You work on the "business" side. Does this mean that you give the "greenlight" on ideas that are supposed to make dev.to a self-sustainable project? How do you take decisions as a team when it comes to decisions such as these? Are there any "conflict" between you and the more technical developers when it comes to the path to choose? I suppose one of the goals of dev.to is to become self-sustainable, how do you balance between doing something more on the 'community' side and something more on the 'money' side ?
Hey Damien, great question. No one on our team is the sole arbiter of "green" or "red"-lighting a major feature or initiative. Ben, Jess, and I collectively discuss these issues and tend to come to mutual agreement. That, or someone eventually "disagrees and commits" and we go forward newly-aligned on something.
That said, we each have our "areas" of specific influence, and I tend to have a strong voice in revenue-generating goals. I'll share my personal thoughts.
As you know, we're a company with real costs (mostly in the form of team salaries), so we need a way to offset those expenditures. We'd love to generate revenue and become self-sufficient, rather than rely on a constant drip of external capital. We think that being sustainable (and ideally profitable) is incredibly important to our goals of remaining member-driven and long-term focused.
I don't think that generating revenue and enriching the member experience need to be mutually exclusive. For instance, as we build more features in the jobs/hiring arena, we can support job-seekers while charging job-providers a reasonable fee for the connections.
As a thought experiment, let's think about theoretically implementing display ads. On one end of the spectrum, we could make money by putting up terrible third-party blinking banner ads everywhere. They track you, they slow down the site, it's awful. That's the extreme — and it's obviously nothing we would ever do. It would alienate our members and betray the good-faith they've put in us.
On the other end of the spectrum, maybe we place a link somewhere on the site to a "Sponsors" page. No one ever sees it or goes there unless they specifically seek it out. On that page, and that page only, there are self-hosted banners (logos) that highlight the companies that have chosen to financially support us.
When we discuss these things, we tend to anchor the bounds at the two extremes. That way we can understand where each other stand on the issue, and work productively to find the mid-point that best retain our values (community) while also protecting our ability to keep the lights on (money).
In 2018, we'll be releasing more features and initiatives to generate revenue, but we'll be proceeding with a strict member-first mindset. Hope that helps!
Thank you for the answer. It does seem like a tricky transition from being entirely free to start charging services. Hope it all goes well!
I think folks will be pretty happy with everything we have in the works 😊. We're pretty heavily routed in our ideology regarding what it means to be a good thing for people and compared to being some other crappy company on the internet. You might hear me beating the drum on this the most, but the values run deep throughout the org.
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