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Olivier Janssens

The truth about the Bitcoin Foundation

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Isn't the current bitcoin died count at about 40 now? People who think that don't care or understand bitcoin, people who don't I suspect woudl not fear the foundation's non existance. If bitcoin is as fragile as to be really damaged by the views of badly informed journalists, we have a much bigger problem than the foundation disbanding.

 

I only have read enough articles that let bitcoin stay in a bad light. And the bitcoin price is going down anyway but such a message could lead a new crash again.

 

Only saying... im not the one who decides that. Only wanted to say that Bitcoin needs good advertising when we want it to be used by normal persons. IF POSSIBLE we might avoid bad ones. And if the foundation is only a name with some volunteers.

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Jarrad Hope    3

Thank-you for the transparency, the Foundation really should be member driven, what has always irked me since joining, is that the Foundation doesn't reflect the core principles of Bitcoin itself, instead it seems to operate like some representational democracy - so far the only value it's provided to me, is Spam emails from private messages of people wanting to be voted in as some chairman/chairwoman. My whole sum contribution to this Foundation, has been to delete these notifications and turn off email notifications in the forum. Not exactly the vision I had when joining.

 

I think the Foundations goals; funding core development, fostering constructive community and to do lobbying and PR on the behalf of Bitcoin, Bitcoin itself is relatively voiceless leaving the burden to startups to explain the technology and defend against accusations of illicit use-cases. Without this voice, the media more often than not takes an unfavourable stance against Bitcoin. Furthermore places like /r/bitcoin appear to have become negatively charged communities.

 

Apart from the funding of core development, the rest does not require alot of funding, just human capital and time.

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I agree with you Gavin. The membership should be involved with deciding the vision and direction now. That's also why I released this. I'm not ready for ED number 3 to decide in secrecy what will happen next. The board members forgot their mandate: to represent the actual members. In hindsight it's a very very good thing that people know the truth, cause it will allow for healing to happen (or closure if that's what they decide). This festering wound has been covered for way too long, and just replacing the ED again is not gonna cut it. We need the members to decide on the vision, and if they support that vision, on how we will get the funds to realize it. Patrick, your attempt at minimizing this won't work. We both know that the next ED was being selected in secret again and the financial situation of the Foundation was being hidden, in an attempt to still be able to get money. I don't know what the word is for that, but it seems very dishonest to me. And last time I did the math, we don't have any money left past this month. In regards to 50%, 90% was removed from payroll. Some of them staying as volunteer is something I mentioned in my post.

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Patrick Murck    130

Olivier, I'm not here to debate you on this but you said three inaccurate things:

 

1- We have over $100,000 USD in commitments including $75,000 worth of checks that I told you I would not cash because I didn't feel it was ethical given the restructuring and the posture of the new board members. Please don't accuse me of things that aren't true.

 

2- We have money past this month but it's urgent that we commit on a plan like the one the management team proposed at the last board meeting. In that plan we would engage the members on a new vision and do a search for a qualified ED. You want an org that is run without any ED, not my call I don't have a vote.

 

3- You are wrong on the 50%, 90% numbers. Not sure how else to say it, you simply have the numbers wrong. Happy to explain in detail offline since that involves sensitive HR information.

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Olivier, I'm not here to debate you on this but you said three inaccurate things:

 

1- We have over $100,000 USD in commitments including $75,000 worth of checks that I told you I would not cash because I didn't feel it was ethical given the restructuring and the posture of the new board members. Please don't accuse me of things that aren't true.

 

You mean it wasn't ethical because of the truth? Don't say it wasn't ethical because of the "posture" of the new board members, you can't be serious. And this is a great example of what I'm dealing with every day.. these subtle accusations and failing to take responsibility.

 

2- We have money past this month but it's urgent that we commit on a plan like the one the management team proposed at the last board meeting. In that plan we would engage the members on a new vision and do a search for a qualified ED. You want an org that is run without any ED, not my call I don't have a vote.

 

Engaging the members on a new vision that would be decided for them upfront. Which is wrong. You can't change the whole vision of the Foundation and present it as fact to your members. I'm not outspoken on ED or non-ED, I want members to be involved in whatever decision gets made.

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Jarrad Hope    3

100kUSD, 75k of which is uncashed cheques, so in other words, you have 25k, at crappy salaries you have enough to support 6 fulltime people, for one month.

 

Sounds best to dismantle whatever power structure there is, cut off all funding to everyone and see who sticks around to be volunteers. Those are the people you want.

