Working on and growing a bootstrapped, self-funded and open source startup is not easy. The web is a noisy and competitive place. Raising awareness and building trust is challenging. Most projects fail in their quest to reach sustainability.
At Plausible Analytics, we’re very fortunate to have reached sustainability with our recent $10,000 monthly recurring revenue milestone. We’re a team of two, we’re based in the EU and at these levels, we can pay our rent and other bills from the salaries we get for the work we do on open source software.
It’s a dream come true and a fantastic feeling that allows us to start thinking about giving back. So we’re now announcing our pledge and commitment to give back 5% of our gross revenue to the environmental causes and open source software.
- Becoming sustainable is tough and sacrifices need to be made
- We dedicate 5% of our gross revenue to environmental causes and open source projects
- Plausible 5% fund: Numbers to date
Becoming sustainable is tough and sacrifices need to be made
I consider Plausible a great success story. We’re a startup with strong principles, ethics and opinions. We do things our way and in a small way, we’re trying to make the web a bit more human-friendly again.
We say no to venture funding. We say no to Google and surveillance capitalism. We practice ethical marketing. And we give our customers a useful and privacy-friendly way to learn how to improve their websites and businesses.
We were able to grow from $400 MRR in April 2020 to more than $10,000 MRR at the start of 2021. But getting a startup to sustainability is tough and sacrifices need to be made.
Looking at my personal finances, since I joined Plausible as a co-founder in March last year, I’m down more than $27,000 in personal savings. My co-founder Uku has lost a similar level of savings since he started working on Plausible.
Just because you take a risk and start working on a startup doesn’t stop the bills from coming in. We had some months without salaries and we’re still not at the levels of what we used to have in the corporate world but we’ve made huge progress.
My personal goal for this year would be to pay all my bills and other personal expenses from my Plausible salary, recover the savings lost in the first year and hopefully start saving money again. This is something that is now a realistic goal.
And our stories are not uncommon. To work on something new, to try and make a difference in your own way to the things you care about, many people and teams sacrifice a lot of their time and resources. And only some can tell the story of making it work too.
By us being in control of the decisions and the direction we want to take Plausible in, we don’t need to cut corners or force things to achieve our personal goals. And we can still do our tiny bit to help and give back to the initiatives that we care about.
This is why we have sustainability as the purpose of our donation fund. We’d like to contribute to our planet’s sustainability and the sustainability of other open source projects that we rely on.
We dedicate 5% of our gross revenue to environmental causes and open source projects
Because of our fortunate MRR position, we can now start contributing back. This is why we’re announcing that we’re taking 5% of our total revenue and giving it back.
We’ve started this commitment on January 1st, 2021. We’re allocating 5% of our gross revenue into a separate account every month. We’ll distribute and donate 100% of what we have in that account at some point at the start of the next year.
All Plausible Analytics subscribers contribute to this fund and together we can make a little bit of a difference. And the price you pay for your Plausible subscription doesn’t change.
As usual with Plausible, we will do it all with full transparency and openness to our supporters. We will pick a mix of environmental causes and open source software to donate to. And we will announce it all here.
The environmental causes
Plausible Analytics has always been a project very conscious about how we as humans impact our planet and the environment. The web itself consumes a lot of electricity. It has a bigger carbon footprint than the whole airline industry or the entire United Kingdom.
Plausible Analytics servers are 100% powered by renewable energy and we’ve taken many steps to be as lightweight as possible both on our own website, our stats dashboard and the script that people place on their sites.
Our script weighs less than 1 KB, which is 45 times smaller than the Google Analytics Global Site Tag script. Using Plausible will reduce your page weight, keep your site loading fast and reduce your electricity usage.
A site with 10,000 monthly visitors can save more than 4.5 kg of CO2 emissions per year by replacing Google Analytics with Plausible Analytics. And with Plausible now installed on more than 10,000 sites and counting hundreds of millions of page views every month, this adds up. You can read more about what makes Plausible a lightweight web analytics solution.
The environmental causes and projects we will donate to remain to be decided. We’re thinking of wildlife preservation, clean water and clean air initiatives. We’ll take time later this year to pick out projects that make the most sense to us.
Open source software projects
On the open source side of things, we want to donate to the giants whose shoulders we stand on. The full list of projects remains to be decided.
Running an open source project, we’re very aware of how tough it is to pay your rent when the only accepted funding model is donations. Maintaining open source software is a thankless, time-consuming job. We released our code on GitHub and made it easy to self-host on principle, not because it’s a profitable business.
We had three $5/month donations for Plausible self-hosted in the first six months of accepting contributions and in the three months or so since that, I’ve been on a personal quest to try and improve that number.
We’re now up on nine $5/month donations and we’re grateful to the people who decide to donate. Each donation helps contribute back to the Plausible community and the sustainability of our project.
The fact is that it’s easier to find a Google Analytics user, tell them about Plausible, let them have the trial and become a paying subscriber than it is to get a person who’s self-hosting Plausible to donate to the long-term sustainability of the project.
From speaking to other open source maintainers, we are not an exception to this phenomenon. Possible reasons for why this may be are a topic for another post but it means that we’re very aware of this major issue that other open sources projects face too.
We’re lucky to have a more straight-forward business model for Plausible but many open source projects that we rely on such as developer tools like languages and databases don’t have a simple way to fund their activities. They are almost exclusively donation-funded projects.
If we want to see more open source software that can compete with the alternatives made by surveillance capitalism, users and projects that can afford to should donate and pay for open source software. And we are doing so too.
Plausible 5% fund: Numbers to date
We will keep this page updated with the latest numbers and we’ll also announce initiatives and projects we will donate to when we have finalized those.
“Plausible 5% for the environment and open source” donation fund to date:
|Total for 2021||$19,356|
We’ve started this commitment on January 1st, 2021 and we pledge to donate 100% of this fund at the start of 2022. No questions asked.
Update 2022: We’ve rounded up our donation fund for the year 2021 to $20,000. We donated half of that to the Red Cross for their Ukrainian collection. The rest we donated to the Erlang Ecosystem Foundation, the Sea Shepherd and the Ocean Cleanup. Our 5% donation fund is continuing in the year 2022.
Every Plausible Analytics subscriber contributes to our fund. Thank you for supporting us and for helping us make a bit of a difference!