Paolo Vecchi: Candidacy to the elections of TDF's Board of Directors

Hi all,

thank you @sophi for nominating me for the elections of TDF’s board of directors.

I’m very pleased to accept the nomination and I express my full support for the Pledge for LibreOffice.

With my company I’ve been promoting and delivering, to local government and European institutions, Open Source based Cloud infrastructures and platforms demonstrating that it’s possible to achieve technological autonomy and data sovereignty by leveraging Open Source software/hardware and Open Standard.

While LibreOffice is not part of the core business of my company I always promote it together with ODF as they are, among others, important elements that help nations reaching Digital Sovereignty while investing in local skills and innovation.

I’ve also invested a lot of time as TDF’s board member to improve transparency and create the level playing field that is necessary to welcome more contributors from the private and public sector. More needs to be done and I would be very pleased to work with other candidates supporting the Pledge for LibreOffice.

Per i membri della comunità LibreOffice Italiana il documento di impegno per LibreOffice è disponibile anche in Italiano.

My 75 words application:
I’m Paolo Vecchi, a 53 years old Italian living in Luxembourg.
Affiliation: Omnis Cloud Sarl.
During my second term I’ve achieved some of my goals, publishing of LibreOffice in the app stores and adding full time developers to the team, but more needs to be done. I joined a group who I believe is able to do needed work for The Document Foundation and its projects. I support the Pledge for LibreOffice.

Hi Paolo,

I have a few questions around your candidacy:

In the last board term, as I recall, it seems you tried to lead the development of a balanced board position on hiring programmers by repeatedly dictating a non-editable PDF proposal (despite the fact that LibreOffice is our preferred ODF based document editor). When Kendy turned this into an ODF red-line-able version by manually transcribing your work; you continued to publish PDF changes – which Kendy patiently turned into more red-lines to allow himself and others to engage in the process. After a long period of poorly converging changes over some months, you eventually failed to achieve consensus or even a board majority for your version – which is doubly amazing, since the topic of hiring developer staff was not even particularly controversial. Cor Nouws (apparently frustrated by the delay in getting hiring developers) managed to get a far simpler, and more effective version passed by the board in a few weeks.

Unfortunately the collateral damage of this unwillingness to find balance, and your aggressive behavior generally was one of the main reasons Kendy quit the project – something I’m still mourning.

After Kendy had left you then went on to claim that he actually supported your position; something that turned out to be untrue; and I quote:

Kendy wrote on 2022-11-25:

I have unsubscribed from this mailing list, but it was brought to my attention that
Paolo claims that I have signed off the latest version of the Developers proposal.
That is not true. That version is not balanced, and Paolo’s unwillingness to
find balance there was one of the main reasons to my resignation.

It was amazing to me to see you go on in that thread to contradict Kendy’s own assertion about his own support & motivation: that somehow you knew better what he supported, and/or that this was not one of the main reasons leading to his resignation; so:

Question 1: are you proud of your contribution to driving away a founder of LibreOffice, someone who has contributed hugely to the project, and who was a personal friend and mentor to many of us ?

Question 2: will you refrain in future from summarizing other people’s positions in ways that you know they would not accept as accurate ?

The heart of being a director is the ability to collaborate positively with others and build compromises, yet you have apparently consistently refused to accept any position but your own so:

Question 3: If elected, in the new Board will this change, or will you continue to insist that divergences from your positions cannot be accepted ?

Question 4: the ‘Pledge’ which you support claims to solve problems of toxicity, and bring back an unspecified golden time – do you sincerely believe you are capable of bridging divides and building durable compromises with others of goodwill – and avoiding noisily attacking and questioning their motivations in public ?

You used to run a small company that is described in the self description you wrote. This company Omnis Systems was registered in the UK, and you can read it’s record of public filings online.

It appears to have failed to file its accounts, while you were a director, which this page seems to claim is a criminal offence. The company is listed as ultimately being dissolved via a compulsory strike-off. That looks bad, so I imagine you would welcome an opportunity to set the record straight:

Question 5: can you provide an account of what happened with Omnis Systems ? Did you file timely accounts ? Did you pay the relevant late-filing fines, or are these still owed ? why was an abnormal compulsory strike-off of the company necessary ?