Then see what positive impacts that body of people can do without spending anything.

 

Once you've learned to leverage minimal resources effectively, then you get to play with money.

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Patrick Murck    130

100kUSD, 75k of which is uncashed cheques, so in other words, you have 25k, at crappy salaries you have enough to support 6 fulltime people, for one month.

 

 

You misunderstood, $75,000 in checks to the Foundation. Over $100,000 USD in accounts receivable.

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Patrick Murck    130

Olivier I'm not going to respond to your trolling and false accusations. Enjoy your moment in the spotlight.

 

Please try to not destroy the people who worked hard and sacrificed so much, you remember the people you were just calling the "foundation of the Foundation". I understand you are unhappy with the direction of the Foundation and the focus on core dev, turning it into personal attacks on me and others is not called for.

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Enjoy your moment in the spotlight.

 

If you think I enjoy what I'm doing, you are sorely mistaken. I'm doing it cause everyone else failed to do so. This is no walk in the park for me. But I'll take it, cause I feel morally obligated to do so.

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Guys... its like everywhere in bitcoin land... facts on the table. If scam accusations come in on BCT then facts have to come. If an escrow transaction goes wrong then everyone taking part has to work on giving all the needed info.

 

So its unavoidable to give out all the info and make it public. Its public property from the start. The foundation is no company with company secrets that has to be protected. I think it shouldnt be that hard to do.

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jonny    1

It is unfortunate that the foundation appears to have run out of funds, which appears to be caused by a lack of trust from potential donors. As a member I would recommend the board to take the following actions to try and resolve the situation and restore much needed confidence:

  1. We keep the foundation, it is clear we need some sort of organisation; therefore we might as well keep the one we have.
  2. Gavin, Bobby, Meyer, Brock and Elizabeth should offer to resign from the board. Oliver and Jim should retain their seats. This should be followed by an immediate election for three new board members from the individual members of the foundation, making a new five person board. The resigning members should be free to stand again if they wish.
  3. All existing financial obligations should be settled, if possible. The remaining funds should be transferred to a multisignature wallet controlled by the board. The details of the wallet should be made public, for maximum transparency.
  4. It is clear that an important part of the foundations objectives should be to pay the salaries of Gavin, Cory, Sergio and Wladimir. These four individuals should all publish a bitcoin address to which all of their remuneration from the foundation will be paid.
  5. Members should them be encouraged to contribute to a fund, that will only finance the salaries of these four individuals. One should be able to fully verify that all donations are either in the fund’s wallet or have been forwarded to the developers. The level of the salaries should be determined by the foundation board. Adding a new developer should require authorisation from the foundation members.
  6. A separate donation wallet could be set up for other activities, which members could freely donate to if they wish. These other activities could include the salaries of any non-core developers, conferences, lobbying, education programmes or anything.

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So, members: what DO you want the role of the Foundation to be going forward? I had an idealistic vision of the Foundation being a member-driven organization, but that never happened.

 

 

This is a significant part of the problem... even though the Board has provided mechanisms (such as Committees) for members to contribute through, I think there are more ways that the Board could connect the membership and the public through its website to result in the overall effect of having a truly member-driven organization, which is why I have spent time communicating with Patrick and the Board about the necessity for microsites on the Foundation website that would help direct members (and the public) to committee pages and areas where they could find out about how to contribute their time and effort to Foundation projects. (Prior to Olivier's first Board meeting, I brought up the importance of this with him as well.)

 

Also, to the point of Patrick Murck and the statement regarding him being gone in two weeks... I haven't heard of this until Olivier's post, but I don't think removing Patrick and installing a new Exec Director solves any problems regardless whether or not you agree with what Patrick has done as a Director. [Maybe the bigger question, what does the Foundation have in the way of funds it can actually allocate to staff, what are its nonprofit operating reserves, and so forth, and where can we go to see the detailed current figures? (Please, if someone's reading this... don't point me to the most current 'Short Form Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax' filed with the IRS. I think the Foundation can provide members and the public with more (and easier to read) information than that, hopefully also in a way which clarifies what sort of things the funds the organization has, and what those funds are specifically being applied to support.) At the root this is a transparency question; we haven't known at any time if the Foundation staffing levels are sustainable because we aren't able to see what their figures are in fact.] There are deeper issues at work here, namely, the problems with the Foundation not being able to effectively tap into what its membership has to offer, the funding as well (issues relating to funding have been alluded to by Dima prior to the elections and by Olivier at this time, but I would like to see some more clarity as to the numbers), and responsiveness of the Foundation Board - many requests by the members of the Foundation for the Board have been languishing for many months without either consideration or an up or down vote by the Board; this in turn makes members consider that perhaps that their contributions are not valued. Of course, the transparency piece on this is critical, if new Board members have been stymied or frustrated in their initial attempts on things like recording of meetings or timely publication of minutes, it's difficult to see how the responsiveness piece can be substantially improved, as well. And such observations tend to decrease confidence in an organization even if members really love and are dedicated to what it is about. But getting back to what Gavin is asking of us...

