big changes: I am leaving ownCloud, Inc. today

Posted by on Apr 27, 2016 in ownCloud | 52 Comments

Recently I had to make one of my hardest decisions so far. Because this has an impact beyond myself I want to share this here: I am leaving ownCloud, Inc. today. But, the journey of ownCloud and Frank is not over!

6 years ago until now
I founded the ownCloud project a little over 6 years ago with the goal to enable home users, companies, universities and big enterprises to host their own cloud services and files. In a world with growing threats around security, surveillance and espionage, this idea is becoming more important every day.

4.5 years ago I co-founded ownCloud Inc, a company that supports enterprise use of ownCloud and drives the development of ownCloud forward.

Accomplishments
The product development worked our very well. With ownCloud 9.0 we released a huge milestone and an amazing product developed in close collaboration between the ownCloud company and the ownCloud community.

The community has grown tremendously, with contributions by almost 1000 people over the last 6 years, over 80 every single month. Nothing is perfect, the company could have done a better job recognizing the achievements of the community. It sometimes has a tendency to control the work too closely and discus things internally. But overall, the balance was not too bad.

I’m extremely impressed by the immense interest we see from our user community and company customers and prospects. We have built something people like and want to use and buy.

But there were also other experiences. I won’t go into the details there but these have put us in the very difficult situation.
The future
I thought a lot about this situation. Without sharing too much, there are some moral questions popping up for me. Who owns the community? Who owns ownCloud itself? And what matters more, short term money or long term responsibility and growth? Is ownCloud just another company or do we also have to answer to the hundreds of volunteers who contribute and make it what it is today?
These questions brought me to the very tough decisions: I have decided to leave my own company today. Yes, I handed in my resignation and will no longer work for ownCloud, Inc.

Let me make this very clear: this is NOT bad news for ownCloud. Change, yes, bad, no. And secondly, I am the ownCloud project lead until the community says otherwise. My email changes from owncloud to frank at karlitschek.de – that is all.

You wonder what this means for Frank and ownCloud? Besides what I’ve said, I can’t answer that today. But I can say that, of course, the journey is not over yet. There is tremendous potential in ownCloud and it is an open source product protected by the AGPL license.

If you have questions about this and what it means for you, as community member or employee, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Stay tuned, as more news is coming!

52 Comments

  1. victorhck
    27/04/2016

    “There is tremendous potential in ownCloud ”
    Agree with that…
    Sure that doesn’t was a easy decision, so , hope that this will be the best for you!
    Thanks for this (an many other) tools for the free software community! And thanks for your time and effort!

    Keep on rockin’ and havin’ a lot of fun!!

    Reply
  2. El creador de OwnCloud deja la empresa. | victorhckinthefreeworld
    27/04/2016

    […] Frank Karlitschek en su blog escribe al respecto de su decisión, hace un repaso a estos 6 años, viendo como su proyecto ha crecido hasta llegar a formar una gran comunidad de hackers que trabaja de manera conjunta con la empresa. Con contribuciones de más de 1000 personas en estos 6 años, y 80 en este pasado mes. Cifras que son grandes para un proyecto! […]

    Reply
  3. Ping^Spike
    27/04/2016

    Good luck man, thanks for everything 🙂

    Reply
  4. Joe
    27/04/2016

    Well done Frank, fight the power!

    Reply
  5. Thomas
    27/04/2016

    Every move starts with the first step – so its great you do this step, even it was a hard decision for sure.

    And thanks for the great work so far – and hopefully you stay with your “baby” and the project !

    Reply
  6. Stefan
    27/04/2016

    Hi Frank,

    although I don’t know the details: it must be a difficult situation.

    I appreciate your work very much, ownCloud is the most important open source project from my point of view.

    cheers,
    Stefan

    Reply
  7. Leo Sauermann
    27/04/2016

    Thank you for Owncloud!
    Wish you a great start tomorrow.

    Do what you can with the things you have where you are.

    Reply
  8. Daniel Hansson
    28/04/2016

    :/ Sad story. I really hope that you stick around. Thank you for everything!

