[Foundation-l] [announcement] new staff member in business development

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Fri May 18 00:16:23 UTC 2007

First, an announcement, then some thoughts

We just hired Vishal Pattel as part-time business developer.
The positions responsabilities are:

1)  Identify and develop market strategies
2)  Generate ideas and initiatives that capitalize on existing and 
prospective partner strengths
3)  Consistently build a pipeline of new, revenue generating opportunities
4)  Prepare written presentations, reports, and term sheets
5)  Assist in contract negotiations
6)  Assist with other tasks as needed(*)

(*) to be added to any staff member job description by default :-)

Vishal is already in the office, since he has been a part time intern 
since january 2007. We had expected to fill in this position in the 
future - not considered as urgent as the ED or legal coordinator 
positions - but it became more urgent after Danny's departure.
I expect Vishal will both relieve other staff members from certain 
tasks, and focus all his attention on an area which was not always 
treated as a major area.

Immediate and very specific tasks he will be in charge, amongst other 
tasks related to the position, are :
* report on all business deals we currently are in (who, what, when, how 
* analyze the price asked for certain services and implement an increase 
if suitable
* coordinate sponsorship for Wikimania
* follow up on brand marketing proposal
* be the general contact person for all the various (and sometimes 
really amazing) business deals proposed to the Foundation


Business... is not a simple matter.

I realized recently that the message we were consistently giving to the 
press was that we basically got all of our revenue from donations.

But...first of all, are we sure it is true ?
Do you know how much of our revenue comes from donations, how much comes 
from grants, how much comes from services, how much come from cafepress, 
how much come from pure brand business ?
I know the figures from last year, though financial statements did not 
make the difference between services and brand marketing for example. 
The values were very low anyway. I have some estimates of some values 
for the current year. But I do not have clear precise data month by 
month. And I know the data is changing very rapidly. I do not think it 
is something like 99% donations, 1% the rest of the revenue.


Second, regardless of how much we get from various sources, it make 
sense to know which message we want to get out. Do we want our public to 
hear only (or mostly) that we manage thanks to their donations ? Or do 
we also want potential business partners to hear that they can also make 
business with us ?
If we want the second, we must not only have a proper frame to do 
business (such as a nicely working cafe press, or a good wap service), 
but also make it known that we want to do so. As with an information kit 
different from the press kit.


Third, it makes sense to exactly know which type of business we want (or 
we can) to get into.
In terms in revenue, aside from the regular donations and grants, here 
is what we can get right now

* income from sales from cafe press. This revenue is partly business, 
partly promotion. We do not run the cafepress exclusively to earn money, 
but also because it is pretty cool to have a wikimedia mug or a 
wikipedia tee-shirt.

* data services: afaik, currently, datafeed for website and a wap 
service (extremely basic...). Arguably, this is pure business, or a mix 
of business/distribution

* brand with content distribution deal: we do not want to directly 
distribute offline versions of our content, and even less to make people 
pay for that. Legally risky. But we are happy others are doing, and when 
they run a business on this, we make a deal for brand use. Example, 
production of a DVD with Wikipedia content on it; in such case, we 
collect a small fee corresponding to the use of the logo on the DVD 
jacket. In such case, it is not only a business deal. It is business, 
but it is also part of our mission as it allows content to further 

* pure brand deals: very few were done till now; That might be typically 
the Cisco deal, where a video used our logo and some money was 
collected. At a much larger scale, we could envision larger impact, with 
toys, computer equipment, etc... this is just to get money.

* I mention advertisement. It is pure business. We do not do it, but it 
is mentionned regularly, and I think that for the sake of it, we should 
consider one day having a study done to see how much it would bring in, 
and how much negative impact it would have (not only on community mood, 
  but also probably in donations decrease).

* on-site services, to improve the user experience. We might imagine a 
system of print-on-demand on the website itself, with a fee per 
printed/shipped book. Right now, there are few, if not no services of 
this type.

* arguably, I will mention here sponsorship. Because sponsorship is 
largely an exchange of money with promotion of a third party.

I expect there are other ways to make business and to collect some cash.
Which ones would you suggest ?

Each of these systems has advantage and drawbacks. I above mentionned 
the advertisement system, but there are others which might be 
controversial. For example, if we have wikipedia logo printed on a game 
of trivial pursuit, will you be happy, or not ? If Microsoft is 
Wikimania sponsor, will you be happy, or not ?

Community can very largely provide input here.


fourth, legal frame.
Are they deals we can not make practically or reasonably ? Or deals we 
simply should not go into ? Or deals we should not get into above a 
certain figure of income for tax reasons ?
If we sell the right to use the brand, can we defend it is a brand and 
it is ours at the place where we want to make the deal ? (ie, were the 
tms secured ? )
All questions difficult right now with no legal counsel though.


Fifth, much mentionned in the past few days. Brand precisely. Public 
perception of a brand. Whether to unify our brand or not. Whether to try 
to go toward a more unified appearance accross all websites, or not.
Of course, we can get counselling from professionals on this, but 
community input will be unvaluable.


The revenue we right now get from business is largely inferior to what 
we could get, and I expect it will grow much larger in the coming year.
But before it really become so, we have significant challenges in front 
  of us. I hope that Vishal will become an important piece of that 
challenge and invite him to involve the community to deal with all this.


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