michael Schwartz: You mentioned in a previous podcast that you were into computer science major as an undergraduate, maybe before we dive into Web 3, and all the business model stuff, you could tell us a little bit about how you ended up in the tech business and open source.

Max Howell: Sure thing. So, I have a chemistry degree. It’s a British masters, which means it’s four years and not as prestigious as the US masters. That came from thinking I wanted to do science. I think I was undue influenced by all the ‘80s movies, where scientists were changing the world and saving the world and being cool in general.

And I did a year in chemistry in the lab. And it was like, three months, and I was like, “I can’t do this.” It was boring. I stuck it out for another nine months. And then I quit. I was like, “I got to figure out something else to do myself.” And programming had always been a hobby, but dad had introduced it to me when I was six. And I’d done a bunch of programming here and there as a hobby yeast, and never considered it for a career.

Partly because when I went to the career fair, as a 17-year-old, and I met some programmers there, they were just like the geekiest people I’d ever met. And I was like, “Oh my God, I don’t want to be like that!”

But I fell back into it, after quitting the job and moving back in with my parents and not really knowing what to do. Obviously, I was like in this depressed funk. And then I found open source, I installed Linux. And I found the communities that are out there for open source, and this was back in like 2003/2004, and fell in love with it basically. I started making apps, go involved with a bunch of apps on desktop Linux, worked for KDE, contributed bunch to KDE.

And then, that got me a career in the industry. I found this job in London, they contacted me because of the work I’ve been doing on this music player called Amarok. And that got me into it.

What is Web3?

Michael Schwartz: So, one more warm-up question. What’s your definition of Web3? For example, like, what features distinguish a Web2 piece of software from a Web3 piece of software?

Max Howell: Web3 is just the natural evolution of how the Internet has gone. And I think Web2 especially – we lost the web, right? If we go back to where the web came from, where the Internet came from, and what it was about, it’s all open source at the beginning. Everything about how it was developed, was decentralized, and not monetized, and for the benefit of everybody by putting information out there and making open API’s and programmable interfaces and small tools that could interact with each other and create a network for humanity.

And Web3 really, for me, is just an acknowledgement that we lost our way with Web2. And then we centralized everything. And we gave too many big companies too much power and control over how it’s built. Even open source, and like maybe even especially open source.

So, I don’t like the way open source is now mostly developed by companies. All the big projects, they purchase, well, they hire – we don’t want to say purchase – they hire the developers who work on these important projects. And then, that company then like controls it essentially.

I believe that they don’t intend to do malicious things with these projects. But like, at the end of the day, I don’t trust Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. It’s who build this essential infrastructure that makes the Internet work.

So, I love the fact that Web3 is also returning to some sort of roots movement with open source, where people are building themselves, and like, tokenization is part of the reason that that’s possible. You don’t need a company to support you.

What Makes a Web3 App?

Mike Schwartz: You know, Tim Berners-Lee recently said something like, “My decentralized web doesn’t need blockchain. And because the Internet was already pretty decentralized, and maybe even still is with, like, a billion domains and millions of autonomous web servers.

I get the ethos and the aspiration of Web3 that you’re expressing. But is there a technology underpinnings or infrastructure that’s available in Web3 that wasn’t in Web 2? What makes Web3 app?

Max Howell: We’re developers and engineers, and we love to, like, define things precisely. But, you know, I don’t think these things can be defined that precisely. Tim Berners – Lee, probably his internet still is as decentralized as it was initially, because he’s probably still using all these Web1 tools, and hasn’t really migrated. I doubt he has a Facebook account or anything like that. But for the vast majority of us, we’re using these highly centralized chunks of the Internet that have massive sandboxes around them. And that’s what we need to be working on to get rid of.

You know, blockchain is a part of Web3, because that was the ingenious invention that allowed us to understand that we can make databases that are decentralized, where we were struggling to do that. And a lot of people still don’t think it’s that important. But, you know, the recent crypto crash, it was pretty impressive how DeFi stood up while all these centralized systems collapsed.

So, for me, that means that you don’t even need to prove that Web3 is the way forwards, it’s just going to prove itself, as Web2 continues to have issues with centralization.

What is the Monetizing Strategy?

Michael Schwartz: Before we go down the blockchain rabbit hall at a high level, Tea Inc. is a for-profit company. What is the basic plan for Tea to monetize? Is it going to be a strategy similar to other Web3 startups?

