Subject: Re: small worlds and better than ransom
From: Thomas Lord <>
Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2007 21:03:08 -0700

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> So you're back to "internet busking", which is where you are.  Dammit
> Tom, you deserve better, just plain as a human being, and in
> comparison to your contributions.

I appreciate the sentiment but that isn't a professional
consideration, exactly.    People may or may not choose
to become customers as an expression of good will
if they want to act on such considerations of their own.

> Look, you've been there, with Canonical.  They clearly thought they
> had a better use for your time than working on Arch, no?  They
> considered revision control a problem under control, they could
> delegate incremental improvement to people without your vision in that
> area.  (I'm aware that there were a lot of other things going on, but
> stated as bare facts that's correct, is it not?)

Canonical discussed the possibility of employment with them
to work on Arch.   In those discussions, three non-negotiable
conditions emerged from Canonical, at least as I understood
their position:   1) That I would make any
change to Arch I was ordered to (though would be free to
not include it in the public release).  2. That I would submit
to personal surveillance of my whereabouts and activities
(to be personally conducted by the founder, no less!).
3. That no equity was being offered.

I declined.   It did not help that when the plans for what
changes to Arch I might be asked to make were discussed,
I found them unimpressive and technologically wrong-headed.
If I had thought the ideas were good, (1) might not have been
an obstacle, if (2) and (3) could have been answered.

What happened next was a situation in which his employees
behaved in manners I consider unprofessional and that,
in fairness, probably do not reflect the reflectively held
values of those employees, Canonical, or Canonical's founder.
And, in fairness, I did not, in that process, make any
kind of commercial counter-offer to Canonical.   If I
had thought to make a counter-offer, some like pre-purchases
would have made a lot of sense.

Water under the bridge.

>  > One thing to consider is what happens if not just me but
>  > perhaps a few people actually succeed in starting a business like
>  > this.   That will change the landscape a lot because many people
>  > will try to emulate this.  That is, many entrepreneurial hackers
>  > will follow suit and offer their work under similar terms.
> Agreed, and I sincerely wish you good luck.  But the bottom line on
> the back of the envelope I'm looking at says "you're gonna need luck
> in round lots."

That luck-deficit is invariant under all plans and scenarios
I can think of.   Gotta play the hand you're dealt.