Your self description in the same wiki page documents your commercial interest in LibreOffice Online. It seems you tried to partner with a number of suppliers of support for that code-base, before aggressively (your own choice of word) proposing a board vote for TDF to provide you (and others) the author’s value-add features for free that you needed: binaries, documentation etc. the scarcity of which were used to fund development of LibreOffice.

This aggressive approach seemed to be pivotal in the collapse of confidence in the stability of TDF’s stewardship that lead the Online developers to (sadly) move the LibreOffice Online project out of TDF – in order that their critical work on LibreOffice could continue to be effectively funded.

Question 6: if elected, will you use aggressive threats to key corporate contributors’ businesses as a tactic in future board negotiations ?



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Question 5: With the outgoing board, ecosystem companies seem to have held much of the power. In the incoming board, it may be the case that foundation employees, and candidates organized around them, may be a powerful faction. Do you see this as a potential concern? And if so, what do you believe the BoD (and members of it) should do to mitigate or address this concern?

Question 6: The repeated points of friction and contention within the outgoing board regarded the relations between the TDF and ecosystem companies. We now expect some changes in BoD membership and the possible turning of a new page, particularly regarding this matter. Suppose that we have cleared our legal trouble and have the authorities are satisfied. How would you, going forward, like to shape the relationship between the foundation and ecosystem companies? Specifically, how do we avoid drifting towards the extreme of shutting them out and ignoring them, on the backdrop of retained resentment over past altercations?

Question 7: Where do you fall on the spectrum between the extreme of the BoD being a purely supervisory body, with the employees doing almost all actual work, and the other extreme of the BoD actively involved in all concrete work? Or perhaps I should phrase it: How do you see the distribution of responsibilities between the BoD and the foundation employees?

Question 8: During this past term it was apparent that some board members were vocal; some were heard but less frequently; and others much more rarely. Now, conversing on mailing lists is only one of the things board members might do, but this did made me suspicious that the amount of time and effort some members were putting in might lower than that of others into their BoD work, and perhaps just too low, period. Was this the case? I would urge you to go into detail, if you’re willing.

Question 8B: How would you advise us trustees to try and guess whether a BoD candidate is likely to invest sufficiently in discharging their duties? I’m asking specifically in light of the pledge you have signed, which states that even “Meetings every two weeks [is] hardly work for volunteers.”

Hi Michael,

happy to answer your questions.

In relation to your introductory statements I understand that it’s difficult for you, as it is for every other member, to collate all the information that is necessary to avoid coming to incorrect conclusions. This is one of the many issues the candidates supporting the Pledge for LibreOffice want to tackle from the very beginning as it’s the duty of each director to take informed decisions and to provide to the trustees the information required so that they can understand what actually happened and why some decisions have been taken.

Answer 1:
The toxic atmosphere at TDF is one of the problems me and my fellow candidates from the Pledge want to address. For many yeas people have been walking away from TDF, many just silently, other more publicly expressing their unhappiness with the situation. Each of them is a loss and each of them is sad news for a community that is built on appreciation, trust and mutual respect.

By working much more transparently and sourcing the skills of the community amongst which we see us as equals, we will work on a much better environment where people do not have to fear to speak out, where everyone has a voice, everyone is heard and can bring in their opinions.

I don’t think we should talk about individuals here, there are many who could be mentioned who stepped down out of frustration. many that repressed their frustrations and didn’t step down to avoid sending out negative signals about TDF. We also see repeated attacks on other founders, as you call them.

The goal of the Pledge group is to solve these problems to provide a welcoming and open environment for everyone.

Answer 2:
Working positively with others is exactly what the Pledge is about. We have seen an environment were members of the board and the team got attacked and where community members are tired of reading long email threads. Many discussions and decisions took place in private and were not shared, or when it happened too late to understand their ramifications, with the community. That made it even more difficult for the members to understand what was going on.