Max Howell: Yeah, so, we’re a well-funded startup. And we’re currently raising a little more. Like, our intention is to give ourselves like two, three years of runway, so that we can build a kick-ass suite of products, which also allow for the open-source ecosystem to be remunerated.

But after that, essentially, we see the package manager component of what we’re offering as a form of an app store. And we see ways that we can, like monetize — it sounds terrible to say we’re monetizing open source, and that isn’t what we’re doing.

Like, we’re not changing the nature of open source at Tea. It’s important that we emphasize that fact. You can’t change something that’s so established 25, 30 years, even more, that it’s existed like 100% free, and everything about what we’re doing is still free. And our remuneration system, which we’ll talk about later, with no doubt, understands that. And that’s a key part of it.

So, any monetization we apply on top of that will be an opt-in kind of way of doing things, where we allow like teams and enterprises and businesses that are using the Tea product suite to gain extra value out of the fact that they’re a business, and that they need systems that help the dev employees to work more effectively. So, we have a number of ideas there, but they’re under wraps currently still.

Why Tea Blockchain v. DAO?

Michael Schwartz: Why a Tea Blockchain and not a Tea DAO? Or, is there also a DAO?

Max Howell: Yeah, there will also be a DAO, we need some kind of blockchain to record the data. Essentially, we’re putting out the package registry. And I say the because, currently, there’s 400 different package managers out there. The vast majority of them are duplicating the same data time and again.

The history of the Internet, and open-source and software technologies, it is full of examples, where like people cobbled together systems, because it is just about works for now. And then eventually, someone figures out how to make it more cohesive, bring it all together, and then, like provided that solution is correct, it gets adopted. So, we’re trying to do that.

We’re making a decentralized blockchain based package registry. Everyone who maintains open source will be able to publish their releases into it, their own private keys, as a result deduplicate all of that, but also allow for the Tea remuneration system.

Can other projects use Tea as a template?

Michael Schwartz: The Tea protocol algorithmically defines the governance and payments in this package ecosystem. And it seems like that’s very scalable, and it’s sort of free of subjectivity. Do you think that other open-source projects, I guess, besides package managers, might define protocols that model value in their ecosystems, by using metrics different than what you used?

Max Howell: I expect so. For me, this is a great use of the technology. We’re going to start seeing more and more people and projects doing things like this. So, there was one — what’s it called – someone was trying to replace Steam, essentially, with a similar kind of model blockchain based licenses that you put in the chain for releases of your games, essentially.

And then, it’s just understanding that you put an NFT out there, and you direct token towards that NFT, based on who owns it, like people will shy away from making new layer ones. But I think that doesn’t really make sense. So, we have like great tools nowadays for building new layer ones. And essentially, just each one has its own like specific database.

I remember, when I worked in my last firm, this music startup in London, and we replaced the entire database with a completely custom model. Because it was impossible at the time with, like, the way computers were – at least then – since before, cloud infrastructure was awfully common, to get enough performance out of the type of data that was used there.

Having your own blockchain for your specific use case, you have to bridge the tokens in order for it to be generally useful to a lot of people. But we’re going to see more and more of that. And Tea, I think is a good example. And I’m hoping that it’s going to cause people who are skeptical about Web3 technologies, and blockchain especially, to reconsider that skepticism, when they see what we’re doing and how we have good intention.

You asked who our customers were. And for me, the people who are not paying us – the open-source ecosystem package maintainers, and package consumers who are not going to directly be paying us in any manner. Or even indirectly, in fact, based on how our model is going to work.

We believe in creating solutions that are going to improve the open-source ecosystem, because we’re all super passionate at Tea about open source. And ensuring that it thrives, thrives in a way that currently it’s remarkable to me that open source exists, and that it works.

Why use an NFT for package maintainers?

Michael Schwartz: In the Tea ecosystem, you mentioned that we have package maintainers, and we have package developers, we have end users, people installing packages, and we also have package testers. Those are sort of the roles or the actors within the ecosystem that I’ve sort of figured out. And based on your role, your GitHub usage may differ. You know, in this ecosystem, where you’ve defined these actors, how do you figure out how value is distributed between them?

