Thursday, January 07, 2010

Google, OpenID and Chris Messina

Today's announcement that Chris Messina is joining Google is certainly good for Chris, probably good for Google - but what about the openID Foundation?

As of today, Google has 3 members of the Board of Directors, their corporate rep (Eric Sachs), and "community" reps Messina and Joseph Smarr. That's 3 out of the 19 board members.

I should note that Yahoo has two members, a corporate one (Raj Mata) and a community one (Allen Tom), as does Microsoft (Mike Jones and Dick Hardt).

I do think that any corporate member should be prohibited from also having employees hold community seats. Not that I have any indications that messrs. Messina, Smarr, Hardt or Tom would vote against their own principles, but people's principles are influenced by those of the culture in which the perform their daily employment tasks.

Over and above that consideration, though, should be the desire to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Maybe it's time the Foundation adopted a rule prohibiting such perceived conflict.

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We discussed this topic on the board when we founded the Foundation. THe thinking was that Community Directors are individuals elected by the community to serve the Foundation. If we precluded individuals that happened to work at a Sustaining Member company, we would deprive the Foundation and membership of many good people.

Speaking for myself, I will always act in the best interest of the Foundation when I am wearing my OpenID director hat. My experience with Joseph, Chris and Allen is that they also will do "the right thing". That is probably the main reason we were all elected to the board in the first place!
I trust you Dick. Heck, I trust all of you - but the appearance is bad, and the precedent even worse.
Has OpenID really achieved what you had hoped for?

It isn't particularly easy to use.
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