Surae Noether: First Denver Monero Konferenco, Spring 2019
funded of XMR591.00 target
Funding Request to Support Spring 2019 US-based Monero Conference
WHAT AND WHY
In 2019, Monero Research Lab (MRL) is planning to host the Monero Konferenco in Denver, Colorado. This event is designed for the technical community of Monero to (i) discuss technologies related to payment privacy on the internet, (ii) improve the Monero protocol, and (iii) pretty simply, encourage the scientific tradition of holding regular meetings to disseminate our results to one another. We are asking for the USD equivalent of 65kUSD. We plan on (i) keeping finances as transparent as possible and (ii) rolling over excess funding toward next year's Monero Konferenco and (iii) rolling over all net profit made from the event toward next year's event. Folks hired to work on the conference will, of course, be compensated for their time, but this event is not designed to profit the organizers. We will be keeping costs and flamboyance to a minimum and we will focus on providing quality technical speakers and content.
The goal is to start small this first year to measure popularity of the event and then scale upward in future years as we think is appropriate. We initially are planning up to 150 attendees and 15-20 speakers, depending on community discussion. In this proposal, we explain the options available to us, provide a rough estimate of costs, encourage the community to decide on whether this proposal is worth funding and, if so, help the community decide which options to select (which will in turn influence the cost of the event). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest cost in our list comes from compensating speakers for their travel costs in coming to speak, and there are not too many ways we can start shaving down the costs on that one big chunk.
Denver, Colorado, USA.
WHEN AND HOW LONG?
We are shooting for a day and a half. Actual date of the conference is TBD, but we want (a) to avoid Consensus May 14-16, (b) avoid graduation dates (most of May) and (c) concentrate on springtime rather than summer. Target dates are the weekend of June 22 or the weekend of June 15.
WHO IS ORGANIZING, WHO CAN ATTEND, HOW MUCH TO ATTEND?
Brandon Goodell (aka Surae Noether), one of the two paid contributors at MRL.
Martha Cummings has been a dedicated Project Manager for 17 years. She has handled similar projects for companies like Sanofi and Johnson and Johnson, and major non-profits like the United Nations Foundation and Saving the Children . Similar projects include advisory board meetings, global convention support, satellite symposia, and roundtable meetings. She has the skill set and services required to successfully plan and execute both scientific and commercial events. She has a track record in working quickly, efficiently, and within budget. She understands the need to clearly and succinctly communicate information and actions that will be useful and appropriate for this project and event. Full disclosure: Martha and Brandon are related; hopefully Martha's experience is sufficient to demonstrate to the community that she is the correct choice; if this is problematic for anyone in the community, please bring it up and let's have a talk about it!
Diego Salazar (aka rehrar, also known as Monero's "Boots on the Ground) will act as designer (see below). Diego has an impressive track record with the Monero community that hopefully speaks for itself.
ATTENDEES: We will have online registration available for a modest fee; anyone can sign up to attend. See the section on Attendees and Registration below for more details.
SPEAKERS: MRL will research and invite speakers; we may also have an open call for papers, although this may take place more in future years. If you have recommendations for good speakers, please share! These speakers will not all be from the Monero community; our goal is to get good technical presentations that are related to Monero, even if indirectly. There has been a discussion of providing an honorarium, but it seems that the general sentiment for that is negative. The goal right now is to compensate speakers for coming and granting us their time, so our current plan is that the conference will provide invited speakers the following:
- Round-trip airfare (coach unless more than 5 hours)
- Ground transportation between Denver airport and hotels
- 2-night hotel stay
- Per diem for food not provided at the conference
- A dinner for the speakers
Day -1 Hosted dinner with speakers the night before the conference. Day 0 08:30 – 09:00 - Same-day registration and breakfast 09:00 – 10:30 - Session 1 10:30 – 10:45 - Coffee break 10:45 – 12:15 – Session 2 12:15 – 13:45 – Lunch break 13:45 – 15:00 – Session 3 15:00 – 15:15 – Coffee break 15:15 – 16:45 – Session 4 Day 1 08:30 – 09:00 – Breakfast 09:00 – 10:30 – Session 5 10:30 – 10:45 – Coffee break 10:45 – 12:15 – Session 6 12:15 - 13:45 - Post-conference lunch?
Each session will consist of two to four 40 minute technical presentations, and we will have six sessions in total, resulting in 12-24 different talks. These sessions are not yet titled or themed, although it would be nice to have someone from the core team, someone from Kovri, and someone from MRL. We would like at least one speaker from each work group at Monero, and we intend on extending invitations to other members of the cryptocurrency space to provide a broad perspective on internet payment privacy. Session topics could range from signatures/authentication schemes to consensus algorithms to networking to off-chain scaling solutions; we should include a white hat session where folks discuss vulnerabilities in Monero or other cryptocurrencies.
