Meet Mathias Schreiber, TYPO3 GmbH CEO, Germany (Application Podcast S1E8)

Categories: Community, Podcasts Created by Jeffrey A. McGuire
Mathias Schreiber’s journey to become the CEO of the TYPO3 GmbH was not especially purposeful, but that’s part of what makes it so fascinating. He talks about how he first became aware of TYPO3, participating in the open source community, his abrupt transition to CEO, and the values that guide the TYPO3 GmbH today.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player here, watch the interview video below, where you’ll also find a full transcript of our conversation. Don’t forget to subscribe and send us your feedback and ideas!

Mathias’s Journey with TYPO3: From Answering a Newspaper Ad to Becoming the CEO

The beginning: looking for a job

In 2001, Mathias was doing something ordinary enough — looking for a job. He did it the old school way, by looking through the newspaper. He found an ad that just read “PHP, HTML, CSS JavaScript? And a phone number.” The company, based in Düsseldorf, primarily used TYPO3, and they were looking for a PHP web developer. Mathias called the mysterious phone number and ended up working for the company. That was his first exposure to TYPO3.

Joining TYPO3 and the surrounding community

When Mathias officially joined the company, TYPO3 was still in its early days, on version 3.3 beta. Right from the start, Mathias got his first taste of being welcomed into the open source community. He was actively encouraged by his mentors to answer the mailing list, attend events, and go to user group meetings. Mathias says, “This entire approach of being part of the community and giving back and helping and all that community work was really a priority.”

From web developer to CEO of the GmbH

I’m sure many people are wondering how Mathias went from a web developer at TYPO3 to the CEO of the GmbH. Mathias remembers the moment clearly. While sitting with 25 other TYPO3 employees and discussing one specific applicant for the position, he says, “I was like, ‘You know what, if you take that idiot, I can just do it myself.’ And suddenly, there was a hush that fell over the room. And everybody started looking at me and it was like, ‘Whoops. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut this time.’ And then I became CEO of the company. So that's that story, basically, not keeping your mouth shut at an opportune moment.”

Mathias and the TYPO3 GmbH Are Motivated by Open Source Values

TYPO3 is a company motivated by values, and as Benni Mack said in our previous episode, “fun” is definitely one of them. While we’re speaking, Mathias lets us in on even more values that guide TYPO3. He notes that motivation is “the currency of open source” and he sees it as one of GmbH’s guiding principles to “unblock people” so they can let that self-motivation move freely.

TYPO3 is also guided by a sense of fairness and accessibility. Mathias says they make it a point for the TYPO3 membership to be on a sliding scale, so that it is more accessible to people of all income levels and countries. And finally, near the end of our interview, Mathias brings up one more: the simple act of being helpful to another human being. He says, “To me, that's  the most important question to ask when you're building software. Does this help a human?”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player here, watch the interview video below, where you’ll also find a full transcript of our conversation. Don’t forget to subscribe and send us your feedback and ideas!

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Need More Reasons to Press Play?

In the early days, TYPO3 had not yet developed the extensibility that would make it beloved by its community. The story of how it was introduced by the founder, Kasper Skårhøj, is not often heard, but Mathias was there, and in this episode he shares it with us.


Application, the TYPO3 Community Podcast could not have happened without our special guest Mathias Schreiber, b13 and Stefanie Kreuzer for our logo, and Maestro Patrick Gaumond for our wonderful, quirky theme music. 

And a huge thank you to the TYPO3 Association for sponsoring this podcast!

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Meet your host

Jeffrey A. McGuire, Partner at Open Strategy Partners, helps organizations communicate and grow at the intersection of open source software, business, and culture. He connects the value and people behind the technologies to the people who need to know about them through inspiring conversations, keynotes, podcasts, and more. 

His approach to technology marketing—sharing the human context of complex technology solutions, and celebrating the expertise and success of their creators—has left its mark in business and open source communities over the last 15+ years.

Interview Transcript

AI-generated transcript with human corrections. Headscratchers highly likely … and itchy.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  0:03
Welcome to Application the TYPO3 community podcast. One, two. Welcome to application, that TYPO3 community podcast. I'm Jeffrey A. McGuire. You can call me jam. And this is where we celebrate the TYPO3 community sharing your stories talking about your projects and the difference you make in around and with TYPO3 CMS. Today on application that TYPO3 community podcast I talked with Mathias Schreiber, longtime community member and now CEO of the TYPO3 company TYPO3 GmbH the for the last five or six years, we roll it all the way back to his discovery of TYPO3 in a newspaper ad in 2001. on actual paper, the TYPO3 company I like to think of it as our friend and helper, the company is here to help all of us get more out of TYPO3 with products and services. Mathias talks about the company's role as being an unblocker, which is like a like a law. We go into some depth about TYPO3 in the international outside of Europe context, and go into some interesting detail about how TYPO3 associated people and programs are helping people in Africa and how you could make donations of time money or your old equipment to help more people change their lives with open source technology. And relatively late in our conversation, Mathias said something that I found very wise that we should all keep in mind. The most important question when building software to ask yourself is does it help a human? So on that note, I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I enjoyed speaking with Mathias to record it

Mathias, you have been in TYPO3 in one role or another for a very long time. Who are you? What do you do personally, professionally? And how did you discover TYPO3?

