Saturday, September 22, 2007

Changes to Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend NYC is currently underway and Andrew is attending. It's clear watching a short introduction video that he has shifted his attitude and is now making it clear to everyone that he is starting a company... something he did not make clear to us (we didn't hear about it at all until this rebuttal site went up).

You can hear it in just about everything he says. I think it's clear that calling us crooks was unfounded now, simply by watching what he himself is doing.

We set it up, we ran it, and he wasn't happy... only after the fact did we find out he expected to run the show.

I notice a few other thing that are subtly hinted at as I read around... he's beginning to use some of the techniques that we developed for our weekend. I don't blame him, he's inexperienced as a manager and we had some long time veterans, so it's no wonder we actually came up with some good stuff.

I'm glad he's changing his plan of attack because:
  1. I think it will make him more successful (and I wish that of anyone trying to start something new).
  2. Because it'll be clearer to other cities running a Startup Weekend what the deal really is. If they know before they run it, maybe they won't get called crooks.
I still have not seen anything in the way of apology or retraction or even a correction from him. Maybe he feels that can't because it would mean he admits being wrong about the way he attacked us or maybe he is worried about his image among his peers. He could be very busy with SWNYC ... or maybe I missed the reason all together.

The idea NYC is working on is a combination of one of Steve Poland's ideas and one of mine and I'm flattered that he found something interesting to include (Steve participated in the Toronto weekend).
Even though I don't mind the borrowing of my own ideas (or parts of them), it brings to light an IP issue Andrew may have to resolve because everything is running under his company name and there may be legal issues that need addressing.
Who owns an issue brought out at a weekend event and who has rights to it after the fact? If an idea is presented in one city and a visitor to that city then takes it to another city and gets selected, does that person have to share the rights? The whole thing can get very complex very quickly.
People seem to think that ideas are a dime a dozen, however the law makers of the entire world don't agree which is why we have IP laws in the first place (ridiculous laws or not, they can still do damage).

In Toronto, we used a simple model. The selected idea was rewarded with a few extra shares and the forming company is assigned the rights to it if and when they incorporate. All other ideas remain the property of their submitters. If a selected idea is modified significantly by another attendee then they share the rights to it. It may actually be too simplistic an approach, but it was all we had time to come up with.

Oh, one more thing. I was "informed" that the name "Startup Weekend" is his trademark. Fair enough... but it means I have to change the name of this blog. I wouldn't want the Grand Cooperative Experiment Corporation to sue me after all.

21 comments:

Jenn said...

Brill,

I don't know how anyone could be confused about Startupweekend being Andrew's idea, baby or company?

Between startupweekend.com and his own blog at www.andrewhyde.net it's been clear that Andrew made startupweekend his "Startup" right after Boulder. And Startupweekend's product would be bringing the "Startupweekend" process and experience to cities around the world.

Andrew hasn't claimed ownership of any product or company resulting from a startupweekend. So, I don't know what your complaints are all about.

Toronto didn't invent the Facebook app idea. It was considered by Boulder but not pursued. Facebook apps are considered by hundreds and likely thousands of companies every day since F8's launch in May.

Also, I don't know what "IP Issue" Andrew would have because 99% of a startup's success isn't "the idea" it is the execution. Ideas, as Steve Poland has proven, are a penny a dozen.

Micah said...

Jenn - I think StartupWeekend (the company) takes some equity out of the company made in the weekend. But I could be wrong.

Brill - Ideas are ideas. Ideas from Boulder showed up in Toronto, NYC, DC, and other places. In addition, we had a facebook app built for VoSnap, so if you want to insinuate theft, then perhaps Toronto stole it from us?

To use my favorite California quote, "Let it go, man. Life is too short."

Did you have fun? Are you proud of your accomplishments? Then leave it at that. The rest just tarnishes the experience. Again, I would be happy to have this discussion over the phone if you like, just let me know.

I hope LobbyThem is not only successful, but a positive experience for you. I know the need to vent. I know the protective feelings you have about your work. Thats all good, but just let it go. Otherwise, everything will implode, and your words become nothing more than noise.

Enjoy the good.

Jenn said...

Micah,

Oh, I know that andrew/Startupweekend was receiving equity from the companies created during the weekends -- as are the other founders. But, when I said "claimed ownership of products/companies" I was really thinking "assumed control over products/companies".

I also hope LobbyThem is successful. And, all the founders were able gain something greater than a few shares at the end of the weekend for a few hours work.

