We shared back in December how we wanted to find a way for people and organisations to support Matrix in a more impactful manner. We wanted it to also enable the Foundation to be more autonomous and more powerful in growing the ecosystem. Well the day has come: the Foundation is now able to formally accept members!

So what is a member of the Matrix.org Foundation? It's an organisation or individual who financially supports the Foundation by paying a yearly membership fee, and in return gets some influence in driving the direction of Matrix and the Foundation's activities.

The key has been to create a balanced governance model, to make sure the Foundation stays aligned with the Matrix manifesto. For this we've created a Governing Board to set the direction of the Foundation whilst the membership fees will fuel our efforts to get us there.

So why become a member?

A common, durable platform

Matrix is an open protocol everyone can contribute to. However we believe that to remain healthy, a protocol is better off having a single spec that needs to be curated. The additions need to be debated, implemented in actual software, and the rest of the specification needs to be adapted to the new changes. Such curation and edition work take time and effort, but the benefits of it are enormous.

A curated protocol benefits individuals, digital rights activists, and philanthropic investors who believe in the fundamental right to control and privacy in online communication. As an open standard for real time communications, Matrix brings the sovereignty, security and interoperability, which are key to having full control over one's own communication. By financially supporting the project, people who are aligned with our beliefs allow us to keep fighting for our collective rights, be it by providing secure software or persuading regulators to protect their citizens (such as our DMA promotion work or our fight against the Online Safety Bill).

A curated protocol benefits profit-making companies building communication products and services. Decentralisation is a hard problem. End-to-end encryption is a hard problem. Decentralised end-to-end encrypted communications are a very hard problem. Matrix is doing the heavy lifting in these areas so companies can focus on building what they do best: creating great user experiences on top of it. By financially supporting the project, organisations building on Matrix rest assured it keeps evolving, being patched and staying secure. In short it ensures Matrix remains a competitive advantage over other products, at a fraction of what it would cost to maintain an in-house solution.

A curated protocol benefits entire governments, and large parts of the public sector, who have both adopted it widely. Public organisations can not only benefit from a sovereign, secure and interoperable solution - they can also ensure public money is spent for public good, not shareholder wealth. By joining the Matrix Foundation, public sector entities contribute to the stability, security and performance of Matrix. Investing into the project ensures that the open standard that is supporting their healthcare, defence and public administration continues to benefit from innovative open source software development.

Stay unbiased & vendor neutral

The Matrix manifesto hasn't changed. We still believe people should have full control over their own communication, not be locked in silos, be able to converse securely and privately, and that communication should be available to everyone as a free and open, unencumbered, standard and global network.

The Foundation maintains the Spec, which formalises the behaviour expected from the various software components of the Matrix ecosystem. We believe it's important for both individuals using the protocol - and organisations building products on top of it - to be part of the decision process when it comes to shaping the evolution and features of Matrix. So we have designed membership tiers catering for all budgets, and mapped the Governing Board representatives evenly across the tiers.

The Spec Core Team appointed by the Foundation's Guardians is particularly vigilant against features which only benefit particular players, or are designed to somehow cripple or fragment the open protocol and ecosystem in favour of competitive advantage. As such it is a guardian of the neutrality of the protocol, making sure it will serve the general public's interests and be a solid base to build robust products on for commercial organisations.

Delivering from the get go

The Matrix.org Foundation wants to take a more active stance in supporting the protocol. The Foundation needs to respond appropriately to the Governing Board's recommendations. We are hiring a Managing Director who will be in charge of identifying and building programmes the Foundation can deliver, obtaining funding for it, building a team and overseeing the delivery with the approval and support of the Governing Board.

Such programmes could include an accreditation process, to give more visibility and credibility to the organisations adopting Matrix seriously, organising more Matrix events, to promote the standard and share experiences amongst the community etc. Their mission will overall be to make the ecosystem thrive and grow.

A Managing Director working full time will also allow us to increase the Foundation's transparency by allowing it to report more often on such programmes, independently from any vendor.

Going where we're expected to

The Governing Board is the new compass of the Foundation: it refines the vision of the Foundation and steers the Managing Director and Spec Core Team in the right direction.

This gives the Governing Board a lot of power over the Foundation and Matrix, so we've put in place several safeguards to ensure the Foundation remains healthy.

For example, the Guardians remain the ultimate authority, should the Governing Board take decisions against the interest of Matrix, and the Governing Board cannot appoint or remove members of the Spec Core Team.

To ensure that the Governing Board is representative from every stakeholder in the ecosystem, we've included both representatives from every membership levels, including individuals, but also representatives of those who are rooted in its day to day operations (i.e. the MD and the Spec Core Team), and of the Guardians.

Since the Governing Board sets the direction for the Foundation, continuity is important. Therefore, members of the Governing Board are serving for two years, with yearly elections renewing only half of the board at once. This makes room for fresh ideas without losing context of the previous decisions.

Finally, this membership scheme is also meant to formalise and better distribute the relations of power in the Matrix ecosystem, to make it more independent of specific vendors. We believe this is a major next step to make Matrix thrive, and welcome everyone to join us in our mission. You can also check our Prospective Members presentation here for more details.

In short, become a member today!

Send an email to [email protected] or browse matrix.org/membership

The Foundation needs you

The Matrix.org Foundation is a non-profit and only relies on donations to operate. Its core mission is to maintain the Matrix Specification, but it does much more than that.

It maintains the matrix.org homeserver and hosts several bridges for free. It fights for our collective rights to digital privacy and dignity.

Support us