Beyond Business as Usual: A New Name for Blender Market

Autotroph projects have played a role in the education and growth of the Blender community since 2008, when we first created Fast forward to today and we are proud to manage Blender Market - the indie market for Blender creators - and our Blender consulting arm Orange Turbine.

Looking back on our 15 year history, we’ve always tried to be mindful of our obligations to the community we’ve been building, as well as our obligations to the Blender community at large. Blender Market was created with a single goal in mind: to give our community a trusted, independent platform for earning a living with the software that we all love: Blender. We are humbled to say that Blender Market has begun to achieve this goal:

  • 2600 different creators have achieved a sale
  • 9 creators have achieved over a million dollars in earnings
  • Over 33 million dollars have been paid to creators 

Another core construct while building Blender Market was being mindful of the idea of profiting from free software, and wanting to include a built-in way to allow creators to donate some of their earnings to the Blender Development Fund, and allow customers to know which products benefited the fund.

This first mockup of Blender Market, created before a single line of code was written, shows that the core idea and implementation works today almost exactly as it was designed 10 years ago.

We are very proud of the generosity that our creator community has shown:

  • 49% of all products contribute to the Development Fund
  • 69% of earning creators contribute to the Development Fund
  • $700,000+ total donated to Development Fund all time

Beyond Business As Usual

We are of course committed to seeing creator success grow and for Development Fund contributions to grow. We have an active development roadmap that reflects this commitment. But to address going beyond business as usual, we need to zoom out of the platform a little bit.

We feel that the next opportunity directly in front of us is to uplift Blender itself. The health and growth of Blender will directly impact the health and growth of its communities. Since the beginning, we’ve had a fruitful relationship with the Blender Foundation and its leaders. We’ve had the opportunity to ask: how can we help Blender?

Promoting the Growth of Individual Development Fund Memberships

The Development Fund exists to transparently communicate about the financial contributions that Blender receives, and to enable the Blender project to grow. It relies on individual memberships of a small recurring donation and corporate memberships. 

As of now, Blender Market contributes funds from creators in bulk every month. This essentially means the donations from creators happen indirectly. 

In conversations with the Blender Foundation, we’ve come to learn about the importance of fostering direct relationships between creators and the development fund. We want to publicly commit to having Blender Market play a role in encouraging direct relationships with the dev fund. 

We are currently exploring ways to have creators associate their blender ID with their account, which will then allow us to display their membership badge on their store profile, perhaps as part of their avatar on product cards etc. We are hoping this will bring a lot more visibility to the dev fund, while again, promoting direct relationships and interactions between contributors and the dev fund.

Uplifting the Blender Brand

Without Blender, our communities and our projects would not exist. That means we need to protect Blender, and not just with donations. We need to protect the brand, because while Blender is a community project, the brand and trademark is not.

The Blender Foundation has long had guidelines in place that dictate fair use of the Blender trademark and name: 

In short – if you want to start a company or website related to Blender services, avoid using the name Blender in it. You can use it as a secondary tagline though – such as “Awesome Company Inc., the Blender specialists”.  Same goes for forks of the Blender software, give it a new name and create a unique brand that way. The latter is also enforced by the GNU GPL, which explicitly excludes brand names from the freedom.

Some exceptions might apply, for example for free accessible community sites or websites that already exist for many years.

Historically, we’ve benefitted from the “websites that exist for many years” exception. The Blender Foundation has been gracious in letting us keep this exception. It is because we’ve existed for many years that we are in a unique position to lead by example to the ecosystem at large by helping the Foundation achieve their goal of trademark governance.

It is this respect for institutional autonomy that led to the creation of Blender Market in the first place, building a platform that allows Blender creators to establish and/or grow their own brand and legacy. We feel it’s only right to recognize that same autonomy within Blender.

A New Name for Blender Market

So yes - this all means there will be a new name for Blender Market in 2024!  

We are aware that any rebranding process will greatly impact creators and users of the platform. 

A new name is step 1 of many in actually rolling out the rebrand and officially switching to the new name.  That is why, for much of the remaining year, will remain unchanged as we outline logistics, and keep our creators informed along the way.

What is superhive? It’s actually a real thing! In beekeeping, a superhive is "an empty box placed above the existing boxes of the beehive in order to allow the colony to expand or store additional honey” A superhive is literally an add-on to a beehive. We were excited to achieve a name that not only nods to our bee and b3d, but also has relevant literal meaning.

Speaking of the bee - continuity was and is very important to us, so we are thrilled to be able to rebrand with a name that allows us to retain our beloved bee.

Community obligations change and evolve as a community grows and evolves. Changing our name and identity is a huge deal, and has been a 4 year conversation. At the end of the day, we believe passionately in the Blender project, and we can speak from experience that serving the community is also an investment in your own well-being.

The future of Blender based business has never been brighter, and we are excited to establish a new name for ourselves, for the love of and independence of Blender.  🧡 💙