Podcast Awesome

Free Code, Future Sustainability

April 02, 2024 Font Awesome Season 2 Episode 7
Podcast Awesome
Free Code, Future Sustainability
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we chat with Font Awesome founder Dave Gandy about the journey of finding a sustainable business model while staying true to the open source model. We discuss the origin of Font Awesome, the power of open source software, and the concept of "actualized open source." Dave shares insights into the success of Font Awesome and their approach to monetizing the project while continuing to provide value to the open source community. They also discuss the launch of their new project, Web Awesome, and their Kickstarter campaign. Tune in to learn more about the intersection of open source and business.

Key Takeaways:

  • Font Awesome started as a solution to personal challenges with icons in web development and quickly turned into a global standard.
  • The importance of Retina displays in driving the success of vector-based iconography, especially for Font Awesome.
  • Balancing a profitable business model with the ethos of open source has resulted in continued improvement and distribution of free software.
  • Actualized open source is not just about sustaining a project but enabling it to become everything it can be.
  • Font Awesome maintains a commitment to not selling user data and providing a transparent business model based on value exchange.

Notable Quotes:

  • "Never let your morals get in the way of doing the right thing."
  • "Can we build a company full of people that can actually trust each other?"
  • "Can the company and the open-source project be actualized? Can they be self-actualized?"
  • "Software has this crazy thing about it that's different from the real world. The real world there is a natural scarcity... But with software, whatever we can provide in software, we can copy and distribute for almost free."
  • "What if we could be a place where people could become more of who they were made to be, right, of what they know is good about them?"

0:01:23 | The origin of Font Awesome as a solution to icon frustrations
0:03:00 | Explanation of Retina displays and the significance for graphics
0:04:04 | Font Awesome's advantage of using vector graphics for scalable icons
0:06:00 | Decision to make Font Awesome an open source project
0:08:32 | Font Awesome's rapid growth and the importance of GitHub for distribution
0:09:19 | Realization of Font Awesome's potential and decision to seek funding
0:10:23 | Building Font Awesome as a company instead of relying on external funding
0:11:18 | Dave's preference to avoid fundraising and maintain control over the project
0:11:58 | Open source software should not be begging for money
0:13:15 | The challenge is to build a product that people will pay for
0:14:57 | Font Awesome found a way to make payroll & sustain open source
0:15:22 | Being a pro subscriber is similar to donating to open source
0:17:10 | Transparency and trust are important in the business model
0:20:15 | The goal is to achieve self-actualization in open source
0:23:23 | Company's mission is to fulfill employees in life and workplace
0:28:09 | Launching the web awesome Kickstarter for Shoelace (web awesome)
0:30:10 | The goal is to grow open source exponentially and provide more value
0:31:33 | Motivation should come from what's good enough about us, not what's not what's lacking.

Show Notes:

Stay up to date on all the Font Awesomeness!

0:00:09 - (Matt): Welcome to podcast awesome, where we chat about icons, design, tech business, and nerdery with members of the Font Awesome team.

0:00:24 - (Dave): Awesome.

0:00:32 - (Matt): I'm your host, Matt Johnson. In recent years, there's been a growing trend of open source projects adopting a paid version or business model to generate revenue and ensure long term viability. Take Font awesome as an example. Font Awesome's icon set and toolkit is used by millions of websites worldwide. In this podcast, I have a chat with Font awesome founder Dave Gandhi to discuss the journey of finding a sustainable business model while staying true to the open source model.

0:01:04 - (Matt): So Dave, we have gotten into the weeds on lots of different subjects, but we don't always talk about the origin of font awesome and why you would choose to make it into a company. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

0:01:23 - (Dave): Yeah. Boy, that's a good question. Font awesome came about when I wanted to scratch my own itch. I was working at a startup that obviously since vaporized, but we were making a website. I got fed up with how icons were done on websites, and I'd been playing around with different technologies that each got a little bit right. There was one that actually, though, packaged up icons in a typeface and that was pretty cool, except for screen readers would read off a letter because it turns out they use the letter, let's say they use the letter k to represent a camera.