    Reply
  9. ownCloud Founder, Frank Karlitschek, Leaves ownCloud to Pursue New Opportunities | Linux Press
    28/04/2016

    […] that nothing will change for them. ownCloud Inc. will continue to function as it did before, and, according to Mr. Karlitschek, this shouldn’t come as bad news to ownCloud as a software. His journey with ownCloud will […]

    Reply
  10. Bob
    28/04/2016

    So yeah, I guess you found out that U.S. MBA’s only are trained for one thing; short term profit maximization. It’s really really hard to fight culture. And Anglo-Saxon capitalist mentality is hard to break. I’m still confused as to why you chose to incorporate Owncloud in the US. Tax deductions? IMO the only sustainable open source projects or companies that have embraced open source are in Latin America or Europe (sans Britain and Spain.)
    Quite happy you stuck with GPL though! Best of luck in the future!!

    Reply
  11. Linux News Today: ownCloud Founder, Frank Karlitschek, Leaves ownCloud to Pursue New Opportunities | Blog Luthfi Emka
    28/04/2016

    […] that nothing will change for them. ownCloud Inc. will continue to function as it did before, and, according to Mr. Karlitschek, this shouldn’t come as bad news to ownCloud as a software. His journey with ownCloud will […]

    Reply
  12. Bob Mottram
    28/04/2016

    Good luck. Systems such are Owncloud are important for a future in which users retain ownership and control of their data – preferably on their own servers and in a manner resistant to bulk surveillance. Thanks for the work you’ve done so far.

    Reply
  13. Hitam4450
    28/04/2016

    Hi Frank,

    I regret to meet you in person and appreciate very much, what you have done for OwnCloud in the past! I still believe in the project and will support it as much as I will be able to!

    Good Luck – and maybe meet you in person in the future!

    Best regards, Hitam4450

    Reply
  14. Sebastian
    28/04/2016

    Hi Frank,

    once more an impressing move if I guess right whats coming next. If so then respect. Its probably the most healthy thing to do for all involved. Keep on rocking.

    Reply
  15. Jo
    28/04/2016

    It would be really interesting what kinds of moral questions pop up.
    Not because I have vested interests in Owncloud, or Frank’s personal situation, but because I’d like to know what other projects might face. And to know a bit more about the implications of each possible outcome of such moral questions.
    As it is, this blog post leaves me wondering.

    Reply
  16. Udo Pütz
    28/04/2016

    Your decision looks well thought through. You’ve left several “loopholes” for further work with owncloud – which is a good thing 🙂 And I really appreciate your focus on the community and their contributions.
    Good luck with your further way – let us know how it pans out. And thanks a lot for your hard work on owncloud (up to now and in the future).
    Best regards,
    Udo

    Reply
  17. Marcus A.
    29/04/2016

    “Who owns the community?”
    Azer Koçulu made it clear – a community relies on its contributors and depends on their contributions. A community can not be – and should not be – the property of anyone. There are already interesting ‘ownership’ concepts out there – a Decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) for instance – or the concept of ‘self-ownership corporations’ mentioned in Sahra Wagenknecht’s latest book ‘Wealth without Greed’.

    Good luck for your emerging journey.
    Marcus

    Reply
    • John Miller
      02/07/2016

      @Marcus A.: Who the **** is Azer Koculu? There is no need to be so condescending. You probably just misunderstood Frank. He didn’t mean that it is *his* community. I think what he meant was that the actual purpose or spirit of ownCloud was to be a free platform for everyone from everyone. Many people contributed there and they all are part of it. I might be wrong, but from what I have read between his lines, I think that he might be dissatisfied that his company was driven by money and making decisions based on this (which might influence the future of the development of this platform in a negative way) and did not attributed the many developers as they deserve (but I might be wrong – just my thinking), while Frank and the rest of the community is driven to make a platform for us all in this hard times when our governments are collecting our data and spy on us. But this is just a lot of speculation from me. Sorry. Maybe it is not at all like this. But I would understand it. Whatever his true reasons are: 1. ownCloud is a free software and will stay like that, and 2. Frank made the fork NextCloud, so he can still follow his own direction and everyone who thinks alike, can follow this path too.

      Reply
  18. Oliver Mokhlis
    29/04/2016

    RockOn!

