If an open source project is created first and then a community grows around it before a commercial offering is available, I'd call this community-led growth (e.g. Redis, Red Hat).

If an open source project is created alongside a commercial product (aka "open source core" or "open source startups"), where the community grows along with the product (ideally), this is what I'd call commercial-led growth (e.g. Remix). Some folks might also call this product-led growth but I'm emphasizing the commercial focus – growth is driven by customer adoption, not the community.

With community-led growth, trust and confidence exist by the time a commercial offering comes into play since the project has been in use and has an active community. Trust is implicit.

But with commercial-led growth, trust and confidence don't exist from the start. The community must be built. Trust and confidence have to be engineered. Trust becomes explicit. It is a risk factor that customers evaluate.

If you don't have a strategy to deal with demonstrating trust for commercial OSS, you'll constantly be compared to community OSS which has the advantage.


Trust in community-led vs. commercial-led open source growth