I fully believe that what drives the StartupWeekend event isn't the idea, or the ownership at the end. It's the founder dynamics that are defined as a weekend is begun and the relationships that are formed during the experience that extend beyond the weekend.

If you are entering a StartupWeekend with the Shares as your focus, or credit for an idea, I think you will end up discounting the team of other founders that actually executed upon the idea -- and moulded it and birthed it into the product that you hope to have at the end.

In short:
feel the love vs. show me the money

Brill Pappin said...

@jenn

Taking a look at the Boulder event etc. did not in any way lead us to believe that Startup Weekend was a capital organization in any way.

If it was, then why wasn't Andrew in contact with us directly? If he was going to be running the event why did we not know until he showed up? If his roles it to have it follow a format or process then he should have been organizing it from the beginning and it not our responsibility to run his business for him.

Again, I'd say it's inexperience which he learned about in Toronto.
However, his public postings angered almost everyone at the Toronto event and devalued their input.

There is debate on the value of ideas, and although I'd agree that they are a dime a dozen, good ideas are not... regardless of the truth of that argument, investors do put a very high value on the idea so if you are thinking into the future, you'd better take that into account.

AS for our focus on generating a business, we decided that before we start the weekend. It was put out to the participants and the vote was:

- 50% To help start a real business with potential?
- 28% To work with really cool people - don't really care about the "business" outcome?
- 22% Both equal?

So you see, we started out with the business intention. I would like to know how you think Andrew will be able to sustain his startup unless the cities actually do try and make their products into a business?

Brill Pappin said...

@Micah?

No insinuation of theft was intended, I tend to be more direct than that. I'm actually quite flattered. However there are people who do care with ideas on our idea list, and Andrew will have to resolve that issue if his company is going make this work. If he doesn't he runs some serious risks.

I can see how it looks like I'm making a hint to theft and I will correct it as soon as I have written this comment.

To answer your question, it was hard work and many hours invested... but yes I did have fun. We are forging ahead with the beta and hope to release soon.

As for "venting" as you put it, this site is a rebuttal site and I can assure you that there are others way more pissed off than I am. To get this back and forth stopped is simple for Andrew, and thats to treat us fairly and respectfully... I can only assume that he though he was talking only to his local group of people when he posted what he did without even asking us why we did things the way we did -- however, this is a global medium after all.

Brill Pappin said...

I had to delete my first comment to make the correction I said I was going to make, so if the comments seem a bit out of context that is why.

Brill Pappin said...

@jenn

Just to clarify... there was certainly no confusion that it was his idea, although it's far from unique and in fact an independent group had been doing it here for a while.

That it was a company and that Andrew expected to run it was definitely a surprise to everyone in Toronto.

Brill Pappin said...

Interesting. NYC has now hidden past blog entries... I hope that wasn't a result of the entries on this site.

curtis said...

From our perspective in Birmingham, I can tell you that WE understood StartupWeekend as being akin to BarCamp. Even posts from Boulder point that way. Contrast that to Andrew's establishment of himself as the registered agent of "STARTUP WEEKEND FOUNDERS LLC" on July 6th (per the county organ of record) just days before the Boulder weekend... which doesn't match the copyright ownership claimed by the statement "Startup Weekend is owned an operated by Startup Weekend, LLC" in the website's footer.

One specific worry: I don't understand how he could assume that he's personally or equitably going to be involved in an activity that requires LOCAL knowledge to stage. Is he sending out franchise agreements? Licensing the name "StartupWeekend"? Heck, he's not even placed a TM on the logo atop the startupweekend.com website, nor a notice of such trademark in the copyright notice in the footer. We're not buying.

Regardless, we still recognize HIM as the one who got us ALL talking about this effort. For now, I'm happy that we're building our own version... no strings attached. :^)

Brill Pappin said...

@curtis

This is exactly what I've been trying to say.

I think it started just fine and we understood it exactly as your group did.

I don't begrudge Andrew the right or even the "want" to make it into something of a business, but I do have serious problems with us getting the cold shoulder because we didn't simply conform.

After looking at his "Bill of Rights" (technically the wrong title for the document, but who's counting) item #7 would simply be impossible (in Canada) unless the new product is actually owned by Startup Weekend LLC. The problem is that it simply takes longer and a lot more paperwork than a single weekend (not to mention that provincial government offices are closed on the weekend). There is also a legal issue, at least here, because shareholders become the responsible parties of the corporation and would make doing this very dangerous. The only type f business that might be able to form over a weekend (and would not be legal until the next business day) would be a partnership... and in a partnership every single one of the "founders" could be sued without any protection of the corporation.

