Episode 70

Avi Press and Scarf


March 5th, 2021

34 mins 6 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Avi Press


Justin Dorfman | Alyssa Wright | Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! Our guest today is Avi Press, Founder and CEO of Scarf.

We learn all about what Scarf is, why it’s called Scarf, and how it works. We also find out how Avi convinced investors to get on board with him and how Scarf is helping open source software developers use data effectively. Find out if there will be any cost for maintainers to join and about the newest product called Scarf Gateway. Download this episode now to find out more!

[00:01:00] Avi tells us what Scarf is, what it entails, and how it works.

[00:02:41] Avi tells us how the documentation insights work.

[00:04:03] Alyssa wants to know why it is called Scarf and Avi tells us how he is dealing with privacy concerns.

[00:07:30] Justin asks Avi how he convinced investors to get on board with him. Also, he tells us about the Head of Sales position they are looking for and what this position entails.

[00:10:18] Avi talks about how the maintainers have been using the data to date.

[00:11:55] Alyssa asks Avi if he can share the differences made to a certain project that he’s seen or if these are still working in a hypothetical space.

[00:14:05] Justin saw on GitHub that Avi’s main project, Scarf, is Apache 2.0 and he noticed that is becoming the go-to license when there is a VC involved. He asks Avi if this was chosen before or after the investment.

[00:16:23] Since Scarf provides data to open source software developers, Richard asks Avi how he is helping them use that data effectively.

[00:18:25] Richard wonders if Avi is going to be batching their clients or is he marketing for them individually.

[00:19:54] Richard asks Avi: how do you make that money sustainable to the point where you don’t need to keep going out and asking people, and how do you turn it into a business?

[00:22:35] Avi talks about dual licensing.

[00:24:44] Richard is curious if Scarf is doing a federated or a decentralized registry and Avi explains about the new product, Scarf Gateway.

[00:26:51] Richard asks Avi if this will ever cost maintainers money to join and use his network.

[00:28:02] Find out where you can learn more about Scarf and Avi.


  • [00:29:21] Justin’s spotlight is CII Best Practices Badge Program.
  • [00:30:07] Alyssa’s spotlight is the Igalia’s Open Prioritization experiment.
  • [00:31:17] Richard’s spotlight is Goal Zero.
  • [00:32:08] Avi’s spotlight is the project Org-roam.


[00:05:02] “And really our thesis here is that currently open source just means sharing code, but we’re trying to say the benefits of that openness can go much beyond the code and actually the data about how that code is used and how that code is interacted with.”

[00:07:45] “I want people to be thinking more about how the companies that run open source infrastructure are funded. It’s really important to know, and we’re no exception. So, Scarf is a VC funded company.”

[00:10:46] “That’s one really important way is to validate your project by showing real usage of the tool, of the code, etc.”

[00:11:07] “By being able to allow maintainers to be proactive rather than reactive there’s just a whole slew of opportunities that are now unlocked for maintainers, instead of having to be reactive to everything.”

[00:11:27] “And by being able to let maintainers be more proactive, we’ll have less burnt out maintainers because they’re not constantly feeling like they’re just drowning under the weight of the popularity of their software.”

[00:14:38] “And that really, I think is a point that I’d like to underline as well, which is that if you have an open source project and there’s a lot of commercial use and there is a business opportunity there, a lot of developers, they’re not lawyers, they’re not enterprise salespeople, they’re not all the other things that are needed to build a business around an open source project, and that’s what we really want to provide to open source maintainers.”

[00:21:42] “And unfortunately right now until Tidelift, if and when they really grow their business out, right now you have a lot of maintainers that are really just competing for that same pie, and the pie is not getting a lot bigger very quickly.”



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