Turning Hackaday Into A Virtual Hackerspace

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.


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.


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!

434 thoughts on “Turning Hackaday Into A Virtual Hackerspace

  1. I just contributed to the campaign, not with the future of HaD in mind but the past of it. I’ve read this site dailiy for the last 6-8 years or so and I’ve learned a lot from it, while enjoying the PIC-AVR wars (like to see their names together) then Arduino and lastly from 3D printer stuff. I also think (hope :-) I’ve learned a bit of english “slang” as I’m spanish (probably one of the western countries with worst english level).

    Now I think it’s time to pay for my classes, just that. Thank you HaD :-)

  2. ” revenue from Hackaday is being used for other unrelated startups” so will all ads go away or will the revenue continue to go to “things” i was interested in that whole dividend thing originally stated, at least if it was like you put in maybe 1% of the company and maybe get a portion of that ad revenue, but $500 will get me a T-shirt and a promise that you’ll hopefully work more, i dunno. allot of the contributions seem to be basically selling ad space to corporate people.

  3. Silly question but… if you do make the $540K isn’t that going to be taxed by Uncle Sam? What about state taxes? This isn’t a pure 503c and we aren’t purchasing shares so how does that work?

    I am sure you’ve all thought this out right?

    1. It would probably be taxable to the current owner as capital gains (depends on his biz type) and income to the recipients of the LLC. They are actually receiving a real asset as a gift from random strangers. With the right tax pro, they could argue it as a tax exempt “gift”, but I think that would be difficult if it’s over $600. It would need to go straight to a non-profit org, probably, to avoid tax man on an individual level.

  4. If Hack A Day can produce $14,000 in advertising, why are you guys looking for over half a million dollars? Fair enough wanting to get some reward for your work but half a million?

  5. $540K is a nonsensical price for this site. It is based on an income potential than actual value of the site. Jason knows that he cannot sell this to any of the originally intended companies with this price hence his approval for editor’s to take over. ;)
    That’s the reason I am not pledging. I am offended by this nonsensical price. Bring the sale price down as you would’ve if you negotiated this deal with those corporate people.
    I pledge one thing, if this community pays $540,000 for this site. I sure will not visit this site again.
    This bit is for the hacker community. If you want a Hack a day like community site, we can create it in a Wiki format way cheaper than this. That actually fits better to Hacker’s code: if you cannot find it (or don’t want to pay $$$ for it), make one yourself.

  6. I have been viewing HAD for about 6 years, its what i look at everyday! I feel this is a waste of money! and will not put a penny into this. this is what happens all the time with small websites that get big its sad. as a website/I.T Guy I think its time for someone else to start a new hackaday and not make it so profitable! I don’t care who you are HACKADAY.COM is NOT! worth Kind of money!

    -FU Current Owners

      1. I’ve got a few hundred things book marked for reference.

        though it wouldn’t be hard to either save the page, or save the page that the link from the article to the actual content that I wanted to read

  7. This campaign seems similar in some ways to the one for a Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe that The Oatmeal ran about a year ago. Both will be operated as a non-profit and requested money to buy a meaningful asset of value to their mission.

    The Tesla Science Center could have been built anywhere but they wanted to purchase the Wardenclyffe lab because it has important historical value. And they exceeded their $850,000 goal. Granted their perks were better but I see this campaign as similar.

    Sure they could recreate Hackaday under a different name but it would loose some of the legacy, content, and brand recognition established to date. It’s the digital equivalent of buying a historically important and relevant building.

    1. “It’s the digital equivalent of buying a historically important and relevant building.”

      Can we change the gravitational constant of the Universe or something… I am starting to fall off the planet from all this spin.

  8. I will be astounded if the target is reached, it’s a bit high for a relatively specialized site and the number of regulars – and their income. But I like the concept of keeping the big asshole companies and investment firms out though since they do have the ability and in half the cases proven to mess things up.

    1. If some asshole firm buys it and asses it all up, we stop reading, and someone starts a site a lot like the old-days present-day hack-a-day. Then we all read that. Worst case, we just type “hack” into Google.

