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OCS 2020 Breakout: Frank Karlitschek, Nextcloud

Frank Karlitschek is a long time open source developer and former board member of the KDE e.V. In 2016 he founded Nextcloud to create a fully open source and decentralized alternative to big centralized US cloud companies. In 2012 he initiated the User Data Manifesto to define basic human rights regarding personal data. Frank has spoken at MIT, CERN, Harvard and ETH and keynoted several conferences. Frank is the founder and CEO of Nextcloud GmbH. He is also a fellow of Open Forum Europe and an advisor to the United Nations regarding Intellectual Property and Open Source.

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Frank Karlitschek is the founder of Nextcloud

How did you come to learn about open source and what got you into this ecosystem professionally? - 0:17

What does open source mean to you, and how do you define open source? Also, what are your views on open core and what does open core mean to you? - 2:35

(JJ responds to Frank’s opinion of open core with an example from Elasticsearch). What are your thoughts/views on open-source projects that are at the heart of an open core company, and not necessarily feature limited? - 5:32

I would propose it’s essentially the same with the open core oriented companies. A lot of the philosophical resistance to the open core approach has to do with a misunderstanding of how companies use this model. If there was no way for users to get value except to pay, I think those companies would be indistinguishable from traditional proprietary companies. There are a lot of trade-offs. I’d love to talk about what you’re building, because it’s super important and really critical for the world. Tell us about the history. You started OwnCloud 10 years ago, and NextCloud was created a few years later. NextCloud is growing into a large community and ecosystem. Tell us about the vision, what you were starting originally with OwnCloud, give us an intro to NextCloud, and share what NextCloud provides. - 10:48

(JJ shares resources about NextCloud on his screen:, Talk about how you commercialize all of these open-source technologies. - 17:51

Talk about the company. You’ve mentioned that the company is growing really quickly. Are you able to talk about the size of the company and the team and who you’ve hired? What are the really critical roles you’ve hired for? - 21:20

I want to ask about the User Data Manifesto. You wrote a manifesto for data, and how people should think about privacy and ownership of their data. Talk about that. (See also: - 22:37

You talk about control over access, storage, and the platform itself. (JJ summarizes the User Data Manifesto.) Can you talk about your customer interactions? It sounds like you have an enterprise sales team, focused on selling NextCloud and helping customers adopt this, while also investing in the open-source community and helping the community grow. What is the response from enterprise customers about the manifesto and your vision? What are you hearing? - 25:34

What are the biggest challenges/barriers to convincing and educating the world about the importance of open source at the core of their technology platforms? At the consumer level, what are the biggest challenges of connecting the value proposition of open source to billions of consumers? - 29:11

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