So, a "Bill of Rights", but not one drafted by any lawyer and personally I'd take care when accepting this.

I'm also happy to see that others aren't simply following the alpha around but asking real questions.

I think I want to have a chat with you folks about the future. Your very well organized and have done a very good job of letting your community know whats going on well before the weekend (something we failed to do to our own satisfaction).

Currently there is a group up here that was already doing this kind of thing before the Boulder event and we've been thinking that a new, more loosely coupled organization would be a good thing. Some place to really make it an experiment and share ideas on what worked well, refine the process. provide models and templates etc. and actually do what BarCampers love to do, which is to be entrepreneurs.

Micah said...

@ brill

I would assume that the ideas presented to the StartupWeekend are then public record. Would you not agree?

I named the Bill of Rights, to be exact. And it is just that, a list of the rights of the participants of StartupWeekend. I can understand the confusion given the different government systems (that was sarcastic, btw).

I know that Andrew knew that the post on his blog would be read by anyone, and I think he would stand behind what he wrote on that day. I know I do the same with the stuff I write.

@curtis

The LLC is registered because thats how we set up the corporate structure. We had Andrew be the voting manager for the LLC for simplicity . Remember at the time, he, like all of us, thought it would be a one time event. It was after that, the conversation about making StartupWeekend Andrew's startup began. You will notice that the LLC you reference is the StartupWeekend FOUNDERS LLC, not StartupWeekend LLC.

I would say that he is looking at StartupWeekend as a brand, and a quick trademark search shows that he did, in fact, trademark Startup Weekend the name.

Given those two things, StartupWeekend is a registered LLC (check the CO Secretary of State), and StartupWeekend is trademarked (check the US Trademark Office), then how can one not believe that he is running this as his business, and would expect local involvement in terms of continuity and consistency?

Clearly, there are no franchisee agreements because he is running this as if a single corporate entity is running all the weekends. Just because a TM on a logo doesnt exist, doesnt mean its not legally enforceable.

Do I think Andrew has done no wrong, of course not. Do I think StartupWeekend can improve? Of course. Do I think you guys are beginning to see conspiracy where there is none? Absolutely.

Brill, I certainly hope you walk away from this experience glad for having done it and can see the positives and negatives of being involved. I really hope that LobbyThem is successful, and my offer to share experiences is still good (I think you can get my email from the comments, right?)

Curtis, good luck on your weekend. You might find that building on what was done in the past, both good and bad, will be helpful. And, like Brill, feel free to contact me.

All the best.

micah

brill said...

@Micah

I can't actually get your email, it seems to be internal to the system to allow the software to send you notice when a new comment is added.
However I'd be happy to chat with you at some point (right this moment is a bit hard because I've got a lot on my plate and making time gets pushed aside).

Of course I walked away with some good experience and in fact I'd say I'm not walking away, whether it runs under the Startup Weekend name or not. Personally I do not see "conspiracy" here at all and I didn't get that message from crtis myself.

What I do have a problem with is getting vilified by Andrew when we did not deserve it. Sure, it wasn't want he expected... and I can even empathize with him, but he didn't bother to take any of the good parts away (or at least claims not). The fact is that we though we were doing something entirely different from what Andrew though and he should have made more effort to make contact before the weekend if we needed to know.

Since he didn't, and didn't like what he saw for whatever reason, he should have buckled down and participated anyway and learned what we did that worked and what didn't... instead he chose to be a sour-puss which is when all this got started.

Frankly I don't care how he sets it up... if I like it, I'll jump in with all the energy I apply to anything I think might be worth my time. If I don't like it I'll do something else and apply my energy there.

What I want to see, and what this site is about, is some sort of retraction, apology, correction or whatever.

I have no doubt that Andrew was attacking us in that post and that it was very likely in the heat of the moment but he has had time to think about it now, and may realize that he didn't handle it well or that being a spoil-sport didn't go over well.

Do I dislike Andrew? in fact I don't and wish he hadn't gone away from our city with such a sour experience... nothing can be done about that now.
I really wish he'd taken the time to ask us how our event got to be the way it was before passing judgment, because it was not at all as he portrayed it as a bunch of people looking to get rich off the backs of our community.

I'm very glad he is being clear about what Startup Weekend really is, and I don't think that it even precludes folks in Toronto holding another one (plans were under way even before the first one went down because interest was so high) but I support curtis and his group because personally I'd really like to see what they do and how it turns out. I'm more interested in learning what the possibilities are than following some sort of format governed by the "Bill Of Rights".

