Casual observer here. Lot’s of thoughts about the discussion over the last few months.
I just wanted to share my opinion as someone who has worked in board governance before, donates, and wants to see the LibreOffice project succeed.
There’s obvious personal animosity between Cor/Thorsten and Paolo. You guys should look for an arbitrator immediately. It would be worth the money to do so. I don’t mean a lawyer, but a professional board governance arbitrator. I’m a little concerned about how Thorsten is handling this manner as Board Chair as it seems like he’s in conflict with TDF management and this is happening in a passive aggressive manner (I say this from the limited information I have).
Here’s some suggested reading about why board backchannels are a bad practice, and how you can make your board healthier: https://hbr.org/2019/09/back-channels-in-the-boardroom
On the issue of hiring a dedicated TDF developer. There’s obvious blatant interest on the part of the directors that represent Collabora and Altropia to nerf the ability of the future TDF developer to do anything that competes with their companies. I’m not sure this is aligned with the interests of the TDF and poses an interesting FOSS problem as Collabora and Altropia are clearly the largest contributors to LibreOffice code.
But I’m having trouble understanding why this is such a big deal? TDF takes in 1.3 million in donations a year. You already have overhead on foundation administration. There will be maybe 1-2 developers at TDF that will be funded in the short (1-2 years) to medium (5 years) term.
Even if, as Cor insinuates, Paolo has Machiavellian plans to leverage TDF developers to restart LO Online development for his own personal gain (I’m skeptical based on Occam’s razor), Collabora and Altropia don’t offer consumer-facing LibreOffice products (I as a consumer can’t use Collabora Online unless I go through a third-party distributor). So there’s no competition here. Further, surely Collabora and Altropia must realize what resources are needed to support office suite software for consumers (since they don’t offer consumer products), or businesses. Customer service, SLAs, QA, etc. is not something the TDF will be able to do. Arguing over a clause in a hiring document is irrelevant when compared to the pragmatic realities of the resource constraints. You could say explicitly in the hiring document this single developer will work on an alternative to Collabra Online and it still wouldn’t happen, not least because it conflicts with the new marketing strategy of Community vs. Enterprise. Further, making it easier for people to screw up their installations at the office with a LO Online version and require enterprise support can only benefit the Enterprise support partners. I’m struggling to understand the short-termism of Collabora’s strategy here.
Just pass the resolution and get donor funds working towards development. It isn’t and will never be a competitive threat to Collabora/Altropia.
Please find a board governance arbitrator ASAP. And strongly recommend you stop using back channels in a FOSS project. It’s bad practice in a private company I’m not sure why it would be considered good in a foundation that’s raison d’etre is to be open and transparent.
Forest through the trees people…
Best of Luck,