The goal of the friends who support the Pledge is to make things transparent, public and accountable from day one. Everyone will be able to make up their own mind without the need for “summaries” that could be seen as biased. By encouraging every community member to speak up, including the members of staff, all opinions will finally be heard including those who currently fear to say anything in public.

Transparency is key and by starting with it from day one the community gets reliable, trustworthy and direct information. They will be involved in the discussions, which the Pledge will ensure with translations and monthly meetings with the community as well as with regular status reports.
The group that supports the Pledge ensures that direct information is available to everyone at the same time so everyone can make their mind up based on factual information and can contribute with their experience to the decision processes.

Answer 3:
I am very open to discussion as everyone can see. There are certain topics where wiggle room for positions is narrow, especially when it comes to legal topics and legal advice. Many issues and delays, also with the tendering, could have been avoided if we had followed the clear advice given instead of discussing it endlessly with arguments that had no relevance with the legal frameworks TDF has to respect.

However, after the legal situation is sorted, there will be many other more exciting projects to work on collectively as a community. As all other supporters of the Pledge, I am happy to be challenged, I will be transparent and accountable and very happy to discuss my positions as a member of the board in public to receive feedback that would help in taking better decisions for TDF and the community.

Answer 4:
I would have loved to be present when times were more exciting and fun as TDF was being created from scratch out of passion and determination with people working as equal and with a common goal. You mentioned in a press article from 2020 that 2012-2014 from your point of view those were the “flourishing years”
Also others, who have been around for many years, refer to the past as much better than now. Memories might give a feeling that the past was much better than the present, but recollections by those present at the time present an era where discussions, fights and attacks as we see them these days were not such a dominant part of TDF.

We can’t dwell on the past but we must learn from it to create a better future. I guess we all agree that the status quo is not a good one and we owe to our community and to all our contributors, being them volunteers, ecosystem or members of staff, a much more welcoming environment.

Toxicity has been mentioned in old board minutes before my and other people’s terms. I was not in the board back then so we can infer that this problem did not develop recently making it an even more urgent and important matter to address at TDF.

The group supporting the Pledge makes strong commitments and promises. We are committed to work together in an environment where we all consider each others as equals, where we want to include the wisdom of the worldwide community, encourage everyone to speak out and enable them to bring their skills and talents into the foundation and its projects.

It is already a good sign that eleven people from different parts of the world with different backgrounds agreed on one common Pledge. This shows our strong commitment to work together.

I cannot do this alone, no one can. As a group of eleven people with a common vision that is enshrined in the Pledge, together as a community, as a group of friends, we can absolutely achieve this.

Answer 5:
While the question is surprising and no one else pointed at interesting facts about other companies, I’ve always been transparent about my company. You will surely find confirmation in your email client that we discussed business models that were more or less suitable for a changing market. I very openly told you and the board, back in 2021, that I’ve been wind down that company in the UK as that business model fulfilled its role for several years but wasn’t necessary for the market anymore.

I had left the UK already and it hasn’t been trading since nearly 2 years when we discussed the matter.
I consulted my lawyers about it, did a risk assessment and eventually, I took the decision to let the company be closed down with funds still in there that surely covered for the service. Things could have been done differently but it was a personal and pondered decisions which was a result of several circumstances in which government decisions to push away EU citizens and their families and then the pandemic were contributing factors.

Answer 6:
For many months if not years I spent a lot of my time to improve the situation at TDF, solve legal issues and work on a tender process that will also benefit the ecosystem. I continued to do so even when unsubstantiated attacks took place, because I am a firm believer that we need to work together with the ecosystem, grow and diversify it and provide a welcoming environment for everyone.

All friends who share the Pledge support this idea. We are firmly committed to provide a proper environment for the ecosystem to grow and be an equal part of the community just like all of us.

During the last two board terms we had robust and frank discussions about various subjects but at the end consensus was found for working with the whole board to tackle several issues. We did agree to shelve the TDC project as it wasn’t fit for purpose and with a lot of efforts we managed to agree to have the Conflict of Interests Policy approved. All of this was done not only by the board, but with the support of the community, the companies and the staff.