 

Now would be a good time for you, the membership, to make me proud and come together and figure out a vision for the Foundation moving forward. What do you want to do, and how will that get paid for? "The Foundation will support core development" vision didn't work; I took a couple of weeks off from doing technical work to meet with people capable of funding that vision and it very quickly became clear most "deep pockets" don't trust that the Foundation would stick to that vision(...)

 

I think Gavin kind of hits the nail on the head with these questions. The tough part of it is, assuming a vision can be developed (or let's say, roughly drafted) here, will the Board timely act to adopt it? There are currently three pending requests for changes to the Bylaws and those have been awaiting Board action for (depending on the request you are looking at) either five or six months; longer if you count any issue development prior to and associated with a pull request (if you count the "issue time," then it's half a year to seven months, and still no Board decision).

 

So I'll break this down into two questions;

 

1) What is the vision we want as members?

 

2) Should we rely upon the Board to adopt that vision, or should there be some other sort of implementation that does not rely upon waiting for the Board to formally adopt it?

 

Note that I haven't posed my own answers to these questions yet, I'm just posing what I think are logical questions to hopefully present some additional framing.

 

Finally, I'll note that this notion of "The Foundation will support core development" as a simple, short vision statement doesn't necessarily mean, that we must have the "deep pockets" that Gavin mentioned. TL;DR read on this is, a decentralized version of supporting bitcoin development (Lighthouse and other similar methods) isn't going to provide the same sort of funding that you would get from the more traditional, old school deep pockets, big-grantors sort of approach, but my read on this is as methods are refined over time, a hybridization of funding approaches (e.g. standard fundraising routines plus decentralized crowdfunding which essentially removes or partially removes the institution) will result in less money "from the Foundation," and a more balanced method that involves more people... and I think that may actually provide a better end result. I'm not in agreement that the end result should be raising large sums, but that instead on principle we should have a decentralized result that reduces reliance upon institution(s) generally. (Note that I have experience in successfully getting grants both in the US and internationally, so I make this comment with the caveat that shifts in strategy for funding for many nonprofits require an analysis of how one will rely (or not rely) upon more traditional grant seeking approaches.)

 

That's my short response... my much longer response is shown here (it was written quite a while ago, in sort of a foretelling, I suppose). It's a long and technical thread (back and forth with Gavin) but does reference various possible decentralized funding methods. However, if my long posts make your eyes hurt, fair warning, you may wish to avoid.

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The way this announcement came about is destructive and reckless and certainly surprising coming from a member of the board. I hope the original poster found this worthwhile as nobody in their right mind will ever want someone serving on their board or being part of an organization if there exists a reputation of announcing dirty laundry at the first sign of hardship... in the reddit peanut gallery no less... gross. Also, the post mentions bankruptcy? Really? Although I don't have the balance sheet, it doesn't seem like the foundation has creditors making capital calls forcing it into insolvency. Unless there is more information, this is simply not whistle-blowing but self serving shenanigans.

 

Anyway, this news still makes me sad as one of the foundation's earliest members. What makes it worse is that I thought the foundation was doing a lot better and was cash flow positive, given this blog post -> https://blog.bitcoin...ing-the-corner/

 

What happened?

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I figured I'd add my unsolicited two cents to this conversation. First, let's be students of history and acknowledge where the foundation came from. It was established by a Valley entrepreneur and unified at the time some of the largest business interests in the space alongside the chief dev of Bitcoin. There wasn't a lot (if any) effort invested in building bridges, determining what the community needed the most, or focus on education. Instead it seemed at best a business group, at worst a way to make backroom deals like the MtGox Coinlabs affair.