I hope I've been clear, it's the same message I've been trying to get across from the beginning.

An apology and real attempt to determine what worked and was useful is due us.

Michael Jones said...

Not sure you're getting an apology any time soon. While I too have some issues with the Bill of Rights (which in turn means breaking with the model for STW2?) the general spirit seems in the right mode.

"In this case, greed took over and the organizers decided that it would ‘only make sense’ to reward their hard work with a substantial part of the company, without telling me or any other of the founders until the day before the event. They also decided a 20% share of the company was awarded to the person who came up with the company idea that everyone was going to make."

This is precisely why I'm happy to have sat out. It's rather sketchy that the winning idea - one that's not really winning or an idea - was a colleague of yours not only from the weekend, but from your past days at Avokia. Much more defensible if it had marketable value by the end, but I fear it doesn't and haven't heard yet why my concerns are false.

As for the BoR itself, #3 and 4 are most problematic. Clearly coming up with a well thought-out concept is not a quick or easily dismissed process. Had I known LobbyThem was the core idea, I'd have fired off my objections and options to distinguish it from an already over-saturated market early and often.

The focus needs to be determined sooner, and with more input. And even if you think you can produce something interesting in 48 hours, inevitably you realize about 500 things you'd like to do to make the result an authentic beta. Where's the support for continuation? Fair enough to say it's less than the initial process, but it's not 2% vs 85%, which is, alas, what SWT1 is.

At the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable that LobbyThem, being 85% vested, is 85% done. Is it? Technically, it's 30%, at best (I can't even sign up!) and the base idea needs even more work.

brill said...

@Michael Jones

Your facts are actually wrong as were Andrews. The agreement was ratified during the weekend and that 20% for the idea was reduced significantly. Also, the "Facilitators" should show as reducing their share dramatically in the final document but don't quote me until it gets published.

The insinuation that I "rigged" the vote for a friend is pretty low. If you had been there you would have seen that it was a truly democratic process and if you had been watching me vote, you would have seem most of my votes go to other ideas.
As for knowing him, I knew or have met at least a 3rd of the people who participated... it's a community event after all and there were a lot of BarCampers there... so the chances that I knew the idea winner is pretty good (I have worked with about 4 people that were there and even met the husband of a friend from my teenage years).

If your concern is cronyism, then why have you not complained about the NYC event? the idea winner there is a friend of Andrew H's and has been traveling to the weekends with him... did he rig the vote as well?

Your facts are wrong, and you have just personally attacked me.
I'm surprised that you would make such an accusation at all frankly and I think you owe me an apology.

I take consolation in the fact that most people reading this will already know your facts are wrong, and your accusations are unfounded.

As for how good the idea was... why didn't you show up and change peoples minds? In fact you could have been instrumental in changing the agreement as well but you chickened out and didn't bother to come and put in the hours like the rest of the people who's comments and opinions actually do have meaning.

I have been more than polite in responding your your attempts to "sound smart" regardless of your actually knowledge or value, even though your sounding like a dumbass.

Never mind, I'm simply going to delete further comments from you as irrelevant to the context unless they actually are relevant.

Michael Jones said...

"The agreement was ratified during the weekend and that 20% for the idea was reduced significantly. Also, the "Facilitators" should show as reducing their share dramatically in the final document but don't quote me until it gets published."

I'm basing this on the agreement as given 24 hours before the event. If you've changed it since, fair enough, but do be aware that the contract itself was a deal-breaker for many.

In this agreement, you are not a "facilitator" - you are a "Manager". The role not only rewards you for pre-event work, it explicitly allows you to determine whether NEWSTARTCO will be incorporated, nomination of Directors, and resolve disagreements re: who the "winning" idea belongs to and who receives further development shares.

All this isn't necessarily wrong. There has to be an organization function pre-weekend, during, and post-weekend of course, and that should be valued to some extent.

But - who are the managers, and why do they have so much power out of the gate? I don't recall any transparent process regarding the selection of you or anyone on this list, which itself raises questions.

At least three of the ten - including you of course - were at Avokia. With precious little information on the rest to go on, that's when people start asking questions.

Now, does this necessarily mean collusion or dishonesty? No. Indeed, a tight-knit group of managers starting things off is not necessarily a bad idea.

But management has to have legitimate authority, and that's earned, not set out by contract written by management in advance.

Had the process of selecting management been clear, democratic and transparent from the start, many problems would've been avoided.

