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To: "William L. Thomson Jr." <wltjr@g.o>
From: "Alec Warner" <antarus@g.o>
Subject: Re: [gentoo-core] LinuxWorld Expo SF
Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 22:13:01 -0700
+gentoo-nfp , -core to bcc at the request of random folks.

On 5/10/08, William L. Thomson Jr. <wltjr@g.o> wrote:
> On Sat, 2008-05-10 at 20:37 -0700, Alec Warner wrote:
>  >
>  > Fair is relative.  I think leaving the option on the table to
>  > essentially barter is important.  This whole 'ad space for 5.99' stuff
>  > is kind of overly businessy and I think an informal approach gives us
>  > more leverage and options.
> How do you informally run a foundation? A foundation is a business
>  entity under the law. Therefore it should be run and operated as any
>  other business. Formally.
>  I have 0 interest in an informal foundation, agreements, etc.

I don't see how negociating each agreement separately is less formal
than having The One True Policy that covers all agreements.

>  > I don't think other projects have problems with having things donated.
> We don't tend to follow other projects technical lead.

I don't think finding sponsors is technical work; so whether we follow
their technical lead is irrelevant, but true the argument that
'everyone else is not doing it' is kind of crappy, so I'll drop this

>  >  I certainly see some value in approximating how much the stuff is
>  > worth for tax purposes should we persue 501c3 status,
> It's pretty much required flat out. Even if we don't do a 501c3. It's
>  good accounting and booking keeping practices. Pretty sure even for a
>  501c6, there is requirement for financial accounting and public
>  disclosure.

Accounting is good, no disagreement there.

>  >  but I don't
>  > think Gentoo needs to 'pay' for services (via ads, cash or otherwise)
>  > if sponsors are willing to donate them (particularly if gentoo is
>  > 501c3 and the company can write it off).
> That came up when there was the potential to lose a crucial sponsor, and
>  the services they were/are providing Gentoo.

Companies themselves also go under, but I'll concede that the point
you are making is orthogonal to that case.

>  > Sorry I missed the part where gentoo was hard up for cash and needed
>  > to sell advertising on the frontpage to pay our (at present close to
>  > non-existent) bills?
> If we lose any major sponsor. We don't have enough funds to keep Gentoo
>  alive for even a couple months. That is a pretty big issue, and
>  liability IMHO.

I want to make my thoughts clear here.  If Gentoo was a for-profit
entity that derived revenue from it's web presense then having
services randomly go down due to lack of sponsors would be a
liability.  Luckily, Gentoo is a non-profit entity composed entirely
of unpaid (by Gentoo) volunteers and having downtime affects one thing
and one thing only, Gentoo the distribution.

I could make a counterargument that instead of paying our sponsors we
should pay our developers who probably contribute more cash value via
their contributions to gentoo than any of our hardware sponsors.
While Gentoo can live on without major sponsors it cannot live on
should key people leave the project.  Likewise the Gentoo foundation
lacks the funds to operate the Gentoo project for a number of months
should key members leave.

In short we have the equivelant problem of cash shortage and inability
to operate the Gentoo project without donations.

Which is in the end, my whole point.  This is not a liabilty for us
because contrary to popular belief we have a good community where
people actually step up and do work and if those key people were to
leave I'm fairly sure most would be replaced.  And if key sponsors
were to leave I'm sure we could find replacements.

Both of these are likely without us wasting thousands of dollars and
ad space on trying to solve a problem that honestly
does not really exist and is just a 'business liability.'

>  > I don't see other distributions putting third party advertising on
>  > their webpages; why is advertising on being considered?
> Because we have ads there now. I just quickly looked around, and only
>  OpenSUSE has any sponsor type ads, or any ads on their home page.
>  IMHO a sponsor giving us services worth $, in exchange for an ad on g.o.
>  Is paying for advertising, just not directly.
>  > What other funding options have you considered and why did you pick
>  > advertising on our frontpage over those other options?
> We really have not gotten to the funding issue. Also this idea is not
>  really on the table for consideration. I just mentioned it because it
>  was brought up and discussed amongst the trustees. But for now, it was
>  decided to not go that route. It might come up when we get to focus on
>  funding.
>  That idea just came up when we were faced with a potential catastrophe,
>  and no immediate way to generate substantial revenue. To possible bail
>  ourselves out if need be.
>  However another thought that came along in an unrelated discussion. Was
>  to provide terms of re-distribution for like our release media. Allowing
>  pretty much anyone to sell Gentoo release media, shwag, etc, but with a
>  ~20% net given to the foundation requirement.
>  That was another idea I had in reaction to us possible having to sue
>  people over selling our release media, and other stuff. If there was a
>  potential bounty to be collected via any suit, due to owed funds. That
>  might make it worth while for an attorney, even pro bono, to pursue.
>  Versus them doing the same, for no possible reward.
>  > What does offered advertising for non-sponsors do to Gentoos image?
> If it's tech related stuff, what does it matter? If people know those
>  funds go to improving Gentoo, providing more resources, more free stuff,
>  etc. I really don't see many having an issue.
>  > I don't think many of our sponsors are equipped to answer that question.
> With a site ranked ~26k in the world. Our sponsors with ads on g.o.
>  should know off hand if those ads are working or not. It should be
>  pretty clear and visible in website traffic stats, in house questions
>  asked, etc. Granted conversions would be pretty hard to track, thus the
>  asking in house.
>  But then again we could do a reverse experiment. Take down the ads, and
>  see what difference it makes or doesn't make to our sponsors.
>  > >  Plus we never have the worry of services being yanked, because we are
>  > >  paying for them :)
>  >
>  > That would depend on the terms in our contract no?
> Rarely does a company terminate or not renew a contract to a paying
>  customer. So as long as we are paying for services, and those contracts
>  are paid ones, paid on time. I don't see that being an issue at all. I
>  believe world wide more people pay for hosting services, etc rather than
>  receive them for free or donated. Maybe not as much in FOSS, but most
>  stuff out there is paid. Seems reliable enough of a way to go that the
>  world keeps spinning :)
>  --
> William L. Thomson Jr.
>  amd64/Java/Trustees
>  Gentoo Foundation
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Re: Foundation agreements & liabiliities was -> LinuxWorld Expo SF
-- William L. Thomson Jr.
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