Bruce Fenton is a well-known Bitcoin activist in the crypto community. The Managing Director and founder of Atlantic Financial Inc. and Boston Gulf Advisors Group, more recently Bruce has been voted into the Bitcoin Foundation as executive director.
He has big plans to revamp the foundation and bring some fiscal change. Cointelegraph previously briefly discussed with Bruce the realities of issues such as Ben Lawsky and the BitLicense scheme, but this time around we had a chance to have a more in-depth look at how Bruce aims to solidify the Bitcoin Foundation itself.
Cointelegraph: Can you give our readers a little background on why you wanted the position of executive director at the Bitcoin Foundation?
Bruce Fenton: I actually didn't want the position, it was something which was brought to me by board member Elizabeth Ploshay who suggested that I'd be a fit. I originally thought there was no way I could do it, but as I thought about it more and spoke with more people I decided I could help Bitcoin with this and decided to accept.
CT: What can we expect from your leadership in this position?
BF: A lot more transparency and member inclusion as well as continued solid governance models and a focus on simple, low cost, high payoff activities to help Bitcoin. Examples include things like the DevCore conferences and a speakers bureau.
CT: What is the Bitcoin Foundation to Bruce Fenton?
BF: To me personally it's an opportunity to fix something that, let's face it, has been pretty broken. As a business owner and investor I've always tried to look at the positives and the assets in a situation rather than the drawbacks.
What we have right now, today, with the Bitcoin Foundation is an organization in an exciting space that is well known, includes some of the leading members of the space, has run some of the best events and who has a lot of dedicated people who want it to succeed....that's better than we could have if we started from scratch. I'm optimistic about the future.
CT: Education is very important to integrate Bitcoin into the mainstream. Do you think the foundation will have a sizable role in the teaching and education of Bitcoin?
BF: Yes, it will be our main focus. We already have a strong education committee and in the near future will be releasing materials they have created and announcing other related initiatives.
CT: There has been a lot of controversy regarding the foundation. How do you think you can provide a more transparent foundation to the public?
BF: This week I announced that we aim to be among the very most transparent organizations in the world. For starters we will immediately work to meet all ten of the best practices for transparency listed by the National Council of Nonprofit Organizations and additionally we will do industry specific things like hash financial records on the Blockchain using Factom and continue using Consider-it for member feedback.
CT: Do you feel the recent criticisms of one of the board members of the foundation are valid or justified?
BF: It's not my place as an appointed Executive Director to comment or second guess the actions of board members but given the situation I will say that I think Oliviers criticisms were generally very valid. What I hope to see in the future is solid cooperation among board members and all of us cooperating with each other and the public in the way things are presented.
It's trivially easy to have an "old boy network" rubber stamp board where friends appoint friends and everyone always agrees. We've taken the harder road of having a 100% elected board with a variety of opinions. This can actually make for better decisions and healthier governance. I'm looking forward to it.
CT: The foundation is not funding the core developers as we speak, correct? Why is that?
BF: Yes this is correct. The reason is that it's a combination of financial realities and developer preferences. Gavin, who is remaining as Chief Scientist but who will now have his development work funded by MIT has publicly spoken about some of the drawbacks of community funded open source work where multiple people have expectations of developers because of donations. Even more relevant is the financial reality that the Bitcoin Foundation just didn't have the capital to fund developers under the model it was doing.
CT: Can you give an explanation of why you have announced the idea of removing Satoshi and non-active members from the foundation?
BF: In the original bylaws Satoshi was listed as a "founding member" since he or she never agreed to this I don't think it's accurate. Just as I can't legitimately say Satoshi co-founded my Bitcoin startup it's not accurate to say Satoshi co-founded the Bitcoin Foundation - so it's largely symbolic.
I'd most certainly support a board seat for Satoshi if he or she voluntarily comes forward and wanted one.
For the remaining founding members I'd move to remove the listing because the special voting rights were written to be phased out by December 2014 as the board elections occurred. We now have a 100% fully elected board and no founding member serves in any position.
Secondly, frankly I'd like to remove the founding member listings because I don't like that an organization I'm affiliated with has Mark Karpeles listed in a prominent place in the bylaws on page one. No leadership has anything to do with him and I'd rather see him deleted so we can move on just like Nasdaq has expunged most records of Bernie Maddoff once being its Chairman.
CT: You also have tweeted out a general message to "her" referring to Satoshi. Can you tell us why you did that? Do you expect to hear back from Satoshi?
BF: I think it's good to mix up the pronouns a bit, we need to encourage everyone to participate in Bitcoin - if I had said "he" it would not have raised any eyebrows but Satoshi is anonymous so certainly could be female. No, I don't expect to hear back but I'd love to.
CT: The foundation has recently used Swarm in the voting processes. Would you say you are an advocate of the use of swarm in future voting?
BF: I really like the idea of it but it had some bumpy execution and many people were not thrilled with the results so we had some negative feedback. I'd like to try to push the envelope on these kinds of tech - provided we do so for things which are not harmful.
CT: The Bitcoin Foundation is not Bitcoin. It has no control or influence of the code as it is open source, decentralized and completely independent from the foundation. Is that a correct assumption?
BF: That's exactly right and pretty much what I said in my speech the other day.
CT: What are the 'next steps' you plan on implementing within the Foundation?
BF: We need strong committees and passionate volunteers who care about Bitcoin and believe there is space for a non-profit to work on helping grow this ecosystem through education, events and adoption. The next steps are to collaborate and share ideas about how to make the Bitcoin Foundation as effective as it can be for Bitcoin.