Episode 148

Ali Nehzat of thanks.dev and OSS Funding


December 9th, 2022

41 mins 15 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guest

About this Episode


Ali Nehzat


Richard Littauer | Justin Dorfman

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. Get ready for an exciting guest today as we welcome, Ali Nehzat, who’s a Software Engineer with a preference for embedded systems and Founder of thanks.dev. Ali’s been around for a while, and he realized that the open source ecosystem needs some help, and his focus is specifically on the OSS funding problem. Today, we’ll learn more about Ali’s story of why he started thanks.dev, what motivated him, people that inspired him through his journey, and he reveals his mission for OSS developers. But it doesn’t stop there! Ali dives into different aspects he’s experimenting for funding, he tells us how payouts are supported so developers get paid, and how he’s planning on making this more sustainable. Download this episode now to find out more!

[00:02:53] We find out the difference between thanks.dev and the other platforms, and Ali tells us his story about being motivated by Brian Carlson from the Node.js community, who’s behind node-postgres.

[00:08:13] Ali talks about thanks.dev’s approach with helping to convince people to give money to open source.

[00:11:20] We hear the tools that thanks.dev offers to its engineers to help them figure out how to sell giving back to open source.

[00:14:07] After having conversations with OSPO companies, Ali explains how everything is a learning experience currently with thanks.dev, and he states the reason for thanks.dev not getting involved with code of conduct right now and what the mission is.

[00:17:51] Licensing landscape is brought up by Ali and the conversations happening around it.

[00:20:51] Ali fills us in on the insightful conversations he had with Joel Wasserman who really helped him in his journey, as well as other people, with thanks.dev, as well as some ideas to solve the funding with open source and make sure thanks.dev is sustainable going forward.

[00:23:05] As far as projects go, Ali tells us who’s he’s worked with to get more funding.

[00:26:06] Justin wonders if there’s any papers Ali’s read dealing with the complexities and edge cases, he explains how he would like to publish blog posts he wrote, and the testing and the experiments he’s been doing, and the impact Duane O’Brien from Indeed has made.

[00:29:28] Richard brings up payment payouts and wonders how Ali is making sure the money actually gets to the developers and that helps the sustainability of those projects.

[00:33:50] Ali is currently not getting a salary for this, but he tells us how fundraising through family and friends helped him, and how he’s planning to make this sustainable for him.

[00:35:37] Find out where you can follow Ali on the web.


[00:03:20] “Currently, thanks.dev is focusing on an experiment if you make it super easy for companies to donate to their dependency trees, what would be the outcome of that?”

[00:04:41] “When I got interested in the funding space and in the challenges that open source maintainers face, it was actually all motivated by Brian Carlson in the Node.js community, who’s the person behind node-postgres.”

[00:06:35] “It’s not just funding, it’s project management and it’s community management. There’s a whole array of other problems that can be attacked.”

[00:09:12] “When I hit that barrier, the approach I took was to add a line item to my invoices for the OSS ecosystem.”

[00:22:02] “The biggest learning is that to solve the funding problem in open source, you have to look at it from the perspective of the marketplace.”

[00:23:50] “Then there’s a whole cohort of donors on GitHub and Open Collective that are engineering managers that are going to their own organizations and getting donations done and figuring out the motivations and actions behind these people.”

[00:26:52] “The input that Duane O'Brien has had on thanks.dev has made such a huge impact.”


  • [00:37:32] Justin’s spotlight is CodeMirror.
  • [00:38:19] Richard’s spotlight is Atom.
  • [00:39:04] Ali’s spotlight is Brian Carlson.



Support Sustain