The other day I was thinking about Angular when the question arised:

What does Google have in return from developing Angular? The same principle applies of course not only for Google, but jQuery, TypeScript, …

Apparently Angular js is free, it can be used for any kind of web projects (open source, public or proprietary). Google invests/pays I don't know how much developers for developing Angular, but for what.

Perhaps, Google reputation is getting bigger or I was thinking that if I use Google open source product, maybe I will recommend to use Google AdWords services?

The same principle I suppose is for Linux, … or any kind of open source projects sponsored by commercial companies.

Yes I know, Linux is open source, but RedHat, SUSE, … charge custom software development if some customer needs some support or as stated software modifications.

  • 2
    You may want to read the answer at How can large open source projects be monetized?. The section When to use open source with a permissive license? specifically mentions Google.
    – Brandin
    Feb 27, 2018 at 12:18
  • 7
    Another comment: Google presumably needs to use their library to develop their services. If they hadn't released it as Angular, they would still have to develop it. In other words, it doesn't necessarily cost (much) more to release a project as open source. Google is not in the business of selling proprietary software.
    – Brandin
    Feb 27, 2018 at 12:25
  • @Brandin Not to consumers anyway, they certainly sell (well, license) e.g. Google Play Services to phone OEMs. Feb 27, 2018 at 17:58
  • @Brandin Since it doesn't hurt them to release it, but they do anyway, there are a few indirect benefits that come. First off, it's a tool for other software developers to use that software to more easily create products of their own (some of which may work with Google products, such as Android, and hence increase the marketability of those devices). Second, it increases the positive reputation that Google has in the community.
    – Zizouz212
    Feb 28, 2018 at 2:09

1 Answer 1


Motive 1: Politics and Public Perception

These big companies have a boost in the Public Perception after these announcements. This is important for them. Remember Google's motto used to be "Don't be evil", but not anymore.

You could argue that they have a need to steer the political discourse in their favor. For Example Google's Material Design is a political choice

Everything is very well documented and, with an “open source” rhetoric, they ensure that everyone practices their guidelines. And that can be a problem.


Google is a multinational corporation that represents a particular culture and Material Design is just another tentacle of the octopus that monopolizes the Web.

This general behavior in the Capitalist Economic Model is described and criticised in the documentary The Corporation

Motive 2: Practical Benefits of a Community of Users

A big driver is the long term benefit of having a large community of users testing and improving the software.

A good example would be the security aspect, as explained in How is open source encryption safe?

...Open source encryption is thus often more secure than non-open source encryption...


Cryptographer Bruce Schneier explains:

Every secret creates a potential failure point. Secrecy, in other words, is a prime cause of brittleness—and therefore something likely to make a system prone to catastrophic collapse. Conversely, openness provides ductility.

Motive 3: Long Term Economic Benefits

Example 1: Google bought Android to have control over the mobile ecosystem and be able to have an audience for their mobile ads.

Example 2: Oracle buys Java (Sun Microsytems), then eventually sues Google over Java Copyright because they want to cash in on Android's popularity.

Example 3: The React's license change controversy that arose after the project had chosen to use a BSD-derived license that contained some troubling terms surrounding patent litigation. Then Facebook re-licenses React under MIT license after developer backlash

Motive 4: Counter Existential Threats

Open Source Projects compete with Private initiatives, this can be illustrated by the infamous quote “Linux is a cancer” by Steve Ballmer.

Furthermore, you could analyse the "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" strategy by Microsoft Bryan Lunduke at Linux Fest Northwest, April 28 2018 to understand the mindset of these big companies.

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