Team Profile — David Thomas

Personal Statement

I began learning how to program around ten years old, mostly on Linux. Researching the meaning of GNU — something mentioned frequently on software and occasionally by my parents, I discovered the Free Software movement.

By my mid-teens, I was really drawn to the philosophical underpinnings of free software. I read essays promoting open source ideals and appreciated the additional control that software users had over the software, including the possibility of customizing and altering software to suit their specific needs. Comparisons to the scientific ethos of “standing on the shoulders of giants” resonated with me. I found that free software also had a focus on the developer that I found valuable at that time, though my views have broadened somewhat with the community in the years since.

Years later, while working at the University of Michigan’s Mobile Robotics Lab, I moved into the North Campus Co-ops, part of the Inter-Cooperative Council system of 19 student cooperative houses in Ann Arbor. There, I learned more about cooperatives, and soon became active in Inter-Cooperative Council (ICC) leadership. I served as a voting member of the ICC Board of Directors and later as the summer Chair of the Membership Committee.

Building on cooperative ideals, I cofounded a cooperative software company, where I was CEO for a time and remain a member.

I’ve long had an interest in freedom-respecting business models, and when Aaron shared his ideas with me about a new crowd-funding model for Free Software development I took the opportunity help make it a reality and further promote both Free Software and cooperatives.