Ethereum Classic Collective board member resigns, withdraws funding support

By March 17, 2020Ethereum
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  • A board member of the Ethereum Classic Cooperative has resigned
  • The board member, James Wo, said his resignation is due to disagreement with the organization’s executive director Bob Summerwill
  • Ethereum Classic Cooperative is a Digital Currency Group-backed research organization focusing on the development of Etheruem Classic

A board member of Ethereum Classic Collective (ECC) announced today that he decided to leave his post at the nonprofit research organization that focuses on the Ethereum Classic Network.

"I regret to say that, as a matter of principle, I must resign from the Board, effective immediately, because of gross mismanagement. I have reluctantly concluded that the executive director, Bob Summerwill, lacks the integrity and judgment needed to build the organization," the board member James Wo wrote in a statement.

Wo, who is also the founder of another Ethereum Classic research group Ethereum Classic Labs, was one of the three board members of ECC, with the other two being Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert and Cody Burns, a long-term Ethereum core supporter and manager of blockchain architecture at Accenture.

Besides resigning from the board, Wo will also discontinue the financial support to ECC in 2019 and 2020, although he claimed he "provided significant funding" in 2018, per the statement.

”James quitting ECC [will have a] big impact. He's one of the few strong supporters after ETC went quiet after 2017," said China-based ETC community member Chao Du.

"The Asia-side is mainly supported by James. The America side is mainly Terry promoting some cooperation with Ethereum," Chao continued, referring to Ethereum Classic Labs CEO Terry Culver.

Summerwill did not respond to The Block's request for comment by press time.

The allegations

Wo said that his resignation is solely due to what he alleged as incompetence and mismanagement on the part of Summerwill. In the statement, Wo accused Summerwill of nepotism, failing to meet the basic goal of expanding the ECC funding, pursuing a personal agenda at the organization’s expenses, among other things.

"There is a lack of transparency about the budget, operations, and programs. There is consistent mismanagement of finances, including funding for pet projects that have little value, and constant travel expenses that seem more personal than professional," Wo wrote.

Among the allegations outlined in the statement, Wo noted that Summerwill's supporting for shift the existing Proof-of-Work mining algorithm Ethhash to SHA3 as an example of him pursuing a personal objective, which, in this case, is to do the opposite of Ethereum regardless of the consequences.

Summerwill is said to continuously push for this shift even though the community did not reach an agreement on it during a discussion in November last year. Based on a screenshot Summerwill sent to a group chat titled #Core in February and reviewed by The Block, Summerwill described the next hard fork as including the SHA3 proposal, although Wo said this proposal was not discussed nor agreed upon.

Transparency?

Meanwhile, Summerwill has allegedly not provided Wo or the board with any financial reports. Nonprofit organizations in the U.S. are required by laws to file Form 990 to the Internal Revenue Service to maintain its tax exemption status.

ECC filed the form for 2018 and Wo said this is the only report available to him. However, ECC did publish mid-year and end-of-year reviews for 2018 that stated that its had $530,000 in cash at the end of 2018.

In January, Grayscale Investments, a subsidiary of DCG, announced that it will extend its financial support for ECC for another two years. Since 2017, the firm has donated around $1 million to the organization. In the latter half of 2018, the firm donated $250,000, with 15,000 ETC registered as other contributions, according to ECC's end of year report for 2018.

It is unclear whether some of the 15,000 ETC is Wo’s contribution, as he stated that he “provided significant funding to the ECC in 2018 and was prepared to do so in 2019-2020."

Meanwhile, ECC promised to publish a full-year transparency report for 2019 by March 2020 when the Grayscale announcement was made, although the report cannot be found on the ECC website.

"I don’t make this decision lightly. I respect Bob's experience. But I cannot, in good conscience, continue to be associated with an organization whose executive director divides our community, lacks integrity, and is only looking out for himself. The Coop needs an experienced and professional leader who can collaborate with others," Wo wrote.

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The board member, James Wo, said his resignation is due to disagreement with the organization’s executive director Bob Summerwill […]

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