Annual Report

Ryan Sipes ryan at thunderbird.net
Thu Apr 16 18:58:45 UTC 2020


Hey Eric,

I believe I gave a report as the election process began last year and I 
intend to do so again this year.

Without getting in the weeds, I've been waiting on some information that 
will allow me to give a complete picture of Thunderbird's finances at 
the end of last year.

I'm willing to share some high level information with the list now, but 
I expect to share a more detailed report in the coming weeks.

Firstly, last year saw another overall increase in donations, not nearly 
as large as the previous year (300%), more like ~25% overall.

We ended last year with over $2,000,000 in the bank. And the Council has 
made moves to increase our staff size because of our reserves (and a 
willingness to spend some of that).

Our money comes primarily and significantly from donations (like >99%). 
As some have seen on this list, we are looking at Enterprise Support 
contracts as a way to diversify. But we as a unit (the Thunderbird team) 
do not have much institutional knowledge/experience in this area. So we 
are working on a pilot program. Coronavirus complicates things, as many 
businesses are likely to act conservatively right now and may avoid 
starting a new contract until things calm.

> My impression is that several million dollars may have been raised and/or spent since the project became independent without any of the reporting that you would expect for the Council to be accountable to the community.
I wanted to address this and reiterate, I released numbers to this list 
last year. To which I received virtually no feedback. So I didn't think 
more frequent reporting would be of interest. I'm happy to hear you are 
interested. I will make sure that the next treasurer is pointed at this 
email.

> With elections coming up and the fiscal home changed to MZLA Technologies Corporation in order to "collect revenue through partnerships and non-charitable donations" how can the community provide feedback as to whether they think the Council is going in the wrong direction (or encourage them to keep doing what they are doing) without basic financial information about our current status?
This is a good question. I think that our meeting reports offer insight 
into planning. There is a problem in that we don't usually share a 
partner until the deal is finalized (to protect both parties in case the 
deal falls through). So, to some extent, the project is a true 
representative democracy. In that you have to put some level of trust 
into the representatives and ask them questions during elections such as 
"do you think Thunderbird should pursue X line of business?" and listen 
to what they say.

> Will more information be provided about what type of partnerships are being pursued before the elections?
I have talked more frankly about my feelings on partnerships in the past 
during out weekly status meeting. But I think that outlining what we are 
interested in on this list is good too. I can only speak for myself 
here, but I believe there are incredible opportunities to offer services 
through Thunderbird that are based on open communication standards. Such 
as making it possible to spin up a Matrix team in Thunderbird chat. Of 
course, there is an opportunity to offer an email service, but I have 
yet to make up my mind as to whether we are better as a neutral party 
introducing people to their options - or if we should pursue creating 
our own service. *These are my personal deliberations, I am not speaking 
on behalf of any other Council member or the Council as a whole.
*

Finally, making these decisions is hard and whilst I have put forward 
multiple options to the Council for pursuing new opportunities - there 
has not come out of those talks a true long-term vision/strategy. I'm 
not blaming anyone, these are really hard questions that affect where we 
spend significant time and resources. But my ask as we head into 
elections is that electors ask candidates what their vision is for 
future services or how they intend to bring revenue into the project, 
and then vote for the people most aligned with what you think.

I'll try to get the comprehensive report out in the coming weeks. I'm 
happy to answer specific questions either in this thread or via direct 
messages.

Ryan

On 4/9/20 7:18 PM, Eric Moore wrote:
> 1. Why hasn't there been an annual financial report that provided some high level numbers about where we are getting money from, what the run rate is, what the yearly budget is, how much (if anything) is being spent to get donations, how large are the reserves, etc.? Ideally this report would be available onwww.thunderbird.net. Please note that I'm NOT asking about confidential information such as salaries, hourly rates, details of contracts etc. Buy it should include how much money did we earn from each business relationship and whether the current financial statement has been reviewed by an accountant.
>
> My impression is that several million dollars may have been raised and/or spent since the project became independent without any of the reporting that you would expect for the Council to be accountable to the community. I'm NOT trying to suggest that anybody is doing anything improper but this seems a unacceptable practice. You wouldn't let a condo assoc. get away with this for example even if the law didn't require it. If the rationale is that there is no need as its all been reported to Mozilla, then I'd argue that we are not a community lead independent project despite what anybody says.
>
> 2. With elections coming up and the fiscal home changed to MZLA Technologies Corporation in order to "collect revenue through partnerships and non-charitable donations" how can the community provide feedback as to whether they think the Council is going in the wrong direction (or encourage them to keep doing what they are doing) without basic financial information about our current status?
>
> 3. Will more information be provided about what type of partnerships are being pursued before the elections? I'm talking about the general direction being pursued and how much impact this has on future development plans, not specifics. An analogy would be that Fastmail has gone from being a email provider that targeted IMAP power users and had family friendly plans to going upscale and targeting teams.
>
>
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