Max Howell: Well, we’re still fleshing out the specifics, we’re doing a yellow paper right now on how, specifically, the value will be, what percentages of things. But as package maintainer, you release packages, like initially, you have a creator NFT that you put into our blockchain that indicates that there’s a new open-source package, and then each release has its own NFT.

And so, you put those out there, and you have to stake a little bit of value to say that you are supporting this package, and that you are guaranteeing the security of the package, and that you’re guaranteeing that the semantic versions of the package are correct. A lot of the things we’re going to try and do with this technology is not just remunerate open source, we also increase the robustness of the ecosystem.

Open source is messy right now, and things break all the time. And that’s partly because there’s no incentive really beyond what is best for the rest of the open-source ecosystem, and a moral imperative to do a good job. So, the maintainers are going to release those NFTs.

And we understand that a lot of projects involve more than one person. And we expect to either build ourselves a bunch of DAO tooling, so that each project can have its own DAO, which runs on top of the Tea token. Or for the open-source ecosystem to step up and do that, like everything we’re doing, we’re coming at it with the attitude that we have to build things that are flexible, and composable, so that the open-source ecosystem can build on top of what we’re building, so the maintainers do that.

And then, there’s Tea tasters. Tasters are going to be people who are — they’re staking against packages in the graph. For a start, we’re calling this steeping, where people are staking value against a package, several other packages, etc. And then, as a result, they’re also staking value against all of the dependencies of those packages.

So, if you stake against Log4j, for example, a good example that we use regularly, then all Log4j’s dependencies will be staked against effectively.

The key part of our system is that stake rewards that are done per epoch, probably 24 hours, are distributed to the packages that are staked, as well as the people staking. So, there’s an incentive for the stakers, like in a normal proof of stake type system.

DAO Voting?

Michael Schwartz: So, democratically, I think everyone appreciates that the package maintainers get a vote, but if an organization wants to financially contribute, is there a way for you to contribute to the governance?

Max Howell: So, we’re going to have a DAO which will have governance based on ownership of the token, or at least have some of these votes be strictly for patch maintainers rather than like other people with vested interests outside of that.

The DAO will be deciding on slashing events that we are intending to have to increase the security of the open-source ecosystem overall. So, if your package has a security exploit, then you can expect to be slashed.

If you violate semantic versioning, which can break the internet, then you can expect to get slashed. And the DAO is responsible for receiving the votes from those who are participating and creating a larger vote with the rest of the token holders.

Will OS vendors adopt Tea?

Michael Schwartz: Do you see operating system vendors adopting Tea?

Max Howell: I can see them suddenly transitioning to using our package graph instead of their own. That’s one of the things that I want the packaging ecosystem to do. This is duplicated data. Sometimes, it’s duplicated for good reason. But we can be like the original resource they use to figure out what versions of Tool-X and what dependencies Tool-X has, etc.

Now, the way I’m building Tea is very feasible for it to be the only package manager Linux distribution users. So, we’re packaging everything all the way down, not including Libc, everything up above that, but design this thing to be more of a developer tool than system operations tool or DevOps tool.

Now, it’s an exciting tool in that one of the things I’m doing with it is, much like Git was released as essentially a set of primitives that it made it possible to build a version control system. But especially when it was initially released, it was not a very good version control system. A part of the reason, it took a while to catch on because the user experience was bad, and certainly gotten better in the last five, six years, I’d say – we’re releasing a tool that’s essentially a set of primitives for packaging.

So, I’m hoping that just like with Homebrew, I built it to inspire people to get involved and to contribute and to be a part of it, I’m building Tea in exactly the same way. And I’m hoping that the open-source community is going to be super excited to use Tea’s primitives to build essentially entirely different tools on top of that.

So, one thing I’d like to see is for these Linux distributions is they still maintain their own package manager, because many times, it is like the package manager is what defines what is different about different varieties of Linux. So, I expect them to build essentially their own. But like Tea should be like the bottom 70% of, in much the way that open source has evolved over the last 30,40 years. So, people release these fundamental libraries and tools that change what is possible after that.

Then, they become like bricks in a tower essentially, where after that, everything is easier and simpler and faster to build. That’s what we all love about open source, I think, and why it must be free, and must be freely available, and must consist of an awful lot of tools, and make it as easy as possible to consume.

Metrics for Value

Michael Schwartz: In your package ecosystem, I didn’t see anything about documentation as an actor. How do you plan on handling that? Because I think that’s another one of areas in open source that needs attention.

