New Bitcoin Foundation Leader Gets Community Feedback

Incoming Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director Bruce Fenton sought new ideas for improving the foundation’s support of Bitcoin this week at ZapChain and the Bitcoin subreddit.

Boy, did he get an earful.

Commenters demanded transparency first and foremost, especially financial transparency.

“I think until/unless you operate in a more public manner, the foundation will just be another shady organization,” said one ZapChain commenter.

In an exclusive CoinBuzz interview, Fenton offered no specific timeline for releasing the foundation’s historical financial reports.

“I’d like to see the IRS form 990 for the last three years released as soon as possible,” Fenton said.  “I don’t know how long this will take.”

Fenton, whose position is part-time and unpaid with no specific weekly time commitment, admits that the foundation is operating “under budget constraints” and avoided a question about whether he has the resources necessary to ensure transparency.

A sizable contingent of commenters questioned the continued need for the Bitcoin Foundation but Fenton insisted, “We are here to stay.”

“Bitcoin doesn’t need the Bitcoin Foundation,” said one redditor. “The only value I see is the money it has to fund core developers.”

“I believe the Bitcoin Foundation can be a great force for good for Bitcoin,” Fenton said in the CoinBuzz interview.  “We have a who’s who of individual and corporate members and massive potential.”

Other complaints included a lack of support by bitcoin companies for Bitcoin core development, the perceived foundation posture of appeasement towards governmental regulatory initiatives and consumer protection.

“We need to figure out as an industry how to build some consumer protections into the use of bitcoin or we as an industry can’t succeed,” said a ZapChain commenter.

Fenton on Regulation

“I will encourage the Bitcoin Foundation to educate regulators and encourage technical solutions to their concerns over regulation. I hope some other organization works to actively fight the most harmful of regulations.”

Fenton on Politics

“I don’t view the Bitcoin Foundation as a political organization or to move forward an agenda. I’d like it to be a big tent.”

Fenton on the Promotion of Bitcoin

“The best way is to use it. For every purchase you are about to make, see if you can use Bitcoin. You can always replenish your coins.”

Fenton was named head of the Bitcoin Foundation earlier this week. He takes over an organization marked by controversy and plagued by as yet unspecified financial concerns.

Its founding members include Charlie Shrem, who is currently serving a prison sentence for money laundering, and Mark Karpeles who is widely blamed for the collapse of the the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, MtGox.

Correction: The IRS forms in question are 990s and the 2012 and 2013 versions are available on the foundation website.