How Scarf helps developers measure and market open source software


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By almost any estimate, open source has eaten up the world — and despite the high-profile security flaws that can plague community software, this trend shows no signs of waning.

While the most popular open source projects often have strong corporate backing, such as Meta (Facebook) and React or Google and Android, most rely heavily on “crowd power” – independent developers spread all over the world, working in their spare time. But no matter how an open source project is maintained and supported, the developers or companies behind the project often lack meaningful information about their project’s usage and distribution – it’s something that Scarf set out to solve.

Scarf is about helping open source developers understand and measure how users interact with their projects – it’s like Google Analytics, but for open source software.

Above: Scarf: Sample Dashboard

Founded in Oakland, Calif., in 2019, Scarf sneaked out in March with $2 million in seed funding. Today the company announced an additional $5.3 million in funding from Race Capital, Freestyle Capital and a host of individual backers, as it seeks to double its recent growth which has seen some 300 developers and organizations make 900 packages available through the Scarf Platform.

Open source hotspot

The core Gateway Scarf The product, which will soon be available under an open source license itself, serves as a central access point to all open source components and packages, wherever they are hosted. It sits in front of the project registry or download host (e.g. containers on Docker Hub or binaries on GitHub builds), with the end user downloading the software artifact as usual — Scarf can then distribute key usage data that the registry provider typically uses. does not offer. This includes companies that install a particular package; in which regions a project is most popular; and on which platforms or cloud providers the package is most often installed.

Scarf: Installation Data

Above: scarf: installation data

Although Scarf Gateway is free, the company charges for premium features such as a developer API, raw data export, third-party data integrations, and availability and support service level agreement (SLA).

“Scarf’s core business model is to provide tools that help developers on Scarf generate revenue – we make money when they make money,” said Scarf Founder and CEO Avi Press. at VentureBeat. “To this end, we are building a platform for open source distribution, analysis and marketing.”

So how, exactly, does open source analytics help developers, in terms of any business decision they might have to make? Well, countless companies use open source components in their software, but maybe don’t think to support the developers behind that particular project. A developer can therefore publicly call these companies or contact them to ask for financial support.

Alternatively, developers can simply use the data they have to find the right contacts within a company to offer premium support or consulting time.

Over the past nine months, Scarf says it has been used by developers to discover more than 25,000 companies that interact with their software.

In addition to Gateway, Scarf also offers documentation insights to help developers understand how their open source documents are found and viewed, as well as language-level package SDKs that integrate directly into a developer’s packages.

“These tools integrate with each other, so for the first time, you can follow an anonymous user finding your project, installing it, using it, and beyond,” Press explained.

Show me the money (OSS)

Although Scarf has primarily focused on analytics so far, with an additional $5.3 million in the bank, it is now well funded to expand the reach of its platform to support developers looking to monetize .

According to Press, this will include the ability to generate and manage a support contract directly on Scarf, including automatic collection of payments any company may be due. “Another will be a tool for end users to purchase one-time support time with a developer, so that OSS (open source software) projects can embed a ‘book time with developers’ button on the READ ME files,” he said. “We are going to launch these [new features] Next year.”

On the surface, Scarf might seem better suited to independent developers — those who are most likely to need the data to support their go-to-market efforts. But according to Press, it’s really for anyone who needs to measure usage and adoption — that includes venture-backed companies like Buoyant, which not only uses Scarf, but its CEO William Morgan has also invested in the business.

“For indie developers and enterprises, having observability and control over your OSS distribution channels is fundamentally useful and has never been available,” Press explained. “Companies use Scarf to distribute artifacts and understand their business adoption – using their OSS metrics to drive product-driven growth for their businesses.”

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