Turning Hackaday into a virtual hackerspace

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The owner of Hackaday, [Jason Calacanis], wants to sell this site. The editors and contributors of Hackaday want to buy it and turn it into a nonprofit. You can help! 

Here’s a really nice Powerpoint going over what we’re going to do while making Hackaday the best it can be.

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Here’s the skinny: if this campaign is funded, the writers and editors of Hackaday will keep doing what we’re doing. If we’re successful, we’re going to write up more hacks than we are right now, hosting an awesome community, and expanding our custom builds. You know how [Caleb] built Thor’s Hammer? If we’re funded, we’ll be doing more stuff like that, only with a bigger budget. It will be awesome.

But wait, there’s more!

The community is going to be the main focus from here on out. We’ll visit hackerspaces, do proper interviews, hold contests, and coming up with some giveaways. We might even do a few hackerspace/builder grants; sometimes we see a really cool build that’s constrained by custom or handmade parts (this spray etcher comes to mind) that need a shot in the arm and a little bit of funding to bring them into the ‘buildable by everyone’ level.

[dynotronix] in the comments suggested we do a Hackaday scholarship. That’s an awesome idea. At the very least we’ll buy some O Chem textbooks for students. They’re taking O Chem anyway, and having to buy the book is just rubbing salt in the wound.

But wait, there’s problems!

Half a million dollars is a lot of money. A ton. You know when you see the ‘briefcase with a million dollars’ in movies and TV shows? That briefcase couldn’t hold a million dollars. It would probably be something like $200 – $300k. We’re going to need a lot of help from the Hackaday community.

It’s been suggested many, many times that we offer some sort of equity or shares in Hackaday. This is illegal, and even though white collar prison seems  cushy, we’d prefer to keep things above board here. In any event, this is exactly the problem we’re facing right now – the possibility of an unknown business having undue influence over Hackaday. Too many cooks, or something like that.. We’d like to keep this in the family, with the same content (but expanded), and the independence to do what Hackaday should.

[Jason] did offer a revenue-sharing plan for the community to buy Hackaday, something along the lines of $300,000 up front, and $10k a month for 30 months. We don’t want to do that. That would actually decrease the revenue available to the writers and editors for two and a half years. Yes, with this plan, the community would ‘own’ Hackaday, but it would be worse – no projects, no really cool stuff – for a fairly long time. We want to hit the ground running.

In the interest of fairness…

This is not the only ‘lets crowdfund Hackaday’ project out there. [Logan Collins] and [Brett Diedrich] have their own Indiegogo campaign running. Edit: never mind, they shut theirs down.

If the Hackaday community doesn’t like this Indiegogo campaign, I encourage you to start your own. This is a community driven site, and we’ll be more than happy to support anyone who comes up with a better crowdfunding campaign.

And that’s all she wrote

So there you go. We’re crowdfunding Hackaday so we can be independant forever and do really cool stuff. The owner of this site has assured me he’s on board with this plan.

This post is going to be stickied for the duration of the campaign, so if you have any questions, ask them in the comments. I’ll update this post with an FAQ shortly.

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The FAQ:

So who would actually own it? /  If the funding is successful, who will really own the company? / Can you comment on who inherits this asset?/ What will happen in 2 or 3 years if you want to leave?

We’ll be setting up an LLC with the current writers and editors as the managers. Then we’ll go for non-profit 501(c)(3) status. If I die or leave in two or three years, Hackaday will still have other editors and writers.

Here’s the best reason why setting up an LLC is the best option.

It has been brought to our attention an L3C might be better than an LLC. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

What about shares / equity / No ownership of stock = no donation.

This is what we’re trying to get away from. Right now, the revenue from Hackaday is being used for other unrelated startups. We already have too many owners, and some weird dividend or sharing scheme would only keep us (financially) where we are now. This is publishing. Think of it as a subscription. Donate a buck or two and keep enjoying Hackaday as it is, but cooler.

For everyone who wants ownership of Hackaday, read this comment.

If that doesn’t convince you, it’s also illegal.

If this is funded, what’s stopping you from buying Hackaday, then selling it and keeping the money?

With non-profit status, this would require the agreement of all the writers and editors of Hackaday. That’s simply not going to happen.

The same could also be said if Jason sells to someone else. At least with this plan there’s some accountability.

Now go contribute!

