(Disclaimer, I’m the head organiser of Hackership, while also Chairperson of the Foundation currently).
thanks, @anaketa, for bringing this up. It is something I wanted to have a discussion about for quite a while but it was totally unclear what the proper process for that would be. But I am very happy we started this fruitful discussion.
Maybe to make things a little more clear, I start with a short overview of the status quo, where we came from and what the intention was on how to take it from here:
The status quo of HS
As we speak we are in midst of creating our own company to run Hackership from and with. That has two main reasons: the legal entity that we have been using (e.V.) can’t legally run this (you can discuss this in detail with me directly, if you like), secondly to protect the very same OpenTechSchool from legal implications coming from the company. This newly funded company is and will be running the next iteration of Hackership already.
HS within OpenTechSchool
The way, we imaged Hackership to be eventually was as a TEDx-like Social Franchise, which anyone could eventually run under this brand as long as they follow certain standards and criteria in doing so. While one of them would be that any profits or higher earnings have to go to the OTS umbrella organisation, we did not say that things can’t be commercial. In any case would the OTS organisation have the legal authority over the brand, the global community have the saying what that brand stands for and how it may or may not be executed and it would be in the Foundations board to ensure that.
The current relationship
Out of that we have modelled the way that the company would run this, as a brand licensing contract with the Foundation. But as we are not, at the moment, at the state where we have all of the programme figured out and can just leave it with others but are still very much experimenting on getting it work in the first place, that licensing contract does acknowledge that. (You find the latest copy here). It basically goes along the lines of the following:
- the brand belongs to OTS, OTS has full ownership rights
- it grants the exclusive usage to Hash Picker UG (the new company) for execution and experimentation until the end of 2015
- at that time OTS can decide whether what Hash Picker is doing may be ok to stay under the Hackership Terms or whether it wants to retract the Brand
- if no further agreement is made by then, Hash Picker UG looses the rights to use that brand
- IF HP would make any profits, they would have to donate them to the Foundation
This contract had been discussed and agreed upon within the OTS Foundation board but hasn’t been signed yet. It is however, the legal base the new company is working in.
The big picture
So, much about the status quo. I already mentioned in there, why we structured it this way. Because we believed from the start that although this programme requires full-time attention and is a lot of work, it can potentially be working on the same blueprint-system as OTS did and can have a similar growth if done right. And, we never were in it for the money – it wouldn’t exist if we were. So it was always clear that any potential earnings have to go back to that community this and hopefully more future programmes come out of. Hence the contract.
And I think that is actually an important part and reason why OTS should want to keep ownership of HS. Unlike many other programmes we have been working with or not working with, the influence this community had over what happened – also with any potential money raised – was always very little. Out of the pure reason that we would only be a partner. In that sense HS is much different to any corporation or startup that ever approached us: it is the OTS, which is deciding where this programme goes and I intend to keep it that way.
Also for the future in which there might be one or more programmes running world-wide, I am very fond of the idea of having a purely community based (we don’t even allow corporate members at the moment) Foundation govern what the programme looks like. To ensure it doesn’t become about money (which I doubt it ever will, the odds are just stacked against that), sticks to the values and goals and doesn’t get all wishy washy from commercial sponsorship.
That said, I don’t believe this can work if the OTS has to do the day to day decision making for every HS. I’d rather think of it as a specific type of chapter of OTS and similar to local teams, the Foundation only has to step up and intervene if things are unclear, need direction or there are problems. This, like any other chapter, needs its own freedom in previously agreed upon boundaries. And I’d like the OTS to be the one setting the boundaries.
A few personal comments:
I obviously disagree with the notion that HS is not within the values of OTS. Otherwise there be no point discussing. I do strongly believe HS is and can be a complementary programme, where pure volunteering work can’t deliver any more (and shouldn’t). But what I would like to have is a open discussion within OTS about the values. We have grown and changed a lot since the last time we revisited the values. As a matter of fact, I think I am about the only person still within OTS, who was part of the Team writing the current version – almost two years ago. And so many things have happened since.
I do disagree with the idea that this has been a lack of innovation or commitment for OTS caused by HS. Aside from me strongly believing HS is OTS, we have totally changed the way that co-learning groups work, we added evening talk-sessions (as HS-presents-Sessions), we took over the IT-Student-Labs and have been supporting the local Science Hack Day and School of MA. I am personally a little offended here, when told that HS was taking away time from OTS, while organising the python co-learning group (almost) every other week as well as being at every Thursday-Orga-meeting even if only to close the shades and clean up co.up while waiting to see if foreigners might arrive to talk to me. (Don’t worry, I am not very offended )
Taking it from here
As the contracts stand, the company will try to build the brand HS up into a programme which can run by itself by the end of next year. And I’d suggest to take the question of whether this requires a harder split or not, to then, when we have a little more idea if this actually works or not. The programme will of course take the points mentioned here into account. One thing that is very clear is that many things done are not communicated well towards OTS at the moment (like diversity grants to support exactly those, who can’t afford it) and that needs to get better.
I think we are “split” clearly enough on that regard.
One thing, where this still is complicated, lies in me being chairperson for the board of the foundation, which is governing the exact programme, I spend most of my time with. This clearly isn’t very balanced, nor clear in separations of responsibilities. And although my hope was that HS would be running good enough by itself by then, for me to step out of it a little more, I am afraid this isn’t going to happen before this January, when we are legally bound to elect a (new) Board for the OTS Foundation. And of course one of the primary concerns of the board are setting the tone and strategy of OTS in the future, as well as overseeing HS and other programmes (like Student-Labs).
So, I welcome anyone, who wants to take the seat in the board (and I dunno about the others, but it appears to me that @stefanhoth, as well as @amelie are quite busy with other things, too). Of course I will assist with everything that is needed and can offer to still take care of administrative stuff like accounting.
Thanks for reading this far .