FINOS response to COVID-19: An Open Letter to the Community

March 13, 2020

Dear Community,

As the world responds to the unprecedented risk posed by COVID-19, our team is constantly monitoring the situation and adjusting our plans as needed, I wanted to reach out to you for two reasons, to outline our plans to respond to this situation and to describe how we are redesigning our operations to ensure our Community continues with its momentum.

In response to COVID-19, firstly we fully realized that the kind of in person interaction that often characterizes and cements open source Communities will simply not be possible over the foreseeable future. The safety of our Community and team will always be our first priority.

For this reason, over the course of the last two weeks we had to make the following difficult decisions:

  • Postponing our Open Source Strategy Forum London, originally scheduled for May 6th. As you might have been notified earlier in the week, the first of our two planned OSSFs this year will be postponed to a later date in 2020. We want to thank the Goldman Sachs team for the flexibility in looking for a new date later in the year and we recommend that everyone subscribe to for further updates as we update our plans.
  • Canceling our upcoming Edinburgh, London and NYC Meetups. All of our in-person events scheduled for Q1 and Q2 are currently on hold. We are actively working to replace them with online events, as we realize the importance of human interaction at a time when our Community is seeing more momentum than ever.
  • Implementing a mandatory work-from-home policy for all FINOS employees. Our team has been already working from home over the last few days. But as several of us are distributed across some of the outbreak hotspots (California, New York, Spain, etc), effective today I am instituting a mandatory work from home policy, including any external meetings. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause. We ask you to respect this policy and turn your meetings with the FINOS team virtual. I appreciate your understanding.

Despite these inconveniences and necessary changes in plans, we are nonetheless privileged and fortunate that we can largely remain equally productive in a fully virtual setting. And one of the strengths - and secrets - of successful open source projects around the world has always been to be remote and distributed in nature and still achieve an unprecedented level of productivity. This transparent and efficient public collaboration is made possible through tools like issue management, mailing lists, chats and distributed code repositories like Git.

This is not to discount the importance that human interaction has in building communities, the bond and the sense of a joint purpose and cause that events, meetups and even a heated discussion over a beer (or a mocktail!) over a pull request can bring. OSSF 2019 was the perfect example of what a packed, informative, engaging and honestly fun event can do to boost the growth and the momentum of a community.

And so, until we can all reconvene in person and shake hands, here’s a few areas we all can act on to reimagine how we operate our community and continue riding the wonderful momentum we are experiencing:

  • Double down on FINOS infrastructure for open, distributed, collaboration: now more than ever, it’s going to be paramount to adhere to the principles of transparent collaboration and governance that FINOS is built on. Work on public issues, identify “help wanted” or “good first issues”, raise pull requests, leverage our online meeting infrastructure, publish agenda and minutes in a timely fashion, use our Mailing lists (and Symphony or Gitter for projects who use those) to have an interactive conversation.
  • Propose a blog post for our Community Blog: we always welcome Members or contributors posting about open source projects, demos, thought leadership pieces to our blog. Have your voice heard and take this virtual downtime as a great excuse to promote your open source effort. Reach out to if you’d like to propose an idea.
  • The FINOS team is building a digital event strategy: while it’s been on our team’s mind and backlog for a while, the current social distancing guidelines forced us to accelerate our plans to gear up online events as a fundamental channel for our Community. Over the next weeks and months you’ll see more and more webinars, live coding sessions, online channels added to the Project meetings we already host. Our Community team is actively working to turn our in person events into a largely digital event strategy and we’ll follow up with updates in the next days and weeks. If you have ideas for an online event please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Director of Community James.

While COVID-19 is taking a huge toll on all of us, the markets and the very definition of social interaction, I have no doubt humanity will emerge stronger on the other side. And so will our Community: in these conditions, open source has the potential to be even more of a safe harbor for technology investments and it’s fully ready to continue delivering value in a totally virtualized environment.

In the meanwhile, please make sure you follow all the recommendations from CDC, your local or state authorities and, if needs be, you can always stay home and work on your next open source contribution :)

Thank you for your contributions and please keep looking after one another. Stay safe!


Gabriele Columbro, Executive Director, FINOS