As for Andrew Hyde, let him run his show as he sees fit. If he runs around claiming ownership of companies by decree, I suspect people will not show up at his events either. It rather sounds that he does not - he's more interested in protecting the SW brand as he sees (and apparently owns?) it.

If that's a concern, well, I suppose SWT2 gets rebranded.

brill said...

@Michael Jones

Michael, you once again insinuate cronyism which is not only untrue but any research by you (should you have bothered) would have indicated as much.

You do have one question in all that however and I'll answer it, however it has been answered more than once by me on this site and by others as well. Please read whats being posted before asking a question.

So, the answer to how the "managers" where selected once more (and the last time I hope):

The "managers" (early language that was changed) were anybody who showed up or asked to help organize. There was no selection process except their own initiative which is the same for any of the groups currently preparing to run their own SW. That could have included you if you had bothered to pitch in. We *all* started out the same. The first meeting was scheduled and published on the wiki and a few more joined then by simply showing up.

I personally put in about 200 hours and about $250 pre-weekend and the fact that I had worked with a few of them at some point is irrelevant. Your number of 3 out of 10 should indicate that there were enough people organizing it to swing any vote (or do you imagine we're so good at this that we managed to control the whole group? unlikely).

The fact is that absolutely everything we did was discussed and agreed upon... some things quickly and some not so quickly. Repeated attempts to draw in the rest of the community were met with limited success (people just didn't care or couldn't be bothered). You yourself only bothered at the last minute.

I hope that answers your question.

Michael Jones said...

Alas, I don't see evidence of this transparent, open decision making process you describe.

The weekend as I understand it was first organized via the forums on toronto.startupweekend.com, where we were invited to post our bios.

On July 31, it was noted that the "7 project management sign ups are starting their conversation." This suggests that the project manager tickets (which I suppose you're one?) were doing their job.

Fair enough - but that's more the "facilitator" role you described post-facto vs. the "manager" role that was described in as part of the contract/NDA. It morphed into that somehow.

Indeed, the first two comments asked for more openness; yourself and Dan Silivestru replied with some apprehension, for reasons I don't fully understand.

August 9 suggest the project managers are on a roll with setting up things organization-wise. Again, good news, and work that should be accounted for - but transparently and openly among all, not among a cadre of self-selected project managers.

Your 200 hours is a number that causes alarm. I don't deny the figure - indeed, it may show that early project planning is essential and should be budgeted for in SWT2.

But those hours have been accounted for more openly and transparently in the first place, especially since it's about 4 times that one could maximally expect as a participant. If these 200 hours were more obvious and transparent, no one would have an issue.

On to Aug 20. "A core group of project managers has been working to get things organized so that the weekend will be the “intensive” that we all hope for. Brill Pappin, Alan McMillan, Dan Silivestru, Andrew Andreoli and Peter Dawson have been leading the conversations."

All but Peter Dawson are "Managers" The words "core" and "leading" are already inching away from a facilitator role. This caused some concern among people, as did future notices of "project managers hard at work...." At what?

Setting up wikis, I guess - formally set up Aug 16 it would appear.

As you've already suggested, there was a communication breakdown on that one. Setting up a wiki is certainly a good idea, although administratively it was done awkwardly.

Alas, I never received access to the wiki due to my being out of town on vacation and then busy on other work. I emailed Sept 9, but received no response. I'm still not on it, so I can't attest to anything there.

Perhaps if I can get on now, I'd have a better idea of what your arguments are.

But as people did note on the forums, what was the point of a private wiki to replace an already available semi-private forum - especially if it complicates access to otherwise authentic members? Germs of ideas are essentially free - indeed, making them free helps them develop. Communal idea generation is good marketing for the weekend and its eventual product too.

What needed to be protected that wouldn't be if a protected but public wiki was set up with users populated from this as was the case in the forum?

Still not clear on how/why it emerged, and why all the good stuff was on a wiki and not on the original platform, and a wiki not readily joined at that.

Michael Jones said...

Alas, I don't see evidence of this transparent, open decision making process you describe.

The weekend as I understand it was first organized via the forums on toronto.startupweekend.com, where we were invited to post our bios.

On July 31, it was noted that the "7 project management sign ups are starting their conversation." This suggests that the project manager tickets (which I suppose you're one?) were doing their job.

Fair enough - but that's more the "facilitator" role you described post-facto vs. the "manager" role that was described in as part of the contract/NDA. It morphed into that somehow.

Indeed, the first two comments asked for more openness; yourself and Dan Silivestru replied with some apprehension, for reasons I don't fully understand.