Mathias Schreiber  2:11
maybe started at the beginning. So I discovered TYPO3 when there was an like a like a really, really old school ad in a newspaper that my my father, my girlfriend and then just filled me with just said like PHP, HTML, CSS JavaScript question mark and a phone number. And I answered to that, because I was I was looking for for a job Anyways, back in the day that was that was net feelers in Dusseldorf. And they were looking for, for obviously, PHP and web development person to hire. And they were doing TYPO3 all the time. So that was like, that was like the only system they specialized on. And that was 2002, I guess, yeah, must have been 2001 or 2002.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  2:57
That's pretty early. That's pretty early. What version of TYPO3 was that

Mathias Schreiber  3:01
I joined the company when version 3.3 beta, something came out. But I had to spend I think like the first two weeks with an older version, so that I was able to appreciate all the new stuff that Casper had put into the system. And I was just like, Yeah, great. Why didn't you just like, why did I need to go through this? I never need to maintain this anymore. And he was like, Yeah, but just always remember where you come from. I was like, I didn't come from this. But okay, then Nevermind. What's also important is that my, my, my bosses, they wanted to make sure that we that all employees kind of get into the community. So that would that was the the basic idea. So I had I had like a dedicated day per week just to answer stuff on the mailing lists. We were going to every event there was to be fair, there weren't that many. The Snowbird tour, where Casper just had the idea to get like 100 nerds onto a mountain like what could go wrong? And then I think there was like a user group meeting once it was like a huge thing. It was it was hosted by the University of volpato, I think because they also use TYPO3 and stuff like that. So this entire approach of being part of the community and giving back and like helping and all that basically what community work is that was really kind of a priority also, because there wasn't that much documentation. So I remember that there was like this one guy, Renae, Fritz, we had like a single page of explaining how to do things in TYPO3. And that was like the standard bookmark that everybody had to use, because there was no docs on how to extend the system properly. So that that was that and then I went through all the processes with the release of TYPO3 version 3.30, which had no extensions, so there was no modular approach to the system at all. It was just all in there. So you were installing TYPO3, and you had like a forum and you had a shop and you had a newsletter system. And you had a guest book and you had like a tip a friend extension, and you know, all those kinds of things. It was all just weaved in and you couldn't remove it was just

Jeffrey A. McGuire  5:16
in there. And then you couldn't extend it, either. Well,

Mathias Schreiber  5:20
yeah, you could, but you had to put like files at a certain place. And you need to know where and there was no, no, no clean API to do it. You could do it. Let's just say you could do it pretty much like I don't know, like living on the 12th floor and not having an elevator. Like you can do it. It's just not fun, right? And then Kasper just took off for for, I think six weeks vacation. And everybody was like, yeah, you go have your vacation, and we'll take care of the upgrading stuff. And then he came back,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  5:48
he came back with

Mathias Schreiber  5:50
with extensions. And that was like everybody was like, No, he didn't even announce that because back in the day, it was just like, I mean, the server was located in his living room. And, and, and then at a certain point, he just immediately started doing screen recordings. So we're talking 2002 medium definition video, hosted on caspers 2.3 megabit line at home. And Kasper just sent out an email and was like, This is the future of TYPO3. So everybody clicked the link at the same time. So you had to wait like five to six hours to get like the first 20 frames of the video and everybody was okay with that. Let's go Hold on.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  6:30
Because it broke the internet in Denmark.

Mathias Schreiber  6:33
Well, no, no, he broke his own internet. And he was really pissed about the admin certain point because he was like, wow, I can no longer serve and my wife is freaking out like that. Because that was his fix connection line at home. And then extension showed up. That was when when TYPO3 basically took off. Then after me I kept working at net Philo's, then net Philo's fall apart, fell apart, then I started my own agency. And at a certain point, I was talking to my to my business partners and going like, I have a great idea. I want to I want to keep getting my salary for two years, but no longer work in the company. Instead, I want to be available for TYPO3 full time and deal with stuff. So that was the basic idea. Luckily, the business partners agreed. So we did that.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  7:19
And I was that,

Mathias Schreiber  7:20
that was w MDB. And after that, at a certain point, there was this transition from the major version 4.5, which was the first long term supported version to the next long term supported version. And people were like, Wow, now we need to upgrade everything. And we were like, yep, that's what you got to do. And people were like, Yeah, but but but it's, it has come so early. It's a surprise. And we're like, yeah, we've been only telling it to you for three years. So arguably, you know, it's like people always get surprised when it's Christmas time suddenly, of course, everybody asked Well, can you? Is there a possibility that you can maintain TYPO3 version 4.5 for even longer? And the community was just like hell no. Because if you think of it, it's like developers are, are motivated by seeing their stuff out in the world. Yeah, the longer you support the old stuff, the more you work against motivation of open source development, it's the currency, right? for current,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  8:23
yeah, and the semantic, the semantic versioning that allows us to put in new features and fix things within major versions is definitely a motivational tool. Because if I have a good idea, I could see it in core in six months, if it's a great idea, or a year if it's a good idea. And, you know, I've been through other communities, three, four or five year release cycles, where somebody you're my great idea from five years ago, still hasn't appeared. It's sitting in a repo somewhere that nobody uses for production stuff that can be unbelievably frustrating. Exactly. Exactly. And says, I was and I mean, if you can't really blame anyone, because I mean, there was nobody in charge of the project on on on such topics.

