Why there's no Rails Inc

By David Heinemeier Hansson on June 5, 2007

IDC predicts the market for open-source software will reach some six billion dollars in 2011. No wonder the VCs are getting anxious to play on that roulette.

Which brings me to why there's no Rails Inc. It certainly isn't for lack of VCs wanting to fund. I've had more than a handful conversations with various outfits eager to pour big money into such an operation, but I'm just not interested.

There are many reasons not to be interested in VC money these days, but let's just give two specific ones for Rails.

First, Rails is not my job. I don't want it to be my job. The best frameworks are in my opinion extracted, not envisioned. And the best way to extract is first to actually do.

That's really hard if your full-time job is just the extraction part since you now have to come up with contrived examples or merely live off the short bursts of consulting. For some that might work, but I find that all my best ideas and APIs come from working on a real project for a sustained period of time.

Second, the growth of the Rails ecosystem has been staggering. There are so many shops out there offering Rails consulting and training. I believe part of that proliferation is due to the fact that there's no core-group monopoly that can dominate the market.

I believe a Rails Inc consisting of a large group of core committers would have an unfair advantage in the training and consulting space — easily siphoning off all the best juice and leaving little for anything else. There are plenty of examples in our industry of that happening around open source tools.

It's much more satisfying to see a broader pool of companies all competing on a level playing field.