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· 9 min read
Carl Cervone

Gitcoin has been providing grants to open source software teams since 2019.

Over the last four years, more than $38M has been distributed via quadratic funding across 3,000+ projects and over 18,000 project applications. This includes both $22M in matching funds and $16M in direct donations from the community. On average, for every $1.00 put up by a matching fund donor, they have raised an additional $0.75 from the community.

(Overall, Gitcoin has allocated more than $50M towards public goods through a range of mechanisms, including direct donations and bounties, as well as quadratic funding.)

Although there are often anecdotal reports about Gitcoin's impact from projects, there have been few attempts to look longitudinally across a cohort of projects and track their impact over multiple years.

In this piece, we identify a group of 50 open source software projects that have received significant funding across multiple Gitcoin Grants rounds and then we examine the relationship between grants and growth.

Within this cohort, we see that for every $1M that has been paid out in grants since 2019, there are 7 full-time developers who are still around today. If we factor in the crowdfund multiplier, then every $1M put into the matching pool is associated with 13 retained full-time developers. These results have held up even during the bear market.

· 10 min read
Carl Cervone

One of our primary goals at Kariba (the team behind Open Source Observer) is to build a network of Impact Data Scientists. However, “Impact Data Scientist” isn’t a career path that currently exists. It’s not even a job description that currently exists.

This post is our first step in trying to change that. In it, we discuss:

  1. Why we think the Impact Data Scientist is an important job of the future

  2. The characteristics and job spec of an Impact Data Scientist

  3. Ways to get involved if you are an aspiring Impact Data Scientist

    Spoiler alert: join this groupchat and apply for data access here

One important caveat. This post is focused on building a network of Impact Data Scientists that serve crypto open source software ecosystems. In the long run, we hope to see Impact Data Scientists work in all sorts of domains. We are starting in crypto because there is already a strong culture around supporting open source software and decentralizing grantmaking decisions. We hope this culture of building in public and experimenting crosses over to non-crypto grantmaking ecosystems. When it does, we’d love to help build a network of Impact Data Scientists in those places too!

· 8 min read
Carl Cervone

We are excited to present our inaugural report on the state of open source software (OSS) projects building on Arbitrum. This analysis is the first in a series aimed at providing the community with data and insights to assist with impact measurement and grantmaking.

Some highlights:

  1. We are currently tracking over 300 OSS projects and over 13,000 code artifacts that are making an impact on the Arbitrum ecosystem. These artifacts include both GitHub repos (~10,000) and smart contracts deployed on Arbitrum One (~3,000).
  2. Approximately 1,800 developers are actively engaged in these projects. This number aligns closely with the latest Electric Capital Developer Report. Our analysis, however, incorporates an additional 94 projects not currently captured in their registry.
  3. The number of active developers is 18% lower than the peak of around 2,200 in March 2023. It's important to note, however, that this reduction is primarily concentrated in a few projects rather than a general decline across the ecosystem. In fact, the majority of projects have maintained a stable developer count over the past year.

· 11 min read
Carl Cervone

Open Source Observer is a platform for measuring the impact of open source software (OSS) contributions. We are one of the 24 projects in Octant's Epoch 2 funding allocation.

We used our dataset to take a quick snapshot of the collective impact of Octant's funding on the OSS developer community. In Epoch 2, Octant is helping support:

  • 23 projects with at least some OSS component to their work
  • 322 GitHub repos with regular activity
  • 542 developers making regular code commits or reviews

In the last 6 months, these 23 projects:

  • Attracted 556 first-time contributors
  • Closed over 5,608 issues (and created 5,962 new ones)
  • Merged over 10,817 pull requests (and opened 12,443)

· 17 min read
Carl Cervone

RetroPGF generated a considerable amount of noise, both during and after the main event. Now that the results are in, we need to find the signal. These are the messages, intended or not, that will likely reach the wider community.

We can learn a lot by plotting and analyzing the distribution patterns of tokens to projects. In domains where the signal is too weak (ie, impact > profit) or too strong (ie, profit > impact), the Collective should be more explicit in shaping the distribution patterns it wants to see and then making tweaks to the RetroPGF process and game design.

In this post we will take a look at:

  1. 30,000 foot view: the signals that everyone in crypto should pick up on
  2. Box seat view: the signals that badgeholders and engaged community members should pick up on
  3. In the arena view: the signals that live players and builders should pick up on

I also want to make sure I don’t bury the lead:

  • Less than 20% of the RetroPGF 3 allocation went to projects that directly contribute to sequencer fees.
  • Every badgeholder and citizen who wants the best for Optimism probably feels that this allocation level is too low.
  • This is not a sustainable trend, given that sequencer fees are the long-term revenue engine for this whole experiment.

Many factors likely contributed to this outcome. In a previous blog post, we discussed how the round’s game dynamics could make it difficult for voters to express their true preferences.

· 4 min read
Carl Cervone

Messari just released their annual Crypto Theses for 2024. This year’s report included a chart from a16z’s State of Crypto 2023 showing npm downloads for three of the leading packages used by decentralized apps going up and to the right, reaching all time highs in late 2023. Messari founder Ryan Selkis said “If I could invest blindly into crypto based on a single chart, it’s this one.”


There’s a lot to love about this take, but one big problem: downloads are a terrible metric for monitoring ecosystem growth.

· 5 min read
Carl Cervone

Open Source Observer is a platform for measuring the impact of open source software (OSS) contributions. We launched a few months ago with a commitment to open source everything. We attended the PL Summit in Istanbul last month and had a chance to present our work to the community.

We are excited to announce that we are now initiating coverage of the PLN open source economy!


Heatmap of all GitHub contributions to PLN open source projects since 2017.

This report is a shallow dive on 188 open source software projects that we are currently tracking within the PLN ecosystem. We are also tracking 1,000+ projects in the broader crypto economy, which we will cover in seperate reports.

· 14 min read
Carl Cervone

RetroPGF is a unique kind of repeated game. With each round, we are iterating on both the rules and the composition of players. These things matter a lot. To get better, we need to study whether the rules and player dynamics are having the intended effect.

This post looks at the psychology of the game during Round 3, identifies mechanics that might have caused us to deviate from our intended strategy, and suggests ways of mitigating such issues in the future.

Disclaimer: I was a voter and had a project in Round 3. I also made a lot of Lists.

· 8 min read
Carl Cervone

Open Source Observer is a platform for measuring the impact of open source software (OSS) contributions. We launched a few months ago with a commitment to open source everything. Here is our hello world post on the forum ICYMI.

This report is a shallow dive on the 300+ open source software projects participating in the latest round of retroactive public goods funding (RetroPGF 3). It combines both off- and onchain data about projects.

The report itself has two objectives:

  • Kickstart more rigorous analysis on the effectiveness of RetroPGF as a mechanism
  • Snipe some data nerds to join our data collective

Let’s jump in.

· 5 min read
Raymond Cheng

How Open Source Observer commit to being the most open and reliable source of impact metrics out there.

At Kariba Labs, we believe deeply in the power of open source software. That is why we are building Open Source Observer (aka OSO), an open source tool for measuring the impact of open source projects. In order to achieve our goal of making open source better for everyone, we believe that OSO needs more than just open source code. We are committed to being the most open and reliable source of impact metrics out there. We will achieve this by committing the OSO project to the following practices:

  • Open source software: All code is developed using permissive licenses (e.g. MIT/Apache 2.0)

  • Open data: All collected and processed data will be openly shared with the community (to the extent allowed by terms of service)

  • Open infrastructure: We will open up our infrastructure for anyone to contribute or build upon our existing infrastructure at-cost.