The Bitcoin Foundation, a nonprofit group created to promote the use and future of bitcoins, has announced the results of voting for its two open board member seats that became vacate with the resignation of Charlie Shrem and Mark Karpeles earlier this year. Taking the top two spots in the runoff election are BTC China CEO Bobby Lee and bitcoin startup investor Brock Pierce. The two beat out Gyft CEO Vinny Lingham who was narrowly beaten out by Pierce.
The results though have come with controversy amid existing foundation members opposing Pierce’s ascension to the board. A serial entrepreneur, Pierce is active in the Los Angeles bitcoin and startup community with his involvement with BitAngels and investments in GoCoin, KnCMiner, and Robocoin Asia. However, many members are at odds with his connections to convicted sex offender Marc Collins-Rector, who Pierce worked with at Digital Entertainment Network (Den.com) in the early 2000’s. Along with Collins-Rector, Pierce was accused in 2002 of rape and death threats, but was never charged.
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In protest of the Foundation voting results, it has led to members announcing on the foundation’s blog their intentions to quit membership unless Pierce is removed from the board. Although Pierce has never been charged, many members prefer a slate of board members without external baggage that could tarnish the overall efforts the Foundation is striving to achieve and keep focus on advancing the future of bitcoins. The Foundation itself was accused of being quiet as MtGox was falling apart and hundreds of thousands of customer bitcoins was unaccounted for. In addition, while Shrem resigned shortly after being released from prison in order to help remove negative sentiment towards the Foundation, as a board member the episode created questions and whether outside dealings of members posed a conflict of interest and accountability.
With members hoping to remove scandals being attributed to the Foundation, Brock Pierce’s past and current connections are being cited as possible risks not worth the reward of his involvement on the board. As a result, a movement has begun on the Foundation’s forums of members ready to quit if Pierce doesn’t step down. Started by individual member Patrick Alexander who posted on the forum his reasons for leaving, his actions have been followed by other members. Among them includes Olivier Janssens, an early bitcoin adopter, who made headlines as the first to pay for a flight using bitcoins, as well as Stephen Sunderlin, President of QikCoin.