For years, software development has been driven mostly as a for-profit enterprise in which coders are hired to create applications for the organizations that employ them. That structure is usually a top-down exercise with a small number of people calling the shots and deciding what should get built and then assigning employees to build it.
But now we’ve reached a stage of history in which individuals have become more empowered to pursue projects on their own and with like-minded people. And as the cost of development has gone down, the amount of innovation has skyrocketed. Even so, there are still inefficiencies in this new model, most of which center around just how those like-minded people discover one another to begin with.
Over the past year, Assembly has sought to solve those problems by creating a platform upon which developers, designers, and engineers can come together to work on projects in an open, collaborative setting. As it seeks to grow, the company has raised $2.9 million in funding led by Union Square Ventures with participation from Thrive Capital, Box Group, Collaborative Fund, and a number of angels.
Assembly has built a community for developers and designers in which they can collaboratively build and run various software projects together. Members share in the responsibilities and ownership of any given project they participate in, and stand to share in the benefits when a piece of software finds users and ends up being monetized.
The platform works like this: First, a user submits an idea to Assembly and other community members can choose to rally around it and show support. Decisions about which features to add are done in a collaborative and transparent fashion, and bounties are set to determine how much value is assigned to any given task.
When a task is done, the member who completed it receives a share of ownership in the project through the distribution of “App Coins.” Those App Coins are used by Assembly as a proprietary cryptocurrency to keep track of ownership for various projects.
When a piece of software begins generating revenue, Assembly takes its cut and then passes on the rest, based on how much ownership each participating member has. All in all, it’s a more egalitarian approach to making sure the folks who contribute the most to a project are those who are also paid when it comes to fruition.
In the past year since launching the community, Assembly has seen five projects completed, which together have 4 million users between them. Two of those products are already profitable, and some community members are making more than $1,000 a month for their contributions to those projects.
So far most of that work has been done during nights and weekends, or whenever participants have spare time. But the hope is that Assembly will enable those community members to eventually quit their day jobs and have the freedom and flexibility to work on Assembly projects full-time.
Of course, to do that they will need to take on multiple tasks and projects. And on that note, there’s a lot to choose from: There are now more than 50 projects in various stages of development, according to Assembly co-founder Matthew Deiters. And with new funding, Assembly will be able to support even more projects as it grows its team beyond the headcount of nine that it currently has.