Mathias Schreiber  9:08
Of course, they were Benny and and, and and and lolly and then Hellmuth ended, like a long list of people that that took responsibility and really did great stuff. But suddenly there was this like market perspective coming in and people from the market demanding stuff, and I can't blame any, any one of them for not having an answer to such a question like, do we support it for longer? We don't want to but what do you do with the market situation? Blah, blah, blah. And then I was just like, well, is it a union, essentially, these

Jeffrey A. McGuire  9:42
people, essentially these people are also volunteers, right? Everybody we're making demands, everybody. We're making demands from open source volunteers.

Mathias Schreiber  9:52
You can basically just just put it together like this. So you're getting software for free off the internet. You just download Did you make a living from that? And of course, that kind of entitles you for demands, right?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  10:06
Yes, yes, exactly. And

Mathias Schreiber  10:08
this is just like, like, sarcasm tag. Exactly. It's It's like my mom always said that the Lord blesses has blessed the with too healthy middle fingers for situations like this and the that it wasn't necessarily that but i was i was just like okay, so obviously there's that there's there's some pain with the people that don't want to upgrade and they forgot to sell upgrades to their clients and I was like, Well, we've been telling you for three years, technically, we're out, like we told you what to do, you didn't listen. But if that's really such a big pain point that you have, then maybe you have cash. So the entire deal was it? Well, yes, we can maintain the old version for longer, but it's going to cost you mainly because I need to find someone to actually do the work. And I want to pay that person because I cannot tell them to do that, in their spare time that that's not how I roll. It's not even motivation. But if I asked somebody to do something they don't like, or they don't want to do from the bottom of their heart. And I can at least go like what can i compensate for all the hardships that you're going through right now. So we did that, that worked out better than we expected. And suddenly, there was there was like, money available. I could have, I could have taken the money and I don't know, like, bought a house or to something like that. We decided to invest that into people who wanted to do more four TYPO3 as open source, but couldn't, because they were blocked by simple financial topics. It's like I want to work on TYPO3 full time all day, who's going to pay my rent? And suddenly was like, Yeah, I could do that.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  11:55

Mathias Schreiber  11:57
that was the basic idea. And also, I would, I would I was able to call up the bosses of people who wanted to contribute, and basically just go like, Hey, can you make me an offer? If I take that developer from your company for a full year, and I pay up front. And suddenly it's it's it's, it's you can move

Jeffrey A. McGuire  12:18
things as an agency, as an agency owner, the idea of I know that I've got that person at 100% capacity and paid for upfront. Fantastic.

Mathias Schreiber  12:26
So the capacity thing is fine, because they know that Okay, okay, so I don't have to worry about getting getting like drops into pay that person, that's the one part, the upfront payment is what actually negotiates the discount. This is basically what we did. And at a certain point, the TYPO3 association came up with the idea to found a company around that thing we invented. So the support extensions, that you have, like support for longer timeframe for the old versions, basically. So the idea came to, to to build a company based on that. And I was I was involved in the in the staffing process, frankly, all the the job applications that we got for the CEO position, were just horrible. And and at a certain point, you know, I was constantly looking through that and started questioning my life choices, right? Because it says like, well, you need like a master's in Business Administration and stuff like that, right? And it was like, Well, if you would have studied, you stupid idiot, then you could have taken the job. But I guess that's how it is. And you know, like, your mom was right. And all your teachers were right, and stuff like that.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  13:34
You got to work with the web and go snowboarding and call it work as well. So it's not the worst life choice,

Mathias Schreiber  13:40
necessarily. But it was just like, looking at the CVS of the people that applied. It was just like, it was horrible man was really, really horrible. And in certain point, it was just the discussion, like, okay, so who of the three do we pick? And then the one was just worse than the other and it for me, it felt like Okay, so what the one like, like pest or cholera, like choose one choose wisely. And a certain point I was and I remember that because I was sitting in the middle of a conference room with like, 25 people around me. I was like, they were discussing one specific candidate. And I was like, You know what, if you take that idiot, I can just do it myself. And suddenly, that was like a hush that fell over the room. And everybody started looking at me and it was like, whoops. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut this time. And then I think it was Rick, who was just asking, okay, what would you do it? Sure. I know I'm, I guess I know how to run a business. I invented all the products are trying the other guy to sell me. Why not? And then I became CEO of the company. So that's that's that story, basically, like, not keeping your mouth shut at an opportune moment. I guess

Jeffrey A. McGuire  14:50
one of the things that I deeply appreciate in the TYPO3 community compared to some others is for me, the community seems incredibly well. balanced and very well-thought-out. And the fact of having a community with an association that's very stable and very structured, not for structures sake, but you know, there's a bunch of people take care of it. And then over time, the community as a collective to a large degree recognized, legitimate need to have commercial services, and built the like, extended those out of the association. So the company that you run today is 100% subsidiary of the nonprofit TYPO3 Association. So your Articles of Incorporation specifically forbid you, for example, from competing with businesses of other community members, you're there to serve first. And I have the intuition that that's frustrating for you sometime. But I think it's, you know, it puts some handcuffs on you sometimes about which directions you might or might not go. But on the other hand, you have a really clean situation compared to some of the other communities where founders and business interests and technology interests in directions and stuff are, are not perfectly clear. And it's not always clear what hat someone is wearing out.

