The degree to which open source software has reduced time to market for web companies and saved them money in operational costs over time cannot be overstated. Indeed, open source is so crucial that in most cases we simply take it for granted. I don’t think people who have joined the industry in the past 10 years or so can really imagine what it was like. We used to pay for everything — databases, Web servers, application servers, version control software, compilers, and everything in between.

Now, you can build a massive business without spending any money at all on software, thanks to people sharing their work. People who are willing to give away their work created the foundation upon which this industry rests.

Stripe is doing an awesome thing to give back to the open source community — providing grants and office space to programmers so that they can work on their open source projects. It’s an interesting addition to the usual options of hiring open source developers and letting them spend some or all of their time on their open source work, or contributing patches back to open source software.

Andrey Petrov wrote a first-hand report on the two weeks he spent at Stripe working on his project, Urllib3. More companies should follow Stripe’s lead on this.