Open Source Initiative names first Executive Director

SAN FRANCISCO, September 8, 2021 -- The Open Source Initiative ® (OSI), stewards of the Open Source Definition that sets the foundation for the open source ecosystem, is excited to announce Stefano Maffulli as its first Executive Director.  The appointment is a key step for the transformation of OSI into a professionally managed organization, a process that the Board of Directors started in 2020.

After an expansive search led by OSI’s purpose-built staffing committee, the Board of Directors appointed Maffulli, an experienced international leader in enterprise and open source environments. OSI is grateful to Deb Nicholson, interim general manager, for her outstanding work in this transitional year.

“Bringing Stefano Maffulli on board as OSI’s first Executive Director is the culmination of a years-long march toward professionalization, so that OSI can be a stronger and more responsive advocate for open source,” says Joshua Simmons, Board Chair of OSI. “We can now deprecate the role of President transitioning to Chair of the Board with confidence about OSI’s future.”

Maffulli joins OSI after decades of open source advocacy, both as a contributor and leader. He co-founded and led the Italian chapter of Free Software Foundation Europe from 2001 to 2007, structured the developer community of the OpenStack Foundation and subsequently led open source marketing teams in several international companies. An enthusiastic open source user, he’s contributed documentation patches, translations and advocated for projects as diverse as GNU, QGIS, OpenStreetmap and WordPress.

“Open source software is everywhere, but its definition is constantly being challenged,” Maffulli says. “The zombies of shared source, limited-use and proprietary software are emerging from the graves where we put them to rest in the 90s, threatening the whole ecosystem.”

OSI’s definition - and licenses - keep pace with today’s whiplash technological advances. 

“Mobile devices, cloud, artificial intelligence/machine learning and blockchain offer new opportunities for developers, entrepreneurs and society as a whole who all deserve a strong OSI not only to maintain a definition of open source that works in modern settings but also forges a path for how to effectively produce modern open source software,” he adds.

Members of the wider open source community also welcomed Maffulli to the OSI.

  • "Successful open source depends on the solid bedrock of open source licenses, but it also requires so much more," says Allison Randal, Chair of the Board of the Open Infrastructure Foundation. "The new structure of the OSI will enable the Executive Director and the Board to put renewed energy behind the practical aspects of producing open source software in open and collaborative environments, facilitating healthy dialog around how open source projects and communities can continue to evolve toward a more sustainable and equitable future."

  • “Open source has no geographical barriers. Software produced and shared by the global community is one of the greatest human achievements. By hiring an ED with an international background, the Open Source Initiative is reinforcing its mission to steward the Open Source Definition for the wider community,” says Samson Goddy, co-founder of Open Source Community Africa.

  • "This is an important change," says Karen Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy. “I congratulate the OSI for engaging in a critical re-evaluation of its role in the FOSS community and redefining how its board functions. I'm excited to see what the future holds for OSI with Maffulli's leadership.”

About OSI

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD) and the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant. The OSI is also actively involved in Open Source community-building, education, and public advocacy to promote awareness and the importance of non-proprietary software. The mission of the OSI is to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, founded in 1998. For more information, visit https://opensource.org/