Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Why PayPal bets on open-source

Soumik Ghosh | July 4, 2016
Here’s why Bill Scott, the man leading next gen commerce at PayPal, swears by open-source and believes in lean engineering. Failing fast and learning fast is the key to the castle, he says.

Scott calls it the "Googleability" of framework. Maybe some framework should be proprietary to the company. But, a lot of the stuff doesn't have to be.

"So, it's using open-source, it's giving back to open-source. We're working in an open- source manner inside the company. And that's a big win - we call it inner-sourcing," said Scott.

PayPal essentially is an open-source office, dedicated just to the mission of how to get all teams to think of themselves as an open-source entity inside the company.

An important factor to consider is that, when you have an open-source community, you need to have a contribution model. You also need to be able to move platforms to where they can support the model.

"And we're not there yet, trust me. Some of the teams are doing real good, while other teams are struggling. It's an ownership thing, really," he added. "What I've seen is that a contribution model can get messy. People are going to push some code that is bad - this huge mammoth code that turns out to be a nightmare and the team has to deal with it."

"So you have to have policies around smaller changes and test tolerances. That's something we're working on and we're seeing a lot of success," beamed Scott.

Obstacles you might come across using open-source

Some of them are standard ones - can you trust the codeWhat kind of bugs could it have?

"We've got a handle on that. You have tools to help you think through and scan the code. But it's more of a mindset, an acceptance in the organization to allow that, and that's why we created an open-source office," explained Scott.

A key thing, he believes, is to hire people who have an open-source mindset. You can't say, "Okay, cool, we got open-source in, now let's make it into something totally unrecognizable."

So, who bears the cross?

"The best change happens bottom-up and top-down," believes Scott. "When I joined PayPal, our CTO at that time, James Barrese, said: Come join us, and lead a pirate band for change."

"Then we started the technology change from the bottom-up. We didn't have to do a lot because we got the organization to be excited about it," he added.

It boils to this: If you have a CXO who is mandating the change, it will have some success. But it's better if you have key people whom the CXO has hired to have that mindset.

This is because he or she gives the air-cover for that change to take place and also communicates the message to the top rungs in the organization.


Previous Page  1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.