Max Howell:  Most of what we have out there right now is just a few blog posts, tweets and a white paper. And the white paper really only discusses the protocol, the blockchain components. We deliberately haven’t gone into a lot of detail about the other parts. But what we’re building at Tea is a suite of products, which have a blockchain underpinning as the decentralized database for the package registry. And I’m a huge believer in documentation myself. This is limited what we can do for the open-source ecosystem. But we are going to have a way for projects to publish their documentation into the Tea platform in a much licensed form.

How to incent all project contributors?

Michael Schwartz: I’m wondering about these other contributors to building quality world-class software, is there any way for them to participate in the Tea ecosystem?

Max Howell: In the white paper, we define package maintainers as being known where the token is directed, or when the stake rewards come in. That is a vague term, probably not, at least initially, anyway, going to define it beyond that. So, it goes to one wallet. But we are going to encourage and expect projects to form a DAO and distribute that token with tooling that either we will write or the community will write.

That points it up to the project to decide how people are doing documentation, or outreach, or translations. Like, these are extremely important roles, worked on the number of large and small projects. And a lot of the time, the people who are just out there, fielding support, are the most important, and they deserve to get some of the rewards for sure. So, we’re encouraging, but we probably won’t initially, at least for version one, build out other tooling.

We shouldn’t be doing everything. It’s not the best way for things to go, there needs to be some competition in the space where people come along and say, “Okay, here’s some DAO tooling that is suitable for Tea.” And someone else will come along with something else. And then, we’ll see which ones gain popularity and which ones work.

How Tea will incentive other types of contributors, like technical writers?

Michael Schwartz: One of the interesting aspects of your design is that you are sort of gamifying reputation, where based upon your reputation, it almost impacts your level, which could impact how much you’re paid as for your contribution.

Can you give us some thoughts about what were some of the pros and cons of setting up that system? For example, I think you’re using GitHub stats as the basis for reputation, but can you just talk a little bit about how you came up with that idea? And what are your thoughts on the first iteration that you’re announcing?

Max Howell: The stake rewards will be given to projects based on who is steeping those projects. So, we’re outsourcing that kind of decision making to the community. There will be a curve to prevent projects getting too much, because there’s some that are more popular. We’ll be incentivizing people to steep projects that are less popular. And to avoid gamifying that, there’s slashing which can be submitted to the DAO for review, if people are publishing patches that are just fake.

And then, dependencies will get — they have this sort of in-built reputation for dependencies, because if you’re a dependency for other projects, then that’s proof in itself, that you have a successful project that deserves to get those steeping rewards. There is a reputation system for reports, for like security issues or other slashing events. And we’re still working out the details of that.

GitHub stats – that’s solely for an initial token trove, essentially. We want to make sure that the open-source community, those who actually are contributing to the open source that powers the internet, start off with a reasonable amount of tokens, so that they can be part of the Tea ecosystem, the amount will be in proportion, I should think – details not exactly worked out yet. But you have to have open source. And that’s what we’re doing with the GitHub OAuth.

Why use an NFT for package maintainers?

Michael Schwartz: I noticed that you’re using an NFT. An NFT is issued to a package maintainer I guess for a certain version – why did you use an NFT there?

Max Howell: Well, I think it’s a really good use of NFTs for a change. NFT’s got a bad rap – everything’s got a little bit of a bad rap in the sector, probably because there was a lot of…naughtiness, shall we say, going on with JPEG based on NFTs. And JPEG isn’t even part of the NFTs – it’s just a hash inside of it. NFT is just an immutable data point, and that’s what an open-source release needs to be – an immutable data point.

Once you’ve released a package, if you change it, you could be breaking like portions of the internet, or portions of people’s products, or like introducing security issues into portions of what is Web to Internet currently. It’s a logical use of the technology of what an NFT is.

Is the Protocol a Formalized Set of Smart Contracts?

Michael Schwartz: This might be displaying more of my ignorance about the blockchain level one stuff, but at the risk of that, would you say that the protocols provide a template for the smart contracts that you’re going to have in your ecosystem?

Max Howell: Well, I have a bunch of smart contracts that control staking and steep rewards, but either blockchain will be EVM compatible, or at least generally programmable in some manner. And we expect people to build on top of it to make open source into a viable career path for people.