Mathias Schreiber  16:14
Yeah, I mean, I mean, the one one thing is being clear about something. The other thing is having like the full force of the law behind that, because it's in the founding documents. So technically, if I mean, just to give, like, like an example, like, you cannot call us and say build this TYPO3 project for us, because that's for the members of the association to do a lot of like, really, really great agencies and they could do such things. If I would take up such a project, if I would decide to do that. I would be fully privately liable for all the damage done. So it's, it's it's like, we're serious about this, the place where I did my apprenticeship. My boss walked up to me at some point, I don't even remember what the topic was. He was just like, so he was like, so we're in agreement about whatever topic and I was like, yeah. And he was like, Great, let's write that down. Let's just write down that we're in agreement, because maybe in six months, you know, we're no longer in agreement. And then it's good that we can read that we were in agreement one. So this is this is something that's there's no shortcut. There's no backdoor that we can pick. And we did this because we wanted to make extra sure that everybody understood that we were serious about this, because of course there was there was a lot of uncertainty. And people were unsure what to expect from from a service company of a lot of agencies, which were just like, wow, competition. And I paid for that, because I'm a member of the association and stuff like that. And I could just edit, it was the same thing. I would just pull out a piece of paper and like, I could read that, like paragraph six, read what it says. And it's like, oh, this company will compete.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  17:53
The company's been around for about four years now. Is that right? 500 555 and a half? Yeah. Okay. So in real time, we're speaking in October 2020. I'm interested in what you do, or what the GmbH the does every day, in and around and for the community. And I'm interested in the development of those attitudes in the community as people come along. Do you have more believers now? Is it is the relationship clear from time to time things pop up? Where Where?

Mathias Schreiber  18:22
There's a lot of, I don't know, mistrust, I guess, still end up? Yeah, to be honest, I'm not sure whether this has anything to do with what the company does. Everything the company does can be locked up in the records of the author, Association. All numbers are there. I think that this, this common vibe of mistrust is something that's happening around the world. Everywhere right now, it says that there's people saying there is no pandemic law, a lot of people that they see something, and it works. And they don't understand why it works. They don't want to look those things up. And I'm not judging them for that. Right. It's just it's just like an like an observation. They don't want to look things up, and they just go for an easy answer. I guess. The good thing is that that there's there's nothing that I wouldn't like put on public record anytime, mainly because the company is on public record anyways. So this is this is stuff that happens. Luckily, we can clear these things up. The the the only part that's a bit fatiguing, I guess is that it's the same people coming up every three to four years. And you have to re explain to them that no, we're still not doing projects, we're still not like snatching off your clients because it's still in writing and nothing has changed. And since it's in the in the founding documents of the company, you can just simply take that out. So we take the time, from a legal point of view, we'd have to terminate the company and then rebuild it and this is something you would notice

Jeffrey A. McGuire  20:00
For those of you who haven't experienced German bureaucracy, that is a is not a small undertaking. It's not something that you would do casually over a weekend. Well,

Mathias Schreiber  20:11
I mean, it's it's Switzerland in Germany, right. So the TYPO3 associations located in Switzerland, the company is located in Germany, you would imagine, like, it's not a hard thing. But technically, it's an it's an international business endeavor to do that. And it's it's not even that EU laws apply, because Switzerland is not in the EU

Jeffrey A. McGuire  20:30
in this community structure, the TYPO3 community, there's a lot of web professionals, a lot of agencies. I think that that stems from TYPO3’s origins, and it's designed as a system built by professionals to deliver professional projects. And then the association has the very fortunate position of dealing with professional to understand that it's okay to pay for a service so that overall, the community has a decent amount of funding and can enable itself to, to have organized release processes and all of these really nice things, I'd like to just go through how the G mbh fits in there. And the sort of things the way that you provide some advantages that may be the starting point for that could be the fact that TYPO3 actually has a contributor agreement, which lets you step up as an official vendor, where some other projects can't have an official vendor. That's, that's part of the core,

Mathias Schreiber  21:29
right? So this is the this maze makes things really, really easy for us, because there's this legal point, that makes sense. The interesting part is the original plan was to have a dedicated product development roadmap. So the idea was to to to create more products, create a marketplace, stuff like that, it turns out that we aren't our main task right now is to keep the community things functional in case there's, there's stuff that needs to be done. So where we're taking care of sending out the certificates in print, for example, so all the all the things like postal, like really, snail mail, postal services, you know, like, if you do if you do certification, you need to get your certificate. And it's a it's a physical thing, right, and somebody has to like, put it into a printer and then stuff it into an envelope and put like a proper address on it and then send it out and what if the address is wrong, people need to take care of those things.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  22:27
Haha, so you've got you inherited that lucky you another parentheses here, that TYPO3 community also has a certification program that is run and planned and organized by the community, which seems to me to be yet another sign that that community really functions as a community. And, and and has done a great job of helping each other out and not, you know, eating each other too much.

