Over the past 3 months, we’ve been heads-down focused on rebuilding our ethical ad platform from the ground up. We are excited to announce that our new and improved version of CodeFund has been released.
What is CodeFund?
We provide a simple way for open source projects to generate passive income through ethical advertising. We take care of the details and allow contributors to stay focused on the project. You may have seen ads on jsbin.com or codesandbox.io.
Do you ever feel like your ads are watching you? This is due to 3rd party tracking of impressions, a practice we disagree with in the advertising space. We are not like the other guys. Being ethical means we do not allow 3rd party tracking. Our publishers rest easy knowing that their visitors are safe. We are fully transparent with everything we do… including our source code.
Most of all, we consider ourselves partners in the Open Source space. We want to help people and projects thrive.
In January of 2018, we joined efforts with Gitcoin. Since then, we have slowly grown the product. Being a part of Gitcoin and Consensys provided us with a relatively long runway. This runway allowed us to focus more on the growth over the sustainability of the business.
In 2018, we focused on slow sustainable growth by aggressively concentrating on publishers and giving the majority of our revenue back to the community. This choice to only focus on growth and customer/publisher satisfaction led us down a path of financial loss. Given that we had years to build the company up, this wasn’t a huge concern.
Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our lead engineer around October of last year. This left CodeFund in a position where we couldn’t effectively perform the ongoing development of the platform. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt set in. Our long runway also started to shorten dramatically around this same time.
CodeFund Rewrite in Ruby on Rails
Late September, we hired Nathan Hopkins as our lead architect. Combined, Nate and I have over 20 years of experience with Ruby on Rails. We decided to break away from the platform written in Elixir and rewrite the application using our preferred language and framework. We decided to rewrite the platform while at GitHub Universe and made our initial commits while still at the conference.
Between October — December, we put in 60 hour weeks to complete what is now CodeFund 2.0. This product is in every way better to the prior version.
Here are some metrics on the ad render speed (CodeFund 1.0 vs 2.0)
- Ad image render time went from 600ms to 25ms (184% faster)
- Ad JS time went from 190ms to 175ms (8% faster)
- XHR request went from 300ms to 0ms (we don’t do this anymore)
Our interface is also MUCH easier to use. It’s fast and clean, thanks to the Front theme by HTMLStream. Expect future blog posts that focus on different features of CodeFund 2.0.
As you may know, CodeFund is part of Gitcoin, which is a company within the ConsenSys mesh. In December of last year, ConsenSys let go of about 13% of the workforce. Due to our strong alignment with Consensys 2.0 Pillars, we were not part of this percentage. However, it put us into high alert. ConsenSys 2.0 (with the new goals of 2019 and beyond) is focused on creating “tangible value”.
From July to December of 2018, we have created value for our publishers and advertisers. We did not create value for ourselves though. Here’s a screenshot of the financials of CodeFund for the past 6 months:
You can see that our net revenue (excluding salaries, benefits, etc) is almost nothing. In a world where we had 3–5 years to build a solid, stable revenue stream, this would not be too concerning. However, we are now looking like our runway is between 6–12 months.
2019: Focus on a Sustainable CodeFund
I speak often about sustainability. Open Source sustainability. Maintainer sustainability. However, I don’t often talk about business sustainability. I’m a software engineer trying to be an entrepreneur. I have made tons of mistakes in the process. I haven’t priced things right. I haven’t set proper, reasonable expectations at times. That being said, I’ve learned a ton.
For us to support open source and their maintainers, we must also sustain ourselves.
What we have decided to do is be as open and honest with the public about our challenges in 2019. We consider ourselves partners to the open source community. We are not a big business. We are a small startup that is trying to build a business around helping our peers. We consider every publisher and advertiser a partner of CodeFund.
Due to our limited resources (it’s just Nate and myself), we have divided up our work for the next 3 months. Everything we do will be geared towards helping CodeFund become sustainable while continuing to increase distributions and advertiser happiness.
In January, we will be launching a new product called CodeFund Jobs. More to come on this within the next 2 weeks.
We will also be launching better fine-grained ad targeting. This will include the option to target ads on a US state level, or region-based in other countries.
In February, we will update our pricing model to be geography-based. For example, if an advertiser wants to display ads across the world, we should have geo-based pricing that works for them. By making this change, we expect the advertisers to have better click rates and higher conversions. We also believe it will allow us to display more ads in underrepresented countries such as China or India.
We will also be launching multivariate ad testing. Currently, our platform does not allow advertisers to test creatives against each other. By end of February, this will be possible.
In March, we will be making some changes to the CodeFund Jobs product. This change will allow publishers to participate in the revenue generated. This will also give us the ability to have fallback ads that are not dependent on paying advertisers.
Finally, in March we will be updating our publisher distribution system. If you have been paid by CodeFund in the past, you know it’s a pain. We know too. The goal is to automate this process as much as possible. By end of March, we should have that solution in place.
This year will be a year of rapid growth. But with growth comes growing pains. We are ready to take on those pains. We will fight as hard as we can to make ethical ads a long-term viable option.
In 2019, we commit to:
- Be open with our financials (good and bad)
- Listen to our partners (advertisers and publishers alike)
- Send weekly newsletters on the progress, successes, and challenges
- Have the hard discussions
In return, we hope that those willing to participate with CodeFund can commit to:
- Be reasonable flexible when dealing with our growing pains
- Taking a chance with us. Our visibility and rates are better than any competitor
- Becoming an active partner in helping us grow and become sustainable
If you are interested in learning more about CodeFund as either a publisher or advertiser, please visit https://codefund.app.