Will dbt adopt a proprietary licence? I think so | Tom Phillips

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2024-04-02 11:30:08

Data build tool (dbt) changed the way many organisations transform data and do analytics. I think more change is afoot: I predict dbt Labs will adopt a proprietary licence for dbt Core and the project will fork.

dbt Labs use the loose open core business model, where the primary functionality in dbt Core is covered under an open source licence (Apache 2.0) with extra proprietary software wrapping around it, namely dbt Cloud.

The open core creates a large funnel of potential customers for the proprietary product. The difficulty with the open core business model lies in deciding whether a feature goes in the open core or proprietary product. The company wants to add functionality to the proprietary product to drive conversion of users to customers, but this often conflicts with the interests of the users of the open core. Despite this conflict of interest, the open core depends on the success of the the proprietary product to fund its development.

In dbt’s case, I think dbt Cloud isn’t a compelling product. Despite using dbt Core for years I have never bought dbt Cloud. I don’t know of any organisations who use it; I know of one who stopped.

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