0:01:55 - (Dave): So it would actually read the letter c. It would read the letter, which that did not pass the sniff test for the old tech curmudgeons that every company needs one of, right? You've got to pass the sniff test on the curmudgeons, and it didn't pass that sniff test. And then I learned about this thing called the private use area and how there actually was for anything you wanted it to be. So we put everything in there, it stopped the screen readers from reading it incorrectly, and then we packaged it up and released it as complete upgrade in Bootstrap. So if you were already using Twitter, Bootstrap, that's what it was called at the time, you could replace one single less file with hours, and all of a sudden all of your icons were magically upgraded to being vector based and they would be the color of whatever was around them, and they worked just the way typography did, and you already knew that. So it was like you suddenly got superpowers and you no longer had to worry about or deal with icons. And that was really, was this at.

0:02:41 - (Matt): The time when Retina displays came out and everything was coming.

0:02:45 - (Dave): So, no, this was three months ahead.

0:02:48 - (Matt): Of Retina, great timing.

0:02:51 - (Dave): So we were just in front of Retina. So all of a sudden when companies decided, oh, what do we need to do for Retina for somebody that doesn't.

0:02:58 - (Matt): Know, like what's the significance of a retina display?

0:03:00 - (Dave): Yeah, at that. So the significance of a retina display was that you would normally have graphics at the time are rendered in what's called these individual pixels. It's just a little square on a screen. And back in the day, with older screens, you could actually see those individual pixels. So most graphics for the web were made for those pixels. And what happened was when Apple upgraded their screens to use four pixels for every one pixel, suddenly your graphics looked old.

0:03:32 - (Dave): They didn't look. It's called retina graphics once you actually have them high enough resolution, and images weren't too hard because people typically already had the image resolution, the original image sitting around. And so you did a couple of modifications and you sent off the higher definition file across. But for smaller pictures like icons, it was a challenge because you'd have to actually go and export every single one of those files. And managing it was just such a pain and a hassle. But if you were using font awesome, because font awesome is typography, it worked the way typography already did.

0:04:04 - (Dave): Typography was already vectors. They're called vector graphics instead of raster graphics. Raster graphics are like the way an image is for a photo. A photo is made up of just a bunch of individual pixel squares, and if you've got enough of them, it looks like a real full photo. If it's low resolution, though, you can see those individual pixels and that's raster graphics. Vector graphics. Instead of describing as a bunch of squares with colors for every square, you actually describe it in terms of a mathematical equation for the curves, whether it's straight lines, rectangles, circles, whatever you've actually got going on there, you can actually just describe it mathematically. And once you describe it mathematically, what that means is you can scale it up to any size and it will render it perfectly because it knows the curve, it knows exactly how to render along those curves.

0:04:50 - (Dave): So then no matter what size you make it, it's going to look great. And this was the power of font awesome. And so really what font awesome did was it actually made icons some combination of ten times easier and faster. It was fast and easy, but it was also so much less hassle around icons. And not only that, but they also, this was a big deal at the time. Most of these icons, you'd have to go and get one from this website. You'd go get one from over here and over here and over here. And if you were really great, maybe somebody internally could develop them, could design them. But then the real challenge of icons is not just making an individual icon that's readable and at small size, but it also needs to be a consistent look and feel across different icons. So one of the things that font awesome, the icons that came in bootstrap automatically that were raster graphics. They had no vector ones for free that were at the time that were raster graphics. There was a black version and a white version, and they loaded super fast.

0:05:46 - (Dave): But it turns out the most important thing to people was not how fast they loaded, it was what they looked like. And so that's where we beat it out. It loaded slower because these were vectors instead of little tiny pictures, but it was also more flexible, it was more powerful, it was faster to use, it.

0:06:00 - (Matt): Was kind of all of these things altogether perfect timing. That was perfect timing. I mean, you did it just right.

0:06:09 - (Dave): You asked about why we made it an open source project, and that was a challenge. So I'm talking to Rob, who's our first employee, and Travis, who's my co founder. I've been working together for ages and just chatting with them. This was easily something already that I knew that I could go and try to sell. But the truth is, I'd gotten so much value in my own personal life from open source, and I'd seen the tremendous multiplier on work that it. So I thought, you know what, I obviously need to make this open source. It also, the cool thing about it, it made it so much easier to release, get out there and not have to deal with the whole running a store side of things. And that's a lot easier now than it used to be, and that makes a lot of sense.

0:06:49 - (Dave): But we wanted it to be open source because that was something that we'd gotten so much value out of ourselves, and it's something that we really believe in. The power of software. Software has this crazy thing about it that's different from the real world. The real world there is a natural scarcity. Not everybody has food, not everybody has clothing or housing or every single thing that they need, even to meet their basic needs.

