The Bitcoin Foundation is Dead, and That’s Probably a Good Thing
It looks like the Bitcoin Foundation might finally be dead. At least, that’s according to Olivier Janssens, one of the more recent additions to the Foundation’s board of directors.
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Janssens took to Reddit on December 15, 2015, informing the community that he had been “forcibly removed from the Bitcoin Foundation board.” The former board member claimed that his tenure at the Foundation ended at the latest board meeting, when the board voted to remove Janssens in response to his motion to force the Foundation to draft a plan for development before attempting to raise additional funds from the community. In response to the board’s decision to let him go, Janssens said, “I guess it’s bad intent on my behalf to ask to come up with a business plan before you decide to raise money.”
This decision came after an even bolder move from Janssens, who initially voted to shut the Foundation down entirely — although he did not actually propose that vote himself. It came pretty close to happening, too; Janssens said, “The voting result was 2 for (Jim and myself), 3 against. We were one vote short to shut it down.”
The rest of the board members didn’t like the idea of planning before fundraising, and it’s probably because they are totally broke and desperate for cash. According to Janssens, the main focus of his last meeting was the organization’s severe lack of funds. In his Reddit post, Janssens claimed that “the Foundation only has a couple of Bitcoins left. They’ve been running on a skeleton crew for the last half year, but even that money has ran out.”
This revelation comes after the Bitcoin Foundation found itself in the center of a community-wide hatestorm in 2014, in which the Foundation lost essentially all credibility. The organization spent most of the year burning through the Bitcoin community’s money by rubbing shoulders with politicians and supporting legislation that was extremely unpopular in the Bitcoin world. The most opposed action from the Bitcoin Foundation was their support — or lack of resistance at the very least — of the hated New York BitLicense. Although the Foundation assured the community it would work closely with the New York Department of Financial Services to make sure BitLicense did not become too restrictive, their actual efforts amounted to a few superficial and underwhelming statements from then global policy counsel Jim Harper. At one point, Marco Santori of the Bitcoin Foundation actually suggested global Bitcoin regulation:
We view these [BitLicense] hearings as the continuation of a much needed conversation among the states and the federal government on how a streamlined, standardized, and fully protective regulatory system can be developed for the United States as a whole, and perhaps internationally.
And so, at the end of 2014, the Bitcoin Foundation found itself in quite a predicament. Their political efforts proved unsuccessful, as the BitLicense chugged along, ignoring most of the community’s concerns. Furthermore, with the Bitcoin price crashing, what little money they had left over after their political escapades was quickly losing value. To top it all off, the Bitcoin community — the group of people they vowed to represent — hated them, many people even calling for the Foundation’s dissolution.
Thus, with pockets empty and reputation sullied, the organization decided to make some significant changes in its activities. With a new Executive Director leading the charge, the Foundation abandoned most of its political efforts and turned to funding Core development and promoting Bitcoin education. The community more or less welcomed this change of heart; some applauded the Foundation for returning to its roots, and others simply expressed relief that the group would stop wasting the community’s money.
These changes placed the Foundation in a secondary role in the Bitcoin world during 2015, and the community moved on to new drama. While we argued over the block size and waited impatiently for the Bitcoin price to rise, the Foundation hosted a handful of small educational conferences and a series of “DevCore” workshops, focusing on developing Bitcoin Core.
As far as Janssens’ Reddit statement is true, though, it looks like the Foundation really hasn’t changed its ways. Even after the hardship they faced in 2014, the board of directors still believes that they have enough clout to raise money without a plan, expecting the community to trust that they will do the right thing. What’s more telling is that the board voted to remove Janssens simply because he wanted to make a plan for growth before they went out begging for money.
Janssens summarizes the Foundation’s irreparable condition succinctly by saying:
The truth is that the Foundation is pretty much dead. They will try to keep it going just for the name and ego, but they have no support left with the community. Their reputation is permanently destroyed, which became clear over the last year. From this point forward, I will also no longer be able to keep you informed on any of their actions.
We hope you enjoyed your time in the spotlight, Bitcoin Foundation. It’s safe to say that the community probably won’t miss you very much.
What do you think about the latest development from the Bitcoin Foundation? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of the Bitcoin Foundation and Richard A. Bloom