MIT’s First Digital Currency Director Departs Leadership Role

MIT Media Lab's first director of digital currency is transitioning out of his role to focus on academic work and a new book.

AccessTimeIconSep 6, 2016 at 9:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:28 p.m. UTC
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The MIT Media Lab's first digital currency director is transitioning out of his role as the leader of the research initiative.

To be announced later today, former White House senior advisor Brian Forde will be migrating to MIT’s Sloan School of Management where he will serve as a senior lecturer and teach two classes on cryptocurrencies. Forde cited other factors as influencing the decision, such as his desire to move back to Los Angeles, his recent engagement to his fiancee and his desire to focus on a forthcoming book.

Representatives of MIT's Digital Currency Initiative, first launched in 2015, reported that the transition has been pending for months, while Forde said he has been seeking to initiate a September transition since May.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Forde commented on how the MIT-based project has thus far played a key role in organizing events, promoting diversityfunding development and embarking on research projects aimed at advancing blockchain technology.

He said he was perhaps most proud of the work done to promote student interest in the emerging technology, calling this the group’s “main priority”.

Representatives from the DCI said there are currently no plans in place to fill Forde’s role. MIT Media Lab remains under the leadership of director Joi Ito.

Tenure in review

Looking back, Forde acknowledged the sometimes difficult position of managing the expectations of the diverse set of stakeholders that make up the burgeoning bitcoin and blockchain industry.

For example, Forde said he was conscious of the need to strike a balance between appearing supportive and distracting from efforts organized by the open-source community, addressing criticism that the organization perhaps hasn’t been more public about its work.

"Looking back, I think we could have been more helpful to the community by hosting more events and workshops at MIT. [Early on] we were very sensitive to any perception that we were taking too much of an organizational role supporting bitcoin," he said.

He went on to remark about the difficulty of choosing projects to sponsor given the demand placed on the MIT DCI following its launch. Still, Forde said he believes he was able to prioritize high-impact engagements, including work with Mexico's Ministry of Finance, as well as the Bank of England.

He concluded:

"These are projects that are just starting to see light."

Brian Forde image via Wired

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