0:07:12 - (Dave): But with software, whatever we can provide in software, we can copy and distribute for almost free. Anyone who tells you that scarcity is a problem to be solved on the Internet, a lack of scarcity is a problem to be solved, is a con artist. Anybody that's trying to help you figure out a way to make this digital thing really scarce. That's nonsense. Yeah, that's not value. That's taking away one of the most beautiful, great things for the world around you.

0:07:48 - (Dave): And it's so sad to see people think, you know what? We could really use this stuff all being easily distributable around the world for free. Let's see if we can make less of. And speaking of free distribution, we posted the project to Hacker News, and I had had it on my own little personal web server. This is back when I ran my own little virtual private server on, I don't even remember where it was at the time, but within about three to four minutes of that story going live, it killed the server. I like to say it melted it. It didn't physically melt it, but it basically made it completely unresponsive. And so I had to figure out really quick, this was right after GitHub had released something they called GitHub pages.

0:08:32 - (Dave): If that site had been down, it would have been so sad. But we got it right back up. Thank you to GitHub for that. They were providing huge value to open source in that way from the very beginning, and it made a big difference for us. That was what provided the free distribution across the world, because I didn't have money for that at the time for something like that. I'll always be very appreciative and thankful to GitHub.

0:09:02 - (Matt): So you're working full time, you're spending a few days every couple months working on this, and you're getting tons of requests. You see that there's a lot of traction with folks. Like at what point do you realize there could maybe be something here?

0:09:19 - (Dave): There was a site that was measuring technologies that were used on site, and it said that we were on of the sites they counted, it said we were on 750,000. And that was a point at which it was worth thinking about. I had a conversation. I come from nothing, nobody in the middle of nowhere in Missouri.

0:09:37 - (Matt): I think you're somebody, Dave.

0:09:40 - (Dave): Thanks, man. But along the way, having gone to MIT, there's a lot of the power of that is so much is in the people that you meet and you get to know. And along the way, I had a friend I had known in college, and his dad had done a couple of angel investments, and so I had helped advise him on those angel investments. And so I sat down with him and I said, okay, here's what we've got, right? We've got this open source project it's got this crazy traction.

0:10:07 - (Dave): We've got an idea for where we want to take it. What do you think? Is this worth trying to raise an angel round? And he said, what do you need? And then we told him, and he said, why don't I just fund it myself?

0:10:21 - (Matt): Nice.

0:10:22 - (Dave): So that was super cool.

0:10:23 - (Matt): Okay. You're spending a few days every couple of months on this project. You're noticing that it's really getting some traction. So at what point do you realize it's maybe time to take it to the next level? And what is the next level? It's not a full blown company yet, but this is evolving over time. Right?

0:10:42 - (Dave): And the real choice wasn't even just about the company side. It was whether we wanted to do something more like a foundation or some sort of a nonprofit or some way could we have somebody who could come and back the project so I could work on it full time? And I'd learned over time, boy, I do not like fundraising, but I also learned that I don't want to be at the mercy of someone else's whims. And so the notion of going out and trying to raise funds from a company, right now, a lot of open source, great open source projects, right?

0:11:18 - (Dave): They go out and they get a partnership with one of the big names who basically let them come and work at their company, and they get to work on the project, and they'll pay them full time to work on the project. And that sounds really cool on the outset, but what's been happening so often lately is that as budgets tighten, because the economy is at least perceived to be down in some way, as those budgets tighten, the first thing that's to go are those positions, right? So you thought you had this great gig, except for your boss, you're only there because of their goodwill, right? And your other model is you go out and you spend your time, full time fundraising, like a foundation or something.

0:11:58 - (Dave): And I do not believe. No, it's awful. And I do not believe that software should be. That open source software should be Oliver Twist. Please, sir, can I have some more? I do not believe that what we should be doing out there is begging for money so that can we please do this thing that we already know has traction, do this thing where we already know that the person who's running the project knows what they're doing on product development, knows how to manage a community, knows how to do all of these things extremely well. And you know what the truth is?

0:12:28 - (Dave): The other truth here is that, boy, is it hard to gain traction in an open source project. That's hard. It's really, really hard to get folks to spend their good time, their valuable time and focus, even more valuable focus on an open source project. But what's even more challenging is to get somebody to pay for something. And so there's a large number of these folks running these great, successful open source projects that have got a couple of these things in the back of their head.