ATTENDEES, REGISTRATION, AND REGISTRATION FEES:
An online registration portal will be created. We will not require registrants disclose their identities in conference registration. We don't think a large-scale invitation process is necessary where many invitations are sent out in the hopes of getting 70 attendees, but if we do not have many registrants by, say, February, we may consider an approach not so dependent upon word of mouth. The venues we have considered can easily accomodate up to 150 at approximately the listed prices.
Registration fees. Charging attendees is optional here and we should discuss the benefits (free and open access to Monero conferences is something we value?) and the costs (random crazy people and ICO shillsters will almost certainly walk in off the street!). It's worth pointing out that the event will not pay for itself unless we increase the number of attendees and charge a lot per ticket.
The big stuff that needs to get done beyond paying for a venue are these two things:
- Design. We require services of a designer responsible for creating the following (Diego is all over it):
- Conference logo
- RSVP website
- Program handout
- Name badges
- Project manager. We require the services of a project manager who will coordinate and plan the following (Martha is all over it):
- Venue Stuff: Work with MRL on venue selection (price negotiation, contract review, etc), arrange for AV equipment, room set-up, and catering, on-site troubleshooting during event.
- Registration: Work with design team on printed meeting material and arrange for printing, populate meeting slides (speaker title slides, etc), track RSVPs, assemble swag bags and speaker gifts.
- Speakers: Gather materials needed from speakers (bios, photo, contact info, signed consent forms, etc), draft speaker introductions, assist speakers with travel information (including visas if necessary), arrange speaker dinner.
- Logistics and funding: Ground transportation, arranging hotel/accommodations, organizing speaker dinner, find possible sponsors for the event.
COSTS, THEIR JUSTIFICATIONS Total: 35,450 USD to 60,100 USD. See below for an itemized justification.
The project organizer estimates that between 5 and 10% of her budgets are ordinarily never actually spent. The project organizer has never gone over-budget except in the rare instances that a client has special requests (like if fp requests a pony petting zoo?). We are requesting the equivalent of 63kUSD in XMR (at an exchange rate to be determined by group discussion) to exceed our maximum expected cost by approximately 5% to ensure a non-zero amoun will take any additional funding and put it toward a 2020 Monero Konferenco. We approximate the following ranges of costs.
- Project management: 9000 USD. Approximately 100 man-hours of work. Justification: Typical per-hour fees for event organization at a firm are between 125-250 USD per hour. The project organizer is charging under fair market value for her rate; the 25th percentile of project managers with comparable experience in the Denver area make 105 USD per hour. Around 10 of these hours are anticipated to be spent seeking out sponsors for the conference to mitigate further costs.
- Printing conference materials: 500 USD for badges, programs, etc.
- Venue: 1,200 USD - 2,200 USD. This is based on the estimated cost at University of Colorado at Denver, Denver University, and the Colorado Convention Center.
- Audio/visual: 0 USD - 5,000 USD. All the venues we are considering provide basic AV equipment, although sometimes for additional fees. For the maximal amount of AV equipment that we anticipate, assuming we wish to do a webcast-style event, we may require a modest budget of 5,000 USD, but we are almost certain to be able to pull this off with a lower cost.
- Catering: 4,900 USD - 6,650 USD. Two breakfasts at 20-25USD/head, three coffee breaks at 10-15USD/head. These numbers are based on three sample estimates I received from Denver-area restaurants that cater (the Delectable Egg, Snooze, and the Denver Biscuit Company).
- Speaker compensation: 950 - 1550 per speaker, with 15 to 20 speakers, leading to 14,250 - 31,000 USD total. Justification: hotel 150-200USD/day (in line with the area), food 69USD/day (source: GSA.gov's meal and incidental expense (M&IE rate)), between 500-1000USD per plane ticket, 75USD for ground transportation costs per person, and assuming between 15 and 20 speakers, 2 days. Presumably plane tickets will be the greatest source of variation here, although we may be able to get a deal at a hotel to bring that cost down.
- Other out-of-pocket expenses (office supplies, shipping, etc.): 1250 USD. Justification: the project organizer estimates this to be the average amount spent for random things at a conference that are otherwise outside of proposal scope.