 

Second, the foundation has now experienced several changes in management without any clear guidance for what its purpose and vision should be. Again, no effort was made during any of these transitions to focus on what the community would like or to build the necessary infrastructure to increase their participation. In terms of money, it's no surprise the foundation was doing well for some time considering it was accepting membership and sponsorship fees when bitcoin was at 10-100 dollars a coin. It's pretty easy to look smart when your investment suddenly appreciates by 100x. It's also pretty easy to do stupid things. Thus I'm not surprised by the revelation of near bankruptcy.

 

Third, why is anyone honestly surprised by this conduct? We are human beings in a very grey area, highly global space. The whole point of cryptocurrencies is to trust the math not the people. A not for profit, American based foundation is no more representing bitcoin than Blockstream, Bitpay, or Gavin does. It's a decentralized movement that no one owns or controls. If we want a better foundation, then first we need to abandon this idiotic bitcoin maximalism and recognize that the altcoin space has real innovators and great ideas. Then we need to build a DAO that is totally open, transparent, and incorporates a publicly auditable treasury. Innovations here can eventually lead to a better mechanism for paying the core developers of any altcoin much less bitcoin itself without the enormous conflict of interests we are currently seeing with for profit companies "being generous" by hiring core developers. Sorry no one abandons their self-interest. Don't support or invest in systems that require this to function properly.

 

And finally, if you want a community mandate behind any organization, then you have to actually invest time and money in asking them what they want, building consensus, and having the patience to LISTEN. The foundation has never listened to the community and that's why it's so hated. No amount of DevCores or listing of KPIs will change this basic reality.

 

And

 

Olivier I'm not going to respond to your trolling and false accusations. Enjoy your moment in the spotlight.

 

Is a prime example of not listening. I'm sorry you don't like what he has to say, but where the hell did you get the moral high ground here? Was it with the millions wasted? The two board members who had to resign in disgrace? The backroom deals? The 20 percent participation elections? Jesus people learn how to lead.

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Dan Plante    147

If you want to change the world for the better, never ask the world for permission because it doesn't ever want to change. Just do it.

 

Nakamoto changed the world. He saw a problem, devised a solution, then dumped it on us. The world has been going crazy ever since, and TBF and various other shirt tail riders literally owe their existence to that insight and defiance.

 

Understanding, ethics, a lot of work and a huge nut sack.

 

Olivier seems to be 4 for 4 including the giant nut sack.

 

Any contrary comment on this issue is just self serving noise, doomed to not be remembered by anybody.

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We followed Robert’s rules of orders, and everyone else basically shut us down and failed to follow procedures.

 

Everyone else = who exactly?

 

- Jim Harper was threatened for doing a press release which was (barely) critical of the Foundation after he got elected. The Foundation tries to make sure we hide the truth by subtly threatening us on a regular basis.

 

Who is threatening you and Jim? How are they threatening you? (I'd also like to know if Jim agrees that you were threatened or if that's just how you describe it)

 

+1 for the request to release all for information.

 

I had an idealistic vision of the Foundation being a member-driven organization, but that never happened. Now would be a good time for you, the membership, to make me proud and come together and figure out a vision for the Foundation moving forward. What do you want to do, and how will that get paid for?

 

A member-driven organization sounds good, but it's difficult to get people and businesses to join as long as most people who are representing the Bitcoin Foundation are unavailable and there's a lack of transparency.

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Olivier,

 

I propose creating an organization to fund basic research in decentralized consensus networks, cryptoledgers, p2p payment systems, etc... But let's make this organization completely currency-neutral.

 

I do not think you can have an organization focused on basic research of this stuff that isn't currency-neutral. If its interests are in seeing one particular cryptocurrency rise or fall in value the organization's focus will quickly become profiting from currency speculation, pump and dumps, etc...It quickly leads to disastrous conflicts of interest and extreme myopia.

 

Let's face it - Bitcoin the currency is NOT what this revolution is really about.

 

I've worked productively with the developers on the payroll - they're good guys, talented guys - but let’s not kid ourselves…the Satoshi implementation of Bitcoin (and its evolution) is an experimental proof-of-concept for the PoW blockchain idea…it is NOT some sort of fundamental technological foundation - it is merely a rather barebones demonstration of what you can do with these ideas. All of the core devs are well aware of many serious issues that cannot be fixed without hard forks (i.e. https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Hardfork_Wishlist) as well as many features we cannot currently support in Bitcoin that we'd like to be able to support (i.e. https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/alt_ideas) - and these ideas are worth testing out.