0:12:59 - (Dave): One, they don't want to be begging, please, sir, can I have some more? And the other question in the back of their heads is, can I do it? Can I actually make a product not just that people want to use for free, that people will pay us to use? That's a different challenge.

0:13:15 - (Matt): Right.

0:13:16 - (Dave): And that's a fun challenge. Right? And when you are a mountain climber, when you've got all the gear and you just get up every morning loving going out and finding a new rock face to climb or whatever it is, when you find, oh, no, there's this new one to climb. Have you heard about it? What do you want to do? What are you going to do with your life? And so that's the choice that we had. The choice that we had then was, please, sir, can I have some more or choose your own adventure.

0:13:43 - (Dave): And it really wasn't, was just such a, we were so lucky in so many different ways, but it was really this question of, can we do product design? Well, can we build something people want? Can we build something people want? Can we talk to users and continue to make it better over time? And then the next, we're mountain climbers, we've got this gear with us, what are we going to do next?

0:14:02 - (Matt): Yeah, and this isn't like taking open source, shutting it down and then do a profitable business. You're keeping open source alive. The whole ethos of that whole idea, you can continue to have that community based aspect to it. And, okay, there's some good traction. Is there a possibility of monetizing some part of this somehow?

0:14:28 - (Dave): Right? Because it turns out if you can make payroll, you could keep making open.

0:14:33 - (Matt): Source, you're making more open source.

0:14:37 - (Dave): That's the trick. Right? That's the flip. The flip is what if instead of thinking that business just means that you're going to get rid of the free, which there's a reason why people think that. There's a reason why people respond that way. It's because a lot of open source companies that have gone that direction have done exactly that. That's exactly what they've done. We did not do that at fauna awesome.

0:14:57 - (Dave): We have not done that at Fawn awesome. We will not do that at Fawn awesome because that's not what we believe. That's not how we believe what we believe. To be good and true and right in the world is different from just a cash grab, right? Yes. Money needs to be a bottom line in life. Everyone needs to make payroll for their families, right? Everybody's got to eat, everybody's got to have shelter, everybody's got to have those basic needs and they've got to come from somewhere.

0:15:22 - (Dave): And so we decided, what if instead of it being, can we at least continue to run the open source project? What if we could find a business model with a paid version where we could keep making the open source product better and better all the time, right? What if we could do that? What if we could always be our own biggest competitor?

0:15:53 - (Matt): We got a built in challenge there.

0:15:56 - (Dave): What if we could give away a thousand times more every year for free than we make now? That's not the goal, right? Like, the goal is not necessarily to give some insane multiple, but that's the way it's turned out. That's the way it's actually played out, which is crazy, but that's great because.

0:16:12 - (Matt): It'S so much in the spirit of open source. If you were like a real purist about that and it's like, well, no, this is all going to be volunteer basis and whatever. You know what? It was like those every three months, like, slogging it, and it seems like you really enjoyed that. But at some point, I don't know how much more I can do here. But if you have folks that can dedicate their time because they don't have to worry about exactly working a full time job, then you can just continue to multiply all of that value.

0:16:42 - (Dave): I've been rereading the foundation series lately, and a quote stands out as appropriate right now, which is, never let your morals get in the way of doing the right thing. And that's the case here. That's exactly what the case here is, because we knew that we could do more if we could make payroll. And so since then, we've got other podcasts out there about the founding history of fawn awesome and stuff like that. The short story is, because of the Kickstarter, we found a way to make payroll for a group of people.

0:17:10 - (Dave): We're not an enormous company. People tend to be shocked when they find out that we're only 20 people. People see between six and 8 trillion of our icons every single month around the world. That's an average of 1000 per person on earth every single month. And that stuff's not cheap. That stuff is not cheap. And we have figured out how to have a pro version that we've got enough conversion on, enough people come back and pay for that on, pay for it every year. And we thank so much. Right. If you're a pro subscriber, thank you so much for doing that. Right. Not only hopefully are we solving some problems for you on the sites that you're running, but ideally we're helping other people solve those same problems with the free version too. So you're a huge part of that. Being a pro subscriber is actually very similar to donating to open source.

0:17:56 - (Matt): Honestly, the effect same genuine sponsoring it.