Mathias Schreiber  22:53
Yeah. So I mean, that we're still sticking to the principle of unblocking people. So imagine that let's just stick to set certifications, there's, there's a lot of work in, in doing a certification, like you need to check whether your questions and answers are still valid, you need to figure out certification schemes, different courses, and have something like a syllabus, you know, all those things that need to be done. And then there's also another side of that, which is like the really really boring stuff, like sending out postal things like the guy that things that are basically blocking you from the I call the creative process of, you know, like, creating something, rather than just just like the maintenance, that that needs to be done to keep those things like functioning. And same goes for stuff where the, I'd say the size of the project that needs to be developed, is too big to be put on the shoulders of volunteers. So we built a system where you can now do your certification online without it being just a simple multiple choice thing that you can just reload every every assault, like all the answers, right. So

Jeffrey A. McGuire  24:05
definitely proctored enough and and has some official value and all of that.

Mathias Schreiber  24:10
Exactly. And in order to do that you need you need to be able to buy a certification right? So suddenly we're talking ecommerce. So in order to have a valid certification, this all needs to be connected to your my TYPO3 dot org account and suddenly you have like three different community teams that you would need to get together in one room to do all the all the necessary code development on my TYPO3 dot org on the one hand, so that you can have an account to buy something, then ecommerce so that you can buy something with the account you just created. And then we need to get the entire online certification stuff on the road. Right? Suddenly, it's three things and the project gets so big, that it's it's, it's it's not realistic to expect somebody to do that in their spare time.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  24:58
You could you could never ask the ball in tiers to cover all of that,

Mathias Schreiber  25:01
not not within like a given period of I think it was half a year, that was the original plan to build that within half a year. So this is stuff we take over. So we basically didn't develop something like a marketplace or, or new SLA products or whatever. So we just built this for the community. And the next thing that we're doing is said, like we're taking over the management of the members of the TYPO3 association. So it's so the boring stuff like people calling like, hey, our address has changed. Can you please change that order this this, the, we rebuild the company, we reformed the company, it's now a different name. And we can you update that information? And here's a new VAT ID right. So, okay, all

Jeffrey A. McGuire  25:52
right, so you called that unblocking? If we can also call that community enablement, I think, and it's great for the rest of the community that there's that you're there to do that for them. And luckily, between the association and your commercial products, you can finance you know, these things. But I think it's interesting that people are still, quote unquote, afraid of you sometimes are critical given I like I like the way you identified, unblocking as a, as a mission. How does that fit into the partner program that you have

Mathias Schreiber  26:25
the partner program, we just relaunched that, like four weeks ago. And the reason behind that was our initial idea for a partner program was extremely high quality, which of course meant that a lot of hurdles that you needed to take, you need to you had to have like a certain amount of people that were certified within your company, you needed to give us two projects per year, two reviews, then the entire idea was like when somebody calls us as the as the TYPO3 company and asked us, who should I partner with? Our answer had to be right all the time. So in order to make sure I will give the right answers, we would need to see how you work in detail. And this was this was an approach which which was very time consuming. Because we had to check all these things. Then agencies had legal issues, handing out the projects to third parties, which is a classic case study, story and case study. But now we're talking for code, because we were looking at the code and the development sees everything stopped properly. So this was something we honestly, we just didn't think about that. All those kinds of things. And then I went to the CMS summit in Cape Town and got in closer touch with the African community. And since since we were running this high quality, high reward kind of partner program, we just realized that we completely missed a price point outside of, say, the Western world. So are people from the US or from Canada, no problem Australia, fine. But if you go to two countries like Africa, or India, for example, or even east of say Hungary or something like that, suddenly, pricing is a lot different. And so we basically said, okay, we want to change the way the partner program works. So we basically dropped the entire idea and rebuilt it into a professional service listing, which basically means like, you're doing something with TYPO3, you can have your name your city and the country you're in on the website just for free, just and then you can buy like like, like small upgrades to that. So you want to have a logo or backlink or a detailed description or a contact form, like all those small little bits and pieces that you can put in there. And you could just buy them, subscribe to them, and you're good to go. The thing that that we did differently, I guess from at least most of the things I've seen so far is that we import the buying power per dollar per country. So that's what we import every night. And then recalculate the pricing based on the current buying power you have. So Oh, interesting. So it's five euros in Germany. And it's the equivalent to five euros in Zimbabwe, which technically maybe maybe means means 26 cents or something

Jeffrey A. McGuire  29:29
but in Switzerland for 30 years or yeah

Mathias Schreiber  29:33
Swiss franc or whatever, right?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  29:35
So there's a formula of well being median income GDP.

Mathias Schreiber  29:41
It's super complex. It's It's It's so there's this thing

Jeffrey A. McGuire  29:45
called fantastic idea though of like in terms of unblocking and fairness and

Mathias Schreiber  29:51
equality. I think it's about

Jeffrey A. McGuire  29:52
getting TYPO3 and getting TYPO3 out into the world because people the people doing TYPO3 are passionate. And very committed to the open source ideas. And I think fairness comes very high on a lot of people's lists. Right?

