Open teams are easier to understand in a volunteer project. You need to keep the contributors or they won’t volunteer. Do open teams work in a corporate environment? Can they help you manage a distributed team of entirely full-time employees? I spoke to Mark Mitchell and other members of his company CodeSourcery to find the answer.
Mark Mitchell doesn’t like to describe his company as “virtual”. It‘s distributed, but CodeSourcery is very real. If your company produces a new piece of hardware that needs to run the GNU C/C++ compiler, then call CodeSourcery. They solve hard problems, delight customers, and work together without a single office.
CodeSourcery has about 30 engineers located all around the United States, as well as Canada, England, and Russia. Every employee works from home. They develop complex system-level code for new chipsets most engineers have never heard of and create a cohesive team out of a group of people from around the world.
I spoke with Mark Mitchell, the CEO of CodeSourcery, and Nathan Sidwell, the manager of their GNU toolchain development group, as well as team members Ricardo Anguiano, Catherine Moore, and Stephan Seefeld in October of 2008. They discussed what it was like working in an open team and how it feels to work for a distributed company.