[board-discuss] Re: Some problems.
Hopes this works as I've never used a mailing list before..
1) I'm making the assumption, not having this information, that Collabora Office is cheaper than
Microsoft Office and other Office Suite software. How much cheaper is it? If it's just as
functional as competitors but it is less expensive, and has other advantages, there is a
profit-making market for it:
1) a) This is that it is open source, and can be reviewed and audited for security gaps. In Canada,
Europe, Russia, and other countries there is a significant concern that geopolitics in entering
into the realm of technology. Governments are becoming more concerned about the USA and China
installing monitoring software for political and industrial espionage reasons.
Why does Collabora not position itself as a secure/open-source/auditable solution to security
issues. Isn't this the reason the German federal government chose Nextcloud, and the reason the
Italian military chose Libreoffice?
1) b) To that point, Michael you raised points about the UK and French governments not paying for
Libreoffice. This is surprising to me and shameful IMO. These would be large, relatively
sustainable contracts to pursue, and I would suggest that working more with the FSFE's Public Money
Public Code initiative, and presenting it to them from the perspective of; you're using things,
we're having trouble sustaining it, we're hoping you will purchase, will be a potentially
successful strategy. That or do they get that Collabora is the premiere developer and TDF isn't
developing this for free? If they've already institutionalized the software it might be worth
tugging at the rug under them a bit and telling them the project may not be able to continue as a
going entity because the contractor they used is not providing any contributions to the development
of the software. But this leads to my later point about trustmarks.
1) c) Does Collabora and/or the TDF not have a dedicated government relations advocacy employee in
Europe/North America/Other market countries? There are many discussions that occur at the
government relations level that lead to contracts and exposure of opportunities to companies.
2) That the TDF is not adequately promoting it's enterprise vendors is a failure of the TDF's
marketing committee and the contractors that they hired. I have followed LO and AOO for years now
and I've noticed that the TDF marketing committee is unwilling to promote LibreOffice in modern
ways. There seems to be a lack of focus on communities outside the FOSS environment, which doesn't
make sense because it's like setting up a booth to advertise bibles at a religious convention. Why
does Libreoffice focus on attending FOSS conferences instead of International Government
conferences? The NGOs that use LibreOffice for free would be obliged to let Libreoffice attend the
WEF, Davos, and other places. Is there the potential that the leadership of the Marketing at TDF is
not thinking out of the box, or too small?
3) SaaS model - recognizing that all the costs you just listed to set up small clients is cost
prohibitive and that you would need to get 10,000+ clients for it to be viable -- I would only
suggest that because it's hard and maybe expensive doesn't preclude the idea that this may be one
of the best options to generate sustainable income.
3) a) Personally I was excited at the opportunity to pay for LibreOffice support via Collabora as
an individual. I couldn't, because I needed to have several employees first to justify it. Instead
I donate to TDF, but apparently this money is holed up in a bureaucratic bunker because of issues
of distribution. There's a couple problems here: 1) It suggests the TDF needs a regulatory review
to streamline it's operations. 2) again, the TDF isn't being proactive enough - are the people
working there the right people to accomplish the organizations mission, or are we just being polite
because they've been loyal for a long time. In that case we might be looking at an old boys club
3) b) In some non-profits, there is no ability to donate directly, the foundation is supported by
the enterprise companies based on the profit they make. Could the TDF create a certification body
with a Trustmark that says only these companies are able to provide enterprise support for
Libreoffice. Meaning the TDF does not sanction other vendors slapping on Libreoffice to their
solution and hoping it gets updated to fix bugs by Collabora and CIB, etc. These certified
companies would then pay for the certification on an ongoing basis to remain in good standing, as
well as donate to the TDF to maintain its operations. This would also have the effect of keeping
TDF staff more accountable to metrics set by a small group of knowledgeable individuals. (Something
would have to be done for keeping community representation available to unaffiliated citizens such
as myself. Haven't thought that far.)
3) c) Just building on this and what others have written; Nextcloud has issues as well, but again,
the LO website needs to do a better job of featuring vendors. I agree with what was written about
displaying enterprise supported versions on the TDF website with a drop-down or some other format.
As stated in point 3) b) I think instead of a donate button, saying that Libreoffice is free, but
if you'd like to contribute to development and support, consider signing up for LibreOffice Online,
or paying for a monthly or annual support license.
3) d) how are these large companies and governments sitting on advisory committees of TDF and not
providing any funds for its growth?
4) Co-operative model - has the TDF considered setting up a model in which LibreOffice is run as a
multi-stakeholder co-operative? This would entail paying an annual membership fee in order to vote
for members of the board of directors. These non-corporate board members could then reflect member
concerns and issues. People will pay for democracy if its a small amount, say $5 USD, a year. It
creates a democratic institution, increases engagement, and also provides sustainable income. There
are lots of people looking into the concept of platform co-ops to create sustainable software that
5) Eurocentricity - If you read the document foundation planet - throughout the year the TDF
sometimes features volunteers working in countries like India, Indonesia, and other low wealth
countries where schools, non-profits, and small businesses are using LibreOffice to provide
betterment to humanity. I get that we're looking for sustainability from rich enterprise countries,
but I think it's possible that this is another marketing angle - Germany, France, the EU, the UK,
Quebec/Canada, and other countries are starting to fund software to provide licenses to these poor
countries. Can Collabora receive grants from the government aid organizations to give digital
access to poor communities. Can this be position in a marketing way to rich people in rich
countries that want to (at the end of the day, alleviate the guilt of their inequality) help others
position TDF/Libreoffice as software helping the third world. Because it is already and it's not
being marketed as such.
5 a) Does the TDF not have a grant writer to get funding from developed governments for the work
they're already indirectly doing in these underdeveloped countries?
Just some thoughts on how Libreoffice could evolve, generate income, and do things in a way that
doesn't start creating "editions", which is a road to the destruction of the project. I also think
someone earlier referenced that this could be interpreted as being against the TDF bylaws, so those
might need to be changed anyway.
I would recommend taking maybe 200k of that 1.5 million bucket and hiring a strategic consultant
(not one from McKinsey, or Deloitte, or any of those profit maximizing consultancies) to look hard
at the TDF's current management structure and operations, and provide recommendations on business
model solutions. It sounds like there are structural issues and there hasn't been action on
evolving the organization to look at new markets for things that Libreoffice is already really good
at: namely - Privacy, Government costs, Public Money/Public Code, NGO/Emerging Market Aid grants
I'm being critical here but not trying to place blame on any particular person at the TDF. I've
worked at organizations before where everyone is working too much for little pay based on the lack
of understanding by sponsors/stakeholders at what's being done. And that is a
marketing/communications/advocacy issue. I love the LO project and what it does for digital
accessibility in poor countries, churches, community groups, and other places that Microsoft and
other big-tech firms exploit. I don't want the wrong step to be taken that leads to the eventual
loss of community of the project. (Which btw I still don't get the justification for the lack of a
Discourse or NodeBB forum on TDF. How outdated is the ask.libreoffice software? 5 years now?)
- [board-discuss] Re: Some problems. · Kev M
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