GOODCo Finalists: Three Software Companies Embrace Open Source

Can you make money when your main product is available for free? These software companies thrive while giving their code away for everyone's benefit.

Software is a part of every business in today’s economy; many of our newest and most promising enterprises have nary a physical product at all. Production processes in the digital economy still carry the influence of the hackers, academics and garage-based entrepreneurs who launched the industry, and there’s a strong strain of small-d democracy and an emphasis on freedom of information in the industry. This week, the GOOD Company Project is celebrating companies that are succeeding while lowering the barriers for innovation and emphasizing the spillover benefits that free code offers everyone hoping for a brighter tech future.

Id Software

This pioneering video game developers created the legendary Commander Keen but is most well known for its controversial 1993 game DOOM, released just two years after the company's founding. Id’s developers are credited with many developments in computer graphics and mastering the first-person shooter genre—its game Rage, released this year, continues its dominance in that genre—but that’s not why we’re here. Id Software releases the code behind every game a few years after its release, so once the company gains some profit from its intellectual property, everyone else can learn from its work, port it onto different hardware platforms, and make games (or anything else) based on Id’s innovation.

Engine Yard

Founded in 2006, Engine Yard is a hosting service, providing server space and other tools developers need to create new digital products. Whenever you think of the “cloud,” you can think of Engine Yard: The company, along with their partners at Amazon Web Services, give developers the space to do their work without worrying about the basic infrastructure underlying their projects. Engine Yard is special because of its focus on an open-source programming language called Ruby, invented by a Japanese programmer to create a more human-friendly way to write software. Ruby is becoming an increasingly important part of the software landscape, and Engine Yard releases the code behind the tools they use to make the language work, giving developers a leg up in creating their own apps. This makes business sense for Engine Yard as a cloud service business—it will be better off the more software developers are producing Ruby products—but it takes a forward-thinking company to recognize the mutual benefits of sharing its work.


GitHub, founded in 2008, is a social network for coders and the largest code host in the world. Essentially a sophisticated platform for managing software development projects between multiple users, GitHub is open for virtually any coder to share what they’re working on, contribute to others’ projects, and learn from other action taking place in the community. The service is even changing the way the industry works, as developers treat their GitHub accounts as portfolios to display their craft and gain the attention of potential employers or startup co-founders. Anyone can use GitHub for free if they keep their code public—teams and companies (including Twitter and Facebook) use their accounts to collaborate on private code before releasing it to the public. Mixing private enterprise with public collaboration, GitHub is creating a new model for a digital workspace—and making it easier for everybody to reap the benefits of software engineering advances.


Open-source code is helping improve software for everyone by creating the widest possible base for innovation while keeping it in the public domain. These three firms are GOOD Company finalists because they’ve found a way to thrive as enterprises while cultivating the community.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less