 

Any institution worthy of being called a “Foundation” of this technological development needs to be funding basic research in decentralized consensus networks and cryptography, preferably using test tokens that ultimately are voided to allow developers to reset the network and try new things without worrying about people losing money due to forks, etc...(sorta like testnet, but not just one - many of them). Otherwise, I fear the Foundation actually does core technological development a disservice by disincentivizing exactly the kind of experimentation necessary to achieve breakthroughs. The Bitcoin Foundation was never positioned for anything like this - and the whole exercise was doomed to fail from day 1.

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The way this announcement came about is destructive and reckless and certainly surprising coming from a member of the board. I hope the original poster found this worthwhile as nobody in their right mind will ever want someone serving on their board or being part of an organization if there exists a reputation of announcing dirty laundry at the first sign of hardship... in the reddit peanut gallery no less... gross. Also, the post mentions bankruptcy? Really? Although I don't have the balance sheet, it doesn't seem like the foundation has creditors making capital calls forcing it into insolvency. Unless there is more information, this is simply not whistle-blowing but self serving shenanigans.

 

Um... everyone who wasnt inside thought things run pretty fine. So breaking this lack of intransparency of an organization from people for people is the right thing to do. There wouldnt be a reason to speak out things that others want to hide if there would have been transparency. So im not sure why you see this as dirty laundry. Its not as if its the private fight of some stupid persons. Its shedding light on the hiding of facts that should have been facts known to the public from the start. Because its something the public concerns and they have to know.

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G.J.Waldman    1

I recently joined and supported the bitcoin foundation by becoming a lifetime member when i heard the foundation was going to focus on supporting core development. I feel like i have been had now.

 

I fully support Olivier's and Jim's demand for full openness in the foundations affairs to its members

 

I now think the entire board, except Olivier and Jim, should be replaced or if this is not possible to shut the foundation down completely.

 

And for any fears regarding what this would do to the bitcoin price? It will recover. The foundation is not Bitcoin and now appears to be more harmful to Bitcoin if it remains unchanged.

 

Olivier thank you for standing up. Just let us know what we can do to make this happen.

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Mike Hayes    172

NOTE TO THE PRESS: The Bitcoin Foundation does not represent Bitcoin in any way. It has historically hired some Bitcoin developers, lobbyists and organized a conference.....

 

Note: I totally expect the current Board members to try to place blame on me for whatever reason. They are very bad at taking personal responsibility. I have had several threats, but I'm releasing this anyway.

 

Olivier

 

Link to reddit post http://www.reddit.co...oin_foundation/

This is a step forward. You are not the first person threatened. Do not trust this forum or those who "moderate it", mirror to reddit etc. Like many, I have zero to gain from the BT and much to gain from bitcoin and blockchain technologies.

 

On the "moving forward in a positive sense" topic I have mentioned numerous times that there was certainly a place for a trade organization that would organize and create a yearly trade show related to Bitcoin. Not the same as being in charge of core development, very different thing.

 

The fat lady hasn't sung yet, guys and gals.

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Mike Hayes    172

Um... everyone who wasnt inside thought things run pretty fine. So breaking this lack of intransparency of an organization from people for people is the right thing to do. There wouldnt be a reason to speak out things that others want to hide if there would have been transparency. So im not sure why you see this as dirty laundry. Its not as if its the private fight of some stupid persons. Its shedding light on the hiding of facts that should have been facts known to the public from the start. Because its something the public concerns and they have to know.

This is not true. I have mentioned several times that a simple ... three minute look at the last tax return and some estimates of monthly cash flow, values of bitcoin and so forth showed a near terminal financial condition. Granted this is the first time it's been admitted by the board.

 

This conversation, in this thread, but also between individuals and on platforms of trust such as reddit and bitcointalk - in a very real sense, it is the first discussion, not the last.

 

What is said and worked out now has meaning, and will have consequences. Understand that what is happening now is not the problem, but the solution to the problem that has been existent. So ease off on the tempers, the personal attacks, and think and plan carefully.

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Mike Hayes    172

The way this announcement came about is destructive and reckless and certainly surprising coming from a member of the board. I hope the original poster found this worthwhile as nobody in their right mind will ever want someone serving on their board or being part of an organization if there exists a reputation of announcing dirty laundry at the first sign of hardship... ....

 

Actually I expect the majority of the Board are, after some initial convulsions, going to figure out this is a pretty good thing. This is not the first sign of hardship, John. This entire problem has been festering under the table for at least a year and some months.

 

And the usual result of discovery of some dirty laundry is it gets tossed in the washer.

 

:)

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