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Fosshost is a registered UK Community Interest Company

By Thomas Markey | Apr 28, 2021

Fosshost became a Community Interest Company (C.I.C.) on April 21, 2021. Since our inception, in March 2020, we have been and remain dedicated to serving the Free and Open-Source Software community, and thereby everyone, everywhere.

This important step makes official our consistent promise since the moment of our founding:

  • That we are dedicated to the public interest.
  • That, as volunteers, we've made a lasting commitment to the proposition that volunteer software development teams ought not to be paying giant corporations for the privilege of their labors.
  • That hosting for Free and Open Source projects should be, can be, and, in the case of at least 140 FOSS projects is offered to them at no cost.

With our formal transition into an organization recognized by the government of the United Kingdom, it makes sense to share with the community our sense of what "sheltering under this umbrella" will mean for Fosshost, and how it may affect the people we serve more and less directly.

Community Interest Company

The C.I.C. is like a regular company: it can be limited by guarantee, as in our case, or by shares. Yet, unlike regular companies, a C.I.C. uses its profits and assets for the public good.

A C.I.C. is also entitled to pay their directors. Fosshost has no immediate plans to do this. This is something we may consider in the future if it would meaningfully represent more hosting support directed at our community. For now, our team remains all volunteers, including our directors who have provided the guarantees to the UK government.

As before, our infrastructure, including associated ongoing costs, has been provided by donation. We have accepted some direct donations of money, and generous donations "in-kind" from technology firms and organizations of all sizes throughout the world. These include the servers, rack-space, and most electricity costs, bandwidth, and IP addresses, and FOSS SaaS products that compose our network.

If you want to find out more about what a C.I.C. is, we recommend taking a look at this Q&A by The Guardian, the dedicated Wikipedia article or the C.I.C. Association website.

The Road Ahead

Going forward, all the previous will still be true. Additionally, we may be able to receive recognition from institutions such as banks and non-free SaaS providers, who may offer us greater access and/or lower rates based on our charitable mission and guarantees.

As before, we will utilize only free (as in freedom) components to create and maintain our network, including all the services we provide. Eventually, we also hope and expect to remove all non-free software from the lives of those who help create and maintain the Fosshost network.

For now, we will continue to prioritize the projects that we believe are most vital to our tenants - for example, working toward the stable production release of (an open-source IaaS portal developed in principle by Fosshost CTO, Nate Sales) rather than trying to replace our non-free task control and communications tools.

Internally, our volunteers, led by Fosshost founder and CEO, Thomas Markey, will begin formalizing our internal controls and policies, with the intention of creating an internal operating model in the form of policies aligned to the articles we have filed with the UK government for the C.I.C. registration. As this project develops, we hope to share this work under appropriate FOSS licensing as a model set of operating practices promoting explicit ethics and dependable transparency.

Quoting Thomas Markey, Fosshost founder and CEO: «Fosshost chose a Community Interest Company (C.I.C.) because of the efficiencies in setting one up. Overall, a C.I.C. is flexible and offers a legal structure that is reflective of our organization and culture. The C.I.O. (Charitable Incorporated Organization) route is long-winded and complicated with many checks and balances; a C.I.C. is more automated, a quicker turnaround, and more well recognized.»

Chief Operating Officer, Corwin Brust added: «This step, as all we take, advances Thomas's vision. That we are building something cool, something that people can and will depend on, and doing it such as to most directly benefit our community now and down the road.»

Before you go, we would like to remind you that you can donate to Fosshost and volunteer with us. See our Donate page to learn more about donations and our Wiki for the volunteering opportunities.