[announcement] new staff member in business development

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Re: [announcement] new staff member in businessdevelopment

Thomas Dalton
> > > Any idea how much the cost is to the WMF to add a datafeed client?  As
> > > I've said, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.  Give me a
> > > datafeed, at 2x cost, with no restrictions on reselling it.  I'll set
> > > up a non-profit organization dedicated to distributing the data, and
> > > I'll take out a $25,000 personal loan at prosper.com which I'll turn
> > > around and reloan to the non-profit at the same interest rate.  I'll
> > > then set up a server with a MySQL database containing the data and
> > > offer shell accounts on the server for $10/month.
> > >
> > > Deal?
> >
> > Honest to god, and I am not a relgious man, I hope the Foundation
> > takes you up on this bluff,
>
>
> Good, that's one board member down.  Any other takers?
>
> I'm sure as one of the 100 most influential people in world you could make
> it happen.  Use that persuasive power.  It should be a no-lose offer for
> everyone.

I can't see any reason for anyone to reject it. If you want to mirror
Wikipedia, then you are free to do so, and if you want to mirror it
near-live and are willing to pay for the bandwidth, why would anyone
stop you? I'm not quite sure what you intend to prove. You could
provide a valuable service, though.

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Re: [announcement] new staff member in businessdevelopment

Anthony DiPierro
On 5/21/07, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> > > > Any idea how much the cost is to the WMF to add a datafeed
> client?  As
> > > > I've said, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.  Give me a
> > > > datafeed, at 2x cost, with no restrictions on reselling it.  I'll
> set
> > > > up a non-profit organization dedicated to distributing the data, and
> > > > I'll take out a $25,000 personal loan at prosper.com which I'll turn
> > > > around and reloan to the non-profit at the same interest rate.  I'll
> > > > then set up a server with a MySQL database containing the data and
> > > > offer shell accounts on the server for $10/month.
> > > >
> > > > Deal?
> > >
> > > Honest to god, and I am not a relgious man, I hope the Foundation
> > > takes you up on this bluff,
> >
> >
> > Good, that's one board member down.  Any other takers?
> >
> > I'm sure as one of the 100 most influential people in world you could
> make
> > it happen.  Use that persuasive power.  It should be a no-lose offer for
> > everyone.
>
> I can't see any reason for anyone to reject it. If you want to mirror
> Wikipedia, then you are free to do so, and if you want to mirror it
> near-live and are willing to pay for the bandwidth, why would anyone
> stop you? I'm not quite sure what you intend to prove. You could
> provide a valuable service, though.


My intent isn't really to prove anything, though Jimbo's calling my offer a
bluff does add a little bit of "I told you so" to the deal.  My intent is to
put access to the data in the hands of people who will do interesting and
useful things with it.  I hope my offer will be accepted.  If not I think I
might just set up such a service anyway, using the database dumps.  But with
the database dumps being updated so infrequently, this would be
significantly riskier.

It's also a fortunate coincidence that I happen to live in Tampa.  The most
efficient solution would probably be for me to set up a colo at Powermedium
and get the feed through their internal network.  Might very well be the
cheapest solution too.  Powermedium doesn't put it's colo fees online
though, and if you have to ask, it's usually pretty expensive.  Maybe they
wouldn't even be willing to do a 1U or 2U colocation for starters.

Anthony
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Re: [announcement] new staff member in business development

Brion Vibber-3
In reply to this post by Anthony DiPierro
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Anthony wrote:
> On 5/20/07, Pierre Beaudouin wrote:
>> To be constructive, do you have some ideas to collect more money ? What
>> should be change during the next fundraising ?
>>
> First step is to publicly distribute monthly financial statements and
> a detailed budget which minimizes unnecessary costs.  The rest of the
> details really come from how much if any shortfall results from that.

To be sure, we'd all appreciate a better budgeting process!

> I suspect there won't be any, so long as the budget really does
> minimize unnecessary costs.  Leasing servers instead of purchasing
> them is one factor which should help a great deal.

- From an IT perspective, all I can say on the subject of leasing is that
we've never yet taken machines permanently out of service except
occasionally due to failure beyond repair.

We have continuous, strong growth in all of our service areas. As a
result, as machines age, they eventually change purpose: eg being cycled
from the high-performance general application server pool to cover more
specialized uses as the next generation takes over in the main server pool.

You can visualize it something like this, where groups of new
similarly-specced machines are brought in as functional groups:

Time T:
[A] [B B]
 ^     ^ main processing pool
 | mixed services

Time T+n:
[A] [B B   C C C C]
           ^ new servers added

Time T+2n:
[A   B B] [C C C C   D D D D D D D D]
     ^ older machines moved back to handle other services

Time T+3n:
[A   B B   C C C C] [D D D D D D D D E E E E E E E E E E E E E E ....]
etc


Given a growth pattern where every year requires significantly more
total horsepower than the previous, and a lifecycle where we continue to
get a lot of mileage out of existing machines for years to come by
sliding those machines across the different functional areas, there
seems to be very little interest in leasing instead of simply purchasing
up-front.


The only benefit I see to leasing would be to lower the initial costs,
allowing money to be spent elsewhere in the short term, but it's not
clear that would apply to our business model as a non-profit:

a) To date, we're said to be taking in most of our money through
fundraisers made for the express purpose of spending it this way -- we
wouldn't have the money if we weren't going to spend it on hardware.

b) It's not clear what else we _have_ to spend money on other than
capital (servers) and operational expenditures (hosting, bandwidth,
office, and a few salaries).


