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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Why Donating Equity Can Lead to Greater Innovation in the Open Source World

October 31, 2018 No Comments

In this interview, we talk to Ozgun Erdogan with Citus Data, about the importance giving back can play in driving improvement, and what the outcomes might be for the open source community.

  • Q. What is the Pledge 1% Movement, and what is Citus Data doing?

A. We recently announced that Citus Data is donating 1% of its equity to the non-profit PostgreSQL organizations in the U.S. and Europe. PostgreSQL is the world’s most advanced open source relational database. And since our flagship product Citus is built on PostgreSQL and transforms PostgreSQL into a distributed database, we owe much of our existence and our success to the PostgreSQL open source project. Our stock donation is part of the Pledge 1% Movement, which encourages businesses to get involved with corporate philanthropy, by donating 1% of their time, product, profit, or equity to nonprofits in their community.

  • Q. Why should companies decide to get involved in Pledge 1%?

A. In the early years of building a company, you’re so focused on your product, team and customers that it’s easy to overlook the importance of giving back to the community. But it’s the habits you form in those early years that become encoded into a company’s culture and DNA. By pledging to give 1% of your time, product, profit, or equity as part of Pledge 1%, you’re not only giving to your community today, but you’re also telling your team, customers and users that giving back is a priority for your company.

  • Q. What major effects can a company have on their community by giving back?

A. The definition of a “community” is a group of people with shared interests who come together to collaborate and to help each other. Giving back to your community makes sense.

As far as we know, this is the first time a company has donated 1% of its equity to support the mission of an open source foundation. By contributing equity to an open source organization, we are helping to fund future efforts and innovations in the PostgreSQL project.

We also believe that our 1% stock donation to the PostgreSQL project can help to start a larger conversation—an important conversation—about how commercial businesses can (and should!) be giving back to support open source communities. Especially in this day and age of the cloud, where the economics of open source are changing, we hope that other companies will also give back to the PostgreSQL open source project.

  • Q. For Citus Data specifically, why was it so important to give back to the open source community?

A. Giving back to the PostgreSQL community was the right thing for us to do. At Citus Data, we have a special relationship with PostgreSQL. After all, our flagship product Citus is an extension to Postgres that transforms Postgres into a distributed database. Our team attends and presents at Postgres conferences; we sponsor PostgreSQL events and meetups; we contribute code to and maintain several PostgreSQL extensions. And while we contribute a lot to PostgreSQL, we owe a lot of our success to the PostgreSQL project and the many talented people involved. So, we wanted to give back and to share a piece of our future success.

  • Q. What do Citus Data’s profits mean for the PostgreSQL open source community?

A. PostgreSQL is the world’s most advanced open source relational database, with decades of work that have gone into making PostgreSQL the reliable, robust database it is today. Postgres has emerged as the standard database for organizations around the world, and is recognized far and wide for capabilities. We hope that by donating 1% equity, we are doing our part to ensure the Postgres community continues to thrive in the decades to come.

  • Q. What is unique about the open source community, and the PostgreSQL community specifically?

A. Open source communities bring so many benefits to the world of software. Not only is open source free, but more importantly open source helps users to avoid vendor lock-in. Open source also makes it easier for developers to test drive software, because you can download open source packages and use them freely, without having to pay for and procure a proprietary software license. And open source allows companies to stand on the shoulders of giants: no longer does each organization have to build or buy each piece of the technology stack.

The PostgreSQL open source community is unique in that Postgres is the only independent database. No single vendor backs or represents the PostgreSQL project. I would argue the PostgreSQL database is also unique in that developers love PostgreSQL. Ask them why they love it and they will give you a list of reasons. It’s a database that empowers developers.

  • Q. What sort of innovation does PostgreSQL enable, and what role does Citus Data play in this?

A. PostgreSQL was named DBMS (database management system) of the Year in 2017 by DB-Engines, as Postgres continued to grow in user adoption. Today, all sorts of new and innovative applications are choosing to build their applications on top of PostgreSQL. At Citus Data, we transform PostgreSQL into a distributed database, giving users the power of Postgres plus the performance benefits of parallelization and the economic benefits of a scale-out solution. By distributing data and queries across multiple nodes, Citus makes it simple to shard PostgreSQL. So developers can spend their time and energy on their applications, not their database infrastructure.

  • Q. What’s next for PostgreSQL? Is Citus Data working on any new products for developers?

A. PostgreSQL 11 just came out in early October and so there are lots of conversations, articles and presentations to make sure developers know about all the new features and capabilities in Postgres 11. And of course, the work on the next release of Postgres has already begun. As for Citus Data, we are always working on new features for our users and customers. We ship new versions of the Citus database packages approximately every 8 weeks, in response to feedback from our users and customers. If you’re reading this and you have feedback on Citus, please be sure to contact us and let us know!

About Ozgun Erdogan

Ozgun Erdogan is the CTO and co-founder of Citus Data. Before Citus Data, Ozgun was a software developer in the distributed systems team at Amazon, where he designed distributed caching algorithms and built systems for scalable data analytics.



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