Zulip project values

These values are behind everything we do as we
work to build the world’s best organized team chat.

Building software that will always be there for our users

When choosing software that will be core to how one’s organization operates, such as a team chat platform, there is an important question: “Will this product still exist and be responsibly maintained in a few years?”

We have designed our company, community, and technology with the explicit goal of Zulip being actively developed for many years to come.

This theme cuts across many of the decisions described below. It is also reflected in our history: Zulip's earliest customers have enjoyed uninterrupted service since 2013.

Keeping Zulip 100% open source

Many modern “open-source” companies use a version of their product with some basic functionality intentionally removed as a demo for their non-open-source paid product. In contrast, we are committed to keeping Zulip 100% open source.

When you self-host Zulip, you get all the features of our cloud offering. We work hard to make it easy to set up and run a self-hosted Zulip installation without paying us a dime, which is why thousands of organizations do so.

Investing in community and mentorship

Zulip is developed by a vibrant open-source community, and we are fully committed to helping bring up the next generation of open-source contributors from a wide range of backgrounds.

We have invested into making Zulip’s code uniquely readable, well tested, and easy to modify. Beyond that, we have written an extraordinary 150K words of documentation on how to contribute to Zulip, with topics ranging from practical Git tips to essays on important architectural decisions.

We also welcome and support contributors via formal internship programs, with over 100 participants since 2016. Because of the thousands of hours our more senior contributors (including alumni of these programs!) have dedicated to mentorship, many of these participants have told us that they learned more contributing to Zulip than in their 4-year formal computer science education.

Building a sustainable business aligned with our values

Guiding the Zulip community in developing a world-class organized team chat product with apps for every major desktop and mobile platform requires leadership from a talented, dedicated team. We believe that the only sustainable model is for our core team to be compensated fairly for their time. We have thus founded a company (Kandra Labs) to steward and financially support Zulip’s development.

We are growing our business sustainably, without venture capital funding. VCs are incentivized to push companies to gamble for explosive growth. Often, the result is that a company with a useful product burns rapidly through its resources and goes out of business. We have built Zulip as a sustainable business (also supported by SBIR grants from the US National Science Foundation), and are being thoughtful about our pace of spending.

Funding our company without venture capital also allows us to live by our values, without investor pressure to compromise them when doing so might be “good business” or “what everyone does”.

Finally, we’re building software that is easy to maintain, so it does not require a large team to keep the lights on. We have consistently emphasized high standards for codebase readability, code review, commit discipline, debuggability, automated testing, tooling, documentation, and all the other subtle details that together determine whether software is easy to understand, operate, and modify.

Supporting other worthy organizations

An important part of Zulip’s mission is ensuring that worthy organizations, from programming-language developers to research communities, are able to use Zulip whether or not they have funding.

We sponsor Zulip Cloud Standard hosting for open-source projects, research groups, education, non-profits and other communities. This program has grown exponentially since its inception; today we are proud to fully sponsor Zulip hosting for hundreds of organizations.