Dev Protocol: The Next Step Forward for Open Source Software (OSS)

Wordpress, Python, and OpenSSL— what do all of these have in common? They’re some of the most important infrastructural pillars of the internet and, most importantly, they’re open source.

Open source software (OSS) is used everywhere and it’s what makes the internet a special place. Yet, it’s also desperately in need of funding. That’s because it relies on donations. But when was the last time you donated to an OSS project you use often? Probably never. In 2019, the Wordpress Foundation had a measly $7,641 in revenue, all from donations. Kent C. Dodds, a prolific OSS developer, said he often got $0 from the donation button on his repositories for months at a time. Clearly, the donation model and relying purely on good-will to fund OSS doesn’t work.

So, if donations alone don’t work, what else is there? That’s where Japanese project Dev Protocol comes in.

Tokenizing Open Source: A New Model

Unlike in most other cases, the massive OSS sector provides us with a rare instance where the technology behind cryptocurrencies offers the best solution. Dev Protocol is building an entire ecosystem that is looking to capture the true value of the OSS world. No more relying purely on donations, which is one-directional and inconsistent.

It works very simply: OSS projects get listed on the Dev platform and DEV holders stake with whichever OSS projects they like best. The protocol is effectively an inflationary middleware that earns revenue for both the OSS project and its supporters. Currently, the inflation of the total DEV supply is a modest 2.5% or so annually.

Dev Protocol’s model allows OSS projects to earn a steady revenue stream together with stakers who support them. It’s a win-win for both parties unlike donations which are inconsistent and rely on good will.

Aside from being the protocol’s currency, the DEV token also has other use-cases in the ecosystem like governance over the treasury and protocol (but more on that later in this article).

Note: The newly-imeplemented Creator Reward Withdrawal Limit means that if an OSS project re-stakes their DEV with other OSS projects, they can withdraw more in the future over time. Incentive to hold on and diffuses market selling to ensure a healthy balance.

The Platform

Dev Protocol currently runs on Ethereum and the team has spent a long time actively building everything from the bottom-up:

  • Their own GitHub oracle called Khaos to authenticate repositories
  • A platform ( where DEV stakers can support their favorite OSS projects. Right now, there are over 1,500 OSS projects listed on Dev’s platform.

The biggest staker on the platform is currently Vyperlang, the leading Ethereum dev community closely tied with Yearn which is one of the market leaders in decentralized finance. Yearn recently launched an experimental DEV vault for its v2 release.

Other major OSS projects currently earning rewards on DEV include Chalk (used by over 50,000 packages) and vue.js, a popular progressive JavaScript framework. And there are so many others.

DEV’s incubation program, set to launch in late January / early February, will massively expand the number of OSS projects onboarded. Like a carrot on a stick, top OSS projects will be proposed to the community. One can stake DEV with them if they wish to support them, but if the OSS project wants to unlock the funds they must authenticate themselves via Dev Protocol.

Possibilities with DEV

Dev Protocol is the first mover in applying the benefits of programmable money to the open source world. Integrating with Dev therefore brings many advantages for OSS projects, which go beyond just providing them with community-funded revenue.

This is where the creativity kicks in: every OSS project that uses Dev’s Khaos oracle tokenizes themselves. Each token hence represents a share of the OSS project.

The OSS project can do whatever they want with their tokens — they can distribute them for governance, divvy up income streams and other ideas. Companies that want to fix or edit OSS code, for example, need to buy the token to have voting power.

Every time an OSS project tokenizes themselves with Dev Protocol, its Treasury gets 5% of all tokens. This means that DEV is effectively a meta-governance token: DEV has decision-making rights on every single OSS project it onboards.

At the center of the value-capture of every OSS project authenticated with Dev Protocol is the DEV token itself.

The possibilities within this model are vast. For example, it can be used to reward substantive code edits and suggestions on open source software. Companies could invest in the top OSS projects like an ETF. Suddenly, through the tokenization of OSS, an entirely new economy arises.

Note: For more info, read The Tokenization of Open Source.”

A Broad Network

With the core infrastructure of Dev Protocol being done and usable, the project is now focused on adoption and expansion. The connections are already there to make it happen.

Dev Protocol is part of Microsoft for Startups, tasked with monetizing GitHub which is the largest code repository on the internet and home to some 50 million developers. Microsoft also owns GitHub. Dev Protocol also has investments from entities like SIOS, who have deep ties to the emerging tech market, among other key networks.

At the recent Open Core Summit this past December, Red Hat’s Product Manager Bilgin Ibryam also presented on Dev Protocol during his talk. Red Hat is home to some of the largest OSS projects in the business world.

Other OSS folks have also been snooping around on Dev Protocol’s Discord and elsewhere. Needless to say, interest is surely building from many in the OSS and tech world.

Final Thoughts

Dev Protocol is…

  • Backed by Microsoft Startups to tokenize GitHub (and more!).
  • Fixes a real-world funding problem for the OSS world.
  • Tokenizes and meta-governs all OSS projects onboarded.
  • Comprised of a cool team based in Tokyo, Japan with a work ethic unlike anyone else.

So, let’s tokenize all of open source!

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A crypto-enthusiast who occasionally writes a story. If you want me to write for you or have any questions, leave a comment on my posts.