If we were a for-profit startup, I'd say lease the servers and hire more
people, but our current model favors buying servers (easy to drum up
donations for) and using chiefly volunteer labor.

Disclaimer: I'm just a coder; don't take my word on any financial matters.

- -- brion vibber (brion @ wikimedia.org)

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Re: [announcement] new staff member in business development

phoebe ayers-3
In reply to this post by Florence Devouard-3
On 5/17/07, Florence Devouard <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> First, an announcement, then some thoughts
>
> We just hired Vishal Pattel as part-time business developer.
> The positions responsabilities are:
>
>
> 1)  Identify and develop market strategies
> 2)  Generate ideas and initiatives that capitalize on existing and
> prospective partner strengths
> 3)  Consistently build a pipeline of new, revenue generating opportunities
> 4)  Prepare written presentations, reports, and term sheets
> 5)  Assist in contract negotiations
> 6)  Assist with other tasks as needed(*)
>
> (*) to be added to any staff member job description by default :-)
>
> Vishal is already in the office, since he has been a part time intern
> since january 2007. We had expected to fill in this position in the
> future - not considered as urgent as the ED or legal coordinator
> positions - but it became more urgent after Danny's departure.
> I expect Vishal will both relieve other staff members from certain
> tasks, and focus all his attention on an area which was not always
> treated as a major area.
>
> Immediate and very specific tasks he will be in charge, amongst other
> tasks related to the position, are :
> * report on all business deals we currently are in (who, what, when, how
> much).
> * analyze the price asked for certain services and implement an increase
> if suitable
> * coordinate sponsorship for Wikimania
> * follow up on brand marketing proposal
> * be the general contact person for all the various (and sometimes
> really amazing) business deals proposed to the Foundation
>
> --------
>
> Business... is not a simple matter.


Indeed :) Congratulations to Vishal, and welcome. That's quite a job
description for one person, considering the size and complexity of the
Foundation. I am very glad that there is a move to hire people, even on a
short- or part- time basis, to help with budgetary and business-related data
collection and reporting, both for the community and the board -- this is an
area where we have had a real need for a long time. Those who say that it's
a shame that we don't already have good information are absolutely right --
it is, and so welcome to Vishal.

For the other areas -- partner ideas, coordinating sponsorship and revenue
generation, and brand marketing -- I sincerely hope that those in the
community who are interested in such things and have worked on them either
at present or in the past will continue to do so *with* Vishal, both helping
him understand what the current state of things are, and helping him work
with the community of involved people. It would be great if Vishal can help
ease coordination between the many people working on such business-related
activities. For instance, there are half a dozen participants who have been
working on Wikimania sponsorships for this year, and there are many other
people who have worked on them in the past -- and there's a need for a
consistent centralized list of what contacts we all have and who's done what
that we could use from year to year for each new conference. A centralized
"office" person like Vishal could really help get this going. Perhaps he
could also work, with the community's help, on aggregating old (and often
really good, but fallen by the wayside) ideas: [[m:Fundraising ideas]] and
[[m:Three-year plan]], for instance.

In general: I don't know what's been envisioned for Vishal's position, but
the right answer is certainly not to dump all the work of sponsorships or
business development onto one relatively new person; instead, we should all
let Vishal know what we've been doing and help him do a good job of
organizing, reporting and coordination. This need for reporting would hold
true no matter what our different visions of the Wikimedia "business" may
be: more data about what is happening *now* is a good thing.

To that end, I'd like to be bold and extend an invitation to Vishal on
behalf of the Wikimania team, the Special Projects Committee, and the meta
community generally: we'd love to get to know you and to share old and new
ideas about business development -- and please don't hesitate to introduce
yourself, ask questions, and ask for help.

Phoebe
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Re: [announcement] new staff member in business development

George William Herbert
In reply to this post by Ray Saintonge
On 5/20/07, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Alison Wheeler wrote:
> >>On 20/05/07, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >>>Leasing servers instead of purchasing
> >>>them is one factor which should help a great deal.
> >>>
> >Leasing equipment is what you do when you need the option to be able to
> >cancel it should trading conditions turn against you and you no longer
> >need the equipment (which is not the case with WMF - we *know* that our
> >usage will continue to increase not decrease) -or- you want to be able to
> >mark down the lease / interest payments against your tax liability, again
> >which does not apply to WMF.
> >
> Yes and no.  Leasing companies like to bind their clients for the life
> of the contract whether or not you need the equipment.  Having an option
> to cancel on short notice (30 days or less) will likely imply higher
> monthly payments.  ... but then I don't like leasing in either event.

There are situations where leasing is a clear net win.  One of them is
an organization with no capital of note, but a steady income (or
donations) stream over time - you can get many more servers earlier by
leasing than you could by paying as you go, though the cost per server
over a long time period is higher.  Assuming that the organization is
a growing going concern, then the servers/time curve can be plotted
versus fraction of the organization's total budget going in to those
servers, for periods of order of the lease lifetime, and see what the
overall impact is.

On a tangental note, I've been involved in volunteer organizations
that lived by computer hardware donations (UC Berkeley Open Computing
Facility).  How much volunteer or foundation efforts go into trying to
get freebies from vendors now?  This might be highly useful...


--
-george william herbert
[hidden email]

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