[OpenStack Foundation] Foundation Structure: An Alternative

Dallas Kashuba dallas at dreamhost.com
Mon Mar 12 18:06:50 UTC 2012

On Mar 12, 2012, at 2:45 AM, Thierry Carrez wrote:

> Boris Renski Jr. wrote:
>> While I like the simplicity and elegance of the newly proposed
>> structure, I don’t see how it does away with the evils of the
>> pay-to-play model…. Which is what you purport we are striving to
>> achieve. What you, Josh, proposed is a simplified pay-to-play that
>> arguably embraces the evils for the “market driven selfishness” in an
>> even more obvious way than the model before it. In your case, all the
>> seats are simply purchased for a fixed price of $200K.
> Right, any pay-to-play model will create a threshold effect, and Josh's
> proposal is just lowering the price to pay to get a reserved board seat
> to something that a company like Piston Cloud can pay. Since a lot of
> the 156 companies "supporting" OpenStack can afford such a price tag,
> you end up with a board containing too many directors.

This is something I was wondering about myself.  Would there be a limit on the number of directors under Josh's proposal?

>> Once we accept this, the question of structuring the board really
>> becomes the question of how does one raise the maximum amount of money
>> to continue to have a centralized body with a mission to evangelize the
>> project. You can structure it by tiers to let the bigger guys pay more
>> and get a bigger logo on the homepage. You can do a flat structure like
>> Josh proposed. You can auction off the board seats etc.
> I see four models for this:
> All individual seats: All board seats are elected, you get one vote for
> every foundation member. Sponsoring is done separately. This is likely
> to raise the smallest amount of money, and the problem remains at
> another level: "what is a foundation member ?".

I agree that this model is likely to raise the smallest amount of money.  

> Tiered structure: this is the current proposal, which is well balanced.
> The only issue is that the board grows by 3 people when (if) a strategic
> member is added.

This is another thing I was wondering about.  Will there be a limit on the number of strategic members?  I don't see the foundation wanting to turn away someone waving money around, but then you have to deal with board growth.

> Single-price: this is Josh's proposal, but I think it will result in a
> board that is too big and unable to function.

> Pay-to-vote: you have two classes: corporate seats and individual seats.
> Individual members elect the individual seats (which represent 25-33% of
> the total). Corporate seats are also all elected and corporations get a
> vote for every ?$ they put in. One drawback is that large corporations
> which are no longer guaranteed of getting a board seat will probably pay
> less under this model.

Also agreed that large corporations will likely pay less without a guaranteed board seat.

We've been watching this conversation with much interest over the last couple of days at DreamHost.  Its great to see so many smart people who clearly care a great deal about this project and the foundation!

I've been personally wrestling with this balance of fundraising vs the best leadership for the foundation.  I think ultimately the best leadership would be the meritocratic approach insulated from the money side of things, but I also see a lot of value in the financial stability provided by larger companies committing to a significant amount of funding over the longer term.

One additional question I've been pondering relates to both the "Single-price" and "Tiered structure" models as Thierry referred to them here.  If you do put limits on total board seats (and thus total foundation membership), what do you do if there are more companies interested in membership than you have spots available?  Do companies get turned away and if they do, what process is used to figure out who is in and who is out (in the voice of Heidi Klum).

> Personally, I tend to prefer models that effectively prevent the board
> from growing uncontrollably.


 - Dallas

Co-Founder, DreamHost
dallas at dreamhost.com

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