- Swag bag and speaker gifts: 2500 USD. Justification: we plan on spending around 25 USD swag bag per attendee (70 of these?) plus 50 USD speaker gift per speaker (15 of these?). If folks want more interesting stuff, we can discuss this (personally, I think fun toys like rubik's cubes are a good idea, but they would boost this cost quite a bit).
- Speaker dinner: 2,000 USD. Justification: 15-20 people at 100 USD each.
WHO IS GOING TO HANDLE THE MONEY AND HOW IS THIS GOING TO WORK, EXACTLY?
I (surae) started Colorado Crypto Conferences LLC in the state of Colorado. I am the sole proprietor. This LLC will be the entity that will receive FFS funds, pays vendors, contractors, insurance, and taxes etc, in fiat. Any income made by CCCLLC will pass through to me as taxes, so a portion of net income will be set aside for this so that I do not experience tax liability. I can post regular (weekly or monthly or quarterly) reports on our expenses at CCCLLC for community review, and I'm willing to entertain greater levels of transparency if anyone has any ideas. The moment that everything is funded, I will convert 100% of the budget received into USD. I will also owe taxes on the remainder, so I will also convert a percentage of the remaining XMR into USD to cover my ass on taxes. The remaining XMR will roll over to help pay for next year's Konferenco. To mitigate long-term volatility, I will convert a proportion of this into Bitcoin and a proportion of this into fiat, but I have not decided on numbers yet (such decisions will be "how it's done" in the future at CCCLLC so I'm going to think about it carefully... and I would appreciate any feedback anyone else has on the matter).
Some modifications I would like to make to the above:
Profits made: In the above, I stated that "I will also owe taxes on the remainder, so I will also convert a percentage of the remaining XMR into USD to cover my ass on taxes. The remaining XMR will roll over to help pay for next year's Konferenco." I worded this to imply that 100% of net profit will roll over for the next year.
Since considering it longer, I would like to: 1) donate a reasonable percentage of the net profit towards charitable organizations like MAGIC (see here, full disclosure: I am president of MAGIC) and 2) use the Konferenco as a platform for some fundraising activities for charitable organizations, by allowing these organizations to put up booths to hand out educational pamphlets, sell t-shirts, and other swag. The case of (2) should not be contentious at all, since we are already paying for a space.
For (1), though: I think it's fair to pre-specify a certain percentage of net profits to donate to MAGIC or other charitable organizations, such as 5% of net profits, or something along those lines. I think contributions like that are good for our community's image, they literally do some good in the world, and no one participating in organization will be financially benefitting from such a donation... for example, although I am president of MAGIC, I cannot take any personal financial benefit from my position at the non-profit, and those donations will be paying for scholarships and research grants.
Importantly, this establishes a precedent for the Monero Konferenco to provide donations to charitable organizations, and I think that's a good precedent to set.
I would recommend against donating a share of the profits, only because I more generally support keeping FFS funds as close to the intended purpose as possible. Uses for such profits could instead be to support other FFS requests, or to fund the next conference, both of which I consider to be more directly aligned.
However, I think accepting donations for charitable causes at the event itself is a great idea, since attendees could choose whom to support and in what amount.
Obviously much thought has gone into this and it looks very good.
It is stated above: "Charging attendees is optional here and we should discuss the benefits (free and open access to Monero conferences is something we value?) and the costs (random crazy people and ICO shillsters will almost certainly walk in off the street!)." I agree that there should be a fee to attend but am uncertain of the amount. I have no idea what is usually charged or what the range is. I feel it should be at the low end of the range.
I will definitely support this.
Thanks for your feedback! Most of the conferences I've seen recently cost more than 500 USD to attend, and I'm unwilling to charge that much.
I'm thinking under 100 USD.
I agree with your thoughts on pricing. Maybe 1 xmr?
Thanks! Do you have any particular questions, concerns, or suggestions for us?
well i was wondering if there was still skiing at this time of year, but that's a selfish reason.
however, i do think that Charles Kahn would be an interesting guest speaker. I know there has been some talk of who guest speakers should be, and what their role and position in the commnunity/outside the commununity should be, but this is who i suggest. Failing that, then i think Soraj Hongladoram from Chulalongkorn University should be invited.
No, skiing in June is unlikely to happen (although it HAS happened! and there is a non-zero chance it will!). However, Colorado has amazing summer sports, and a lot of random stuff to do in Denver and right outside of denver (hiking, whitewater rafting, hot air balloons) and downtown Denver is pretty hopping.
Thanks for the recommendation for speakers! I'm compiling contact draft emails for them this week or next. I feel like having updated lists of speakers may be helpful in the funding process.