The Sidekiq Experiment, Part I


It’s been about 6 months since I released the first version of Sidekiq, my take on a high-performance background processing library for Ruby which is an order of magnitude more efficient than Resque and DelayedJob.

In some ways, Sidekiq has been a huge success: I’ve never owned an OSS project that has ramped up this quickly in terms of watchers, users, pull requests, etc. I’m still blown away that a Railscast was created for Sidekiq!

But another part of the Sidekiq project is not technological at all but rather an experiment to answer another question: how can I build a library that is simple for others to use but also financially responsible for myself as a husband and father? I’ve spent hundreds of hours building Sidekiq and managing the project, how can I justify time away from my family in order to build and support the best tool out there for free?

Sidekiq’s initial release was LGPL (actually GPL but that was my mistake and quickly fixed) and offered a (easy?) way for people to donate $50 in exchange for a more business-friendly license. In the last 6 months, I’ve sold about 15 licenses for about $700. Assuming I’ve spent 200 hours on Sidekiq, that’s $3.50/hr or half of minimum wage. It’s safe to say I do this because I love building software, not for the massive payday. I’m calling altruism and licensing a failure and an end to this part of the experiment.

What’s next? Allow your workers to purchase in-app trinkets, a la Zynga? Sell out to IBM and create WebSphere SQ? Nope, but I have some ideas which I think everyone will be happy with. They’re still early stages so I won’t give any details but people who have bought a commercial license will be taken care of.