Comments

  1. delete_me says:

    Dear HaD editors: sorry guys but it’s pretty obvious that Jason knows how to run this enterprise better than you do.

    • Not so. We would pay our employees.

      • d says:

        There’s the rub… you want us to give Jason a couple of more Tesla’s to drive and he has proven to be a big dick by not paying people. So not worth it my friend.

        Brian go forth and start a new website. It might not be Hackaday but it will be yours and could be so much better.

        Also if Jason isn’t paying you then you should sue for back pay. It seems he can afford it fine.

      • Andrew says:

        Yeah, I can’t argue with that. It’s one thing to have the bright idea but without the guys actually running the editorial part, it would just be another great idea that never saw the light of day.

  2. n0lkk says:

    Just paged through the power point Brian. While I doubt it’s changed but there is one reason I’m not about new owners of Hackaday”taking the money and run”, but I didn’t see it mention. As non-profit the mangers can’t profit. In the event there comes a time the newly Hackaday LC (or whatever other structure takes on) to be dissolved, any assets have to be distributed to other nonprofits. As I mention at the stat, I wouldn’t expect that to have changed Years a go a PBS program had an episode on nonprofits, as I recall there was big handful of ways to go about. it. I don’t blame you for going for a way doest have trying to please everyone when it’ll will b difficult to please most

    • CheapB says:

      The model is to create a LLC with the editors as shareholders and then the “intent” is to convert it to a 503c non-profit. I think more people would contribute – including myself if HAD went directly into a 503c. while the managers cannot profit from the proceeds of the company, the board which appears to be the same people can decide the salary of the managers, soo…..

  3. Phil says:

    If in the future you start making less on ad revenue and it costs more than you can pay to keep it running, what happens? Sell on or fold?

  4. d says:

    Owner of Hackaday Jason Calacanis refuses to pay his employees…

    In other news… Jason Calacanis gives away a $100K+ Tesla to make his Twitter account #1

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/01/mahalo-ceo-jason-calacanis-giving-away-his-tesla-model-s-you-kn/

  5. d says:

    Owner of Hackaday Jason Calacanis wants you to give $500K for Hackaday…

    In other news… Jason Calacanis believes the taxpayer should help fund his Tesla fix

    From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-mccabe-calacanis/on-bailouts-and-sports-ca_b_147261.html

    1. Only the Rich Can Afford It. Should Taxpayers Back It?

    Yes Randy, the first version of technology tends to be expensive. Personal computers used to cost $5,000, flat-panel TVs were $10,000 and–gasp–the first decade’s worth of solar panels were not worth the price. You’re a *technology* journalist at the New York Times. You understand all too well that expensive technology becomes commodity technology within 10 to 20 years of its inception.

  6. d says:

    Back in 2008 Hackaday owner Jason Calacanis laid off 10% of his staff at Mahalo. At the time he stated, “It’s my responsibility to make this hard decision and I don’t take it lightly.”

    He afterwards tweeted if any of his followers knew of someone at MSNBC, CNN or Fox who would film his 1st Tesla pickup.

    Seems 10% of employees == 1 ugly orange Tesla

    http://dannybrown.me/2008/11/14/why-jason-calacanis-is-the-ultimate-twitter-fail-whale/

    http://gawker.com/5086604/jason-calacanis-to-media-please-cover-my-sports+car-purchase

  7. hos says:

    Just use some other site name … we will all flock there.. 500K… people are just trying to be greedy here!!!

  8. Kai says:

    I think all the discussion about appropriateness of asking the community for money, etc. is pointless. There is no way this will raise 500K; I would be very surprised if it raised 100K.

  9. Me says:

    It sounds like a lot of commentors don’t really understand what they are talking about doing. I think maybe the FAQ assumes the reader already knows too much.

    “So who would actually own it? / If the funding is successful, who will really own the company? / Can you comment on who inherits this asset?/ What will happen in 2 or 3 years if you want to leave?”

    The answer mentions 501c3. That means – non-profit corporation. As such it really isn’t owned by anyone. Certain people are mentioned in the articles of incorporation as having certain roles. If they leave, then they fill out some paperwork to replace their names with someone else. The corporation is it’s owne entity, there really isn’t anything to sell. We woudln’t be seeing another IndiGoGo campaign or similar. Maybe there would be a call for someone to fill the vacancy. Or.. maybe they would take care of that with someone they already had in mind privately. The great thing about this is such an organisation lives on until everybody loses interest. Nobody can buy it just to kill it. (Remember Tech TV?)