Mathias Schreiber  30:06
Yeah. And I think it has something to do with with with, of course, it's supposed to be fair, I think it's a lot about equality, economic equality, which is something which is incredibly hard to achieve. I guess the main purpose was that people argue that they pay I don't know, like 200 bucks per year for the professional services thing, and it hurts their business. The only thing we wanted to make sure is that, I mean, 200 bucks in a place like Zimbabwe, for example. That's like, I don't know, half a year salary. Yeah, that hurts a lot more than 200 bucks, which is technically just means like, I don't know, shut off the heat at the right time over the course of the year, right. That was the the the main goal to make that attainable for everyone. And it's, it's really hard because there's there's a lot of different things. So there's this thing called the Big Mac index, which was, which has been been done, I think, like once a year by comparing the Big Mac sales prices all over the world. Yeah, the problem with that is that they only work based on currency, it takes the average median euro price for a burger, which in Greece is drastically different than in Germany, for example. And we wanted to get out of that thing. And like, like, make it really, really fair. So we went with the data from the World Bank, which was like the most reliable thing we found. So up to date. So that's the entire plan.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  31:29
So a few years ago, TYPO3 was on the world stage and doing all right. And there was a, there was an event in in Dallas, I think in the US. And then the community went through some some difficult times. And the project that that I know and love today is, as we've been talking about highly professionalized and has a really strong agency base. And now there are starting to be really, really strong roots coming out of Central Europe again. And you see people in India adopting it and doing some sprints and some really nice work there. And in Eastern Europe as well, especially Romania, right. Little bit of Canada, a little bit in the US, some community people are popping up, which is, which is exciting. I was wondering, um, the government of Rwanda has a bunch of TYPO3 infrastructure. Where else is title three happening, that's kind of exciting or interesting or unexpected, unexpected.

Mathias Schreiber  32:25
I mean, that's there's there's interesting things happening in Central Africa. So there's, there's people from Gabon, there's people from Burkina Faso, there's people from Ghana. So it seems to be that I grew up in the music business, and kind of everybody knows everyone, right? So if you go to some, I don't know, some trade fair to the Nam show, for example. It's like, the guitar player of Metallica is like high fiving, the guitar player of I don't know, some pop band, because they kind of know each other seems to be that people from governments in Africa kind of work the same way. So they kind of, they all know each other somehow. And they're always like, like, like peeking over. So okay, so what are they doing right now. And Rhonda is like this, this really great example of, of how you can turn something around that you would call a failed state, I guess. So if you take a look at run in history, there's the genocide not too long ago, stuff like that, but but they really turned the country around. And it's amazing. It's really, really great. And then they took some bold decisions. So it's my personal favorite is that they're banned plastic in the country, in the entire country. And even to the degree that when I move, move, I went wherever when I went to Rwanda I was asked whether I was smoking and I said yes, and so the guy wanted to have all my cigarettes and then like just tore the plastic paper off the cigarettes and says well sir plastic is banned in the country but enjoy your stay here cigarettes back so they're really serious about that. And to me it's really inspiring because it to me It shows it we can work with a lot less plastic and it works like there's no sicknesses spreading all around like everybody's like fear mongering within the EU. I guess. I went down there I ate there I lived so that's that's a pretty, pretty good thing. And from from that point, like people working from other countries started looking at what's actually going on and how they do their things. And the people in charge in Ronda actually do it pretty, pretty smart, I think. Because they just don't want to use our system to do their the government things, but they're actually they're having a government run program to build a digital industry. This is something that like I've met, I've never seen that in Europe. It's like the government understands that you need people specialized in it. And they can now build that industry from the ground up. And at the same time that they had this training program where that was like, either 20 or 40 people but I think it was 20. So 20 people receive proper training and TYPO3 10 people were to be employed by the government so that the government was still be able to work autonomously without, like getting external consultants in the other 10 people had to be from the open industry from the open market of Ronda. So that they can build these things and build up the knowledge and like, elevate basically, the entire country digitally. So that's really interesting. And I love how pragmatic that approaches, because if you think about it, it's so obvious to do just that way makes so much sense.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  35:36
Build up. And and I think that's an incredible open source story, right? Take this technology that's available to you assure your own independence and sustainability first, while building an economic initiative to help your country and your population and your and going from there without, and then the, because you're not paying license fees to Redmond or to you know, all of the usual suspects, right? You get the money spent inwards in the country and developing your own population in your own economy. That's, it's a fantastic open source outcome. Absolutely. I would love to talk with some people from down there about how that's going. That's super interesting.

Mathias Schreiber  36:18
I mean, other things that we that we do support with TYPO3 is, I think, in Cape Town, which is called babes cat bites. It's basically a privately funded school to teach women how to code. And it's all women from townships. So everybody who's who says not fortunate, or not in it, just as fortunate position, can then learn how to grow out of poverty, pretty much. And it's it's, it's, it's currently it's pretty sad, because in South Africa, and especially all the townships have been hit pretty hard by Corona. So the last request was whether they can use our funding just to buy food. And like you said, it's really tough. It's really tough. And we were just like a short, go ahead, like, no problem, don't even bother to ask, right? Yeah, we're gonna take a look. And other stuff we do is that we we are currently building a program for all the all the agencies that we are in touch with, you know, like, they're, they're exchanging all their it hardware every two years on average. And we are just trying to collect all that hardware and just send it down to someplace in Africa so that we can give it to the kid has a shot?

