[OpenStack Foundation] Foundation Structure: An Alternative

Boris Renski Jr. b at renski.com
Sat Mar 10 02:29:58 UTC 2012

I currently don’t see a meaningful path around selling board seats in some shape of form.


Having a single, structured body dedicated to project evangelism has been key to OpenStack success so far. It is important that the foundation is able to raise meaningful amounts of money to fund its operations, staff and PR activities. On the other hand, expecting companies to commit $50K - $500K / year to the foundation without offering the credibility and nominal influence that comes with the board seat is not likely to work IMHO. 


Selling board seats is like saying “thank you for your donation, we publically acknowledge your goodwill and commitment to the foundation – here is a board seat so you can supervise”


Selling rights to trademarks, training licenses and event sponsorships is like saying “bitch, we are important, if you want to benefit from OpenStack – pay us money”


One is about motivating donations…i.e. giving organizations a way to publically demonstrate their commitment to the good cause that is OpenStack; the other - about selling assets and milking the momentum of the brand. One has the “goodwill donation mentality”, the other – “extortion mentality.” I feel that fewer will favor the latter.




From: foundation-bounces at lists.openstack.org [mailto:foundation-bounces at lists.openstack.org] On Behalf Of Joshua McKenty
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 3:40 PM
To: Jonathan Bryce
Cc: <foundation at lists.openstack.org>; OpenStack
Subject: Re: [OpenStack Foundation] Foundation Structure: An Alternative


This is great!  


Jonathan, do you think a completely-elected board is something that the larger corporations would go along with? Ben's suggestion to that effect certainly seems to be the simplest model, since we can scale the membership, deliver specific value for cash contributions, and still manage the size of the board.


Regarding the "Individual Member" seats - I would like to echo Devin's concerns about stacking by strategic members. If these are truly independent, meaning that they're not employees of the corporate members, then I think it's a great benefit to have them be part of the board! I'm imagining folks like Tim Bell (CERN), Peter Mell (NIST) or Vint Cerf on there. 


Boris, I completely agree with decoupling of the "business side" of OpenStack from the technical side, and I think managing two separate organizations would be one way to achieve this. My concerns are solely on the business side right now. I've spent a lot of time chatting with the PTLs today, and I have confidence that they can hold the technical community to a meritocratic standard. I think the proposal to vote for seats on the foundation board is more about managing board size, than any crossover of technical community management. 


Having said that, I'm still concerned with the idea that we would "let the bigger guys pay more and get a bigger logo on the homepage". If we're going to "sell" OpenStack privileges, I think we need to do it ala-cart, and explicitly. 


Some examples (echoing Ben Cherian's comments) might be: 

 - Use of the trademark (for products, training, or certification)

 - Sponsorship of openstack events

 - Priority registration for summits and conferences (not necessarily in favor of this one...)


While I was drafting this up, I saw Sean Robert's email suggesting that we meet face-to-face and work through some of this together - it seems like a fantastic plan to me, and I'll bump everything else from my schedule to make it happen if others are interested. What do you guys think? 




Joshua McKenty, CEO

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On Friday, March 9, 2012 at 3:06 PM, Jonathan Bryce wrote:

On Mar 9, 2012, at 4:50 PM, Boris Renski Jr. wrote:

The one thing I would do away with is the “elected board members” in favor of more associate member seats. This almost feels like a way to compensate the technology side for giving the marketing side leverage over the former. If we feel that this is necessary, it is a symptom of presence of technology-commercial coupling and we need to fix something else. All technical members should be elected based on merit. All board members – appointed based on monetary/evangelism contribution. Decoupling between technology direction and purchasing power should be rock solid.


Thanks for the thoughts, Boris. One point I'd make: the Individual Member seats are not just about compensating the technology side. It gives an opportunity for the entire community to elect representatives. These could be some of the "luminaries" Josh spoke of or others unaffiliated with any corporate member. Individual Membership is not limited solely to developers who are contributing code, but would include users, deployers, translators, marketers and people with all sorts of involvement in the community. Individual Membership is free and a great place for participants academic institutions, non-profits, etc. to participate with no price tag.




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