Ben Bell, Mark Taylor, Sirius Open Source & DebConf sponsorhip insincere promises

Debian Developer Ben Bell (bjb) was employed at Sirius Open Source, along with numerous other companies including NTL, KBC, D.E. Shaw and Goldman Sachs. The company is managed by Mark Taylor.

There are now serious allegations from former employees that Mark Taylor has failed to remit contributions to the staff pension fund for a number of years. After all, this is open source, it is just a hobby. We are all just volunteers, so who needs a pension anyway?

Volunteers decided to begin a deep-dive into the relationship between Sirius Open Source & Debian.

In 2007, the rogue employer was listed as a sponsor of DebConf7. DebConf & Debian has given Mark Taylor a platform to attract clients and employees who may fall victim to missing pensions.

There are at least two web sites used in the history of the firm. To find their history in the Wayback Machine or searching for emails, it is necessary to search all the domains and email addresses used by the employees past and present.

The original web site was at (backup copy) and that is the address that DebConf7 used for the sponsorship link.

Today the web site is at (backup copy).

Here are direct links to the list of people, using the backup copy from the old web site to find early employees and using the current web site to find more recent employees.

Former staff have made complaints about Ben Bell trying to implant a Debian-style 24x7 work culture onto part-time employees.

Ben Bell's CV (on his old web site) tells us he has taken early retirement (backup copy) while other employees complain they got no pensions at all.

I was a systems architect specialising in Unix and Linux based solutions with a broad range of in-depth experience in areas including database design, network architecture, client-server and web-based systems. Strong design and implementation skills. Able to provide full end-to-end system design, implementation and release.

After 25 years in this business I am not seeking further employment.

We can see that two other employees, Duncan Gibb and Mark Cave-Ayland, are also asking for help on Debian email lists but they are not maintaining any packages. After Ben Bell left, it looks like Mark Taylor did not want to continue paying the salary of a Debian Developer who contributes to Debian, he only continued consuming without giving back.

DebConf8 and beyond: a pattern of insincere promises

After DebConf7, Sirius was contacted each year to see if they wanted to repeat the sponsorship. They started out making insincere promises and then came radio silence.

Some companies behave like this in the hope that their logo will be included by mistake. This happened with Google sponsorship at OSCAL, Albania in 2017. The Google logo was placed on the banners but volunteers complained that the $2,000 they expected from Google never arrived.

Due to Debian backstabbing, volunteers are now crunching over all the records from the DebConf sponsorship team.

2007: DebConf7

Phil's contact: talking to Tom Callway <>.
2007/05/31: Invoiced for GBP 500, logo on website, artwork in svn.
Sledge: 2007/06/13(ish): cheque received and paid in. Thanked.

Bag address:

Tom Callway
Sirius Corporation Ltd.
Rivermead House
Hamm Moor Lane
KT15 2SF

2008: DebConf8

Sledge: 2008/01/13: contacted Tom Callway <>
Sledge: 2008/02/27: Tom says "Yes, we'll try to help out this year as well".
        Sent him the sponsor pack.
Sledge: 2008/04/13: pestered again for more info
Sledge: 2008/04/23: they're working out what they can do, will get back to us
Sledge: 2008/06/04: Pestered
Sledge: 2008/06/05: Tom's asking how much. I've pointed at the sponsor
        pack again and said "as much as possible, please"

Money didn't turn up in the end, no bag.

2009: DebConf9

:SiriusIT                     ( 1500 GBP, received DC7 )
Sledge: contact is Tom Callway <>
Sledge: 2009-03-29: already talking about it
Sledge: 2009-04-25: pinged Tom again
Sledge: 2009-04-27: definite yes, but waiting on some money to come in first. Pester again in 2 weeks if no news.
Sledge: 2009-06-03: not heard anything, so pinged again
h01ger: 2009-06-09: pinged Sledge
Sledge: 2009-06-09: they're in for GBP 1500; invoiced via DC7
Sledge: 2009-07-10: still no sign of money; pinged
Sledge: 2009-07-10: Tom said he hadn't seen the invoice; sent another
        copy. Should be in progress now.

Sirius Corporation plc
Rivermead House
Hamm Moor Lane
Weybridge KT15 2SF
United Kingdom

2010: DebConf10

:Sirius                       (ping)
DrDub: 2010/02/23: Sledge said will contact
Sledge: 2010/03/11: contacted:
                    Mark Taylor <>
                    Ming-Xien Yeo <>
                    with sponsorpack details
Sledge: 2010/04/19: ping
Sledge: 2010/04/19: Ming-Xien says they're not sure, as they're not
                    active in the US. Will get back to us.
Sledge: 2010/05/25: ping

2012: DebConf12

DebConf team didn't try to make contact with all sponsors this year.

2013: DebConf13

gismo: 2012-10-28: sponsored dc9
Sledge: 2012-11-02: I know folks, will contact
Sledge: 2012-11-20: Contact Tom Callway <>
bgupta: 2012-12-03: Contacted Tom and email bounced as unroutable
Sledge: 2012-12-11: contact Mark Taylor <>
rafw: 2013-05-01:   email sent to