August 9 suggest the project managers are on a roll with setting up things organization-wise. Again, good news, and work that should be accounted for - but transparently and openly among all, not among a cadre of self-selected project managers.

Your 200 hours is a number that causes alarm. I don't deny the figure - indeed, it may show that early project planning is essential and should be budgeted for in SWT2.

But those hours have been accounted for more openly and transparently in the first place, especially since it's about 4 times that one could maximally expect as a participant. If these 200 hours were more obvious and transparent, no one would have an issue.

On to Aug 20. "A core group of project managers has been working to get things organized so that the weekend will be the “intensive” that we all hope for. Brill Pappin, Alan McMillan, Dan Silivestru, Andrew Andreoli and Peter Dawson have been leading the conversations."

All but Peter Dawson are "Managers" The words "core" and "leading" are already inching away from a facilitator role. This caused some concern among people, as did future notices of "project managers hard at work...." At what?

Setting up wikis, I guess - formally set up Aug 16 it would appear.

As you've already suggested, there was a communication breakdown on that one. Setting up a wiki is certainly a good idea, although administratively it was done awkwardly.

Alas, I never received access to the wiki due to my being out of town on vacation and then busy on other work. I emailed Sept 9, but received no response. I'm still not on it, so I can't attest to anything there.

Perhaps if I can get on now, I'd have a better idea of what your arguments are.

But as people did note on the forums, what was the point of a private wiki to replace an already available semi-private forum - especially if it complicates access to otherwise authentic members? Germs of ideas are essentially free - indeed, making them free helps them develop. Communal idea generation is good marketing for the weekend and its eventual product too.

What needed to be protected that wouldn't be if a protected but public wiki was set up with users populated from this as was the case in the forum?

Still not clear on how/why it emerged, and why all the good stuff was on a wiki and not on the original platform, and a wiki not readily joined at that.

Brill Pappin said...

@Michael Jones

Thats was a long one... and I'm frankly very tired (it was a long day).

I just check for your account in the wiki, and I have to apologize, you indeed were not added. I do remember your request coming in at the last minute and I can only assume that you got missed in the mad rush (I was away the week before the weekend working over a very slow modem, and others were supposed to be taking care of access, which they did for the most part).

Word has it there will be another toronto weekend although I don't know if it will be under the Startup Weekend banner.
If I am at all involved I will personally make sure you know about it so you can invest some of your time to setting it up.

It's unlikely that I'll play a large role in the next one for two reasons:
1) I want to see what other interesting ways it can be set up.
2) it was a lot of work and I think I'd rather just show up and help.

I hope I'll get a chance to speak to the people who do set it up though because with the past experience I have some ideas on what worked and what didn't.

Micah said...

@brill micah AT currentwisdom DOT com. Look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Jones said...

No problems re: the wiki - I was certainly late to the party on that one myself, given timing on this end.

I'm inclined to believe that was the right platform from the beginning for idea generation and expansion. Forums generally aren't effective for co-creation of course.

SWT2 (or whatever it's called) could probably benefit from fleshing out ideas on it early - even voting early. It takes some time to get your head around a concept and its possibilities and research similar sites out there (no idea's ever really new of course...) Once that's done to a beta level, it's easier to create a successful beta - but it's hard to cram all that in 48 hours.

Conversely, a product development team could I suppose start planning around beta, production and 2.0 versions, even if not implemented in the weekend. I'm not sure if LobbyThem did this, but I suspect it would have?

I'm sure your experience and feedback will be valuable to the next team, whomever they will be. While I agree transparency and openness are often fluff words, my hope is that both the selection and action of the project facilitation group (which is a much better word than manager in this case, and I'm glad to hear you did change it to it by the end...) will aim to be both all the same.

I did manage to get on LobbyThem now. Still think it could use some expertise and insight from those who are active in lobbying the muncipal government.

I mentioned over at SW forum the example of the community reaction around the narrowing of Lansdowne. Copious amounts of material here on BlogTO:

http://blogto.com/city/2007/05/capture_the_hog_dont_narrow_lansdowne/

I'd suggest that as a good case study of the complexity of influencing city decisions when there are multiple interest groups at play. If LobbyThem could be tooled to play a role in that complexity, it would be useful.

But a simple online petition site won't help. The Lansdowne residents association got 250 people out in person to protest and filed a physical petition of 300 directly at Giambrone's office down the street. The controversy was also reported in local media outlets. For better or worse, the City forged on.

Hope that helps make LobbyThem a better space - perhaps talking to these folk for inspiration might help?