Unknown Speaker  37:33
Sure, sure.

Mathias Schreiber  37:34
Yeah, I have friends who are getting rid of their 2016 laptops, just because, right? There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. But the important thing is that like, even then you should, you should just just hand it in, send it down there. And we will then take care of stuff like like taxes and customs and all those things. Mm hmm. And

Jeffrey A. McGuire  37:55
so is this then generally, for people in it who are listening to us, the TYPO3 GmbH TYPO3 community has an outlet to help people in developing places, get the equipment needed to have open source it careers and businesses,

Mathias Schreiber  38:11
pretty much any contact we have in Kenya in Nairobi, whether that trying to get kids off the street, and it sounds so Hollywood, right? But it's it's it's, it's how it is so so to get kids off the street.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  38:26
And so Can people contact you? Can people contact you at the GBH about this? Or how should they, if they want to

Mathias Schreiber  38:32
know people can just get in touch with us? And we'll work? Okay, cool. And if you take a look at that, he said, I mean, we'll do, he's running, I think, 100 students per year. So he did this during 2025 students per quarter. And the total cost for the envoys entire endeavor is like $6,000. us, which technically means like, you invest a year, five bucks, five, exactly, you invest five bucks per month to give somebody a shot at the future. And I think that's definitely worth it.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  39:03
I think it's, it's such a privilege for us, you know, we've fallen into this weird piece of the technology sector. And there's so many ways to extend this concept into helping people with just just thinking one step further. And one step ahead. You know, if we can give them our old laptop, then we have all the software in the world that they need to do anything to help their own country to help the whole world. You know, that sort of thing is fantastic. It's fantastic. So what

Mathias Schreiber  39:28
really struck me was what do you think is the most important thing they need for an IT school in Nairobi?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  39:35
What do you think Wi Fi,

Mathias Schreiber  39:36
furniture? Haha, we're talking office chairs, we're talking desks, we're talking like, like small containers. We're talking cupboards, stuff like that. That's the things they missed the most. Because they're very humble. They can say, I can work with like a 10 year old laptop. Yeah, it's not fast. But it still does its job. But if you would have like good like Like a table or two that would really help us out because then we can onboard to more people to my pupils per quarter. And I was like, yeah, that kind of makes sense.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  40:10
All right. Okay. So there are lots of opportunities to make a big difference with with very moderate means. Shifting gears a little, what is the coolest thing you've ever built with typo?

Mathias Schreiber  40:22
Three, I think the coolest thing I've built was a was a system for just plain data entry. And the result was a 600 page Spare Parts Catalog for electronics. And the entire idea was that that editors could just type in the data. I think nowadays, he would call it like a like a PM, like a product Product Information System.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  40:49
Or already RP, right,

Mathias Schreiber  40:51
something, something, something like that. But back in the day, it was like, because he had to attach photos of whatever, some transistor or something, or, or a switch, things like that. And they would put in all the data, and then they could basically preview that in the browser. And from that, we were creating like PDF previews that then like the proof readers would read. And after that was just a flick of a button and we would print like, I think it was 60,000 printed catalogs per quarter. Because it helped me update it because basically, by the time you had it printed, it was already outdated. Exactly,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  41:27
because it was on paper.

Mathias Schreiber  41:28
Yeah. And that was that that was a real fun thing. Other weird things I've seen I've seen a parking garage management system powered entirely by TYPO3. So the thing that would actually light up the the the LED on top of the parking spot that would go red was like like, like your dedicated parking spot. There. You could just like park there. That was I've seen ticket vending machines for trains for for state operated trains built into it. That was weird.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  42:01
Is it the entertainment system on one of the cruise lines?

Mathias Schreiber  42:05
Oh, yeah, there's that that's but but but that's also that's a simple things all the all the Aida home entertainment systems that that's like powered by a TYPO3 thing, right? That's also a fun thing. Yeah, no, I think that that pretty much sums it up. But back in the day, and Henry built the entire server management interface with TYPO3. So you could have like records within a type of rebekka like DNS and V host and type of reversion. And it would just automate things.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  42:32
In the end, you have a system that is for managing data, right? Whatever data, whatever kind of management and type have always been relatively agnostic about the output formats, which has made it flexible the whole time. And what is your favorite feature of typo? Three?

Mathias Schreiber  42:51
multi language?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  42:52
Yeah, yeah. Talk about how does multi language handling?

