Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Personal thoughts about William Gunn

(I am writing this down because every few weeks, William gets attacked as a corporate shill and a sellout human being. That's because he works for Elsevier and because most people have no idea who he is. I know William and am writing this down so I can refer to it, every time he is attacked on Twitter.)

I first met William Gunn in 2013, when was just an idea and we were nearly broke. William instantly connected to our mission and became determined to help us. He connected us to Victor Henning, the cofounder of Mendeley, for a Skype call. That call was critical and the advice from Victor may have saved our nascent startup.

After that, William continued to advise us, advocate for us, and helped us to succeed with our Kickstarter. He was so genuinely supportive and gave us so much of his time, I offered to make him an advisor and to give him standard advisor equity in William thanked me and replied that he was helping because of what we are doing for science, not because of compensation. I insisted, as I didn't want to take advantage of people who help. William asked to think about it. A week later, he e-mailed me to say that he thinks it would be a conflict of interest for him to take advisor equity, given his employment with Mendeley/Elsevier.

Since then, William has continued to help us consistently and in big ways. He is also a terrific scientist, one of the strongest advocates for open access, and a passionate supporter of innovation in science publishing and communication.

I don't have many warm thoughts about Elsevier, but I have tremendous respect for William and deep gratitude for his support. Those who attack him simply because he works at Elsevier are confusing individuals with corporations. I am lucky to know William as a person and will try to never make the same mistake.