The number of people working in Europea open source companies may have quadrupled between 2016 and 2018, suggest numbers gathered by Awesome Free Software (AFS), a free software directory first published a year ago. The project, which is still a prototype, combines publicly available data on free and open source software tools and companies.
Data on assets, turnover, profit and number of employees are publicly available online for about a quarter of (mostly) European companies involved in open source, estimates Sven Franck, the founder of AFS. Franck is a free software developer and marketeer who works for Nexedi, a French company developing ERP5, an open source enterprise resource management system.
AFS takes its numbers from business registers and company websites. “This indicates the overall size of the market for European open source publishers,” Franck says. “We could cover more ground if we had access to all of Europe’s national business registries, and it would help if companies updated their entries.”
The AFS numbers for 2018:
- Total assets: EUR 753,387,386
- Revenues: EUR 531,474,562
- Earnings: EUR 12,276,669
- Staff: 3.9K
Franck and other AFS volunteers are looking to import data from OpenHub, a project that aims to track and analyse open source projects. “We would also love to add information from Git repositories,” Franck told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory (OSOR).
In the spotlight
Franck and colleagues had been thinking about AFS for two years when, in 2018, they won financial support from the Fonds de Dotation du Libre (FDL). This non-profit association finances the long-term maintenance of free software solutions that are of general importance. Together with CNLL, France’s open source industry assocation, FDL has this month started to organise events around European free software companies. These events, which will take place more often in the future, focus on the companies’ contribution to technology and on ways to finance research and development, explaining how to use tax rules and other financial incentives.
AFS aims to similarly put European free and open source companies in the spotlight, Franck explains: “Promoting their open source solutions and services are an entry point for potential new customers. Equally important is to show that the free software ecosystem is growing and vibrant, that it creates high-quality local employment and that it shares its know-how publicly.”
The project also allows visitors to create lists of case studies for different sectors. Here, for example is a list of about 120 case studies for public services using open source.
The services and data offered by AFS are still being developed, and the developers are also working to improve the platform’s usability. “We are already using a larger dataset, but the directory is actually still the prototype version,” Franck says.