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To: <gentoo-trustees@g.o>
From: "drobbins" <drobbins@g.o>
Subject: RE: store and foundation
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 10:06:26 -0700
> Imho, we can allow this if:
>   - the announcements aren't too frequent (for instance, at most one every
>     month)
>   - the store sends x percent of it's revenues to the Gentoo Foundation

Putting aside x percent of revenues is something that is unworkable. On the
other hand, it is relatively easy for me to set aside $x or $y for
individual products, because that is easier to budget. 

Here's why. When you set aside a specific $ amount per item, the profit
margin of each item can be taken into account to determine the $x. Not all
items in the store have an equal profit margin (consider for a moment that
we used to sell full-color XXL t-shirts for a measly $12 USD, and for a time
we were even losing money on shipping these shirts.) 

An example -- we have a single DVD set that includes a $3 donation to the
foundation, and a double DVD set that includes a $3 donation to the
foundation. Why the same donation amount when the first one is $25 and the
second $35? Because the second item includes 2 DVDs but is not double the
cost of the first item -- the material costs are higher so the customer is
already getting a price break. I felt that $40 would have been too high a
price for a 2-DVD distfiles set so it was priced at $35.

The same thing applies to t-shirts, hats, etc. I would like to gradually add
$x donations per each item as I begin to figure out what $x should be for
each item. 

Also, I need to add these $x amounts gradually because -- surprise -- there
is a lot of expense involved in buying DVD burners, DVD+R's, DVD cases, case
badges, etc. and it will likely be about 4 months (if there is some kind of
announcement) before I have actually not lost a bunch of money on carrying
these DVD products. With a straight % of revenue, my ability to add new
products to the store is impacted, and this would be really bad as I think
the store has the potential to carry a lot more interesting products, even
unique software that I hope to create.

This $x per item concept is what rac suggested to me as a workable and
practical approach and I think it's the best way to go about things. I
really can't do a % of revenue because I don't know what % would be
reasonable without causing the store to go under, so I'd have to pick an
artificially low number to avoid uncertainty. On the other hand, I know what
the profit margins are on specific products so I can figure out dollar
amounts per item.

>   - there is a good track record for this stream of revenues

Please remember that the Store has been operating for a long time, and has
already paid for signs and equipment for several trade shows, as well as
sent several thousands of dollars to developers who were having a hard time
financially so they could continue working on Gentoo, paid for hardware for
various devs, and paid for airfare, lodging for trade shows (not just for me
when I've gone either) as well as many thousands of dollars for legal
expenses related to trademark stuff, setting up the NFP foundation and
copyright stuff, shipping of hardware. Donations alone wouldn't have been
able to do all this.

And frankly, it also allowed me to pay the bills, which resulted in me being
able to stay with Gentoo long enough to continue working on Gentoo these
last couple of years. One of the things I was able to do in this latter
period was to get catalyst and stager stuff totally redesigned in python, as
well as architect all the templates and mechanisms for what is now called
our "release process." So, the store has benefited Gentoo greatly. Of
course, I also understand that you want this benefit to continue to the
Foundation, not just the pre-Foundation era. But to treat the Store as not
having any track record is really quite silly. For several years, it was
*THE* source of revenue for Gentoo, and helped Gentoo much more than just
pure donations ever would, and this should count for something. Of course
all this support comes from our users, but our users give us more support
when we give them something they want in return, like a t-shirt or CD set.

So it is true store has a long track record of helping Gentoo and even the
Foundation (by paying for it to get set up ) -- but does not yet have a
track record of sending money directly to the Foundation. Now that the
Foundation is finally getting a bank account, this seems like something that
can be fixed. Also, it can be fixed *faster* if you let people know about
these DVD products, as I have only sold *2* of them so far and I know that
more people are interested than that. So this would seem like a good time to
continue to help one another, working towards a goal of having a successful
store that is a great asset to the Foundation. Keeping me interested in
adding new and interesting products to the Store is definitely in the best
interest of the Foundation, and I seriously doubt you'll find another Store
with the ability to add the type of products that I can.

I don't know how many other stores would create their own
never-before-released software like the Gentoo DVD, and I have interest in
doing more of this kind of thing in the future. I hope to continue doing
this, if we keep smiling at each other. I like friendly people.

> PS Daniel, I hope I'm not hurting your feelings on this in any way; if I
> am,
>    I would be glad to hear more from you - after all, discussing things is
>    the best way of action.

You're definitely not hurting my feelings. It's refreshing to talk to
someone who desires to have a positive, constructive discussion. I really
enjoyed (it was literally refreshing) talking to rac about these issues
because he was looking for something that would work for everyone, and was
sincerely concerned about everyone's needs, not just his own needs. He is
also looking out for new products that users might be interested in, by
asking questions every now and then in #gentoo. 

I was really surprised that rac was so interested in helping the Store. When
I asked him why he was interested, he explained that he really had no
interest in the store itself but said "I want to help make sure that you and
your family are fed and I want to help Gentoo." You really can't find fault
with his motivation, because he genuinely wanted to help all parties. He
wasn't just looking out for his own vested interests. This kind of attitude
is contagious because I think it really embodies what Gentoo is all about,
which is "help everyone." Help them to do what they want to do. Don't limit
your ideas of how Gentoo should be useful to someone, but continue to look
for ways to help it be better _for them_. Not just better for you and your
idea of what Gentoo is, but for them and their idea of what Gentoo should
be.

I suspect that some of you have been chatting with Kurt behind the scenes. I
had a conversation with Kurt yesterday about these issues and I think it's
fair to say that the conversation was not productive. Yet talking to rac for
literally 3 pleasant minutes did what 30 minutes of debating with Kurt
didn't accomplish, which is finding a solution that works, finding that ever
important next step in the right direction.

I really am trying to express something more than the fact that Kurt and I
have a hard time getting along. You know this already. What I am thinking is
that maybe rac would be interested in helping the Store better meet the
needs of everyone (that includes me *and* the Foundation) and acting as a
kind of official helper/ombudsman in this regard. He has the desire to help,
and I get along really well with him. He motivates me to continue pushing
forward and improving the store. And frankly, if you need to have a serious
discussion with me, you need to make sure that Kurt is *NOT* the one to
initiate any new topics with me. Yes, probably didn't exactly volunteer to
broach the subject (maybe the only one who was bold enough to actually say
something?) but c'mon, get a clue people. That's why I'm suggesting rac as a
good liaison person for Foundation/Store issues. I trust him to look out for
everyone, I get along with him and hopefully you can also talk to him more
easily.

Regards,

Daniel





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Replies:
Re: store and foundation
-- Paul de Vrieze
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Re: store and foundation
-- Sven Vermeulen
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