Collaborative payment for open-source dev

There are thousands of open-source software projects that are maintained by one person, including software used by lots of companies. Take Dovecot IMAP server for example. Timo Sirainen wrote it and actively develops new features for it. Several companies pay him to develop one-off features that we care about. But Timo gets pulled in different directions depending upon who’s asking the loudest or waving the biggest check. What if Timo could use a Digg-style site to let people submit and vote on feature requests, but you vote with
dollars instead of clicks.

Benefits:
(1) Multiple companies share cost of paying for features.
(2) More companies that rely on free software start paying something
(even if its small) to those that develop it.
(3) Timo makes more money than he makes today because he can always
choose to work the features that are worth the most.
(4) Other developers might start hacking on the code if anyone can get paid to develop the features. Requires some governance.
(5) Most important features *might* rise to the top.

I heard that someone tried this and it failed, but I can’t recall the name of the company. It would be worth a look into why because this seems needed.

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