      The “keeping it free of douchebags” threat is a bogeyman by someone douchey enough to think he’s lucked his way into half a million dollars on other people’s work.. The site doesn’t need owners, just editors and readers. Jason owns neither of those. I’m surprised the editors haven’t realised the value they represent, which is all of it!

      They should quit as of tomorrow, see how much Jason gets then for his domain name.

  9. Half a million? It’s a simple WordPress site. I read hackaday everyday, I’d be happy to host a break away with a new domain. Add a couple of adverts and the site would be self sufficient, profits re-invested for original hacks.

  10. am I the only one who feels F***** twice over? all Jason did is come up with a concept we the COMMUNITY (and the editors/writers of course) made this site what it is today including its revenue stream and supposed 0.5mio$ worth. and now that we’ve made it worth something we have to pay for it too? sounds like greed reared its ugly head Jason seriously WTF?
    i have an idea how about everyone turns on adblock or better yet boycote the site for a couple of days well see how the net worth of the site changes as income/rating hits 0.

      1. i think the best thing to do would be for the editors/writers to set up a crowdfunding project to actually make a branch. i feel that much more ppl will be willing to pay for a fresh start than to pay off half a mill. im not gonna pretend to know how much it will cost to set up a new website in the from the editors had in mind but im certain it wont cost 0,5 mio.
        from the comments enough ppl seem to think this is bullshit and would be willing to start fresh. this would guarantee the new site some fanbase to start with. it probably wont make 14k a month in the begining but you could account for that by including a start capital in the crowdfunding part..
        just saying…….

        1. LOL… It looks like someone is showing how trivial it is to set up WordPress and toss in a nice clean theme. $9.99 for the domain name at GoDaddy + $99/year hosting at Hostgator and you’re off to the races. If it takes off you’ll have to ramp up your hosting situation to deal with masses of concurrent requests but for now, it should be just fine.
          Best of luck!

  11. I’m seeing a lot of unwarranted nastiness here, but I understand where some of these feelings are coming from. The crowdfunding program seems to offer the users very little. I understand that you don’t want to give out shares. Fine. But dropping $100 for a decal or $500 for a shirt is basically getting nothing. So basically you are asking for money to buy a domain, for free, because you want to make it awesome. It is awesome, and I love hackaday, but I’m not sure I want to buy you a domain when there are almost no rewards at all- it kind of does look like a cash grab where you want the domain so you can roll around in money.
    I think better of you all but there is precious little in there for the backer, and the clear winner on this is you guys, with a close second going to the indifferent internet user who stumbles across the site in the future when you have made it awesome. The losers are the people who actually fund the project, because it is not cheap.
    That being said, I am planning on contributing. I want you guys to get the chance to run this place.


    1. Depends on your point of view and what you got out of hackaday.

      I got an interest in electronics and a pretty fun hobby. I don’t care about rewards. Donating a bit of money to something that both entertained (I mean the comments here are rather amusing at times) and inspired me really isn’t a big deal.

      People have also forgot that crowd funding is what WE asked for. If the editors were interested in making money i’m sure they could make a post saying how awful the new buyers were, and tell people to follow (which a big chunk of us would) them to a new site.

  12. I don’t think anyone should pay his price. Everyone should just leave and start a new site. This is a blog, its value is largely in the editorial staff that keep the hits coming. There are many alternatives to HaD. Now I don’t want the paid staff not to be able to contribute to a blog but, there isn’t much here you can replicate on the cheap. An equally effective strategy to new bad ownership would be the quit en-mass.

    1. For a new brand to gain traction it’s going to have some connection to the HAD brand in some manner or another. With such a connection the new brand most likely be compared to HAD. Then again anyone is free to experiment. Although I can’t recall how I first was made aware of HAD, I’m unsure how those who visit here daily would learn about new brands. I can’t know if he would do so or not Jason would be within his rights if he decided to kill mention of competition here. Mostly this that small stuff in life not to sweat, unless HAD contribute to your income.

  13. Have you guys looked into getting a loan from a bank? I know you think that 500k is a truck load of money, but that is the cost of an average house in the valley/alley.