    Reply
  19. Dominique
    29/04/2016

    Thank’s for all ! And good luck for the rest!

    Reply
  20. alfred7115
    30/04/2016

    Agradezco tu contribución al proyecto, está claro que se pierde una pieza fundamental en Owncloud, perdida irreemplazable, mis mejores deseos y que la Comunidad mantenga este trabajo que ha permitido mantener las 4 libertades del software libre.

    Reply
  21. Akhénaton
    01/05/2016

    Respect sir !

    And a big thank for what you gave to the community.

    Reply
  22. Links 1/5/2016: Wine 1.9.9, Devuan Jessie 1.0 Beta | Techrights
    01/05/2016

    […] big changes: I am leaving ownCloud, Inc. today […]

    Reply
  23. Frank Karlitschek Leaves ownCloud Inc. |
    02/05/2016

    […] big changes: I am leaving ownCloud, Inc. today […]

    Reply
  24. Dragan Espenschied
    02/05/2016

    Big respect, and wishing you all the best!

    Reply
  25. Alexander Biedermann
    02/05/2016

    Respect! Top project! Whatever caused this step, I wish you only the best for the future and thx 1 mio. for what you have given so far.

    Reply
  26. rakekniven
    02/05/2016

    Hello Frank.
    Thanks for all your ideas and keep on leading community.
    btw. Will you stay in Boston? Or back to good old germany?

    Reply
  27. Thomas Tanghus
    03/05/2016

    Well done Frank. I think this is good news for ownCloud – the community.

    Reply
    • Frank Karlitschek
      08/05/2016

      Thank your Tanghus!

      Reply
  28. Gianfranco
    08/05/2016

    Hi Frank,
    thanks a lot for what you’ve done so far and for what you’ll do in the future.
    Really a hard decision, I guess.
    I agree with Thomas.
    Good luck for your future!

    Reply
  29. jedibeeftrix
    21/05/2016

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you for your work on this.
    I’ve been following your work since the kde appstream store.
    The next project will be inspiring too.

    Jbt

    Reply
  30. Owncloud gründet eine Stiftung – Blog von Franz
    31/05/2016

    […] Die Gründung der Organisation erfolgt einen Monat, nachdem OwnCloud Gründer Frank Karlitschek das von ihm mitgegründete Unternehmen nach einem internen Zwist verlassen hat, hier sein good-bye Post. […]

    Reply
  31. ownCloud Gets Its' Own Foundation | 神刀安全网
    01/06/2016

    […] open-source ownCloud storage project has had a tumultuous 2016 so far, with the public exit of founder Frank Karlitschek from ownCloud Inc on April 27. Today in what really does feel like a […]

    Reply
  32. Eike
    02/06/2016

    Cool,

    9 von 10 Top-Entwicklern gehen mit Dir!?!?

    Bin gespannt, was es Neues geben wird ……. 🙂

    Viele Grüße und viel Erfolg
    Eike

    Reply
  33. OwnCloud, hébergé dans une fondation, mais aussi forké en NextCloud – JDCHASTA SAS
    03/06/2016

    […] avait d’ailleurs indiqué Frank Karlitschek, lors de son départ, dans un billet de blog. « OwnCloud est-elle seulement un autre entreprise ou apportons-nous aussi les […]

    Reply
  34. Ehemaliger ownCloud-CTO Karlitschek hat Fork Nextcloud gegründet - silicon.de
    03/06/2016

    […] den Rücktritt vom CTO-Posten hatte er mit Unzufriedenheit mit der Entwicklung von ownCloud Inc begründet, seinen Unmut aber nur sehr vorsichtig und zurückhaltend zum Ausdruck gebracht. Im Mittelpunkt der […]

    Reply
  35. What the Heck Happened to OwnCloud? - Fortune
    03/06/2016

    […] April 27, Karlitschek announced that he was leaving ownCloud (Inc.) immediately. But, as he noted in a blog post: “the journey of ownCloud and Frank is not […]

    Reply
  36. Nextcloud, le fork d’ownCloud – My Tiny Tools
    07/06/2016

    […] 27 avril 2016, Franck Karlitschek a posté un billet sur son blog qui commence en ces termes […]

