The executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation plans to resign in two months but he will keep his membership in the organisation as an assistant or advisor.
The information about Fenton’s resignation was announced by the Bitcoin Core developer Jonas Schnelly, who wrote about it on his twitter. Later, Fenton confirmed it in a comment to Schnelly’s post, specifying that he has already notified the board about his decision.
Fenton became executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation in April 2015 being keen to optimise working process in the organisation. In an interview to CoinFox in April, Fenton admitted that
“...The Bitcoin Foundation has had its share of challenges but I see the organization being able to emerge from this stronger than ever. We are instituting many measures which will improve transparency and governance and many initiatives to help the bitcoin industry.”
The Bitcoin Foundation has faced various problems over the recent years. The most important of them was losing the trust of the bitcoin community, which resulted in a reduction of donation inflow. Furthermore, the Foundation lost a significant part of its funds due to financial mismanagement and high volatility of bitcoin price.
According to minutes from the board meeting on 20 October 2015, directors’ estimations were that they only had enough money to operate until March 2016.
“Yes, we need to do serious fundraising. There are not a lot of revenue sources because the industry has tightened their belt a bit. We only had two $1,000.00 sponsors for DevCore. We can’t do much more to cut expenses,” commented Fenton.
The Foundation’s monthly expenses were evaluated at the rate of $150,000, some financial decisions o its leaders facing tough critics from the bitcoin community. For example, the interim executive director Patrick Murck spent $12,000 on a workshop in London.
The financial situation even forced some directors to contribute their own money to keep the organisation afloat: Fenton, as well as Bobby Lee and Brock Pierce donated $10,000 each. Also, a bigger sum of $65,000 was transferred in April from BitClub on behalf of an anonymous miner.
In May, Fenton wrote a letter to Bitcoin Core devs calling them to reactivate collaboration with the Foundation. The letter leaked to the Internet and provoked a furious reaction among bitcoiners. Neither found it sympathy with Core developers as one of them, Peter Todd, told CoinDesk that the Bitcoin Foundation “hasn’t been an organization that people have wanted to be associated with and I personally would like to distance myself from it.”
Furthermore, the Foundation faced internal conflicts, as there were ideological divisions within the board of directors. In December 2015, Jim Harper and Olivier Janssens resigned from the board due to disagreements over the future of the group. They urged others to shut down the Foundation but were not supported by the rest of the board.
“They wanted everyone to start raising money, so they could come up with a plan. I said I'm not comfortable to raise money UNTIL we have a plan,” Janssens was quoted as writing in a Reddit trend.
Bitcoin Foundation was established in order to spread information and to intensify popularisation of bitcoin. The main declared objective of the Foundation was to promote the use of the cryptocurrency. The Foundation claimed to act as an intermediary between the bitcoin community and traditional industries, public and private organisations.