The next hacker camp: put your money where your mouth is

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Now that OHM2013 is over, even the tear-down, which sadly required a last-minute scrambling of volunteers, it is time to start thinking about future events. First of all a few myths about OHM2013 and its sponsors should be disspelled. There was no such thing as "the main sponsor". There were multiple tiers of sponsors, the highest ("Gold") consisting of two sponsors who paid 25 kEUR each (Sources: and Of the total budget of roughly 750k EUR about one-third was sponsored. One of the two gold sponsors is Fox-IT, a not uncontroversial IT-security company. The other is HXX Foundation, which was the legal entity that ran HAR2009 and can be considered a community entity. Likewise BruCon, a silver sponsor, can be considered a community entity. Regardless of all this, there was a multitude of corporate sponsors who were very important, not only because increasing admission prices by 50% would have made tickets prohibitively expensive for a lot of people in our communities. First of all, when you organise an event of this magnitude, you need a substantial amount of cash upfront. You can't start selling tickets before you have something of a location and a date. You also have a kind of snowballing event, as soon as you have your first big sponsor, it is easier to get your second one, and so on. Secondly, your facilitating and supporting sponsors are also vital. For example, getting a temporary 10 Gbp/s uplink to AMSX is going to set you back substantially if you have to pay a normal market price. Having said all this, there is a lot that can be said in favour of doing the next big hackercamp in the Netherlands with less or just no corporate sponsoring. Not because there is a lot wrong with having them to begin with, but for the simple reason the controversy about certain sponsors is hurting our unity and is costing us volunteer capacity. It also had a chilling effect on content curation for the event. That doesn't take a way a single bit from the necessity to debate this issues. Just that if a side-effect of the debate is that it chips away the planking of our biggest stage, we should figure out a way of preserving that stage while still being able to conduct that debate. For me it means that those who feel uncomfortable with corporate sponsoring will have to put their money where their mouths are. Basically, my current idea, to which I'd love to get some feedback is to have a long-running crowdfunding effort which should have the following goals:

  • Initial goal: reduce the need for gold sponsors, amount needed: 50k EUR
  • Stretch goal 1: reduce the need for silver sponsors as well, amount needed: +40k EUR
  • Stretch goal 2: reduce the need for sponsors in terms of money, amount needed: +15k EUR

Bear in mind that even at this stage you still need support in terms of manpower and other things these sponsors provided on top of the money they gave. One silver sponsor for example at the eleventh hour funded several speakers' flight tickets without even asking what their lectures were about. Nonetheless, if we are to crowdfund roughly 105k EUR, we could remove the need for the most visible sponsors. If the community really doesn't want any corporate sponsoring, I suggest the following stretch goals:

  • Stretch goal 3: +50k EUR
  • Stretch goal 4: +100k EUR

Bear in mind that these are ballpark figures. I am not privy to the exact figures needed, but we're in the 250k-300k EUR territory. Also, this won't guarantee any visibility of corporations anyway. There are enough geeks that feel so close to their place of work that they name their villages after their employer, even without money being paid to the OHM2013 organising entity. But it would vastly reduce the corporate presence as we had and which was annoying some, to the point that some were talking about recruitment avenue when referring to field N. Your typical crowdfunding effort will have rewards. So should this one. Other than golden tokens for a future event I can only think of t-shirts and other swag. That is another thing that needs to be worked out.