0:18:00 - (Dave): That's exactly right. So there's a reason why we for a while had played around with some of the sponsorship things that other people had done. But I tell you what, nobody gives the money for that. Nobody actually does that. But if you say, ooh, you can have this thing that solves more of your trouble for a little bit of money. People like that option, right? People love handing over money for something that they see as value. People love doing that. That's not a con job, that's providing a service. Right? If you're doing it in the right way, there's plenty of ways that it's not. But if you're doing it in the right way, it really is this great trade. Both parties go in with eyes wide open.

0:18:33 - (Dave): And that's another trick. Right, fawn? Awesome. We do not sell your data. We don't sell metrics. And actually the way it's really cool because of the way GDPR works, is the providers that we use can't sell it either because they don't have your buy in. And we don't want your buy in to sell that stuff. Right? We don't want it. We love having a transparent business model. You give us money, we give you more icons. Services support the whole package. Right? We basically help make icons on your site better and easier.

0:19:04 - (Dave): We love that. We love that it's transparent. We love that there's no shenanigans, there's no shady stuff going on. Can we build a company full of people that can actually trust each other? What if we could be a place where you'd want to work with, where we could work with the best people we've ever known? What if we could be a place where people could be fulfilled in life and work? What if we could navigate all of those ditches right. Normally in life, you've got two ditches, and people tend to want to live in one or the other. When the solution is really watch out for both and drive down the middle.

0:19:34 - (Dave): Right? This particular one has ditches on all the sides that we're trying to constantly watch out for and drive down the middle. Can we do a company the way that we think is right and still be able to make payroll and still be able to grow and still be able to see it become more and have more people come in to be able to work on amazing things with people that they trust? What if we could start a place where people could become more of who they were made to be, right, of what they know is good about them? What if they could come and be more of whatever that is? What if their projects could become more of whatever they believed to be good and true and right in the world that needs to come about?

0:20:13 - (Dave): What if we could do that?

0:20:15 - (Matt): So out of a lot of different conversations that we've had, you have this mature version of open source, or the potential for a mature form of open source. And there's a little phrase that you use I think is interesting. What do you call that?

0:20:32 - (Dave): One of the common concepts in open source is the idea, how do we sustain open source? And that's a super, super important question, because the question of whether or not can I trust this open source project is largely a part of will it be here tomorrow? And so sustaining is your easiest way to know, will it be here tomorrow? And Maslow. Right? You go back to psychology, right? Abraham Maslow had this concept of his hierarchy of needs.

0:20:55 - (Dave): And interestingly, at the bottom of that hierarchy are your basic needs, right? In an open source project, the basic needs are, can you eat and make payroll? Right? Can the people who are doing this work continue to do this work with the resources you've got?

0:21:09 - (Matt): Do you have food and shelter?

0:21:11 - (Dave): Do you have food and shelter? Your basic needs are those, literally. And that is absolutely necessary. It's a necessary question, but it's not sufficient. It's not enough. Right. What if we could actually look at the top triangle? The top triangle there is self actualization. Self actualization is when you get to become everything that you know that you can be. It's not even what you know. It's when you become everything you can be.

0:21:38 - (Dave): That's what self actualization is. Instead of shooting for the bottom, what if we instead shoot for the top? What if we shot for can I and this project become everything that it could possibly ever be? And so the term that I love, and it sounds like a nonsense, hokey word, because it kind of is, because words are weird, right? But the term is actualized, open source. Can we see open source not just be sustained?

0:22:04 - (Dave): Can we see this become everything someone could imagine it to be? Because the truth is, it's not just about what the project becomes, it's about what the person behind the project becomes too, right? Because in order for open source to be actualized, the person and the people behind it have to be actualized as well. And we can't be just scraping the bottom of the barrel for the basic needs. We've got to go higher. We've got to push through all of those things.

0:22:27 - (Dave): And if we're going to do that, we cannot be at the mercy of the large companies that at a whim, can go and fire every open source maintainer that they had so generously on their payroll. Aren't they good, generous people? What if we're at our own mercy? What if in order to find out, what can we be? What can we become? What if we, instead of trusting somebody else, we trusted ourselves, right? I've already made a successful open source project that I can get people to use for free.

0:22:55 - (Dave): The next question is the next actualization step is can I get somewhere? In my opinion, is can I get someone to pay me for good software that will help fund the open source? At the same time, can I help the open source become more by having some version of it that's paid? That then can help us have our own independence, can have our own freedom, can have our own actualization. That's the stuff that gets me out of bed in the morning.

