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.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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