New Bitcoin Foundation chief eyes crowdfunding

A former Morgan Stanley stockbroker, Bruce Fenton says the foundation could run on a surplus budget

The newly appointed head of the Bitcoin Foundation, a group that promotes development of the digital currency, believes crowdfunding is one part of the solution for its troubled finances.

A one-time Morgan Stanley stockbroker, investment advisor Bruce Fenton was appointed executive director based on a vote of five ayes to one abstention by the group's board of directors, the foundation wrote on its blog. He replaces Patrick Murck, who was interim executive director.

The move follows an admission by the foundation that it faces large financial problems linked to the drop in the value of its bitcoin holdings. It rejected board member Olivier Janssens' claim that it is effectively bankrupt.

"I'm confident that we can run a lean and effective foundation and run at a budget surplus by using our resources carefully," Fenton said via email, adding he has not had a chance to review the foundation's assets in detail yet.

"I'd also like to see us use more decentralized tools like crowdfunding," Fenton said. Crowdfunding can be a creative way for members to support the projects they care about, he added.

He also stressed the need for feedback and engagement from corporate and individual members of the foundation.

Fenton, founder of investment firm Atlantic Financial in Massachusetts, worked at Morgan Stanley in the 1990s, specialising in emerging technologies. He is a member of the Bitcoin Association, another bitcoin promotion group, and has organized the Dubai Bitcoin Conference and advised bitcoin startups.

Fenton takes the helm of an organization marked by controversy. Among its founding members are Charlie Shrem, who pleaded guilty to transmitting money linked to the Silk Road online drugs site, and Mark Karpeles, who presided over the collapse of MtGox, once the world's largest trading place for bitcoin. Board members have quit in frustration or spoken out against the foundation.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

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