WA Aussie of the Year nominee refused $20m

Rebecca Gredley

Rejecting an offer of $20 million can make a lot of sense, at least for a West Australian online education innovator.

Martin Dougiamas is a finalist for 2017 WA Australian of the Year for creating Moodle, an online open source learning platform used globally by educators as well as organisations such as the UN, Google and World Vision.

He released the platform in 2002, fuelled with a passion for education and the goal of making interactive online learning available to anyone.

"We have a strong mission - to provide the best tools possible to everyone, and to not charge for those tools," Dr Dougiamas told AAP on Tuesday.

So when a large commercial competitor offered to buy Moodle for $20 million in 2009, he stayed true to his values and turned down the offer.

"They started with five million (dollars), then 10, then 20, and I kept saying no," Dr Dougiamas said.

"I put it together for schools and teachers who don't have a lot of money or resources ... I didn't want them to commercialise it to find ways to make it a money-making exercise."

"We've built a sustainable eco-system. I get a salary from it (and) so do all the developers, which is better than just one person having one big cash sum."

Dr Dougiamas said open source software was about trust, with users trusting that it would not go away, and developers trusting users to help them with the platform.

The 2017 WA Australian of the Year will be announced on November 20 at Government House.