0:23:23 - (Dave): That's the reason we run this company, right? It's not just for the company. Can the company and the open source project be actualized? But can the people here be actualized too? Can they be self actualized? Who do you, we talk about this a lot at the company. What is good and true and right in the world to you, and how do we help you see that come about? How do we help enable you to do what you believe to be good and true and right in the world? Our company's mission is to be a place where our employees are fulfilled in life and workplace.

0:24:03 - (Matt): There are some creepy phrases that pop into my mind that you hear sometimes because I love everything that you're saying, but you hear phrases like, we're a family here, but that's not what we're talking about because I can imagine somebody listening to this and going, oh my gosh I've heard this before. If he says, we're a family here, I'm going to puke one more time. That's not what we're saying.

0:24:25 - (Dave): I hear that one more time. It's on the bingo card, right?

0:24:28 - (Matt): Yeah. That's not what this is.

0:24:31 - (Dave): No, it's not. The reason that we don't use that word is because family can mean so many different things, good and bad, and there's a lot of loaded things with it. But also, we don't ask you to give your life. Right. We don't ask you coming to work here that you give your life. Right. We don't want you to wake up ten years later and wonder, where did my life go? We want you to have your life.

0:24:50 - (Matt): The other phrase that comes up along with that is, we work hard and we play hard, which means card, which.

0:25:00 - (Dave): Means you work hard and we go get trash drunk. Or like.

0:25:02 - (Matt): Exactly.

0:25:05 - (Dave): We want nothing more than to forget the rest of our lives because we don't have one. That's fulfilling in itself.

0:25:11 - (Matt): Yeah. So that means we expect you to be here at all hours of the day and night and sleep in the.

0:25:17 - (Dave): Office if we deem it important.

0:25:19 - (Matt): Yeah. As a nice payoff, we'll take you to the racetrack and get you trash once in a while.

0:25:25 - (Dave): One of my favorite sayings of Travis's is, let's see, your lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

0:25:33 - (Matt): Yeah.

0:25:34 - (Dave): And the truth is, in reality, yes, it does. But what if there were a place that didn't ever have to pull that, right? Yeah. What if it didn't have to? Because the truth is, right, the way a job works is you get paid to do things that need to be done. And sometimes they're not as fun and sometimes they change quickly. But a well run one calm organization is not pulling that stuff very much so.

0:25:54 - (Matt): Actualized open source.

0:25:55 - (Dave): Actualized open source.

0:25:58 - (Matt): We're still actualizing the actualized open source, shaping it as we go. So we've had a level of success with this idea of actualized open source. We've got 20 folks on the team now, which is awesome. The company is thriving. Seems like everybody's enjoying it. You haven't had to lay anybody off, nobody's been fired. And now we've started to work with a great team. We started working with Shoelace and you brought Corey Leviska on. Tell me a little bit about that.

0:26:28 - (Dave): Yeah, over a year ago, about a year and a half ago, we started chatting with Corey and found out that he's our kind of people. He's very much like a fawn, awesome kind of guy. He very much believes in a lot of the same stuff that we do. And he's got this great open source project. He's got this great project of the largest library of web components that are open source, and they were great, right? You can read code and you can find out a lot about who somebody is.

0:26:53 - (Dave): You can read their writings and find out a lot about who they are. He had some great articles on why web components. Why did I switch from this to that? And he got strong opinions, but also is very reasonable about it. It's important that when we have strong opinions that we also recognize in the same breath that we might be wrong, temperate with I might be wrong and I might change my opinion tomorrow as I grow and as I know more.

0:27:14 - (Dave): And maybe none of this needs to be religious. And Corey's just like that. Right? So our company value of relentlessly practical very much. We were reminded of that getting to chat with Corey. And so we chatted with him and we brought Shoelace and Corey into the fun awesome organization. And then we have hired two other folks to be a part of that. We've got another developer and we've got a product designer working with them. I'm also working on that stuff with them right now, too.

0:27:40 - (Dave): But that has been such a great thing. So the thing we want to know is, can this work for a different project? Can this whole notion of finding a paid model for the product work? Can finding a paid model for the product work again for a different project? Can we run what's worked for us at font awesome? Can we try this again with Shoelace? And so that's why we are running the web awesome Kickstarter.