    6m page views a month- you should be able to increase your advertising revenue to still fund your cool stuff. Personally I think $500k is a pretty cheap price for that number of pageviews and the brand and userbase that goes along with it.

    Asking for a contribution though, just seems kind of… crass? You are essentially asking the users to give you money that will translate into ownership (and thus your own personal wealth). I don’t think you meant it to come off that way, and I also doubt that was your intention when you came up with the idea, but that is certainly how it is viewed by the potential donors. Imagine a renter standing outside a house asking people passing by to help him raise $500k, and when they ask why you just can’t get a mortgage like anyone else, the reply is “but you like the bbqs we throw, and we might not be able to afford as many bbqs if we get a mortgage!” Is it clicking why the users aren’t too excited about the idea?

    This might be the new entrepeneurial trend though- I had a guy in a local club I am a part of that was perfectly happy to take the $10-20k I offered him to help open up a store related to our hobby, but as soon as I started talking percentage ownership in writing, or returns on equity he clammed up. Did he really expect me to just write him a check for five figures in a highly risky venture and hope that one day he might decide its the right time to pay me back, with an amount of his choosing?

  14. I’d like to see an explicit list of who will be in the new management. I see Caleb’s name being mentioned in the indiegogo page multiple times but he clearly stated here that he will not be in this. So who exactly will be there besides Brian and Mike? Or is it only two folks we are talking about? I think it’s only fair to know.

    Even if the Brian did not explicitly state his disbelief in the chances of it succeeding, you could really tell that from the rest of the vague content feeling like it’s written just for the sake of it.

    If you guys don’t believe in this then why should we?

  15. Could we get a certificate symbolizing a donation, like I own 300 shares of the 500,000 one dollar shares, but actually have it mean nothing. It would provide incentive for donation, I can proudly say that I helped hackaday and I can prove it, along with a way to track future possible future donaters.

  16. Stupid idea. Seriously. Why waste the money? Just make a new website. New name, new website, new owner. Sure, there is some history here, but so what? This is the internet, no one will remember in 3 months.

  17. LET EM HAVE IT – hey writers and editors, get a new domain, get a new site, i’ll donate to that, why should i finance some guy’s new car/house? so you can KEEP your job? are you contractually bound to the company? just leave and take your talent with you! stick it to the man! im sure hes a nice guy and all, nevertheless hes greedy so LET EM HAVE IT

  18. I’m not sure about this move, it sounds more like a half-cocked exit strategy than anything else.

    I’ve read hackaday for many years (since 05) and it would be a shame to see this go away or turn to extracting some sort of commercial gain.

    Jury is out I suppose. Caleb is this why you left?

  19. Why are shares in Hackaday not offered for our contributions? We are buying the company for you. Why are we not treated as investors? We should get a slice of the profits. I’m sorry but a T-shirt and a link are just not enough.

    1. Let’s say you put down $50. That means you would own one ten thousandth of Hackaday. We’re pulling in about $160k a year, so let’s just call that 100k net. At the end of the year, we would send you a check for ten dollars.

      Now, do you get ten dollars worth of entertainment from Hackaday a year?

      1. That is exactly what some of the commentors (myself included) are interested in.

        So $50 is 1/10,000. At the end of the year I get a dividend of ~$10 but I still have a 1/10,000 share in the company that may be more valuable (or less) so at the end of the following year I get another dividend, and the next and the next, all the while I still have my 1/10,000 share in hackaday.

        It sounds like a win-win to me.

      2. Lets look at it this way the price tag is half a million dollars. (I think that nobody thinks that the site is actually worth that, and it was posted in the last thread that even serious investors were dicked about by Jason not wanting to show them proof of his “you’ll make this much” claims.) but for the time being lets go with that.

        1 dollar gets you 1 half millionth of the company. you’re an investor in the traditional stock holder sense, at the end of the year you get one half millionth of the profits.
        (where profits are clearly established as money left over after any hosting expenses, after staff wages, etc)

        If I invest $100,000 I get 1/5th of the profits, so on and so fourth.

        Your example is a great example of how this is an easy thing for a person to do. if I invest $50, I can expect a ROI of five years. -with no changes to the site, no in your face ads, just more content to readers, and more security to authors and editors.

