The Business of Open Source

Bob van Luijt is the CEO and Founder of Weaviate, an open-source vector database company that helps contribute to the advancement of AI technology. Throughout this episode, Bob and I discuss the complexities of moving from an open-source project to building an open-source company, and the challenges that come with monetization strategies. Bob shares insightful anecdotes around why it’s important to be careful that you’re measuring the right things for the right reasons, and also emphasizes the importance of determining the best approach to profitability.  

  • Intro (00:00)
  • I introduce Bob van Luijt who is the CEO and Founder of Weaviate, and he provides a little bit of context about himself and his company (01:00)
  • Bob gives us the run-down on Weaviate’s operations, including fundraising, staffing, and monetization data (02:04)
  • How the Weaviate project became the company it is today (04:03)
  • The value that open-source brings to Weaviate’s business model (11:21)
  • Bob and I discuss the disadvantages to building a company around an open-source project (17:55)
  • The complexities of having an open-source project that is used within other companies and products/projects (20:19)
  • How Bob and Weaviate have approached monetization (22:18)
  • The most interesting mistakes Bob feels he’s made along the way in his journey to build Weaviate (24:37)
  • Bob tells us more about his decision to shift from professional services to a product-led approach (25:50)
  • Bob and I discuss the complex catch-22 of focusing on either profitability or growth as an open-source founder (28:39)
  • How Bob filtered through product feedback and feature requests when first shifting to a product-led approach (32:19)
  • Bob’s advice to people who want to be a part of the open-source ecosystem (37:54)
  • How listeners can connect with Bob and learn more about Weaviate (39:13)


What is The Business of Open Source?

Whether you're a founder of an open source startup, an open source maintainer or just an open source enthusiast, join host Emily Omier as she talks to the people who work at the intersection of open source and business, from startup founders to leaders of open source giants and all the people who help open source startups grow.