Back on September 10th, we set a pretty high bar for what the CodePlex Foundation would accomplish in its first 100 days of operations.
I said at the launch press conference:
“What are our plans for the first 100 days? We will recruit an executive director, replace the interim board with a permanent board, establish a Board of Advisors, and begin to solicit projects.”So what did we actually get done?
Executive Director: "B" We have been working to recruit permanent staff, particularly an Executive Director and a Technical Director. We announced that search in December but we’ve been looking at candidates all along. Here I'd give us a B, because we are very close to making offers to outstanding candidates. We realized that the technical leadership and mentoring role would be very important, so we elevated the priority of hiring a Technical Director.
Permanent Board: "C" We’re almost at the point where we can announce a permanent Board of
Directors. These will be names that resonate in open source, academic,
and corporate software worlds. Look for an announcement this month. It
was disappointing to miss this goal in the first 100 days, but the interim
Board made a decision early to focus on the project acceptance process,
and there we can claim real success. Driven by feedback from our
advisors and directors, two of the current
six directors will be returning to board, with three newcomers. For
the "replacing the Board of Directors" goal, I give us a C with strong
Board of Advisors: "A" We were fortunate to assemble a great Board of Advisors, who we learn from in every Advisors' meeting. A very solid core of people has been involved right through and has been present for every issue. People like Bob Gobeille, the head of the FOSSology project and a key contributor to FOSSbazaar, Aaron Fulkerson of Mindtouch, Larry Augustin of SugarCRM, and Stephen Walli provided extraordinary advice very early on. We also had great input from our Microsoft advisors Phil Haack, Scott Hanselman and Rob Conery, who are deeply invested in the open source ecosystem for .NET. Sara Ford, Monty O'Kelley, John Lam, and Monty Widenius have contributed their expertise at critical points. Also, we recently added Advisors Michael Bechauf, VP of Developer Network and Standards Strategy at SAP as well as Stuart Cohen, CEO of Collaborative Software Initiative and past Executive Director of the OSDL (now Linux Foundation). As interim board members from the Board of Directors transition off as we move to a permanent board, we hope they will join the Board of Advisors. It’s a significant time commitment, so I suspect a couple of the current Board of Advisors will select out and move into a friends-of-the-foundation role. So for the Board of Advisors, I'd give the Foundation an A.Solicit Projects: "A-" Our biggest stretch accomplishment has been the acceptance of a technology gallery, the ASP.Net Open Source Gallery, and two projects, the ASP.Net Ajax Library Project and the Orchard Project. To get that result we first had to develop a project acceptance process, described in the Project Acceptance and Operations Guidelines document, which was released in October. With these guidelines in place we were able to accept a gallery donation and Board members Bill Staples and Shaun Walker drove that process. The Project Acceptance and Operations Guidelines document also described very strong guiding principles for the Foundation. We also minted our first Gallery Manager (Dmitry Robsman). Ideally I would have liked to have seen us also accept a community-led project and a non-Microsoft technology stack project. We're making progress on both but didn't achieve these in the first 100 days, so I'd grade our progress at an A-.
"+" I think we did well at a technical level in introducing innovations in contribution agreements, legal structure, licensing agreements and other functional documents that will make it easier for corporations to participate in open source, and easier for developers to contribute code and projects without getting in the weeds with licensing and legal issues. While we do need to change the licensing agreement based on the experience we have had with community contributions, I think the assignment agreement is strong and working as intended. So far it looks like the patent aspects of our agreements work as well.
"-" We did not do so well in broadly communicating the structure and value of these innovations - people who we explained these to in small group settings or one-on-one understood pretty quickly, but we didn't figure out how to articulate our work in a way that it made sense at scale.
"√" We had another internal stretch goal of signing a second corporate sponsor in the first 100 days, which we didn't achieve but made good progress on.
This doesn't include all of the mundane work that the Directors and Advisors, our Deputy Director Mark Stone, our legal teams at K&L Gates and Greenberg Traurig, our operations team from Virtual Inc., our site hosting work from Engage Software, and our marketing team from Topaz Partners have done in raising a startup off the ground from scratch. When we launched in September we had no infrastructure, no management practices, and no permanent staff. We were a raw startup in every way.
One thing that many people that I've met don't realize is that the board members of a non-profit are non-paid volunteers. Titles like Treasurer and President just mean that you are doing that much more work for free. So I appreciate the support that each of our companies have given us to spend so much time on this - Microsoft for Bill, Britt, and Stephanie, DotNetNuke Corp for Shaun, Novell for Miguel, and my employer Sonoa all get our thanks.
I think we will continue to learn more as we go along, and our governance and legal documents may change as we get more advice. What we have to do better is explain the value of the Foundation. I think we have explained a lot of the intent and ideals, and we have connected on a detailed level with some community projects as well as some Microsoft sponsored projects, but we really need to step up to a new level of effort and be very clear and specific about what our agreements say, what results they are intended to produce and the process that wraps them up.So the next few months will see changes on the Board, permanent staff, and progress in how we communicate our value propositions. Making progress there will let us attract new sponsors, especially when people begin to appreciate the value of the legal innovations we offer to corporate sponsors. Longer term I'd like to transition to being a membership-based organization.
We have learned a great deal so far; we're grateful to those who have helped us get this far; and we’re excited about the next period of growth. Let us know what you think on our CodePlex Foundation Google group, or comment here.