Turning Money Into Code

Posted by Bjarni on August 20, 2013 ( Content may be obsolete! )

With three weeks left of our campaign, we have already reached our goal of $100,000 USD!

This is absolutely fantastic and we are deeply grateful to all of you for believing in us and supporting our vision with your hard earned cash. It's now very likely that we will over-shoot our goals and raise more money than we initially planned for. This begs the question: how do we turn extra money into code?

We have already had this discussion in private with some of our larger backers, but we feel it is only right to make a public statement about this and keep our entire community informed.

A Young Project

Mailpile is a project which is just in its infancy. We have a rough prototype, we have a vision and now we have a community and money to work with. But we don't yet have all the answers.

Over the next few months, we need to sort out a lot of things to do with the infrastructure of the project:

  • We need a community forum to continue interacting with our backers
  • We need automated tests for our code-base
  • We need to define APIs for plug-ins and interacting with external apps
  • We need to further develop our theme architecture
  • We need to solidify the overall design of the system, so it is clear where and how people can pitch in

These are all prerequisites for being able to accept outside help - or to be able to turn money into manpower into useful code. So these are our top priorities for the Alpha release in January.

What Can Money do?

Having extra money gives us a few options:

  1. Raise our salaries
  2. Work longer, extend the lifetime of the project beyond 1 year
  3. Hire additional people
  4. Hire contractors for specific tasks
  5. Set money aside for a "rainy day" or unexpected events
  6. Attend conferences, hackathons and meetups in other countries

Which of these makes sense, depends a lot on how the project develops and how much money we end up with at the end of the campaign. At the moment we are leaning towards the last three - contractors, a "rainy day" fund, and growing our community in person.

The reasons for this are threefold.

One has to do with the general unpredictability of software development. A rainy day fund explicitly acknowledges the fact that we don't yet have all the answers and gives us the flexibility to react to the known unknowns we will face later on.

Choosing to work with contractors rather than hiring a fourth or fifth team member is appealing to us, because it reduces the management overhead and allows us to choose who we work with based on exactly the skills required for specific tasks, rather than looking for more generalists who are willing to take a pay cut to work on a cool project in a far away land. An example of sub-projects which fit this model are development of an Android native client, or packaging work to make Mailpile available to non-technical Windows or Mac users and as part of the more popular Linux distros. As we make progress refining our design and the project matures, more such sub-projects will emerge and money will let us act upon them.

Finally, without our community, this project wouldn't be what it is. We want to meet you and hear your feedback and build relationships. This is vital for the long term viability of Mailpile and the health of the project. Not to mention making it more fun!

The bottom line is, we want to spend the money in the most effective way possible and do what is right for Mailpile and our community. We don't yet know all of the details, but we look forward to figuring it out and we'll keep you posted as we go along.

Thank you for your support!


Please do not send mail to aardvark@mailpile.is