Tea, an open source unified package manager for software developers, announced today that it has added an additional $8.9 million in seed funding to its coffers as it builds on recent momentum in which some 16,000 developers have verified their software packages with Tea.
Tea is the brainchild of Max Howell, creator of the popular open source package manager Homebrew, and Timothy Lewis. The duo officially founded Tea of Puerto Rico last November, with the company emerging from stealth in March backed by $8 million in funding from notable backers, including the venture capital arm of crypto giant Binance.
The company has made big proclamations about how it plans to jump off the blockchain with a new web3 protocol to help creators and maintainers of open source software get paid. This entails “digital contracts” that make it easier for companies to sponsor those responsible for key components in their tech stack. The proposed protocol will ensure that package managers receive a non-fungible token (NFT) when they submit a package, which “is used to prove their work and is the key that directs Tea rewards,” according to Tea’s white paper.
For now, however, Tea has focused on the first incarnation of the product, which launched last month to challenge established incumbents in the package management space, such as GitHub’s NPM and Homebrew itself.
Tea promises that it will be more than a simple package manager: it will be a “universal” package manager, a universal interpreter and a virtual environment manager. Most importantly, though, it’s malleable, with developers and businesses able to tailor things to their own needs.
“What we’ve released so far is what I consider to be the basic functions of a CLI [command-line interface] tool of its kind,” Howell told ExamPaper. “It subordinates thinking about what packages you need to thinking about what you want to achieve — what you want to build. to bring the true power of open source to their individual niches.”
While that future sounds promising, supporting open source developers in their efforts to get paid is perhaps the biggest game-changer here. However, Tea’s close alignment with the crypto realm may cause many to ponder, especially in light of the high-profile chaos emanating from the collapse of the FTX. In addition to the involvement of high-profile investors like Binance, Tea’s proposed protocol will see package managers receive a non-fungible token (NFT) when they complete a package submission, which is “used to prove their work and is the key that directs Tea’s rewards”. said the white paper.
But the issue of payments has been a constant point of discussion in the open source sphere, especially because of prominent security flaws like Log4Shell. Ccompanies eventually have one robust software supply chainso any way this can be supported is likely to generate at least some interest.
There’s no set date in mind when Tea’s new protocol will be ready for prime time, but the company says it should be available sometime in 2023.
“Like waiting until November to release our CLI, we won’t launch until we understand how best to build it and we’ve worked internally through trial and error,” added Lewis. “We’re going to take our time and make sure the tool itself is very useful and valuable to developers.”
Lewis also stressed that when the protocol launches, the core components, including the blockchain registry, license management, and fee functions, will be completely optional for all involved. But it will also serve as the basis for Tea’s own business model.
“We are a versatile services company – we plan to build tools on this protocol that will generate revenue, and we encourage others to do the same by having an immutable decentralized registry,” said Lewis. “We have a long list of potential revenue-generating outcomes, depending on what the community finds most useful.”
More specifically, there will be room for company-specific services related to security and compliance.
“We feel we can excel in licensing and license management,” added Lewis. “Open source Supply chain security is critical for many businesses today. We will have a system to help identify potential threats and verify license compliance with the thousands of different open source components.”
Tea’s latest seed round was led by Acuitas Group Holdings, with participation from Betaworks Ventures, Percival VC, Round 13 Digital Assets Fund, StrongBlock and Wax Blockchain.