FAQ: What are the plans to charge for Penpot at some point?

What are the plans to charge for Penpot at some point?

As an open-source product, we get this question a lot. This usually comes from a project sustainability standpoint. Still, we believe this inquiry also has to do with the fact that we are a design & prototyping tool and this is a space where there’s typically some inevitable trap.

With our incredible growth both in our cloud platform as well as our self-host option, we now get this question almost on a daily basis. We already covered this topic in various places but it doesn’t do any harm to have a comprehensive FAQ entry for it to explain our Free For Ever policy.


Penpot will eventually have a pricing model for both SaaS and self-host deployments. Most likely we will follow our own “tax the controller” model where the paid tiers target medium to big organizations in need of specific “configuration” features that are not needed by power users, who will enjoy Penpot Free For Ever. Other options like marketplace fees for paid templates and libraries could also be an option. We expect our first paid tier to be ready by the end of 2024. Right now, this is not our focus at all.

In detail

Our previous experience with Taiga was a great learning experience on how different monetization strategies can work for an open-source product. SaaS-only per-seat freemium pricing doesn’t really work at scale. Your self-host option (which we believe has to be ridiculously easy to deploy) will quickly cannibalize your SaaS user base. This is particularly true for team productivity tools where there is a clear incentive to spin out your own instance instead of going SaaS. The good news is that if you build a truly robust platform, you can have tens of thousands of active deployments and yet have a pretty silent tech support channel.

This is why we strongly believe our pricing will cover self-host and SaaS options at the same time, so we really don’t care which Penpot deployment option you prefer. For this we have two simple rules:

  • Everything power users care about will always be open source and therefore free for ever. A power user is typically a designer or a developer that uses Penpot as one of their key productivity tools to deliver value to a project.
  • Anything that was once open source will remain open source forever.

So what to charge for and to whom? We’re looking at enterprise features needed by medium to big organizations to ensure legal or security compliance (think of a company-wide enforced 2FA). Also, features that bring value to senior management (think of multi-team views/controls/reporting). This revenue is funneled into ensuring we keep innovation at both the open source level and the premium level.

Now, the obvious challenge here is that if you go for a skinny open-core model where 99% of your product is open-source, you need a huge footprint to be successful at a business level and with that sustainability. You need to give away a lot before considering asking for some money. That is the reason why our focus can’t be right now on “premium features” when there’s still so much at stake in terms of the open-source product. We chose investors that are 100% aligned with this and we love how they publicly have shared these same ideas and values!

In other words, we have BIG plans for the future, it can’t be any other way!


Hello @diacritica,

thank you for sharing the current state. You’re not the first one to explore Open Core business model, so I want to take the opportunity to share some ideas I have come across in the past in the hope that it might help you shape your plan.

Back then I was participating on FOSDEM 2018 - Why I forked my own project and my own company
In case you haven’t heard about Nextcloud: It’s a fork of ownCloud. Frank Karlitschek founded it as Open Core project but eventually decided to start over.
He noticed that there was a conflict of interest: Some PRs had to be turned down because they were developed proprietary for paying customers.

I remember Frank once referred to Business models for open-source software - Wikipedia when deciding on how to match Open Source with a business model. I’m not quite sure whether it was the same talk, though.

In the end, technical support and consulting seem to be pretty solid options. I’m confident that you have earned your fair share of experience in this area as well.

The biggest risk with going Open Source and trying to earn money are cloud vendors taking the Open Source code and productising it. Happened to Elastic for example. Around the same time several projects switched the license. Business Source License appealed to some. Be aware, that it’s not an Open Source License anymore, so adopting it might loose some community members.


hi @diacritica,

Could the special features not be part of a medium to big organisation plan? Unless you won’t work with minimum amounts of paid users for those plans. There are companies, including the one I work at, that just started their focus on UX/UI, thus have the need for those features. But as you might be able to guess, do not want to pay for extra seats that will remain vacant, or in other words; ghost users.

Also, it would be neat if Penpot would have a variables functionality similar to Figma’s. It’s one of the features that keeps me from suggesting a design software shift.


Hi @ties we’re planning to clarify a bit all this very soon because the idea here is to charge organisations that need to restrict usage instead of implementing a “laissez-faire” approach. We call this model “tax the controller” so you should be fine.

And yes, we know something similar to Variables would be extremely cool. It’s top priority on our roadmap. Penpot 2.0 will sport components v2 and this should give you very nice capabilities but still no exact match for variants.