        If you want to, I don’t see as once wages and expenses are paid you should take 33% of the profits to go to a company growth fund or benevolent fund (for the purpose of granting scholarships and then count the remaining 67% as profits to be shared between share holders, (who would be able to opt to donate their shares to the benevolent fund instead -you’ll have a load of $1 and $10 investors, they may say that the $0.10 or $1 they might get as their yearly return isn’t worth anything to them so put in in the benevolent fund, you only need a hundred or so people to decide that they’ll submit their shares to a benevolent fund and soon hacker spaces are going to start getting nice and shiny tools, or a new lock cupboard for shared space, or a struggling hacker space might get their rent met for a month just to help them out!)

        If I’m honest I enjoy reading hackaday, but not to the extent where I want to pay half a million dollars to keep some guys writing poorly often with spelling and grammatical mistakes about content that is handed to them that they don’t fully understand. with the only return to me being a sticker!

        But investing in a company or project, where a financial gain will be realised IS something that I’d definitely be interested in. or investing in a company that does help the community IS something that I’ll be interested in.

        I’d be interested in that on the basis that all investors are sleeping partners. (this means that even if I owned 75% of the company, as a sleeping partner i’m silent, I get no say in the running day to day, or the board. or hiring or firing, or where benevolent funds get spend, or where and how the company growth fund is spent etc), but as well as me not having a say it means most of the other people here don’t get a say either. lets face it, you wouldn’t want the average hackaday commenter to have any control of anything that you had a financial interest in.

        This works exceedingly well with Jasons original plan of give me half now and the other half over the next three years.
        except he might get half now and then still own a quarter million shares and get 50% of profits (after staff costs etc), but get that indefinitely, he may also decide to sell more shares later.
        he still gets to sit back, not worry about the daily running of the site, not worry about content of hosting. just sit back and receive a modest income from the baby he created.

        regarding the valuation, it seems that everyone thinks this is a little high, and he’s “projected” figures for income seem to have come from somewhere… if the only problem is the time that he’s putting into the site. and if he’s confident about the figures that were presented, then surely he should have no problem handing the tangible asset to a board and being a silent share holder for whatever can’t be sold straight away. if he’s confident that the site is actually worth what he says then he’ll be getting a fair slice of money per year every year for doing nothing.

        if he really thinks that with some sales force more content etc the site can get tens of thousands profit per month from his 250k shares, and if he could be getting a quarter million dollars today and then thousands per month each month for just having let someone else run with their idea six years ago, then he should be pretty chuffed with himself.

        if he’s not interested, then surely that throws more question onto the figures he came up with when he valued the site?

        You’d be effectively a private and limited company (in UK terms) stock will be sold by invitation or agreement only and not traded on the open market/stock exchanges. -which means this invitation to buy shares is all fine and above board.

        What I’d suggest you do is read into private limited partnerships in the UK.
        Register in the UK as private limited partnerships are not eligible to be charged either corporation tax, not capital gains tax. (so there won’t be a tax liability to government for the company ever -no need to register for charitable status etc).

        Share dividends are paid directly to share holders with no tax applied, and shareholders are left to sort out their own financial affairs. (and it doesn’t matter what country they are in either)

        Additionally, limited partnerships are different from companies in that it’s not just the share holders that have a limited liability to the company but also that the partners have limited liability from each other.
        so if you;re taking profits from your shares and not declaring tax etc, I have no liability for your affairs, even though we have shared business interests.

        e.g when you’re caught fiddling your taxes inland revenue services (IRS) might seize your house and your assets, (possibly including your shares), but they won’t affect the business where it relates to me or money I’m getting, or my shares.

        I like the idea of getting warm and fuzzy feelings from granting scholarships. but truthfully as a non-US reader I have to ask, where will these scholarships be granted?

        There is an awful lot of content linked to that does not come from US readers. and an awful lot of visitors that are non-US citizens and also wouldn’t necessarily benefit if the idea here is that the editors/writers get to go tour the US looking for worthy hacker spaces, then great I help a while load of people get some really cool tools etc. before investing I’d kind of want to know that it won’t only be the states that are benefiting from this investment which may come from around the world.