Mathias Schreiber  42:55
Well, the I mean, it's easy to translate some some some piece of content, right to just go like, Well, I have I have my texts in French and are translated to English. And I'm good. The devils in the detail here. So if you take a look at something like a timeline, you would have something like, it's Monday and we got the French text, and it's ready. And then it's Tuesday, and the translator translates it to English, we're good. What happens if there is now changes to the French version, we now need to inform the translator to the English language that something has changed after the translation was done, and may be something needs to be updated here, please check that. And this is something that TYPO3 does really well, because you get like, like this diff view on your content so that you can see like this was the original version, this has been added, this has been removed. And it speeds up the process for translators and editors alike. And this is this is like super helpful.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  43:56
And it's there's a notification system built around that too. So it's not that look in there. Oh,

Mathias Schreiber  44:01
nope, nope, that's third party. It's not it's not based on core yet.

Unknown Speaker  44:06

Mathias Schreiber  44:09
This is this is this is just something that's that that really helps me out in the day to day work. This is one of the coolest things I've seen yet.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  44:19
Of course, just one or two or three languages. We we imagine that that's not so much and we can handle it in whatever but anyone who's worked in translation, any, anytime you get a beyond about three versions of something, the complexity, you know, is the order of magnitude bigger every time and then I'm just logging into right now,

Mathias Schreiber  44:39
just to see, so that I don't give you longer. Yeah, but runs in 12 link and now in 10 languages right now. Hmm. So so we have like English which is obvious. And then it's like Spanish, Hindi, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch and German. So and to keep all those things in sync. Like, you really need a system that supports that. It's it's tricky. Because when when when when, when you talk about like, does your system support something? It's as a developer or an IT focused person. It's it's like a it's like a, like a binary decision, whether it is capable of doing something or not. But supporting someone. That's a different story.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  45:25
And is it easy to use? Does it make sense? Is it sustainable over time? Right?

Mathias Schreiber  45:31
It was, almost does it help a human being? that's, to me, that's like the most important question to ask with when you're building software. Does that help a human?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  45:43
Right not? Does your code manage that somehow? But yeah, can we get our jobs done better? Sure. That's great. And I think that that fits a lot of the UI and UX perspective in in the TYPO3. back end, I have such a strong feeling that it's the choices around the hierarchy. And and and working in the page tree. And the backend modules are to support day to day content and admin workflows first and not developer workflows first. And I like

Mathias Schreiber  46:12
we, we had quite a few years where the entire mantra was to have like developer happiness. But at a certain point, we just swapped that

Jeffrey A. McGuire  46:20
I remember that back end. I remember that back in. And I didn't used to say what I'm saying now. So

Mathias Schreiber  46:27
no, no, but but but everything was small. So the the, the amount of kilometers that you run with your mouse each month was really low, and buttons are bigger, the good thing is to actually see them, and it's no longer the hit or miss thing.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  46:45
I have a little little segment here on the podcast that I'm calling the suggested guest. And I'd like you to suggest a couple of three people. You know, 123 10? Someone that I should speak with someone who would be interesting and worth getting to know and not very much because that's everyone's first,

Mathias Schreiber  47:08
from the TYPO3 community on general.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  47:10
Well, I think that this podcast can and should be with people relevant to TYPO3 in any way. So if you know, not just type it directly, whomever you think,

Mathias Schreiber  47:23
I would say, Thomas Nora, the Dane living in Germany. That's definitely someone. I'd say taco from Yoast, because he's like a really, really smart person. Who else

Jeffrey A. McGuire  47:40
and he we talk with him about SEO and about the overall market and the different CMS is that Yoast works with and so on. Right?

Mathias Schreiber  47:46
I'd suggest that that would definitely make sense, I would say is Susi Moog. But I'm not sure whether she's up for so just said wait when she accepted Yeah, right. If she asked who who notified? who challenged her just like say it's It wasn't me.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  48:12
Challenge now

Mathias Schreiber  48:13
I get it. Pretty much. Yeah,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  48:14
I survived an hour with jam, and I challenged. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. I don't know where to work it in. So I'll just keep it just in case. But um, you know, full disclosure, your company is a client of my company. I don't think that that's made any huge difference of the conversation we're having having, but no, but there it is. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me and all of your activities and thinking and contribution. I'm really proud to be in a community of open source thinkers and people out there doing and making a difference. So thanks for everything that you do, too. Thank you. Thanks for tears. Have a good one. You too. Thanks to the TYPO3 Association for sponsoring this podcast. Thank you, b 13 and Stephanie Kreuzer for our logo. Thank you, Patrick Gaumont, TYPO3 developer and musician extraordinaire for our theme music. Thanks again to today's guest. If you like what you heard, don't forget to subscribe in the podcast app of your choice and share Application that TYPO3 community podcast with your friends and colleagues. If you didn't like it, please share it with your enemies. Would you like to play along and suggest the guest for the podcast? Do you have questions or comments? Reach out to us on Twitter at TYPO3 podcast. You can find show notes, links and more information in our posts on Remember, open source software would not be what it is without you. Thank you all for your contributions. Hey, how is your new car?

Mathias Schreiber  49:55

Jeffrey A. McGuire  49:55

Mathias Schreiber  49:57
but fun. I guess

Jeffrey A. McGuire  50:00
I really want one. Tell me the annoying part.

Mathias Schreiber  50:03
I mean, for me it still kind of works but I mean, I've been to your apartment and cologne tried to figure out how to get the car on Wi Fi.

Additional contributors for this article
  • Content Publisher : Mathias Bolt Lesniak