[tor-project] My first day as ED

isabela isabela at torproject.org
Fri Nov 16 19:35:54 UTC 2018

Hello Tor!

We are officially done with the transition process! This means that I am
now (for realz) Tor’s ED :)

Shari will be in a consultant position till the end of the year, and
starting 2019 she will join our Board. If you haven’t seen yet, here is
her blog post on it:

I wanted to write this note to you so we can review a bit of what was
done during this transition period and how that lines up with some of
the points I had on my (short term) vision for Tor.

Some might remember the IRC chat after my nomination, where I shared a
few bullet points of areas I would like Tor to focus on in the short
term. Most of these are not new and are things that Tor (TPO+TPI) have
been talking about for a while and know we should be doing.

Let’s start with the goals related to:
1 - A Mature Tor Project (organization/community)

1.1 - Stable income flows from a diverse funding base

^ We built a Fundraising team (Sarah, Fundraising Director; and Al,
Grant Writer) and equipped Sue (CFO) with a Finance team (Bekeela, Grant
Manager; and Millicent, Bookkeeper) to help us achieve this goal. This
is what I am calling our ‘money machine.’ They will work together with
our new PMs (Gaba and Pili) on proposals and also on other sources of
income for Tor (major donors, family foundations, direct donations,
etc.). This team is meeting weekly to sync on all of the different
grants, proposals, and fundraising campaigns we are working on or plan
to do in the upcoming months. We also maintain a calendar where we will
try to have at least 1 initiative per month related to bringing in
money. Back in September, we created a calendar that goes till January,
and in early 2019 we will have another big meeting where we will plan
for the first 6 months of 2019 (the remaining time of our current fiscal

1.2 - Diverse and robust organization that meets our needs

^ A lot that I will be talking about in this email reflects on this goal.

1.3 - Strong organizational culture, focused on employee and volunteer
happiness and stability

^ Shari did a lot of this already, from employee benefits and salary
adjustments, to workshops at dev meetings (unconscious bias and the
culture clash one in Mexico, for instance). A lot has been done, and of
course there is still a lot to do. That is why I kept this goal here.
For now I will just bring up one thing that I believe is important and
we need to do. Tor has a culture, but we should be able to articulate
our culture and define it so others know what it means, so most
importantly, we don’t lose it as we grow. I just want to drop this here
as a seed for others to think about it as well. We will resume this
conversation in 2019 for sure!

1.4 - Global brand recognition - Tor means strong privacy

^ The Berkeley Group [theberkeleygroup.org] is a student organization of
UC Berkeley that provides services to nonprofits for free or at a low
cost. We contracted with them to research Tor’s brand perception by
different demographics in the US and to provide us with suggestions of
convincing points to improve our brand image, along with suggestions of
channels we could use in a marketing strategy to help with that. We will
be sharing all of this once it’s done, but we will use this to build a
marketing strategy for 2019. Marketing means, as part of communications,
how we will pitch to donors, how we do outreach, our website content,
and the list goes on. It’s a bit of everything, but we should digest
what The Berkeley Group delivers to us and figure out how we apply that
in real life. Like the goal says, Tor should mean strong privacy for
people, and all this work is to achieve that perception of our brand.

Now let’s move to the other set of goals I had for product:

2 - Full Access (product)

2.1 - Any person on the planet can access the Tor Network

^There are a few things related to this goal, for instance people need
to be able to bypass censorship against Tor to access the network. Also,
we need to have clients that work on any device and any OS so we can
really provide a way for *anyone* to access the Tor network. Of course
both things are mega hard, and that’s ok. The goal here is for us to
think about the challenges to get there and figure out how to get
started. This year, mobile has been on our minds :) not only with
releasing a mobile browser, but also with optimizing little t tor for
mobile apps. We are also creating an anti-censorship team and building
projects that will require different teams to work together to fix
problems related to the user experience under censorship.

2.2 - Any person on the planet can use the Tor Network to access any
website or online services

^Same thing, we can think of many different types of work that would
help us achieve this goal. The work being done by our Community and UX
teams, where folks are going to different countries, meeting communities
at-risk, learning their needs, teaching them about online security and
collecting their feedback on our tools is fundamental for us to achieve
the *can use* part. And this goes too for the *can access* part of the
goal 2.1, above this one.
Goal 2.2 also is about accessing websites and online services. The
painful captchas are a challenge we need to address, because this is a
big complaint users have related to using Tor. At least some things have
improved with CloudFlare and their alt-svc for .onion addresses
solution, which is good. There is more to do, and this is a hard one to
address, but we can’t ignore it just because it is hard. We should at
least put our minds on it and see what can be done, and little by little
we can get there.

2.3 - Ensure Tor Network is diverse, healthy, stable and scalable

^None of the above can be done if this one is not happening. To achieve
this goal we will need a combination of efforts, like help from our
research community and metrics and OONI teams, which can provide us with
valuable information that can help us make new design decisions, monitor
our network and test new code. Of course our network team is very
important for this goal :) But we will need to add support for areas
where we are under capacity right now, like monitoring the health of the
network to make sure there is no malicious behavior or attacks on it.

Sorry for the long email.

Since today is considered my first day as ED, I thought it would be nice
to go back to these goals and share a bit of how we can be working
together to achieve those, and how the new people can help us too.

I want to recognize that I am probably missing other goals we should be
thinking about for the next 3 years. I would like to hear other
thoughts, and I would like to do an update on this list at the meeting
in Greece.

This is the beginning of a conversation, not the end. I hope to have a
chance to host a ‘tea time’ on irc before the end of the year for us to
chat. Please hold me on that! I am mega busy, but I would really like to
try that out before 2019.


PS: tons of <3 for Shari, who has been extremely amazing and who I will
forever be thankful for her support, guidance, and help.

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