As I see it, there are 2 large issues here.

The staff morale and distrust being the first. The exodus of a good chunk
of staff was expected at the beginning - Erik and a few others were too
much a part of Sue's leadership and it seemed natural. New leadership would
entail, a new leadership style, new staff and getting rid of some of the
old. This wasn't a surprise - in the beginning. What became evident was the
revolving door of new hires as well, departure of quite prominent ones and
oldhands who had been vetted by the community, in community-facing
positions. All the while very important high level management positions
have remain vacant. If there was a staff reorganisation planned, it should
have been the priority before anything else to make it quick and painless
as possible. This was a big failing for Lila in terms of her priorities -
this should have been the first task before anything else.

I also don't understand why people think Sue's tenure was especially rosy.
Her start was quite rocky and we had a lot of bumps along the way. No
doubt, Lila's start has been far worse but the difference there might not
be as large. I see a lot of shortcomings in communication - there were a
lot of issues Sue kept contained (as a few would know), and certainly
increasing the staff to twice or thrice the size, isn't going to be easy to
monitor - bringing back the idea of making WMF smaller.

The simplest solution right now would be hiring a* new deputy*. I think
Lila needs a buffer. Someone much more closer to the staff that can fill
the community and staff facing requirements. Given the HR history, I also
think this task should be carried out by the board directly, and that too,
at the earliest. The task of replacing an ED is a long and public one.
Depending on how you look at it, we already need a deputy, it would be
filling a vacancy. The future direction can be decided once we stop the
hemorrhaging of talent and trust.

Second issue, is the KE. I don't know if Lila still thinks there are any
perceived benefit left with pursuing this ill-advised venture. Finding out
that Damon conceived it to take on Google along with his colorful paranioa
as brion put it, and the cryptic email last month - I have no faith in this
project along with most others on the list. If you separate the buzzwords
and corporate speak from the description on the FAQ page, KE seems like a
new search engine that will integrate OSM and other data, to reside at the
main domain. A smaller and better search that focused on improvements,
would have gone under the radar until you had a prototype or more of an
idea what exactly you wanted. But instead you filed a grant request from
another organisation - their lack of interest should have been an early
indicator here. The $250 K grant everyone thinks is a smoking gun would be
the tip of the iceberg, and ultimately irrelevant, if the figures I saw on
the FAQ page were true. This grant wouldn't cover development for 2 months
of a multi-year project - Ask yourself, was it worth it?

There are a lot of really smart people trying to tell you this is not a
good idea. Not to mention, the implication of designing in an open culture
- you can spend 32 million or 50 or 60, owing to our ethos we would have to
make it accessible and open - for anyone to copy and improve as they see
fit. And If Google remotely wanted something like this, those numbers are a
drop in the bucket - they have paid more for parking and transportation of
their employees than the entire budget of this project. This is only going
to be a sad mistake that can ruin an important relationship and hurt our
credibility. This is similar to the whole Arnon's debacle if the board is
listening, you can drag your feet, resist, ignore, hope it goes away but
you know the end. So, whether you do it now, or the next ED, or it happens
in an year by either one, the outcome is probably going to be the same -
junk it and move on. This already costed you and everyone else much more
than just money.

Regards
Theo

P.S. Andreas, you are one of the smartest commentators I read on this list.
You have great points and new information but really, there is an obsession
here with Google. There are real problems right now that are quite
unrelated to what Sue said in 2008. The donor agreement and relationship as
imagined by Sue 8 years ago has only tangential relationship to the
management issues right now and the lack of clarity related to KE. I can't
see the relationship you are trying to allude to here. I say this with
great respect, and appreciation for your opinions.