Now, Emery talked about it, but I hope that once Tea is up and running, some of these extremely well-paid engineers at Facebook and Google net will quit to work on things that have actual benefit to humanity. Because they have ideas, they know about open source they could be building that actually benefits the world.

Blockchain Tooling?

Michael Schwartz: Okay, one more geeky question for you. You mentioned that it’s getting easier to build a level one blockchain. Can you talk about maybe some of the technology stack that you’re looking at to do that? Like, what are some of the tools that you’re considering?

Max Howell: We’re still figuring it out. But, like, all choices are becoming more and more clear, I think. So, like Cosmos is great. Everyone says great things about it. And you know, they provide the great tooling, so that you can build out what you need. Polkadot’s also great. And so, that’s an option for us. And we’re quite interested in Neo4j. So, they are the three main ones. I just like the way that they’ve understood that we are using same kind of bricks, when you’re building out these tools.

It is just easier to iterate when like 90% of the difficult bits are done. Like all of us who are engineers, who have tried to build something that is a library from scratch, just for fun, and you realized that there’s a lot of work that goes into that. That’s why open source is so valuable.

Like years of bug fixing, maturity, understanding like the nuances of things, that doesn’t matter how many meetings you have with a team, you don’t figure out until you actually build it. Blockchain has reached that level now, where you can’t just whip one up.

A lot of the people we’ve been talking to and a lot of our investors were like, “Don’t make your own layer one, it’s a nightmare, you’ll hate yourself!” It’s less and less the case. It’s still complicated. Launching a blockchain is a lot more complicated than a lot of things you can do in the cloud. Takes a lot more planning and resilience. And I’m glad that we have experienced people on staff who were going to help us with that.

Could Tea have used a DAO?

Michael Schwartz: And you don’t think that you could have done everything you need to do by just using a DAO that ran on top of an existing layer one?

Max Howell: Yeah, probably. We haven’t finally finished out what we’re going to do, we haven’t made any final decisions yet. So, it’s still possible that we’ll pick one of the existing layer ones. And, you know, we’re going to have a DAO whatever, you got to have your own DAO, you can’t just like take someone else’s. And that’s just a bunch of smart contracts anyway.

The truth is like, there’s a few pieces to what we’re doing that if we use our own system, it makes it possible for us to get the performance characteristics more correct. The dependency graph of all open source is to tend to 20,000 different projects with depending on what kind of layer out – like, if you’re in an NPM package, you can have like 5,000 – 6000 dependencies. Figuring out the reward distribution for that, performance implications are quite interesting.

And so, we want to have control over that. But, yeah, we can use this ZK roll-up and all that. And maybe we still will – maybe. There’s considerations we have that just make sense for us to consider our own.

I was saying it earlier, it’s like rolling your own database. Sometimes you have to do that. It’s more like just having your own instance of Postgres running. Like, if you take blockchain tech and just tweak it slightly, it’s only slight tweaks here. I think it makes sense for the technology.


Michael Schwartz: Do you think that there’s any advantage to have a non-profit entity, like a government or a charitable organization might say, “We really want to help pay open-source developers, we’re going to give this much money to it.” Do you think there’ll be any advantage to having maybe a non-profit entity that’s sort of attached to this?

Max Howell: Our DAO will be a non-profit entity. That’s why DAO’s are interesting. I wonder how they’re going to change over the next 10 years. Certainly it’s all so very nascent, but like the way you were describing it is like sponsorship bounties. Like Gitcoin, for example. And, you know, fundamentally, we don’t feel that sponsorship or bounties are functional for funding open source.

Open source is a bunch of people who have passion and need a steady income. They don’t want to have to wait for people to post bounties and then accept them, getting unsteady income in that respect, and sponsorship’s the same. And also, like sponsorship bounties really reward the top of the stack, projects that people really know about – Log4j was a great example of a project that nobody knew about, which everybody was using.

And Tea is by design, trying to fix the lower rungs, the Nebraska projects, like the XKCD comic that features the maintainer from Nebraska, who nobody knows is keeping the internet running.

Tidelift vs. TEA?

Michael Schwartz: You mentioned also that you are part of the Tidelift ecosystem, you’re a Tidelift developer, do you think in Tea.xyz, would that be better for you? Or would it be about the same?

