Open Letter to the Gatsby Open Source Community

Kyle Mathews
August 13th, 2020

Several members of the community have expressed concern about how we’ve treated contractors historically, and voiced additional concerns about the future of Gatsby’s open source tools and community.

We hear you, and we wanted to take some time to respond.

My co-founder Sam and I started out managing the company directly. After a year or so, we realized that crafting a stable, safe, productive environment for our colleagues has a steep learning curve, and we began the process of bringing in experienced leaders to manage the various teams and functions. We agree that we should have done a better job handling some of the situations that arose, and we sincerely apologize to those who had a bad experience and were negatively impacted by what we now recognize were missteps on our part.

We can’t promise that we won’t make mistakes in the future, but here are some of the ways we’re trying to do better:

  • Last year we hired an experienced VP of Engineering who’s since hired many adept engineering, product, and design managers.
  • We recently hired a Director of Employee Engagement and Development, and our HR function has been working to put in place the policies and programming that will ensure every individual feels supported and valued.
  • We’re currently engaged in a Chief Operations Officer (COO) search to find someone with deep company building and management expertise.
  • We’ve partnered with Consciously Unbiased to conduct workshops and identify areas where we can improve our Diversity & Inclusion efforts and overall employee experience.
  • Over the past year, we’ve also worked to hire more leadership and establish more structure within the organization to make sure we are setting clear expectations and career paths while providing meaningful support systems for all our employees.

Some of the recent changes we’ve made to our website and GitHub permissions have caused some folks to wonder if this signals the corporatization of our open source work. We want to reiterate our commitment to Gatsby open source and the amazing community that surrounds and supports it. We cannot tell you how much the Gatsby community means to us, and we are here to listen — even when what you’re saying is hard for us to hear.

These recent website and contributor permissions changes were made because the way we were doing things was time consuming, overly complicated, and unsustainable. Maintaining two websites is a lot of work, and GitHub organizations aren’t really meant to include 4,000 people. These are problems we should have been more prepared for from the start. When the time came, though, we spent a lot of time thinking carefully about whether we should make these changes, how to do it, and how to make sure the community feels supported throughout the transitions. Your contributions and your experiences are important to us, and I don’t mean that in a bland “corporate statement” way. Every day the team is bringing up community concerns, sharing your Tweets and messages internally, making sure the hard questions are being asked, and holding us accountable (we have almost as many people inside the company speaking up and keeping us honest as we do outside the company). Many of the folks at Gatsby are here because they are passionate about Gatsby Open Source and its community, including myself. 

Gatsby is also a for-profit company, though. While we currently rely on venture capital to support our open source work, the goal is for Gatsby Cloud to support the future of Gatsby Open Source. We offer a free tier of Gatsby Cloud, and we’ve tried to offer a paid plan that will be affordable for individuals who want access to our paid features. We are also currently building online community programs and platforms to provide new opportunities for community members to be heard, to contribute, and to engage with each other and the Gatsby team. 

Onwards and upwards,

Kyle

 

Kyle Mathews
Written by
Kyle Mathews

Founder @ GatsbyJS. Likes tech, reading/writing, founding things. Blogs at bricolage.io.

Follow Kyle Mathews on Twitter

Tagged with communityView all Tags
© 2020 Gatsby, Inc.