I'm going to assume that you're an IT professional that either has, or would like to build, a software library or business application and make a few bucks on the side. Since you are reading this then the question you are probably asking yourself is: Is Inexas a good bet?
I'm going to argue that Inexas is indeed a good bet and that you should get involved. I'll base my case on four arguments: firstly that working in Inexas is probably your dream job, secondly that Inexas is an exciting place to be, thirdly that it will be very rewarding, and finally that the risks for you are minimal and manageable.
Before we jump in, if you're not familiar with the structure of Inexas I need to give you some background information in order for you to be able to fully understand what I'm talking about.
- Inexas develops and sells IT open source business applications, libraries and services. Inexas provides the infrastructure that turns contributions from many people into fully-fledged products and services that customers pay for.
- Inexas is a cooperative. Inexas has contributors rather than employees. It is wholly operated by its contributors for their mutual benefit.
- Inexas is a not-for-profit organisation. All revenue earned by Inexas is passed directly to contributors.
- Inexas is organised in modules. Modules are small teams of contributors that provide products and/or services to Inexas. Modules are organised in a tree structure. Each module is a self organising meritocracy; contributors take care of their module's internal administration and choose which child modules they adopt. So, whilst modules are part of a hierarchy, they retain full control and are otherwise independent and equal.
A day in the life of a contributor: As a contributor you'll work from home collaborating with others using Skype or email. You'll write code, documentation or perhaps take care of some of the administration needed to organise your module. As soon as your contribution is used, directly or indirectly, by paying customers you'll receive your share of the income.
Now you have an understanding of the structure of Inexas, let me try and persuade you that you should get involved.
The case for Inexas
As I mentioned, I'm going to make my case using four arguments. We'll look at each one in turn.
This is probably your dream job
As a contributor you'll work where you want, how you want, on what you want, and with whom you want. According to Inexas' statute a module has no formal boss - nobody can tell you what to do. Having said that, you don't earn any money until your work is used in earnest so there's still considerable pressure on you.
Inexas is a meritocracy. As your work is incorporated into a module you'll get a say in how the module is run. The more revenue your contribution earns, the more say you'll have.
You're on the front line. At Inexas your earnings are directly proportional to the value that customers place on your work. This puts you in a unique relationship with your customers so that the only thing that matters is that you produce what your customers need and nothing must get in your way.
Inexas is an exciting place for you to be
With the exception of a few cosmetic details, there has been no significant innovation in software engineering since the proliferation of open source. The ensuing stagnation has resulted in a focus on cost; projects are being outsourced to places where employees must work out of necessity, not out of choice. The continual increase in distance between customer and producer measured geographically, culturally, socially and financially stifles innovation and suffocates job satisfaction. Hard-earned dollars are redirected out of the hands of software engineers to faceless middlemen. Where is the justification? Business applications aren't noticeably better, nor are the price tags.
The answer to this problem is not to go back to the way things were but instead lies in establishing an explicit relationship between customer and producer. For that reason I believe the software engineering cooperative is a game changer.
As a contributor your goal is to satisfy the needs of the people that pay for your software rather than the management chain. You'll find the cooperative business model liberating but demanding and simultaneously competitive and collaborative. Inexas is liberating because you have the freedom to do what you want. But a cooperative is a highly competitive environment - there will always be others that have the same idea as you so you'll need to be innovative, responsive, and produce work at the right quality. In almost all cases, the best way to meet these demands is to work closely with a group of like-minded friends.
Inexas is designed to win. It provides an environment where every contributor is self-motivated to do what ever is necessary to succeed which beats the traditional manager/employer relationship. Can geeks can produce quality products outside of a strict management hierarchy? Open source says yes. Inexas' cooperative model adds the structural capability to undertake more adventurous projects and finances them.
You need to be part of this right now.
Financially rewarding and personally satisfying
Now we will look at what you stand to gain as a contributor. In your professional life there are two factors you're looking to maximise: the money you earn and personal fulfilment.
As I have shown, Inexas' business model is designed to be competitive which means more revenue. Inexas has almost no overheads: no offices to pay for, no management hierarchy and no failed projects. Inexas is a not-for-profit organisation and so passes the revenue it earns directly to contributors. In short, contributors are better off financially.
Personal fulfilment is just as important as financial reward in your professional life. At Inexas you choose what you do; the things you choose are going to be things that you are passionate about. Secondly because it's you deciding what you do rather than somebody else. Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Before I move on to the next argument I should underline that, in order to get the most out of Inexas, many people will need to develop the ability to recognise and realise opportunities. Opportunities, in this sense, arise when customers' needs overlap with your skill set. The better you are at spotting and exploiting these opportunities, the more successful you'll be. It will take time and effort to develop this ability but, rest assured, it is the foundation of your personal success, in or out of Inexas.
Minimal and manageable risks
What will you lose if, for whatever reason, Inexas doesn't work out for you?
To answer this question remember that that becoming a contributor is not like changing jobs, it's not all or nothing. You can carry on with your existing job as long as it suits you and contribute only as much as you feel comfortable with.
Perhaps the most concerning risk is that, depending on Inexas for your earnings, your contribution falls into disuse either because customers no longer need it or they find a better alternative. If you find yourself in this situation within a traditional enterprise you can expect to be laid off but at Inexas things are much brighter. Full transparency acts as an early warning system and gives you enough time to address customer concerns and even diversify into other areas. You're not helpless.
Should you ever decide that being a contributor is not right for you and go back to your old job then you're in for a pleasant surprise. Unlike leaving a normal job, Inexas continues to pay you your slice of the revenue as long as your contributions are used. You lose nothing.
I've argued that being a contributor is probably your dream job. That it is an exciting step for you to take and will be both financially rewarding and personally fulfilling. I've also shown why it's a sensible step for you take as risks are relatively low and in any case manageable.
If you find these arguments convincing then it makes sense for you to take the next step. Get involved!