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Patrick Murck: The Future Of The Bitcoin Foundation

10 Nov 2014

Patrick Murck was appointed as Executive Director of the Bitcoin Foundation at the start of November. Murck started his tenure stating his aim to be, “authentic in how we interact with the community in the future and I hope that you all get to know the people who work hard to make the Foundation go.”

Murck Quote 1

The Bitcoin Foundation, started in 2012, has three stated goals. Standardize, Protect and Promote. Recently appointed Executive Director, Patrick Murck, outlined his goals for the foundation moving forward:

  • Focus the Foundation around technical standards and the Bitcoin Core reference implementation of bitcoin. This includes developing a more formal technical standards approach to bitcoin development.
  • Creating a better member experience for our supporters. Being more transparent in what we do and engaging in a dialog about our priorities.
  • Developing a sustainable business model so that bitcoin’s development isn’t at the mercy of bitcoin price swings. This should also help align the Foundation’s future with the value it is providing to the community.”

Focusing on "engaging in dialog", Murck invited questions from the Bitcoin community, on the 5th November, in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on the popular website Reddit. During the AMA, Murck covered several key topics he intends to work on while on the Board. He described the Foundations structure, saying:

“When we started the Foundation we wanted to make sure that we could go fast and build something, that meant appointing an initial Board largely from the founders." The Board has recently amended the Foundations by-laws to remove the Founding Member’s board seat. All the appointed board member terms are expiring at the end of this year, the Foundation will then have a fully elected board with no founder influence, "We would have been well served by moving to a fully elected board sooner rather than later.”

“The Foundation operates as a distributed team. We don’t really have any offices (except in London). We have team members in the UK, Europe, and the US and one team member who could be anywhere (I think Mexico right now).”

He describes the “primary focus moving forward” during his term in office as “Providing resources and opportunities for people to build out the bitcoin network”

“You should start seeing more of the Foundation team interacting here and other places. Part of transparency is knowing who you’re dealing with at the Foundation and that we’re people not some cold monolith.”

Using the handle, ‘virtuallylaw’, Murck was asked over 50 questions on Reddit. A common theme was financial transparency within the Foundation:

“If there are ways to be more transparent in our finances using the blockchain whereby we aren’t violating our members privacy then I’m certainly open to that. My understanding is that we’ve investigated the possibility and it isn’t possible to strike that balance in an appropriate way right now.”

When asked to clarify why auditing, specifically proof of reserve, had not been implemented he replied,

“proof of reserve is a technique for exchanges who have custody of consumer funds to prove their solvency (ie that if I put 100 btc into a Kraken account I know they still have 100 btc available for me to withdraw). We don’t hold money in custody for anyone so proof of reserve, strictly speaking, isn’t applicable.”

Many in the community feel that financial transparency should be the key focus for a foundation promoting a technological solution that embodies transparency from the ground up.

“I think a proof of reserve audit to show that the bitcoins raised by foundation are accounted for should be a requirement moving forward before anyone in this community can take the foundation seriously. [The Bitcoin Foundation] should be the open, model of a transparent Bitcoin organization. It should be the example to follow. That’s not what it is today.”, says tenthirtyone1031

Murck goes on to explain, “I’m not keen on leaking information on blockchain transactions generally. I’m also not keen on setting a precedent here that every time you come up with a conspiracy theory (and if I know you there will always be more) I have to violate the trust of our members.” He later explained the future financial reporting structure of the Foundation, “We are putting together an Annual Report that will give a clear picture on assets, revenue and burn rate.”

Murck has had, "plenty of discussions with State regulators" and when asked about the US political environment and US regulation Murck provided the opinion:

”I’ve found that bitcoin plays well with both political parties in US. Sometimes for different reasons. For us the strategy is to be a resource on the technical rules that govern bitcoin and the social contract that allows the bitcoin network to regulate itself. We can be that resource for politicians or other groups and associations doing work on the ground. For a lot of the traditional financial companies (banks and other investors on Wall Street), regulation is seen as validation. Whether you agree with that or not, some level of appropriate regulation will bring in new participants to the bitcoin ecosystem and seems inevitable. Keeping that regulation sane and focused on actual risks is important.”

He goes on to clarify, “What State regulators seem most concerned with is consumer protection and what happens if the citizens they are charged to protect lose their life savings in a bitcoin exchange meltdown. I think they would love to hear constructive thoughts on how they can do their job without getting in the way.

Although not all questions were answered by Murck, those he did were thorough. With a focus on many aspects of the Bitcoin community he expressed his thoughts and approach in an eloquent manner. Murck provided a poignant response when asked his main concern,

“the community pulling itself apart before bitcoin reaches a tipping point in adoption.”

B.Holmes, author of The Range of Illusion and The Private Key installments, is currently located in Thailand, researching and writing about crypto. You can follow B.Holmes on twitter @BanteringB, or contact via email: [email protected]


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