Bitcoin Foundation Members Exit Following Election Controversy

NEWS
Nermin Hajdarbegovic
May 12, 2014 at 12:06 UTC  |  Updated  May 14, 2014 at 14:30 UTC

A number of Bitcoin Foundation members have canceled their memberships, citing frustration with the latest round of appointments and the 'general direction' of the organisation.

The cancellations emerged after annual member Patrick Alexander opened a thread on the Bitcoin Foundation forums stating he would terminate his membership immediately. At press time nine others had followed suit – the foundation has about 150 lifetime members, alongside annual members and 384 anonymous members.

A number of reasons were outlined by those leaving the organization, from recent the board election to broader issues.

Controversial appointments and dealings

Patrick Alexander's original forum posts sums up the sentiment of those who decided to leave. He argues that certain board members simply don't have what it takes to represent bitcoin in a good light.

Alexander wrote:

"The foundation members need to emulate very high moral values and ethics in business and in personal dealings, especially as it involves money. So far, the track record of prominent Bitcoin Foundation members has been abysmal. I know that most foundation members are probably swell people and are not like this. However, the actions of a few have overshadowed us all unfortunately."

Patrick named three individuals in his post: Charlie Shrem, Mark Karpeles and Brock Pierce. "I no longer want to be associated with these people," he said.

Lifetime member Olivier Janssens also left, along with Stephen Sunderlin, Pierre Rochard, Patrick Levell, Michael Goldstein, Stephen Angelil, Dan Plante and Christian Antkow.

Leaving the foundation, but still committed to bitcoin

Almost all of these members reiterated their commitment to bitcoin, saying they simply wish to distance themselves from the foundation – not the technology.

"I'm sorry, but in light of the recent allegations with the new foundation [board member-elects], I cannot in good conscience be involved with such an organization," said Antkow.

Rochard said he was always quick to defend the foundation, but found the latest developments "too much". Sunderlin, the man behind QikCoin, said he is terminating his corporate sponsorship of the foundation.

Janssens went even further. He offered to join the foundation as a Platinum member and pay the $100,000 fee if the foundation announces that it will restrict Brock Pierce from becoming a member of the board. The current board of directors needs to ratify the election before Lee and Pierce officially join the board.

Janssens added:

"I also urge you to update the bylaws to prevent people from joining if they are involved in ongoing lawsuits (of the nasty kind), or have ever been convicted for anything nasty, or if their image is potentially damaging for the foundation."

Bitcoin Foundation forum admin Brad Wheeler responded to Alexander, outlining the way the foundation operates and why there was little to no vetting of members. He urged the members to read the Bitcoin Foundation's bylaws.

The last cancellation was posted late last night. The thread is relatively short and since it is reserved for members, it does not include comments from bitcoin enthusiasts who are not associated with the organisation.

However, many bitcoiners have taken to reddit to vent their frustrations. Most voiced support for the departing members and went on to criticise the foundation for failing to address their concerns.

The Bitcoin Foundation has since responded to CoinDesk's request for comment, suggesting that user feedback may still have a say in the final appointments.

A representative for Bitcoin Foundation said:

"Both Bobby and Brock are board member elects. Their terms don't actually begin until June 1 and even then, the board needs to ratify the election before they can officially become board members."

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