Hard to believe it’s week five already. I’ve been meeting as many of you from the community as I can, engaging in conversations to understand what’s going well and what can be improved. Our initial assumptions have been validated over and over:
- You want to get things done faster.
- You want to improve the user experience.
- You want a complete ERP suite.
Message heard. We can accomplish these together. Let’s go!
I’ve also heard some misconceptions about why KualiCo is being created and how it will operate. This is a critical point that I think needs clarification. The Kuali Foundation is forming the company and is an investor. The mission of KualiCo is to provide great software that reduces the administrative costs of education and improves the educational experience for students, faculty and staff.
At the heart of Kuali is a dynamic and collaborative community, full of enthusiasm for the mission. KualiCo will augment and amplify the passion of this irreplaceable community.
To fulfill the Kuali mission and meet these important goals, the community needs centralized leadership and financial stability. Bold, focused leadership will help accelerate pace and improve quality. KualiCo will bring in profits and take the funding burden off of the shoulders of the few, spreading it across many. Leadership and self-sustainability: KualiCo will help with both.
While I am convinced KualiCo is the best way to achieve these results, I hear your concerns that KualiCo might become “just another vendor.” We are taking deliberate steps to launch KualiCo in a way that keeps us aligned with the interests of education.
- “The company” is a mission-based company. We are bringing in employees who are aligned with the mission—to provide great software that helps reduce the administrative costs of education and improve the educational experience for students, faculty and staff.
- Investors will be aligned with the mission—either universities or foundations. Investors will not be private equity, venture capital, or other investors who would be interested in “flipping” the company or in an IPO. The process of selling or taking a company public can sometimes be at odds with the needs of customers. We will stay aligned with education for the long-term.
- The Kuali Foundation is creating the company and has key veto rights. The Kuali Foundation will have a seat on the board and have veto rights for any sale of the company or IPO. If we’re misbehaving, I will hear about it, not just from our customers, but from the Foundation. The Kuali Foundation will also be able to use company profits to help the community.
- Our software is and will continue to be open source. We are beginning to host Kuali Software for universities and see that as a great business and a value to the community. In addition, we will be developing versions of the software using more modern technologies and methodologies, similar to those used by many leading cloud software firms. This software will continue to be open source and downloadable by anyone. We will be using the AGPL3 license for this software. AGPL3 still allows anyone to use the software for free. The only caveat, and I believe it is a good one, is that it requires that modifications to the software be contributed back. Moving the license to AGPL3 gives KualiCo a competitive advantage in hosting Kuali software. This benefits customers because KualiCo profits will be used to invest in the products. We still see lots of opportunities for KCAs to add value to the Kuali ecosystem just as lots of firms today make money in the ecosystem around products like SalesForce.
- KualiCo + Community. One of Kuali’s great strengths is its highly involved community and we are committed to sustaining this involvement. Business users and other functional people give invaluable input. Engineers help code and bring this experience back to the schools during implementation. This engagement is crucial and we want it to continue.
- We are dedicated to education. Our focus will remain on universities and colleges. We understand the unique needs of this audience, and our development priorities are aligned with those needs. We do not intend to enter the market for corporate products.
KualiCo will provide amazing software that lowers the cost of education and improves the learning experience. Honoring the history and role of the Kuali Foundation is key to our future success together. And I’m still listening.