Max Howell: Well, yeah, that’s the point. The project I get sponsored by Tidelift for is PromiseKit, which is this framework for iPhone that I developed about 2015, a few years after Homebrew. It was used by 100,000 apps. I’m not sure if that’s still the case, because Apple have released some fundamental technologies that make it, so you don’t need the Promise’s abstraction as much. But I haven’t checked in a while.

So, 100,000 apps, part of the motivation behind Tea was, for years, I’ve been saying, if every one of those apps pay me just $1 a year, then, that’s a good enough salary for me to not have to chase contracts, or join other companies and startups.

It’s not a great salary, but it’s a starting salary, where they can like make some other open source and maybe has 100,000 users, etc.

So, yeah, Tidelift gives me 400 bucks a month, which is very generous. And I maintain PromiseKit as a result to a certain extent. But I haven’t done a lot to it a long time. There’s a lot of things I could have done to it if it was more of a moneymaker.

This is part of the reason that we’re doing Tea, we’re building Tea is that when you think about all the people like myself, who’ve put tens of 1000s of hours into open source, a Homebrew loan was tens of 1000s of hours, the whole time I was having to either take contracts and then work two jobs, or save up some money and quit, so that I could work on open source full time.

Because I like open source, I want to work on open sources. It’s where I feel they’ve actually made a difference in this world, while building crappy apps for companies that are hoping to sell them for millions of dollars is really not as much of an impact on humanity at all. I need a reasonable salary for that.

And Tea’s goal is to make it, so that people like myself, who do make the open source that powers the internet can just make open-source full time. I can imagine how much further along we’d be, if everybody who’s contributed the open source could have been doing that full time, for the last 20 years. That’s how it should be.

First Startup?

Michael Schwartz: Is this the first company that you founded?

Max Howell: I’ve tried to found a few others years ago, 2012, trying to found a music startup with a friend. My co-founder, me and Timothy have tried to found a few here and there, made progress on some of them. And it’s difficult. Getting funding is difficult. Like I say, if Tea existed, I would be using Tea to build Tea in order to fund it. And you know, Web3 does change it. It makes it so you can tokenize, and then, basically, you’ve received investment in that respect.

So, the future is rosier for this kind of thing. I would hope that it enables more and more people to build technology that the world needs, without having to chase VC money.

Advice for Entrepreneurs?

Michael Schwartz: Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who want to start a business around a piece of open-source software?

Max Howell: The truth of it is, you have to market what you’re doing heavily, find people on Twitter or Discord, and push what you’re working on, heavily. Probably nowadays, also means, making videos and being involved in more than just Twitter and GitHub. Because that’s how I made all my open source big. Monetizing it, that was always the trickier part. And let’s face it, a lot of open sources monetized nowadays is SaaS -Software as a Service. And that works well.

And before I figured out Tea, which was about eight, nine months ago now, it sort of came to me in a moment of inspiration, I was trying to build SaaS, which was going to be an open source one. That’s how I’d do it right now, if you’re going to go with the Web2 texts, but we’re hoping that Tea will enable entirely new ways of doing business with open source. We don’t want to change the nature of open source, but hopefully, it will enable people to seriously consider it as career open-source communities, essentially.

Michael Schwartz: Well, Max, thank you for your patient answers. I think that I understand Web3 a little bit better right now. And best of luck with Tea. And where should we go to find out more?

Max Howell: Tea.xyz is our URL. And from there, you can find our entry link which has some references to some of the material we’ve published elsewhere and find our white paper and our Discord. Discord has a dev channel, it’s probably the best place if you’re a dev.

We are also hiring. So, if you’re interested in changing how the Internet is built, then we have a number of positions available, from working on the package manager through to. Interestingly, I’m after a bunch of TypeScript Reactives.

Michael Schwartz: Awesome. Thank you so much, Max, for being on the show.

Max Howell: Thank you so much, Michael.

Michael Schwartz: If you want to hear more, on the episode 57 website, I will post additional interviews with Max and some Tea links. Thanks to the crew team for helping me pull this episode together. Once again, cool graphics from Kemal Bhattacharjee. Music from Broke For Free, Chris Zabriskie and Lee Rosevere.

Next month, I’ll talk to Avi Press, the CEO of Scarf. He has a lot of interesting thoughts around open-source data and how companies can use that data to better support their communities. If you liked this episode, don’t forget to share it on your favorite Web2 or Web3 social media channel. Until next time, thanks for listening.

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