Following the resignations of former BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem and Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles from the board of directors at the Bitcoin Foundation earlier this year, 15 candidates have emerged as potential replacements as part of the organisation's ongoing special election.
Voting for the two vacant seats is now open to registered Industry Members, with the election scheduled to close at 11.59pm US EST on Wednesday, 30th April.
While the winning candidates have yet to be decided, what is certain is that these individuals will be tasked with joining the Bitcoin Foundation at a time when its image in the larger community has been hampered by storm of bad publicity, as both Shrem and Karpeles resigned amid still-ongoing troubles with law enforcement.
The eventual winners will not only be tasked with repairing the organisation's leadership standing, but also with moving the foundation forward as it looks to expand abroad and better communicate bitcoin's message to mainstream audiences.
The following are the 15 candidates in the running to take on this responsibility.
Andres Bzurovski, Astropay founder
Bzurovski is the founder of bitcoin payment processor AstroPay, which notably teamed up with Mt. Gox in late 2013 to speed up money transfers in Latin America.
While this partnership is no more, of course, Bzurovski still plans to bring an international focus to his candidacy.
Bzurovski stated in response to a foundation member question: “One of the purposes of my candidacy is to represent the interests of non-American companies and individuals. The cases which you mention do not apply to the 6.7 billion people that live outside the US, including myself."
Bobby Lee, BTC China CEO and co-founder
Founded in April 2013, BTC China quickly became one of the most prominent bitcoin exchanges in Asia following its launch, although it has since seen increased competition from rivals such as OKCoin and Huobi.
Lee has been among the more outspoken members of China's bitcoin community in the Western media.
He frequently appears in major news sources to talk about the continued uncertainty regarding the legal status of bitcoin exchanges and other such services in China.
Lee has stated that he feels the Bitcoin Foundation should take a leadership role on two initiatives – the development of bitcoin technology and government regulation.
Notably, BitPay CEO Tony Gallippi, a former candidate who has withdrawn from the race, has since endorsed Bobby Lee for the position.
Brock Pierce, venture capitalist
Pierce has also been active at starting bitcoin businesses, having helped found GoCoin, ExpressCoin, KnCMiner and Robocoin Asia (to name a few).
Pierce's candidacy has been endorsed by multi-signature wallet provider BitGo.
Clint Ditto, Crypto Pros founder
A serial entrepreneur, Ditto is perhaps best known to the bitcoin community for founding the news and information resource Crypto Pros.
If elected, Ditto says he will take aim at the public misunderstandings about bitcoin and its purpose through effective communication.
Ditto has also advocated for the creation of a bitcoin-focused 'Better Business Bureau' that rates digital currency companies.
Frank Schuil, Safello CEO
The co-founder of Sweden-based bitcoin exchange Safello, Schuil is running on a platform that aims to increase transparency and education in the bitcoin ecosystem.
Schuil stated on his Bitcoin Foundation candidacy thread: "Having dealt with educating consumers about emerging technologies in my professional career, I see an alignment to serve as Board Member of the Bitcoin Foundation while serving my company's goals."
In addition, he says that his experience in the European market will be valuable to the foundation as it seeks to grow its influence abroad.
Henryk Dabrowski, Alternet Systems CEO
Alternet recently supported the Digital Asset Transfer Authority (DATA) annual meeting this April, working to secure donation items and amenities for the event.
Fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and French, Dabrowski also holds additional Board of Directors posts, but did not specify a platform for his candidacy via the Bitcoin Foundation forums.
Jason M Tyra, CPA, PLLC principal
Tyra commented on his candidacy:
Furthermore, Tyra has stated that his election would represent a necessary addition to the board, as it currently has entrepreneurs, developers and technical experts, but no tax professionals.
Jay Yeom, Bitcash vice president
is Vice President and team lead for Bitcash, a mobile application project that is scheduled to release its mobile wallet later this year. He has also served as President and CEO for several online game development and publishing companies, including Microgaming Technology Corp., Playon Interactive Inc. and Liveplex Co., Ltd.
In his official Bitcoin Foundation thread, Yeom said that he would bring a non-Western viewpoint to the Foundation board. Furthermore, he believes his years working in Asian markets and knowledge of the ecosystem in that region are major strengths to his candidacy.
