We did our first Interview with Waindigo a little more than a year ago. A few things have changed since then, and some of you had additional questions for Jon so we decided to do this follow-up interview.
Thanks to Jon for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions (and also to let people know that doing an interview with TAZ can have consequences ).
Jon W is a member here, so if you have any additional questions for him go ahead and ask!
I think a lot of people find it hard to understand or even keep up with your business model. Can you tell us the status of Waindigo Enterprises, Waindigo Industries, and the Waindigo Foundation?
Yer, sorry about that. The two companies are now being dissolved. Waindigo Enterprises went bust, Waindigo Industries is Dom’s company that is no longer needed as he is no longer part of Waindigo. Waindigo Foundation was officially dissolved on 20th January 2015.
I am now trading on my own under a new company, Waindigo Ltd. I know it all sounds complicated, but the whole purpose of this latest change is to really simplify things for the future. From now on there will be just me owning 100% of one company that does everything.
Can you explain your business model?
The biggest part of the business is the bespoke development of add-ons. I charge an hourly fee for development and offer a 50% discount if I’m allowed to retain the rights to what is developed.
Every single one of the add-ons is then made available to download from the XenForo resources section for personal use, testing purposes and for other developers to play with.
For commercial sites, I ask for a compulsory donation in order to use the add-on.
How do donations work?
I want as many people to use our add-ons as possible, but in order to provide a decent level of support (fixing bugs, ensuring compatibility with other add-ons and future XenForo versions, etc.), I feel it is only fair that if people are making money from sites that use our add-ons that we should be fairly compensated.
Every site is different though, so we ask that sites just pay whatever they can afford. We have some suggested amounts on the site and I’m happy to offer a personalised suggestion to anyone who sends me a message. The suggested amount is what we think is reasonable for the amount of support we provide. Anyone who pays less than the suggested amount can use the add-on, but can’t really expect to get any support.
Of course, we also allow people to donate more than the suggested amount!
I pay myself a fixed salary every month, so increased donations means I can spend more time supporting those add-ons that people have donated towards.
What other changes have you made to the business since the last interview?
I've been doing lots of things to make things even simpler. For example, anyone who pays for bespoke work can now track all their payments and the status of their projects through our website. Small things, but all of these changes mean I get to spend more time coding and less time doing admin work, which is good for everyone.
I've also been working on a complete rewrite of my add-on for building add-ons, which I may release publicly at some point.
How much time do you spend on new projects and how much on updating and supporting your existing ones?
I probably spend about half my time on paid work, half my time on updating and supporting existing add-ons and half my time on anything else I have to do. Time management isn't my strong point!
What is your opinion of the transfer of Borbole's add-ons to Brivium and Brivium's business practices in general?
It is always sad to see a developer leave XenForo. Given that my company went bust first time round, I know how difficult it is to start up a successful add-on business. The Bible is pretty clear when it comes to this sort of behaviour – it is not a case of IF you will get caught, but when.
What if anything should be done about such things?
I love the XenForo community and that was one of the things that attracted me to XenForo as well as the amazing coding that Kier and Mike had done. But as members of the community, when things like this happen, we should be looking ourselves in the mirror and asking what we could've done better. We can’t just put all the blame on Borbole and Brivium. I know for sure that I have had a habit of being a bit hostile towards other developers. Brivium has been very secretive for some time, and yet people are still happy to buy add-ons from him.
I have been so amazed by the number of people who have contributed to develop an add-on with me and allow the code for that add-on to be made available freely. It is so wonderful! But I also still know that 99% of people who download my add-ons install them on a site where they make money, and don’t even give a second thought to paying for it if they don’t have to. I understand that most forums don’t make a lot of money, but if I’d received just £1 for every download – well, with over 35,000 add-on downloads since we started, that would soon add up!
Why the change in username from Waindigo to Jon W?
I've been aware for some time that I've been hiding too much behind a corporate front, which was impersonal and not so friendly. When Dom left the company at the end of October, I felt it was a good time to change all that. The XenForo staff have always adopted this policy and I think it is a good one. I did enjoy the speculation after changing my name as it was just after Chris had joined the XenForo dev team, but that’s all it was!
In our last interview you spoke about the importance your faith. Can you elaborate on how this affects your life in general and your work developing XenForo add-ons in particular?
Quite simply, Jesus is the CEO in my business, so the impact is massive. He invented business, computer programming and everything else, so he’s a pretty good CEO. There are two major factors to be aware of when Jesus is your CEO. The first is that it would be idiotic not to take his advice (of which there is plenty). That is not always easy as they tend to jar with the world’s way (and our self-centred way) of doing things – like loving your enemy! The standards are also basically impossible to meet, but he’s already dealt with that on the cross.
The second is accepting Jesus is ultimately in charge of whether my business succeeds or fails. Jesus was always in charge of my business anyway (he’s also in charge of XenForo, vBulletin, etc.), so my acceptance of that doesn't really change anything in this regard. If Jesus was no longer interested in my business succeeding, then I just have to accept that. His plans are so much bigger than mine, although I know they are good plans!
The same applies to my personal life. If Jesus was just involved in one or the other, then things would be much simpler. But given that he is intimately involved in both, I still have the same struggles of getting the right work/life balance etc.
What do you say to the people who are uncomfortable with, or put off by, the evangelism or ministry aspect you bring into your profession? Shouldn't the two things be separate?
This is a great question and one that I love being challenged on because I think I get it wrong all the time.
As Christians, we are called to be witnesses in our whole lives, so naturally that extends to our workplaces. Now people need to know I'm a Christian for that witness to be effective, but that is far from the main point. God can always open up an opportunity for that to be known. So then, if I'm spending all my time preaching and not actually working, then I'm actually being a terrible witness. In fact, I must be overcharging my customers or doing shoddy work, or perhaps I'm neglecting my wife or my other duties. It is very easy to talk the talk but much harder to walk the walk. In that sense, it should be kept separate.
I also don't want to make people uncomfortable. In fact, I would much prefer that people made me uncomfortable. Now I don't mean that people should just throw insults at me but, when I'm being a hypocrite, I want them to point it out to me. It's not unloving to want to help someone see where they are going wrong. In that sense, it should never be kept separate.
It seems you went and got yourself married since our last interview. Congratulations! How's married life treating you and how would you say it's affected your personal and professional life?
This is going to sound strange, but I actually used our last interview as an excuse to ask my wife out for a drink for the first time. I asked her to meet up in a bar to check over my responses and make sure I hadn’t said anything too stupid or heretical.
It was a little while later before I properly asked her out on a date, and then three months later I proposed, on Easter Sunday. As God intended it, marriage is supposed to be a picture of the relationship between Jesus and his church – Jesus, the loving husband, and his church, the submissive wife. That’s why, for example, gay marriage doesn't quite work from a biblical perspective (i.e., two Jesus’s or two churches).
My wife is amazing, but being like Jesus in the way I love my wife is still really hard. He loved his church so much that he died on a cross for them, so this means putting my wife before my business and my own pleasure all the time, even if I don’t think she deserves it (after all, we didn't deserve what Jesus did for us). If/when I do get it right, I can know that I’ll be reminding her of how wonderful Jesus is, and anyone looking on will hopefully see that too.