In 2011, LibreOffice was voted one of the best open-source software. An open-source software has the particularity to have “its source code made available and licensed with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose” (Andrew, 2008). In simpler words, it’s a software that anyone (with the right knowledge) can change, use, copy, improve and share.
LibreOffice, the homonimic non-profit organization, made a sustainable business plan out of this main product. They even exhibit a growth that most multinational corporation would envy. But how could a firm make a business out of a product that is free and on which the firm accepts to give up the control?
LibreOffice generates its revenue through mainly through donations. These donations are either directly cash or either materials. These donations come from enthusiastic users or from “strategic Advisory Board Members”, understand a long list of firms that have some interests in seeing a free competitor challenge Microsoft’s Office quasi-monopolistic position on this market. Although the number of employees and there wages are still undisclosed, these donations are sufficiently large to allow the company to run and to hire some in-house developers. The next straightforward question is now: why would so many people and firms pay give so much? What do they get from it?
Although there is certainly more than answer, these donators all have in common that they find value in LibreOffice software. The users of LibreOffice who do not want to pay the 69€ asked for Microsoft’s product will most likely want the software to keep improving. Some of them will contribute through a donation, allowing the firm to keep going. Others will contribute by offering suggestion for further improvement and customers’ feedback. However, a small minority of users will directly contribute to the development of the product by sending back their own modification of the software. This later contribution is invaluable for LibreOffice since they gain access to the idea and work of dozens of workers and that for free. Through these three means (money, feedback and volunteer development), the users create value for LibreOffice.
LibreOffice create value for the users by directly developing the software as well as by collecting, testing, screening and incorporating the work of the community of volunteer developers. The company is needed. They organize the collective efforts and have an overview of the work of the community.
For those willing to discover this software: click here.
- Moltzen, E. F., December 2011, The 10 Best Open-Source Products from 2011. Retrieved on May the 10th, 2014.
- St. Laurent, Andrew M. (2008). Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing. O’Reilly Media. p. 4.
- Libre Office Homepage.