    Reply
  37. ownCloud Folds in U.S. as Its Founder Starts New Firm - CloudJocks
    07/06/2016

    […] follows just over a month of drama at the open-source storage vendor. On April 27, Karlitschek said he was leaving ownCloud Inc. over differences of opinion on community management. To try to address […]

    Reply
  38. Nextcloud, le fork d’ownCloud – Open Romandie
    07/06/2016

    […] 27 avril 2016, Franck Karlitschek a posté un billet sur son blog qui commence en ces termes […]

    Reply
  39. Speculations on why ownCloud's founder forked its popular product into Nextcloud
    12/06/2016

    […] My guess is twofold. First off, ownCloud development seems to have slowed to a crawl. I believe this happened because the core developers wanted to push the product forward, and the business end didn’t seem to function well with the creative end. That internal bickering, I believe, centered around the core developers (particularly Karlitschek) wanting ownCloud to function more as a community and less as a company. This didn’t exactly go as planned, so Karlitschek announced that he was leaving ownCloud. […]

    Reply
  40. Greta
    18/07/2016

    I’m not easily imesspred but you’ve done it with that posting.

    Reply
  41. ownCloud -> Nextcloud – NOVATREND Blog
    28/07/2016

    […] April diesen Jahres veröffentlichte er den Blogeintrag: big changes: I am leaving ownCloud, Inc. today und OwnCloud Inc. antwortete mit einem Blogeintrag: Thank You, Frank Karlitschek. Danach verliessen […]

    Reply
  42. My Switch to NextCloud from ownCloud – The Unix Ninja Blog
    08/08/2016

    […] just seemed like the smart thing to do. Seeing as a good 90% of the development team – including the creator and cofounder of ownCloud, Frank Karlitschek – over at ownCloud left to fork, create, develop and maintain […]

    Reply
  43. Alan
    19/08/2016

    Our approach to building a sustainable business and community is to use the co-op business model. We avoid debt (sweat equity) so that we have full control (democratic) over our future. At the same time we can operate in commercial contexts in a way that FOSS projects often find difficult as a collection of individuals. We think this is a great alternative to the typical startup or VC funded cluster snuggles… I hope your new effort is able to maintain its independence!

    Reply
  44. Steve W
    22/08/2016

    Good on you Frank and thank you everyone to all for this awesome project. The Internet is the people using it. OSS is the people creating and using it. One day they might learn you can’t eat money 🙂

    Reply
  45. OwnCloud Founder Resigns - Stiri It&C ,Servere Linux , Servicii Linux
    09/09/2016

    […] Karlitschek, the founder and CTO of ownCloud has resigned from the company that he founded some four years ago. He resigned due to conflicts between the […]

    Reply
  46. Marcus
    09/09/2016

    «there are some moral questions popping up for me. Who owns the community? Who owns ownCloud itself?»

    Well, that could fit in the KDE “oligarchy” too: some developers like M. G. and many other important ones seem to believe they own KDE and their word is law for all those users that contribute reporting bugs and donating money. And what about some Wikipedia editors, and…? No, dear Frank, sadly, I suspect that you won’t ever get rid of those moral questions; there always will be people who want to “own” something it’s not only theirs, also other bunch of people’s.

    Anyway, good luck with Nextcloud, even if team member’s attitude won’t ever be perfect in a human association, I hope will be better than OC’s.

    Best regards.

    Reply
    • Frank Karlitschek
      11/09/2016

      There is a difference. You might not agree with some contributors to wikipedia or open source projects. This is how it is between humans. I was referring to REALLY owning the community.

      Reply
  47. Migrating from ownCloud to Nextcloud | davidsrodriguez.com
    23/09/2016

    […] as it just seemed like the smart thing to do. Seeing as a good 90% of the development team – including the creator and co-founder of ownCloud, Frank Karlitschek – over at ownCloud left to fork, create, develop and maintain NextCloud. Below are a few of […]

    Reply
  48. Dunkle Wolken in der Cloud: ownCloud vs Nextcloud aus Benutzersicht » DecaTec
    24/10/2016

    […] 27.04.2016: Frank Karlitschek verlässt das ownCloud-Projekt (Link) […]

    Reply

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