    “What about shares / equity / No ownership of stock = no donation.”

    Duh! Shares are ownership. Now you are talking about a for-profit corporation. It would be bound by law to make all decisions with the purpose of making it’s shareholders more money. That could mean more ads, it could mean changing the content, it could mean selling out to some larger company that just wants to buy it to shut it down. Hackaday could no longer exist to support the readers interests.

    Do they just want your money? Buying a for-profit company… Ad revenue…

    Well… they are promising to make a non-profit out of Hackaday. If they follow through with that then they can still take a paycheck. Even non-profit employees need to eat, put a roof over their heads, etc… and they can’t get as much done if the non-profit is a spare time hobby rather than a full-time job. But… being a non-profit puts legal limits how much of their income can be used that way and how much must be put back into whatever purpose they exist to serve. This would be something about building the Hacker community, in other words supporting us! Any for-profit company that might buy Hackaday will not have such limitations. For example, the current owner using the ad revenue to fund his other startups….

    Isn’t this too much for a domain name… Alexa says the value of the domain is… just buy another domain name.

    This isn’t about buying the domain name hackaday.com. It is the Hackaday business. It’s a brand, it’s a collection of past material. I know they build their own projects there some times. Is there maybe a shop and tools included too?

    Sure… any of us can go buy a domain name and plop a WordPress site on it. We couldn’t legally copy all of Hackadays several years worth of article summaries, comments, etc… Even if you rewrote all of your own article summaries how are you going to find that many articles to write about? I don’t think you can just go through Hackaday’s archives and work your way down the list. I’m sure the act of collecting all those articles itself even without copying any of their words is protected under some sort of copyright. After all, a lot of work must have gone into finding them all in the first place.

    Even with the current editors on board, building a new Hackaday from scratch would take years and probably have a high risk of failure. Meanwhile, they do have to eat.

    What happens if somebody else buys it? How bad could it be?

    What do you think of how Oracle has handled it’s Sun aquisitions? For a more similar though older comparison, how about what Comcast did with Tech TV? If you value Hackaday then yes, this should be kind of scary. At the very least, anyone else with that kind of money to inviest in this sort of site probably has some other ties to the industry. Maybe some tool or component manufacturer will buy it. Imagine the bias that could produce for that manufacturers projects! Hey.. Maybe Rigol can buy Hackaday and surpress oscilloscope hacks so that more people buy their more expensive scopes!

    • Louis says:

      Hackaday Should have never been a “brand” it should be a community of people with similar interests working together. now that its ad supported its a broken website that someone wants wayyyyyy tooo much money for.

      yup… thats all i got.

    • d says:

      When this was originally posted there was no FAQ… there was no power point… there was nothing but “buy me this website”.

      And you are not correct. They haven’t committed to making it a non-profit. Read some of the comments by Brian, there was talk of making it an L3C as well. It’s all up in the air it seems.

    • Greenaum says:

      The archive might have some value but I think most readers come here most days to see the *new* stuff.

      It’s not the brand that matters. I don’t care if Microsoft buy the URL and make every article a review of their terrible phones. If that happens I’ll go read some other site. Jason Calacanis apparently doesn’t have the editors on contract, and the community goodwill and HAD’s status as a hub for hackers to post their work is also something he can’t sell.

      I think that’s the critical difference here. Only idiots follow “brands”. Geeks aren’t easy to manipulate, any major negative changes will kill the site in days. The place went apeshit when Caleb very humbly and politely tried to change the board’s software (which was awful so fair enough).

      Anyway… nobody’s ever going to pay half a million for this site. Be interesting to see how it all goes down in the end.

  10. Jim says:

    You guys got my backup. I’ll be pledging here in the next couple days. Thanks for the privilege to help one of my favorite sites. Though I NEVER in all my wildest dreams thought HaD would be up on the chopping block in the relative future….gah! I wish we could just have the 540k and be done with it! We will get there guys!!

  11. Pedja says:

    Impressive!!! I wish I had thought something like this when my ex-boss sold his company so I could had kept my job/salary. You’re just brilliant! If you can fool enough people and get that 500k I will be really impressed. F**k, you’re geniuses.

