The Nivenly Foundation is founded on the principle that project maintainers should share in their projects’ success. The Nivenly Foundation brings sustainable governance to open source projects and communities around the globe and supports the maintainers’ independent oversight of their projects. We are a decentralized, democratically-governed non-profit technical organization, that focuses on building an equitable future for technology communities.
In June 2022, Kris Nóva started the Aurae runtime project as the culmination of her lifetime of experience developing, deploying, securing, and maintaining distributed production infrastructure in enterprise-scale cloud architectures. However, she couldn’t find an appropriate home to continue incubating the project, where she felt she could maintain oversight of the integrity of the project. During the same timeframe she began serving an independent Mastodon instance in her basement, Hachyderm, which grew from approximately 700 users before November 2022 to 40,000 users by December 2022. Similar to Aurae, Hachyderm’s growth signaled that it would need an entity to call home.
She also saw so many other maintainers in open source facing the same problem - they need a foundation to help them scale their project but they don’t want to lose the ability to cooperatively steer their project’s direction and maintain its integrity. So, she got to work creating a place maintainers can call home.
Announcing the Nivenly Foundation
We are thrilled to announce the Nivenly Foundation: a democratically run nonprofit on a mission to bring sustainable governance and autonomy to open source projects and communities around the globe. The founders' dream for the Nivenly Foundation is to provide an exciting and equitable future for the next generation of technologists.
“The Nivenly Foundation will establish a path forward for general computer science to flourish with inclusive communities, rather than profit-driven entities dictating its direction. We dream that one day, young and marginalized technologists will experience intellectual equity in the industry.“
– Kris Nóva
The industry is thirsty for a community balance. For the industry to sustain future generations, there must be balance between the individuals who build and maintain projects, and the corporations that leverage them. The founders of the Nivenly Foundation believe that the way to create this balance is through a community model built around the idea that open source software is for everyone. “An industry without a balance in control is no different than a hostile corporate monopoly without competition”, said Nóva. “We want the people working on projects to be the same people who benefit from the success of those projects. This begins by placing control back in the hands of the open source community and maintainers.”
Why Nivenly Foundation is Different
The Nivenly Foundation provides a crucible in which computer science, altruism, and collaborative methodology can thrive without the influence of corporate product marketing tactics that distract from projects’ directions and co-opt their potential. “We believe that well-maintained and well-operated open source projects are the key to unlock this future,” Nova said. And so, Nivenly’s first order of business is establishing the governance and financial model designed to support the maintainers of the projects while giving a democratic vote and voice to all members of the foundation.
The Nivenly Foundation creates a cooperative and egalitarian governance model, designed to serve the public interest of its communities without profit-driven obligations. The community maintainers and contributors are empowered to preserve the integrity and advancement of their projects through a democratic voice in the decision-making process. The details of how this democratic process will function will be published and vetted with the community in the coming weeks. We envision that the Foundation will support educational resources, training, and research for public computer science, analogous to how the International Space Station serves as an international laboratory.
Nivenly’s Team and First Projects
The Aurae runtime project and the Hachyderm social media platform will be the first projects to come under the stewardship of the Nivenly Foundation. Quintessence Anx will join Nivenly as the Executive Director. Dominic Hamon, Preston Doster, Mekka Okereke, and Molly Monroy join Kris Nóva as the initial Board of Directors. Their biographies are on our “Who” page. More information about Nivenly’s projects is located on our “Projects” page.