Expanding the Linux Foundation into China and APAC


By: Wayne Merrick

Map Data: Beijing, China
Google Earth, Google Maxar Technologies

Wayne Merrick’s first interactions with the Linux Foundation involved taking the organization on as a client. The Linux Foundation entered China through a sister organization called Linux Foundation Asia Pacific (LFAPAC). The organization grew quickly through the help provided by what is now BYG Advantage. LF APAC remains the regional leader in all things open source technology to this day, and most participation was and has continued to be free. LFAP brings in revenue through charging for corporate memberships, events, and training. 

Growing a Linux Foundation presence in China involved overcoming unique challenges. 

For example, LFAP needed a way to process official transaction receipts for interactions between member organizations. These receipts, called fapiao (fah-pey-ow) in China, are essential to officialize business. Without organization through the LF APAC, all transactions would be slowed as individuals would have to manage processing fapiaos through their own differing individual methods. Through vetting and selecting from third party providers, Wayne and his team organized a centralized process for issuing and approving fapiao that was flexible enough to meet the varying requirements to handle all LF APAC transactions with and between its members. 

In addition, the team needed to exercise considerable tact to convince organizations to agree to pay membership and other fees in US dollars. While many local organizations were capable of paying for goods and services in US dollars, they were not used to doing so and lacked standard protocols in this regard. Paying US dollars for a local service was especially unusual for Chinese firms, but this was a strict requirement of the Linux Foundation. A three part strategy was implemented. First, the team set to work convincing firms to commit to US dollar fees involved creating and communicating incentives for joining the program to generate interest.

At the same time, the team was proactively transparent about the requirement and reasons behind it. This two-pronged tactic worked, as many organizations were eager to join to begin accelerating their business by tapping an enormous and growing body of open-sourced resources, and repeated exposure to the US dollar requirement made the inflexibility clear. Third and finally, LF APAC encouraged representatives of would-be member organizations to collaborate on strategies to arrange US dollar payments from their firms. 


Hundreds of organizations across APAC have joined the Linux Foundation as a result of these efforts, with several Chinese firms making up the upper echelons of sponsorship, including Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba Cloud, WeBank, and Baidu, among others. Wayne Merrick, a partner at BYG Advantage, continues to serve the Linux Foundation as Director of the LF APAC.

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