Latest Update: The whole situation has been resolved, please read our apology to the CSF and CakeDC.
6 months ago, I posted about a great event which we helped to organize: CakeFest #3, here in our home city of Berlin. This event helped to connect developers from all over Europe, and even as far away as Australia, Tokyo and Los Angeles. There were great people, talks, and food, and everything ran extremely smoothly. By any measurement, it was a huge success.
This did not happen by accident. A number of people made a big effort to put the event on, starting with lots of planning and communication months beforehand. Debuggable helped by finding and booking the venue, researching, and coordinating logistics here on location. We didn't make money from this, and that's okay. We wanted to support the CakePHP community by hosting another awesome event.
Over 6 months later, the GLS, who provided us with first-class service and what was probably the best venue ever, has still not received payment.
Don't be mistaken, this was not due to any errors in the organization of the event. The turnout was great, and the event was well-sponsored. The Cake Software Foundation, Inc., which collected all revenues, has already reimbursed its own organizing participants, but completely neglected to pay the venue (the bulk of the conference's expense). To make matters worse, the CSF has had their accounts frozen by the IRS.
How do we know this? Unfortunately, we are in the middle of this mess. In our efforts to help organize the event, we signed the proposal for the location and catering. We did so in good faith, because we were working in cooperation with the CSF, and of course had all such details approved.
When, in early October, we discovered that the venue never received payment, we initially believed it to be a mistake, and started delivering messages between the venue and Larry E. Masters, who in the meantime had taken over the position of CSF president after Garrett Woodworth had resigned. Larry told us he would take care of it.
Weeks passed, and we talked to the GLS staff every other day, asking them for their patience, as there appeared to be "problems" with getting the payment sent. A month later, on November 10th, Larry agreed to send a token payment of USD $4500 through the CakeDC via PayPal, which we forwarded to the venue (they do not accept PayPal).
Unfortunately, this is still the latest update on the payment. Of the total invoice of EUR 7665, the first payment (after currency conversion and PayPal fees) only amounts to EUR 2807, leaving an outstanding balance of EUR 5058 (USD $6929).
The venue has been incredibly patient and understanding through this whole process, but their patience has run out, and they're considering legal action against Debuggable. We signed the proposal, so technically they're not wrong: we are responsible.
At this point it's pretty clear that the CSF has no intention of taking responsibility for this, which leaves us with some hard choices. We could argue that, by invoicing the CSF and not us, that the venue implicitly signed over the contract to the CSF. We have to admit, we briefly considered doing that. 5K is not pocket money for us, and this definitely isn't our bill.
However, that would be wrong. Not to say that us paying this bill isn't wrong, but this is a wrong we can actually right. The venue deserves to get paid. So, we decided to go ahead and set up a plan to pay back the venue over the next few months.
Since a few people who have been aware of the situation have asked us to provide a way for them to help, too, we have put up a page on pledgie.com:
Donate to the CakeFest Venue Payment
We greatly appreciate any support, as it helps ease our burden, but the venue will be paid regardless of the outcome of the pledge. Right now, the most likely outcome is that we'll have to take care of this on our own, but we're still holding onto the hope that this last-ditch effort of going public might help change Larry's mind.
What's worse is his company, the CakeDC, now has exclusive controlling interest over a project which was once driven by its community. Despite his slowness to work this out with us, he has shown no hesitation in taking full advantage of the benefits of this control. If the CSF's position changes in any way, we will certainly send out an update.
PS: There is much more to this story, the CSF shake-ups, and why the their accounts are frozen, but it goes well beyond what we can verify. In the end, it doesn't matter; this isn't about finding fault, but about taking responsibility.