  12. hodi says:

    Said youll didn’t show my previous comment!! u guyz are truly trying to silence the criticism here

  13. Json says:

    After reading everything, and reading the PowerPoint, makes more sense to raise $100k, and use all of that to start something new. According to current plan, raise $500k, hand over to one person to buy rights to site. All the talk about LLC, and non-profit, and plans, have nothing to do with the $500k so yes, someone gets rich, period.

  14. One [1] metric Dave says:

    I really like this idea, and I suppose this is not the most constructive criticism ever but I see two issues.

    One: HaD is NOT an “online museum of hacker ingenuity.” It’s mostly links to said hacks. The content is not on HaD, at least not mostly. That seems like something you’d download off a bbs or something, before search engines were invented- not pay a huge chunk of money to sustain.

    Two: Jason. Pure and simple, I don’t really care to give the guy $500k. I understand about branding, but I’d be willing to contribute money (it could be around the same amount, since you have no add money yet) towards a new site with no useless people grubbing for money. Give you guys some time to get started and establish a brand of your own.

    I respect what YOU guys want to do, and I think that you’d make it well worth the money. I have no respect for someone who can’t pay his own employees, while digging for huge cash wads.

  15. dr. cryogen says:

    After looking at the presented materials, thinking for quite a while, and reading all, yes all, of the comments I’m afraid that I have to go with the pessimistic crowd, but not for the same reasons. On the one hand I don’t grudge Jason a profit from selling this site, he did get it started and funded after all, but I am afraid that $500k is a lot to ask, by itself at least.

    The reason is not the dollar amount: the reason is that I see no effort on Jason’s part to look at the community that has made this site what it is and say “Hey, you helped me out, put money in my pocket and helped me get other businesses started, so I’m going to help you out when you need it.” In essence, it looks like Jason is acting like a selfish king and we are the serfs trying to buy our freedom at an effectively impossible price. Again, I do think it is quite fair for him to make some money from the sale: but he’s gouging the community.

    What do I propose? That Jason bring his price down to maybe $100k as a gesture to the community and commit to personally help getting it set up as a 501(c)(3). Does he really believe in this community? Does he see value in it for its own sake?

    Show us.

    @Brian, I think you’ve taken a lot of flak over all this, and I think most of it is undeserved. I think the 501(c)(3) idea is great, and I think that would be a great asset to the community.

    • d says:

      Brian posted earlier that Jason hasn’t paid him for the last month and a half. WTF?

      And this is a man who laid off 10% of his employees at Mahalo… professed it was a hard but necessary decision for him to do… and then tweeted if he could get a major cable news network to cover his purchase of his new $109K Tesla.

      Now tell me… Why should I give money to Jason again? Please enlighten me cause I cannot see it. For what? A website? No… for a god damned “brand name”.

      For Crying Out Loud Brian just get another WordPress website and make another Hackaday site but make it better. Or go work for one of the many DIY websites out there that actually do shit.

      Whatever you do Brian you simply have to leave. If Jason hasn’t paid you like you said you have every right to leave. Apparently Jason has filled your head with some shit that keeps you there but you aren’t an indentured servant. There is a reason why Jason is rich… it is because he can con people into working for free.

      I know people like this. They weren’t born with a moral compass and they have no problems saying or doing anything that will make themselves richer. They think people who have some form of morality are “weak”.

      Please people don’t spend a friggin dime enabling Jason’s Tesla fix.

      • dr. cryogen says:

        @d I didn’t catch that Brian hadn’t been paid for a month and a half: excellent point. That reeks of dishonesty, and certainly adds weight to the price reduction, or even elimination. For that matter, if Jason really believes in this, then he could just as easily spin this off as a 501(c)(3) himself: he could even hire someone to set it up. Rich people do things like that all the time: maybe it’s a little selfish to have your name permanently attached to a charity, but sometimes even selfishness can be harnessed for good.

        Unless Jason changes course very, very quickly, then I fully agree that Brian should jump ship, and Mike too if he hasn’t been paid either.

  16. Alex Martin says:

    It does seem HAD has already lost its credibility over this, which is a great shame, however asking such a high amount of money for other peoples ideas and projects is what seems to me unethical.

