As the Bitcoin Foundation clearly needs change, its newly-elected executive director Bruce Fenton told Cointelegraph about his vision of most urgent issues that face the organization, including the lack of transparency, the image problem and the need to decentralize.
“[N]ow we have a very different foundation than we had when it started – it has fully 100% elected board and a new executive director[.]”
Cointelegraph: It's no secret the Foundation has an image problem both in the community and in the media. Are you worried about being its figurehead at this time?
Bruce Fenton: Well I think we have a fast growing space that is bound to have a lot of changes and a lot of turmoil, and I think it’s a part of the challenges that the Foundation has had in the past as a result of that.
But now we have a very different foundation than we had when it started – it has fully 100% elected board and a new executive director, and hopefully we can adapt, and overcome all these challenges, and become as effective as possible, to help Bitcoin ecosystem going forward.
“In some areas the Foundation can and should be more transparent.”
CT: Lack of transparency is one of the largest issues facing the foundation. How do you plan to address this?
BF: It matters a lot. I think it’s important clearly to a lot of people. I would really solicit people who are concerned to very concrete requests and questions that they have. In some areas the Foundation can and should be more transparent. In other areas we sacrifice the potential for privacy so there are some things that shouldn’t be there. Either way, we should be having that discussion within the community with all of the members and everybody else who is concerned.
“One of the things we can do is to focus on crowdfunding that enable the members of all interested parties fund or participate in individual projects that they have a specific interest in.“
CT: Do you plan to decentralize control? Some would argue that we don’t need a central authority for Bitcoin at all.
BF: Yea, it’s not needed. I think just because it’s not needed doesn’t mean it can’t be useful and helpful to all in Bitcoin ecosystem. We have a lot of organizations in our world, such as media and different groups, academic groups and so on who are used to interacting with centralized organizations so we can serve a value to those organizations interacting in a way that they are familiar with.
But I would like to decentralize the foundation more. One of the things we can do is to focus on crowdfunding that unable the members of all interested parties fund or participate in individual projects that they have a specific interest in.
CT: Do you intend to consolidate on Jon Mathonis' leadership style or take the Foundation in a different direction? What are your plans?
BF: First of all, I’d like to communicate with individual members, corporate members and the board and other stakeholders and really get a lot of feedback and see what are the best ideas for the way to make the foundation as beneficial as possible to Bitcoin.
So my role I viewed it as taking the feedback and doing my best I can to implement it on a day-to-day basis. So part of the first job that I have is reaching out and getting feedback and getting ideas and listening to suggestions that people have on the way to making the Foundation most effective.
“There’s a huge potential for crowdfunding and I think that the Foundation could serve as a semi-centralized organization in helping to shepherd some of these projects.”
CT: What are the biggest unmet needs/unheard cries of the community?
BF: I think that there’s a huge potential for crowdfunding and I think that the Foundation could serve as a semi-centralized organization in helping to shepherd some of these projects and work with some of the existing crowdfunding platforms out there to help identify opportunities for Bitcoin - ranging from education to advocacy to other areas and work as a focal point where people and organizations can participate as they see fit in areas that they see most interesting for their own goals and interests.
“[W]e should work as hard as possible to avoid regulation in this space.”
CT: What should the Foundation champion in terms of cryptocurrency regulation? For example if we take EU-wide or US-wide directives? As President of the Bitcoin Association, do you plan to develop entirely separate strategies for different jurisdictions? Is there room for overlap?
BF: My personal believe is that we should work as hard as possible to avoid regulation in this space. I think it’s very early and I would do everything that I can to communicate with the regulators and explain to them the benefits of letting this space have some breathing room to try to create jobs and do the other things that are good for the economy and good for the world without regulation.
CT: Has your attitude towards the BitLicense changed?
BF: I’ve been a very vocal critic of BitLicence ever since before it came about, and it turned out to be worse than many of us thought it would be in many ways. I think BitLicence is going to harm jobs and harm the economy of New York and I already see evidence that many of the movers in our space are either avoiding New York or pro-actively seeking a more business-friendly environment elsewhere and I don’t think that that fits into goals of most New Yorkers. So I would like to do everything that I can to try to avoid those regulations.
“A couple of decades back when the Internet was in its early days I attended to many very similar meetings to what I attend there now with the Bitcoin meetings.”
CT: Have you spoken to Mr. Ito at MIT about his offer to create a technical standards committee?
BF: No, I haven’t spoken to him.
CT: But do you plan to engage him in some way?
BF: Sure, I’d love to. My home is in Massachusets and I’m a big fan of MIT and have been attending meetings and conferences. A couple of decades back when the Internet was in its early days I attended to many very similar meetings to what I attend there now with the Bitcoin meetings. So yes, by all means MIT is a great place, and would be a great place to help Bitcoin, and I’ll always be interested in what’s going on there.
CT: How important for Bitcoin is the Rand Paul support. How do you think Rand Paul accepting BTC for his campaign would influence the price and consumer opinion of both Rand Paul and Bitcoin?
BF: I think it’s a great thing. Remember, it was only a very recent time ago that it was a big question about whether bitcoin was even legal to use, and I think that a major frontrunner presidential candidate publicly and openly accepting bitcoin really does a lot for that kind of publicity.
“[M]any people in Bitcoin are probably more likely to lean towards support a candidate like Rand Paul than perhaps other candidates in general.”
Now there’s no doubt that it is legal and he’s following the law and doing so-an-so. It’s one of the positive benefits. Another benefit is that by doing so he’s promoting Bitcoin and I also think it’s a nice thing politically because many people in Bitcoin are probably more likely to lean towards support a candidate like Rand Paul than perhaps other candidates in general.
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