On Sun, Feb 21, 2016, Andreas Kolbe <jayen...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Feb 20, 2016, Anthony Cole <ahcole...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Lila should have taken the community along with her as the Knowledge
> Engine
> > project was evolving. I don't know what was behind her reticence. I
> presume
> > an element was unwillingness to announce a thing while the thing was
> > shifting and changing from one day to the next.
> >
>
>
> It was pointed out to me today that there is a court exhibit, no. 666, made
> public in 2014 as part of the [[High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation]]
> (the same case Arnnon Geshuri was involved in), which reproduces some
> correspondence between Sue Gardner, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, and various
> Google managers.[1]
>
>
>
> In short, Sheryl Sandberg (who'd formerly worked for Google) helped Sue
> Gardner by introducing her to senior management at Google. To do so,
> according to the court exhibit, Sandberg forwarded an email from Sue
> Gardner to Jonathan Rosenberg (then Senior Vice President of Products) and
> others at Google:
>
>
>
> ---o0o---
>
>
>
> From: Sheryl Sandberg
>
> Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2008 7:40 PM
>
> To: Jonathan Rosenberg; Omid Kordestani; David Drummond; Megan Smith
>
> Subject: Fw: Thanks + a request re Google
>
>
>
> Jonathan, Omid, David, Megan - I was introduced to Sue by Roger. As you can
> see below, they would love a better and more senior relationship with
> Google. Can I email introduce her to one of you?
>
>
>
> Please excuse blackberry-caused typos.
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
>
> From: Sue Gardner
>
> To: Sheryl Sandberg
>
> Sent: Mon Aug 04 10:02:01 2008
>
> Subject: Thanks + a request re Google
>
>
>
> Hi Sheryl,
>
>
>
> It was terrific to finally meet you last week :-)
>
>
>
> Here's a recap of the Google issue that I raised:
>
>
>
> I started as Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation last summer.
>
>
>
> A few months after that, Roger McNamee began introducing me to potential
> Wikipedia donors in the valley. Most of that was great and successful, but
> in a few cases -including once with a Google board member- I was surprised
> to be have people cite 'loyalty to Google' as a reason to not give money to
> Wikipedia.
>
>
>
> Their objections, which have been echoed to me several times since then,
> seem to fall into three categories:
>
>
>
> * A belief that Wikia Search is an attempt by Wikipedia to compete with
> Google. (Many people don't realize the only thing shared between Wikipedia
> and Wikia is our founder, Jimmy Wales. Nor do they realize that Jimmy has
> no day-to-day responsibilities at the Wikimedia Foundation.)
>
> * The view that because Wikipedia is non-commercial, it is anti-advertising
> and anti-Google.
>
> * A belief that Knol is an attempt by Google to compete with Wikipedia.
>
>
>
> I personally don't believe any of this: I think Google and Wikipedia can
> and should have a complementary and positive relationship. And I gather
> Larry and Sergey feel the same: I believe they've told Jimmy that Google
> has no ill will towards Wikipedia, and that they'd be willing to make a
>
> donation to us in order to signal that publicly.
>
>
>
> I also believe that any real or perceived tensions in the Google/Wikipedia
> relationship may be being exacerbated at some levels inside Google by their
> unfulfilled desires to do business with us. Since relocating to the Bay
> Area in January, we've had plenty of Google folks reach out to us. But --
> we have a total staff of 21 people, with just one person responsible for
> business development, so I am not sure we are even able to politely keep up
> with their pitches. IMO, rather than spending our time on multiple
> product-specific pitches, it would probably be more productive for
> Wikipedia and Google to develop a single umbrella relationship/agreement
> (obviously within the limits of Wikipedia's non-commercial context).
>
>
>
> So. I think a good next step would be some kind of high-level meeting
> between Wikipedia and Google, to talk through these issues and see if a
> donation and/or business deal makes sense.
>
>
>
> I appreciate your advice on this issue :-)
>
>
>
> Thanks,
>
> Sue
>
>
>
>  ---o0o---
>
>
>
> Now, some of this isn't earth-shattering news -- it's long been known that
> relations between Google and Wikipedia have been friendly. The lobbying
> partnership between Google and Wikipedia may well date back to the meetings
> that followed that email exchange.
>
>
>
> What wasn't known to me was that Sue found people in Silicon Valley
> unwilling to donate because of their "loyalty to Google". (This reasoning
> raises questions of its own about Google's influence, but we'll leave that
> aside.)
>
>
>
> Now it has become clear over the past few days that Damon Sicore, to use
> Jimmy Wales' words at Lila's Knowledge Engine FAQ,[2] "really was
> advocating for taking a run at Google", and gave "strict orders to keep it
> top secret".
>
>
>
> Sue referred to her wish to have "a single umbrella relationship/agreement"
> with Google, in part to help with the donation problems she was
> encountering. If such an agreement ever came into being, then being seen to
> be planning a campaign against Google behind Google's back, as it were,
> might well jeopardise that relationship, and be seen as disloyal.
>
>
>
> That would have been a compelling reason for continued secrecy, especially
> if these plans to compete against Google were in the end given up, meaning
> that any loss of face vis-à-vis Google and its friends would in effect be
> for nothing.
>
>
>
> Of course this is just supposition.
>
>
> But there are issues here worth reflecting upon. I recall plenty of
> volunteers over the years saying it was very good that Google seemed to
> treat Wikipedia favourably. Yet I don't recall the community ever being
> asked whether they wanted the WMF to seek any kinds of agreements with
> for-profit players.
>
>
>
> At any rate, whatever the facts of this case, it seems to me that
> maintaining transparency becomes very hard if you pursue such agreements.
> It becomes very easy to tie yourself into knots.
>
>
>
> [1] http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/sandberg.pdf
>
> [2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_Engine/FAQ
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