Gentoo Archives: gentoo-nfp

From: "William L. Thomson Jr." <wlt@××××××××××××××××.com>
To: gentoo-nfp@l.g.o
Subject: Re: [gentoo-nfp] Tax return and accounting discrepancies
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2011 18:29:21
Message-Id: 1300991344.13807.38.camel@wlt
In Reply to: Re: [gentoo-nfp] Tax return and accounting discrepancies by Rich Freeman
On Thu, 2011-03-24 at 09:03 -0400, Rich Freeman wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 2:55 AM, William L. Thomson Jr. > <wlt@××××××××××××××××.com> wrote: > > Thats more about being able to get Gentoo vendor certified. Some > > corporations will only go with software the vendor supports or is > > certified against. > > I think that what you're getting at is that Gentoo isn't properly > organized to be like Canonical.
Not at all, Canonical is a for profit entity. I would like to see Gentoo more organize like FreeBSD and Debian, which are NPOs.
> I think we need to be realistic about what Gentoo is. I'd love to see > Gentoo grow. I'd love to see Gentoo better able to fund its > development. However, right now that is going to basically consist of > having better access to hardware. I think it is unlikely that we are > going to be in a place where a substantial number of devs are paid > full-time to be devs.
There have been substantial offers in the past from major companies. If Gentoo had a proper structure, funding would be the least of the problems.
> The thing Canonical has that Gentoo doesn't is an infusion of capital. > That automatically comes with strong central governance, since nobody > invests millions of dollars without making sure it is being > well-spent.
Again totally different entity, but FreeBSD and Debian do not seem to have such capitalization problems.
> So, while I agree that you're describing an ideal-state (sort of - > there might be many contributors to Gentoo who wouldn't want to be > part of a "Canonical"), I think we need to aim first for continual > improvement even if it falls short of perfection.
Thus I equate it more to like the RedCross, mix of paid employees, and an even larger number of volunteers. Others prefer like the Mozilla approach, for profit corporation over NPO. However that is not the only way to go about such things. Gentoo is much better off remaining a NPO, and not having any parent company or subsidiaries.
> I do think that directors/trustees/etc are important to have, even if > perhaps they are not a legal necessity. Gentoo is community-driven, > so even if dictatorship is more "efficient" it probably isn't a good > fit. Perhaps that means we won't sell as many units as Canonical, and > perhaps we just need to live with that.
Yes the problem is focus has only been on trustees/board members, and not officers. The law requires officers, and its part of the normal structure of any business, for profit or not. Just the same its really good to have a board in addition to officers, providing there is enough people.
> As Mike said, when interest is limited you have to do what you can > with what you have. Sure, we can argue about whether it is "good > enough" but that doesn't change anything. If elected I expect to have > to get my hands dirty, and I don't mind doing so (was just reading up > on NM/IRS law last night).
I am glad someone is reading those documents :)
> Many hands make for light work, but we > don't have many hands, so we just need to do what we can with what we > have. In the end we aren't collecting a paycheck and can't afford to > start writing them.
Yes I realize the amount of work and lack of hands. Its why I was not happy before to run into obstacles, and people holding things back. Its why we need to make things easier on each other and not harder. That said you might be surprised what a few can do vs many at times. I was getting quite allot done. With the help of other but the rest of the team should admit that I was a driving force at the time. It was me who got the Foundation elections going again, and everything else back in 2008 ;)
> Having been involved with other types of non-profits (churches) I do > want to also caution about something that can happen when well-meaning > people try to solve these kinds of issues in the wrong way. I've been > in churches that were highly volunteer-driven, and they had enough > labor to get the job done. Then I've seen them become successful, get > money, start paying professionals, and start having serious problems.
Well Gentoo has serious problems as is, sure it could be worse, but could be better just the same.
> When the balance starts shifting towards paid labor, then volunteers > can feel left out (they aren't around for the Tues 10AM planning > meeting or whatever), and they can move on to other places where they > feel like they have more impact. That leads to more demand for paid > staff, and now the budget is taxed. Your big volunteers tend to > correlate with your big financial contributors (they're the ones who > care), and as they leave your budget is attacked on both ends. The > result can be a really big mess.
Just to be clear, I have no interest in getting people paid to do Gentoo development. That was my interest long ago, but just about anyone I was seeking to get paid. Was acting like I wanted to pay myself. Which I made to sure to remove provisions in the bylaws that allow officers to pay themselves. Also that no one can be on the board if they have a financial interest in Gentoo. Seeking to profit from being on the board.
> This doesn't happen to a business that started out top-down and grew > top-down with a big budget organically. The two types of operations > are fundamentally different in makeup and dynamics even if an org > chart for either can look similar.
Actually Gentoo did start out as a for profit and then became a NPO. Gentoo Technologies was NOT a NPO :)
> There is no reason that something similar couldn't happen here. > Gentoo is a community-driven distro, and we need to keep the community > healthy above all else.
Yes, and long ago I was accused of harming said community. Which after which more harm came from inaction, than anything I was doing at the time. The lack of activity on the -nfp mailing list is a direct result. -- William L. Thomson Jr. Obsidian-Studios, Inc.