Attention hosting companies: This software builds your business

Dear colleagues and competitors in the hosting industry,

Our businesses are built on an enormous foundation of free software.

Web hosting remains solid, but we’ve all lost customers in the last 10 years to proprietary email platforms, and have just collectively just accepted it. Mail solutions based on exclusively free software are looking second rate compared to GMail, Exchange and other vertical systems where we can’t add value through our expertise, or give users the choice of where they host.

Facebook and Twitter continue to use their muscle to wind internet messaging back to the 1980s. That was a time when sending a message between big commercial networks was a privilege and not a right. So you had multiple addresses, or people you had to pay to talk to, or people you just couldn’t talk to because those big networks wanted to lock people in. We’re getting back to that state again now.

In 2012, Mozilla publicly pulled staff from future development of Thunderbird. It used to be the best email client, bar none. But it had fallen behind before, and now looks like it’ll continue to do so, given how large a code base it is.

All of this bad news means hosting companies lose business. Users see a better experience with one of the big guys, moving towards them and their proprietary platforms. Among many other things, we all need to see a better free email client, and the prospect of anyone starting afresh seemed pretty remote.

Geary is a brand new desktop email client – in the early stages of development.

It’s being developed by a San Francisco-based non-profit called Yorba – you may already know them – they’re the talented and proven group of hackers who built the slick photo manager for the Linux desktop called Shotwell.

Yorba simply want to put beautiful, functional, software out there, for free, with no strings attached, and with no plans to lock away the best features for paying customers. They’re funded by donations and consulting work and have turned to a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the development.

That means Yorba are writing more of the type of software that will continue to build all our companies. When clearly talented people come together to help us, just for the love of what they do, we must support them to see results.

They’re looking for $100,000 to finish Geary. Bytemark has pledged $2500, and if only a handful of us do the same, we have a great chance of seeing an amazing new email client coming to fruition in 2013.

Geary will help us all to sell more servers, and to grow our industry on open standards, not limited interoperability with giants.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew Bloch
Co-Founder, Bytemark

Update: Unfortunately, Geary did not reach its crowdfunding target. If you’re interested in learning more about free software mail clients, check out our post on Mailpile