Yeom said that, if elected, he will focus on the development of simple tools that enable greater adoption among consumers. He remarked that a lack easy-to-use software is a barrier for bitcoin integration worldwide.
John McDonnell, BitNet CEO and co-founder
The CEO of bitcoin processing platform BitNet, McDonnell was formerly a key executive at a number of notable payments companies including Visa, Paymo (later acquired by Boku) and PaylinX (later acquired by CyberSource).
McDonnell has called for what he calls the addition of "vigilant gardeners" to the bitcoin network who can help it overcome its current issues with the traditional banking system, Apple and others.
McDonnell also stated that he is interested in bitcoin's development in micropayments, wallet innovation, remittances and the development of payment systems that offer sufficient consumer protection.
Jon Holmquist, BitcoinBlackFriday organizer
Best known for his efforts to promote bitcoin's use during one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the US, Holmquist is running on a platform that would bring this focus on social issues to the foundation.
When asked about his qualifications by foundation forum users, Holmquist touted his background in community building, and promised to work to bring more communication, transparency and community involvement to the foundation.
He added in the comments:
Leon Li, Huobi founder and CEO
is founder and CEO for Huboi, a digital currency exchange based in China. Also the creator of Renrenzhe, an independent lifestyle search site, Li previously worked at Oracle, and graduated from Tsinghua University.
Li responded to a question in his official Bitcoin Foundation thread by saying that, if elected, he would direct his attention to ensuring trust and security within the system, as well as ensuring that the bitcoin protocol remains "open, extensible and participatory".
He also called for the standardization of bitcoin practices worldwide, including in the mining, wallet development and exchange ecosystems.
Luke Dashjr, Aynstein Ideas, LLC, developer
While not as well-known as some of the CEOs on the list, Dashjr has been a software developer on the bitcoin protocol since January 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile.
There, he says he has made regular contributions to the master bitcoin wallet codebase, and was the primary author of Eloipool, the open-source bitcoin mining pool server software. Dashjr also serves as an editor at Bitcoin Magazine.
If elected, Dashjr says he will work to promote decentralization in bitcoin, and that he will look to bring a a similar approach to the board's decision-making, consulting the community using polls before making key decisions.
Mohammad Mufti, BevByen CEO
Though Mufti doesn't operate a bitcoin business, he feels this gives him a unique opportunity to represent the bitcoin community, rather than any one industry entity.
A graduate of the University of Washington, Mufti says his interest in bitcoin began in 2010, though he has also worked as a business systems analyst and market analyst since first learning about the technology.
Mufti has pledged to treat Bitcoin Foundation members as shareholders, working to increase transparency in the organization. He has indicated that he would support the foundation disclosing all of its BTC/fiat uses publicly, and would work to make the organisation less "US biased."
Without a business to shift his focus, Mufti says, "I have the time and patience for communication with members, I believe in the future of cryptocurrency and I’m generally interested in hearing out my peers."
Vinny Lingham, Gyft co-founder and CEO
Gyft began accepting bitcoin for its mobile gift cards in May 2013, and has quickly become one of the more popular ways to spend bitcoin at major merchants that do not yet accept the digital currency for payment.
Lingham has stated that his platform would find the Bitcoin Foundation seeking to further the development of "trustless applications", while bringing the technology to more businesses and consumers.
At press time, Lingham had been endorsed by high-profile community members such as BitPay's Tony Gallippi and BitGo.
Vytautas Karalevičius, Spectro Coin co-founder and CEO
is the co-founder and CEO of localized bitcoin exchange service provider Spectro Coin. A graduate of Cambridge University, Karalevičius' company has been called one of the fastest-growing bitcoin companies in Europe by Lithuania-based news source Made in Vilnius.
Earlier this April, Karalevičius spoke at the Lithuania-based tech conference LOGIN 2014, where, together with Remigijus Simasius, the former Lithuanian Minister of Justice and a local journalist, he discussed bitcoin issues.
Karalevičius has stated that, if elected, he will focus the foundation's efforts on promoting self-regulation within the industry and increasing overall education on the topic.
For more information on all the candidates and the election process, visit the Bitcoin Foundation's official 'Board Election 2014' forum.
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