Episode 61

Melissa Logan on Marketing Open Source Effectively and Sustainably


November 17th, 2020

37 mins 27 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Justin Dorfman | Richard Littauer


Melissa Logan

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! Our special guest today is Melissa Logan, Founder of Constantia.io, a marketing consultancy that focuses on open source and enterprise tech companies. She pioneered the role of open source marketer that helped fuel the rise of open source software development. She also launched the Sexism Field Guide to help people identify and confront all forms of sexism. We will learn why Melissa created Constantia, her work at The Linux Foundation, Apache Cassandra, and Isilon. Also, Melissa talks about having the right personality to do marketing in a community and why she thinks about the community like a prism. Download this episode now to find out more!

[00:00:48] Melissa tells us all about Constantia and why she created it.

[00:02:30] Since Melissa has worked mainly with large OSPO’s, Richard wonders if she has had any experience working with smaller organizations or smaller repositories on GitHub type stuff. She also talks about what she did at the Linux Foundation and the projects they started, one specifically called OpenDaylight.

[00:06:38] When Melissa talks about open source there are two key ways that she describes it.

[00:07:43] We learn about Melissa working with the Apache Cassandra Community. Justin wonders if there was a company that did support contracts for Cassandra funding this or if this was a grassroots type of deal.

[00:11:03] We learn what Melissa did at Isilon.

[00:13:00] Richard wonders how Melissa gets marketing copy in front of people because mailing lists are important to getting into people’s inboxes.

[00:16:23] Richard asks Melissa if she has any insight on how to market somebody who runs a small react library and she gives some great advice.

[00:18:47] Melissa tells us how to pitch marketing to open source foundations as something they need to do because the return is so small. Richard wonders if she’s ever had to deal with people who are closed sourced and try to convince them to go open.

[00:26:55] Since the pandemic has changed a lot of things around marketing, Richard wonders what Melissa’s had to change with how she markets stuff to get in front of people’s eyes over the past six months.

[00:29:35] Melissa brings up the topic of disaggregated marketing and when you think about doing marketing in a community one of the most important things you need is the right personality. She also explains how she thinks of the community as a kind of prism.

[00:34:43] If you’re interested in seeing the awesome content that Melissa has put out, she tells us where we can find it online.


  • [00:35:22] Justin’s spotlight is FingerprintJS.
  • [00:36:00] Richard’s spotlight is a website with election data that allows you to see what’s happening every minute in all of the battleground states.
  • [00:36:41] Melissa’s spotlight is Scribus.net.


[00:08:01] “At Linux Foundation it was different because it was part of kind of the governance of the project.”

[00:11:03] “You were at Isilon. I remember reading about it way back in the day and it was acquired by EMC. What did you do there because that just really interests me?”

[00:17:15] “When you think about doing marketing in a community, there are a lot of people who work at different companies, they have different cultures, they have different reasons for participating. Maybe they’re not aware that you actually want to have a marketing effort.”

[00:17:32] “So I think what’s really important is to build some kind of architecture of participation for people in your community.”

[00:19:18] “What are those quote unquote KPI’s in an open source project? What do we look at? I think things like lines of code, stars, those are all, I think you should just set those aside. That really doesn’t tell you about the health of an open source project.”

[00:20:01] “So we really look at share of voice as one of the key metrics in an open source project and how we evaluate how things are doing.”

[00:21:35] “One of the key ways that we knew we were gaining traction was when we found out that AT&T had adopted OpenDaylight, and we found out because they had said something on a user list because of course they found some bug or issue with it, so of course that’s when they reach out and talk to us.”

[00:27:00] “So during the pandemic we’ve all been trying to figure out how not to overload people who are overloaded by so much content and information because everyone is doing everything digital all the time.”

[00:30:38] Then how do you level the playing field for projects that maybe don’t have a charismatic leader? And the way you can do that is to find someone who plays in this marketing role who does go and seek out all these other types of contributions and tries to shine a light on things that are happening, not just with individuals, but in all parts of your community.”

[00:31:40] “I remember in the early 2000’s, you had people in the embedded Linux community who were looking at ways to improve power consumption in satellites that were going into space so that was really important. You had needed a small footprint for everything. When they figured that out, they put it back upstream and that was then adopted by people in the supercomputing community.”

[00:34:26] “I think of marketing kind of like you’re a backstage manager for a play and you’re trying to make everything run really smoothly for all the other people on the stage and really shine a light on them literally and figuratively.”



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