0:28:09 - (Dave): So Shoelace, a part of this is we are renaming Shoelace to web awesome because that's what it is. This is an awesome project of helping you build websites better. And there's a pro version where we've got more stuff that you get just like fun awesome. There's the free version and the pro version. If we do this right, the pro version can help us continue to grow the free version. So we've got these great reward tiers in the Kickstarter where the more that we make, the more components go into the free version of the project. Right. We're already going to be rewriting a lot of how theming is done for shoelace to merge shoelace web awesome. Shoelaces web awesome.

0:28:46 - (Dave): And we're making that all easy. So if you want to stay in the land of the free product. It's about to get so much better. It's about to get easier to theme, easier to use. You won't have to know nearly as much about web components to get in there and theme these things to look exactly the way you want them. But if you do want more, we've got a paid version. We're going to give you layout, we're going to give you a whole enormous pattern library, and we're going to give you a UI for getting your brand into your web components and the hosted documentation to go with it. So we make it easy to theme it the first time. We make it just as easy to come in a year, two days, 30 minutes, six years later and retheme it. And without even having to push code, you can completely retheme your site. Web components are amazing. There's a reason why we invested so much in web components, because we're very reasonable about web technology.

0:29:32 - (Dave): But boy, it's amazing when there's a technology that hits all of the things that we think are really good way, in a really practical way, right? What good technology is something that helps people work better together. That's what it is. And we think web components enable this. It enables all kinds of great stuff to happen. So we're really excited to see if can we with the same thing that we did for fun awesome free with pro, can we actualize what web awesome shoelace can become?

0:30:00 - (Dave): Right? Can we see that happen? And that's what we've been hard at work at for over a year now.

0:30:06 - (Matt): Yeah, we'll prove it. Yeah, nice.

0:30:10 - (Dave): Yeah.

0:30:10 - (Matt): And hopefully we can duplicate that same, not in the exact same way, but just like fawn. Awesome. The folks that were so generous to back the Kickstarter, here we are, we're creating more open source for people. We're just growing this thing exponentially so that people can just get more value.

0:30:28 - (Dave): What else is fun is that we as people are always better together. Because I tell you what, life is just better when we work together. It's more satisfying. It's when you've got someone else that you can come in every day, work alongside that you can trust as a person. And that just makes it so satisfying to get up. Because the truth is, sometimes you go through stuff at work and sometimes you go through stuff at home, and the stuff at home is always a lot harder, it's always a lot bigger stakes. And what if you've got some people at work that you know well enough, that care enough about you as a person that are there for you.

0:31:04 - (Dave): What if you had a company that was there for you? When stuff gets hard at home, they're like, hey, man, take care of it. Whatever you need to take care of, go get that done. Because we know that's the important thing and that's the priority. And so we're excited to. That's what we think actualized open source looks like. It's not just the open source that's actualized. It's the people making it. That's what it is. That's what it is underneath it. And we've been told by people before that we are stupid on how we manage the company. And you know what's fun?

0:31:33 - (Dave): You know what's really fun about it?

0:31:35 - (Matt): You get approved. Wrong.

0:31:37 - (Dave): Yeah. The fun isn't the proving in the wrong. It's figuring out. We thought this was important. Is it real? Can we do it right? That's the piece of it, right? The challenge of the mountain is not there because you don't believe you're good enough and you have to beat yourself up to find out. No, that's sad. That's unfortunate. And I know a lot of people that have to motivate themselves that way because that's how they've always been treated in their life. But what if we were motivated out of not what wasn't good enough about us, but what was?

0:32:07 - (Dave): What if it could be about the things that we find fundamentally captivating, about people, about business, about product, about engineering, design, of beauty and wonder in the world? And what if we could figure out and find the place that we wanted to do something with that? That's the heart of what I think of when I say actualized open source as nonsensical in some ways as that name sounds. Yeah, I don't know any better words.

0:32:37 - (Matt): You okay, so admittedly, we're getting creative and trying to reimagine a way to do open source differently. Maybe you think we're full of it. And of course there's going to be naysayers who say generating a viable business while retaining an open source product is an oxymoron. We don't think so. And at Fawn awesome, we continue to work hard at sustaining both. So now maybe there's a few listeners out there that have gleaned some tips for their own endeavors.

0:33:08 - (Matt): If you like what you've heard, please tell your friends about podcast awesome. Take a minute to give us a like and review. It only just takes a minute and it helps us get discovered by others who are looking for more awesome in their lives. This podcast was produced and edited by this guy right here, Matt Johnson. The podcast awesome theme song was composed by Ronnie Martin and audio mastering was done by Chris N.