I do understand that you, your contractors and business partners that are/were in the board had a collective understanding of how to deal with things and visions shaped by your collective commercial activities so I fully understand that it took and still takes a lot of effort to create a consensus around subjects that need to be reshaped to fit within the constraints of the legal framework that has been purposefully chosen for TDF.

We did talk about it openly in person also in Milan, I respect the confidentiality of the various items we discussed and will not share details here.

Let me know if you’d like to discuss the matter further. I’m, as well as others, always open to talk and find compromises and solutions that are mutually beneficial for TDF and the community.

The Pledge that 11 people support is about finding solutions, provide a proper environment for everyone including the ecosystem, and shape a community that is vivid, happy and healthy. This way everyone can benefit, from individual end-users that can download a product free of charge, to contributors who can bring in their skills and talents to make a better world for millions of people, and of course the ecosystem, which can base their complementary business models on a reliable, trustworthy and stable foundation.



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Hi Eyal,

thanks for your questions. I see that they start with 5, did I miss another set of questions from you?

Answer 5:
I believe that we, the 11 candidates supporting the Pledge for LibreOffice, will be able to mitigate your concerns by being transparent with the decision processes and to share all the related information so that potential issues will be spotted quickly and corrected.

We all have biases that we have to put aside when taking decisions as members of TDF’s board of directors and it’s thanks to trustees like you, asking question and demanding answers, that future boards will be reminded that they have been elected to serve not only a legal entity that must comply with complex legal frameworks, but even more so serve a large, worldwide and diverse community made of passionate people with complementary desires to make LibreOffice better all the time. As a friend from the Pledge said, the best version of the community bring out the best version of LibreOffice.

Answer 6:
We know we can achieve great results when we work together in a transparent way, encouraging everyone to bring in their skills and talent and with clear rules for all. Having clear processes will remove uncertainty for current members of the ecosystem and for new ones. Our Pledge explicitly mentions the ecosystem as vital part of the community, which we want to support, grow and enable to do fantastic things.

Resentments and altercations do not help in moving forward so while we must learn from past mistakes to avoid repeating the same mistakes we can and will let negative feelings go and move on to a more positive phase.

Answer 7:
I thank the team as they have been working hard to improve things for TDF and the community despite the BoD.

We are also very lucky to have Florian that patiently dealt with the many issues created by the board.

It is my opinion that the board should serve the team, not the other way around. Both together can serve the community in a fantastic way, if we work together with mutual trust, respect, encouragement and appreciation.

We might come up with ideas and suggestions that should be evaluated by the team and the community but mostly we should get suggestions from the team as they see what TDF and the community actually need.

Trying to impose decisions that haven’t been validated with the realities that our team is in contact with every day is detrimental for TDF and the community so in my opinion, unless its for compliance, contractual, legal reasons or related to agreements that TDF should respect, we should avoid that.

There are surely strategies, policies and agreements that will be developed together with the team and the community which will influence and structure better the relationship between the board, the team, committees, projects and the community so that everyone knows how to interact in the most efficient way.

Answer 8:
What you see in the mailing lists and in this forum is unfortunately a reflection of what has been going on in the board, whether in e-mails, video conferences or in person meetings. This forum contains various threads where many of us tried to raise the attention of the members in relation to decisions that would have benefited from more scrutiny by all members of the board before sending out their votes.

The candidates supporting the Pledge will put the time necessary to validate and discuss assumptions and information with all the members of the board before casting their votes as that’s part of the commitment they made for TDF and their fiduciary duty. Even more, with the transparency we are committed to, the public can see how individual board members act and to what degree they participate in discussions, making everything fully transparent and accountable.

Answer 8B:
We, the candidates supporting the Pledge, have committed to invest the time that is necessary to run an efficient board. We are a very diverse group of individuals with experience in different complementary areas that will reduce the time necessary to go from an idea to an actual proposal.

Working transparently, with the support of the team and the community and with the implementation of collaborative decision tools it will be easier for each one of us to contribute to the ideas following our own schedules. The meetings will be then used to clarify details, to interact with ideas and comments from the community so that everyone understand the full scope and impact of what we are discussing.