The essay analyzes the economic models that Raymond believes can sustain an open-source project in four steps:
It first analyzes what the author sees as classical myths about the cost refund in software development and tries to present a game-theory based model of the supposed stability of open-source cooperation.
Secondly, it presents nine theoretical models that would work for sustainable open-source development: two non-profit, seven for-profit.
Thirdly it states a theory to decide when it is economically interesting for software to remain closed.
Finally, it examines some mechanisms that, according to Raymond, the market invented to fund for-profit open-source development (like patronage system and task markets).