Episode 44

Crossing The Chasm with Tobie Langel


July 10th, 2020

40 mins 54 secs

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About this Episode

Sponsored by Linode


Allen "Gunner" Gunn | Justin Dorfman | Pia Mancini | Richard Littauer


Tobie Langel

Show Notes

Welcome to Sustain! On today’s episode, we have special guest, Tobie Langel, the Founder of UnlockOpen, from Geneva, Switzerland. Tobie tells us all about UnlockOpen and what he does there. He tells us how he focuses on convincing companies that they need to contribute back to Open Source. Other topics we will talk about are DevOps culture, prototype JavaScript framework not being updated since 2015, which Tobie extensively explains what happened, as well as speaking about lessons to be learned and things we need to be aware of. There is so much great advice and stories shared on this episode. Download it now!

[00:01:19] Tobie tells us about UnlockOpen and what he does.

[00:02:30] Richard wants to know how do you get in the door as a consultant to try to talk to people about how they should use Open Source and how do you pitch that to people that don’t know what Open Source is?

[00:08:04] Tobie discusses how he focuses on convincing companies that they need to contribute back to Open Source. Pia wonders if Tobie thinks we’re making progress towards cultural changes within the audience?

[00:12:10] Allen asks Tobie if he’s advancing the notion of DevOps as a gateway drug for all of this open culture. Tobie mentions a book he’s reading called, Accelerate, that_ _talks about the benefits of DevOps culture to companies from a business perspective.

[00:14:13] Justin wants to know where Tobie got his kind of background and he also wonders about project abandonment, and prototype JavaScript framework hasn’t been updated since 2015. So, what happened there and what lessons could be learned?

[00:24:06] Tobie speaks about learning from history, about lessons to be learned, and things we have to be aware of.

[00:26:06] Tobie mentions how he’s a huge fan of DHH and Basecamp and he gives some great advice that he’s learned on focusing on things that matter long term. Justin and Richard also have some positive advice and stories to share as well.

[00:35:25] Richard makes an awesome statement here about being resilient.

[00:36:20] Tobie tells us where we can find him to learn more about him.


  • [00:38:03] Justin’s spotlight is our first bonus podcast episode (#41) with Dave Gandy, and we discussed Font Awesome 6, the donut diet, commitments, and more. Check it out! ☺
  • [00:42:23] Allen’s spotlight is Open Tech Fund.
  • [00:38:56] Richard’s spotlight is Aral Balkan, a cyborg rights activist.
  • [00:39:17] Toby’s spotlight is a book by Nadia Eghbal called, Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software.


“It boils down to bottom line and top line. To some degree it’s more than that, obviously, culture, brand, making people feel happy to work in a company. All of those are critical for a company.”

[00:10:45] “And we are at the point where we need to cross the chasm. So maybe move that from being something that is essentially something adopted by a few really performant companies at the helm of this effort and move that across to become more mainstream.

[00:16:47] “And so the funny thing is I essentially learned JavaScript by reading the source code because there was no documentation and I started contributing to the library by writing documentation for it.”

[00:17:44] “It took a lot of time for Sam to realize that he was burning out and just couldn’t spend the time that was needed to give more authority to other people on the project.”

[00:21:58] “There was a lot of energy, and people are ready to do a lot of things for the rocket ship because you also benefit personally quite a bit when you’re investing your time in a rocket ship.”

[00:25:19] “This goes right to the heart of what we’re trying to talk about here. And so I think one of the things that I’m really picking up from what you’re saying is that it’s better to dedicate yourself towards an ideology of working well in the open, of working with other people, of trying to consistently not just stay ahead of the curve, but work in a way that what you do will matter later.”

[00:34:20] “At the same time you could carry that comparison even further kind of ad absurdum, like everything’s the same, because we all need to eat and we all get tired and we all get sleepy and we all get hungry, we’re all kind of anxious and we have to work with other people and what wears kind of annoying and it’s pretty tough.”


Tobie Langel Twitter


Sustain Podcast-Episode 41: The Donut Diet, Commitments. and More Awesomeness with Dave Gandy

Open Technology Fund

Aral Balkan

Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software by Nadia Eghbal

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps:Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren, PhD


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