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To: gentoo-nfp <gentoo-nfp@g.o>
From: "William L. Thomson Jr." <wltjr@g.o>
Subject: Re: Foundation agreements & liabiliities was -> LinuxWorld Expo SF
Date: Sun, 11 May 2008 13:10:45 -0400
On Sat, 2008-05-10 at 22:13 -0700, Alec Warner wrote:
>
> > 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.

How do you know the terms to any agreement? Like start/end dates?

While I am ok for like informal agreements, one policy for like selling
Gentoo stuff, and paying back royalties. For things that we will be
depending on like infra services, hardware, etc. Those things need to be
handled individually. Gain or loss of them is visible to all almost
immediately.

> 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.

There are plenty of mostly volunteer organization, that many in the
world depend on. For profit or npo, really shouldn't matter here.

> 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.

I fully agree, and if you look in the archives of this list. I had past
thoughts of the foundation eventually having paid staff. Not like
Mozilla Foundation and Corporation, but more like Red Cross. Starting
with Devs, not higher ups  (trustees, etc.)

> 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.

Again I agree, loss of key personal is just as bad as loss of infra,
hardware, etc. I am not sure if the tax codes, etc have any provisions
for accounting for ones volunteer time. If there is any perceived cash
value there. I am pretty sure there isn't, but something to look into
either way for sure.

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

Correct, and for a long time it was never seen as a problem. Since we
had no budget, plans for spending the $, etc. But some of that I think
might have been us being naive. No eye toward the possibility of losing
a key sponsor etc.

Granted next we need to discuss and do something regarding the loss of
key personal. What we would do to find a replacement.

> 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.

Unfortunately it's easier to donate ones time, even a highly skilled
individual. It's much harder to donate thousands of dollars on a monthly
or re-occurring basis. Only medium to large size business will be able
to afford that. Unless we get a sugar daddy/mommy for Gentoo :)

Loss of a key developer while horrible. Would be more of a trickle
effect on Gentoo. Loss of infra would be slamming on the breaks.

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

Well this liability does exist. We are still in negotiations with a
major sponsor. We are working on scaling back rather than loosing them
entirely. The main reason we didn't loose them entirely was the
importance of those services and lack of ability to move them else
where.

This problem is real, exists today, and is not resolved. If all goes
well, no services will move. But last it was brought up. At some point
some services would have to be scaled back or find a new home. Need to
see where things are at there. I think it's partly a chain reaction,
based on what happens with the Foundation legal status, 501c3, etc.

-- 
William L. Thomson Jr.
amd64/Java/Trustees
Gentoo Foundation

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Re: [gentoo-core] LinuxWorld Expo SF
-- Alec Warner
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