Olivier Janssens, a newly elected member of the board of directors for the Bitcoin Foundation, has released a scathing forum post about the state of the Foundation. In it, he says that the Foundation is “effectively bankrupt” and the other board members are more than happy to find someone to pin the blame on.
The point of the Bitcoin Foundation was originally to “standardise, protect, and promote” the use of Bitcoin for everyone. It is technically not affiliated with the development of Bitcoin itself, but it does pay core developers to work on the cryptocurrency full time. However, the Foundation is the de facto public face of the de-centralised cryptocurrency.
Most of the original board members have left for a variety of reasons; which include being sent to prison, going bankrupt from the collapse of a Bitcoin exchange, and fleeing to a Caribbean nation known for offshore banking. Only original lead developer Gavin Andresen remained.
The replacement board members had sought to keep the Foundation’s trouble secret and away from the public. Janssens claims that he motions to have the board meetings recorded for greater transparency were shot down in an effort to keep the knowledge of the lack of funds away from Bitcoin users and supporters. The current board is planning on looking for a new director to turn things around, although it may already be too late.
Interestingly, the Bitcoin Foundation draws its funds from individual and corporate membership fees that are no paid in Bitcoin. Individuals pay about US$25 (about RM91) annually, while corporations contribute around US$1,000 (about RM3,600). At the end of 2013, the Foundation had some US$4.7 million (about RM17 million) in assets; although it has not released its accounts for 2014 yet.
Where the money went is unknown, but it looks like the Bitcoin Foundation will be just another cyrptocurrency related institution that fell due to mismanagement. Some comments are saying that the Foundation is beginning to look like just another startup that is full of people who are good with technology, but are too far out of their depth when it comes to business.
That being said, the idea behind Bitcoin – and other cryptocurrencies – is that there is no central committee or organisation directing it. This was meant to be a reaction to the centrally controlled and regulated nature of traditional currencies, and provide users with a safe, stable, and anonymous method of conducting transactions. It turns out lacking oversight and regulations might not actually be a good thing.