        Make it a business and I’ll buy shares for my kid. (she loves making things, and her mum is a journalist so she’ll approve)

        Make it a business and I’ll probably buy what I can afford this month, and IF the first share payouts are good enough, then I’ll maybe buy more shares, either allowing Jason to offload more of the business, or allowing someone who came in on a whim to get out whilst they can.

        Make it a business, and I’ll invest,

        Alternatively, Offer me a sticker and I’ll know that I can get my own vinyl cutter for less than you’re asking for that sticker.

  20. I’m perfectly happy with the owner of hack-a-day making some nice money of the site but a buy out for $500.000 seems a little bit steep. And than is the question, what’s in it for me as a contributor?

    We could also buy hack2day.com from godady and continue there. Why wouldn’t we do something like that for considerabile less money? Just a question.

  21. For anyone thinking about contributing at the $1000 level, how long will the name stay in the footer? And, will they also be placed in the supporters page? Finally, does the $500 level include a link in the supporter page?

    Thank you!

  22. Is this a situation whereby the writers want more control over the site to do more stuff they think fits in with the HaD world, and want to stop a potential situation whereby a big brand invests heavily into HaD so much so that they have unfair control over articles so hacks involving their products get preferrential treatment?

  23. All these comments…..my eyes bleed….I guess I can understand the stand point some people have. BTW I would contribute lol no probs there, however I have a sad way of thinking and I really can’t help it so what if right from the get go all the managers/owners/partners in the LLC had decided to sell after receiving ownership. I think to make this crowd funding thing truly work out Some legal documentation needs to be spat out on le HAD atleast saying new owner can’t sell within a 3 to 5 year range or something like that. You know so after purchase owner has to maintain for atleast 5 years or something like that. hey we are talking LLC right so LLC can’t sell like another person stated above (too tired to go back up and identify ya mate) something that says the money would be refunded or something like that.

    In anycase all the best of luck HaD team you got my support as always.
    It’s a damn shame about Caleb though but hey can’t be a rock stuck in one spot gotta roll around so it’s all good. Sigh Feels like one of those bloody long comments above….sorry to the reader that actually made it here.

  24. I didn’t read all of that, but it sounds like Jason is a dick for wanting half a million. Just walk away and get a job.

    I’m more than a little baffled that there *are* writers and editors. Hack-a-day is apparently, to me, a string of user submitted hey-look-at-this links. Who are you paying and for what? I pretty much assumed that it had been non-profit, or at least unprofitable, all along.

    Not that I don’t enjoy it, but it’s not at all what I would call polished or professional. If it goes away, I will be sad, but it’s really not something that has an inherent monetary value to me.

    Hell, http://ledmuseum.candlepower.us/ledleft.htm, is *EASILY* as entertaining, and that’s just one dude in a wheelchair.

    Seems like it would be easier and cheaper to just start an alternate site doing the same thing moderated by volunteers.

  25. While I could care less about a tag, entry or icon, I’d rather see a more tangible (mercenary) benefit. Something along the lines of; as a level D- supporter you get a small gainshare if the site generates sufficient profit and is also able to support community learning/scholarship then you get the option to take the small payment in cash or ??? with perhaps even the option of rolling the $$ back into the project & hoping for further growth down the line. No payouts to occur for the first X years & HAD retains right of 1st refusal on “holdings” if an individual wishes to bail. A *very* small voting board with a larger advisory (non-binding) board. Voting board membership is not tied into amount of “shares” but, by site founders & people invited by them

    (not perfect, but it’s an idea)

  26. Is it even possible for the result to be a “non-profit” ? Essentially, HaD is a newspaper or magazine equivalent, collecting advertising revenue. Has anything similar EVER been a non-profit? I “get” how you feel about it, but I’m doubting that the IRS will agree.

  27. Why don´t the staff just leave hackaday all together and save up 100$ for a new domain and start over if they want to be non-profit. When all the guys writing the blog leave, so will the readers, and the readers will move with you.. No need for a greedy owner buyout campaign for a blog about stuff that links to other places..

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.