  17. rud says:

    500k ?!
    was the sole purpose of this website to give his owner a nice little parachute ?!
    idk.
    was it the sole purpose of the writers to get a peace of that pie?
    no.
    selling HAD is a ridiculous selfish idea.
    the site could leave for years on wordpress.com, or even as a VM image hosted ln
    cloud platform. hell, torrent kids do this for years! why cańt HAD?!
    open a paypal acc, to donate for the hosting and sho kingly expensive domain renewal (sarcasm)..
    because im pretty sure the hackers worldwide who contributed (willinglu or not) to HAD columns had no intentions of paying for the site owners sabatical.
    shame on u for trying to profit from the community.

  18. d says:

    On the indigogo funding site this was posted: “I never ‘kickstarter’ anything because I have not felt it sufficiently anything important. Though I dont have very much money, hopefully this is enough for now.”

    Taking from the poor and giving it to the rich. Jesus Brian you can’t still think this is a good idea?

  19. PIkoro says:

    I really don’t see what the expenses are here that would require half a million dollars to purchase. A server on a static ip: $600 in hardware, $20 for the ip. 100Mb/s fiber: $50/mo. Am I missing something? Everything else is just gravy….

    • dan says:

      That’s like saying you should be able to buy walmart for the sum of the cost of the stuff inside the shop.

      forgetting that buying this business give you a roster of staff already trained, and a loyal “customer base” that know your brand.

      it might be gravy, but it’s an expensive gravy.

      so more of a jus then :)

      • d says:

        It appears the roster of staff is currently one guy. The other guy, Caleb, left to go be editor of EE Times http://calebkraft.com/

        • dan says:

          two, Brian B and Mike S.

          to be honest, Brian already works and writes for Make Magazine, given that hackaday has clearly been trying to spread it’s winds into the life hacker/artisan made with it’s handmade section (which I’ve always gone to Make for previously)

          AND that Philip T also works at Make,
          AND that Make already is a proper business that can actually stock and sell some of the more popular stuff (like arduino) from it’s maker shed store -which makes some product just a gnats whisker more accessible for new people.

          I’d quite like to see Brian just pull the carpet from under Jason and him, Philip T and Mike set up a subforum at make for more “hacky” stuff. probably 75% of the content could easily go on Makes pages anyway, there is already stuff here reposted from the makzine blog and the only thing that won’t be very Make audience friendly is going to be the how to bust open thousands of dollar of o’scope for a bandwidth increase etc.

          Lets face it, the writers are the ones who are adding the value here, they are sifting through the tip line stuff, and looking for the stuff that they re-post. Jason has just told them that their work is work half a mill, but he won’t cut them in on any of it, not even a better deal so that they can keep working when he wants out….

          in that situation you show him the bird and vote with your feet.

  20. UAirLtd says:

    so http://www.modthat.com is really shaping up quite nicely, with some excellent pests. To all those here who want to be part of a fledgling and crowing hacker/maker community, this is a great opportunity. And to the Editors here: maybe you could just all move over to there, keep the community going and be rid of this ridiculous half-million pricetag? I’m sure the community would be more than willing to donate to build something worthwhile, knowing that their money will go directly into the endeavour instead of lining the pockets of an individual who isn’t related.

    • Greenaum says:

      If it takes off, and gets to be a lot of work, I’m sure you’ll be able to hire Mike and Brian, and anyone else who’s suitable, for at least the same money they get here. Plus you’d actually pay it to them. Hope you do! Hope it works out.

      You’ve got a surprisingly professional-looking and useful site in just a short while, really impressive, and it goes to show that real alternatives are certainly possible.

      Now rub your hands together and wait for a ludicrous cheque!

  21. Nikola says:

    I like the site and all, but what pot smoking hippie came up with a valuation over half a million dollars?!

    • Greenaum says:

      “cash-swimming breadhead” is the phrase you’re after. Or something involving coke, tying into invincible ego, grandiose ideas, and tendencies toward douchebaggism, as such drug does.

  22. toothwort says:

    well hmm its been a bit since iv been on here. i think its funny that he want’s to sell this site. but also think he is asking way to much for it. i would have to say this blog has the worst community on the net by far. the people are EXTREMELY rude and aggressive.not to mention arrogant.( i bet this will start a flame war.) i am kinda hoping it goes down. i would hate to see any thing happen to the writers and editors of this site because i think they do a fine job but its the community that really destroys this site and drove me away.

    p.s
    good Luke.

  23. billthewelder says:

    Sorry but I don’t see funding this as anything more than giving money to a group of guys trying to start a business masquerading as a charity. If you want to buy it then get a business loan or go the route of investors instead of asking for something and giving nothing in return.

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