Mismanagement at Ethereum Classic Cooperative

In 2018, I became a board member of the Ethereum Classic Cooperative. I believe in the mission. I am proud to help start and support an organization committed to building the ETC community.

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 judgement needed to build the organization. His time at the Coop has been characterized by chaos, incompetence, and financial mismanagement.

My company provides a great amount of funding for the Ethereum Classic community through grants, early-stage investments, direct funding for developers, and donations. I have met many talented and collaborative teams and organizations. I have built partnerships across the globe and communities, and I am committed to playing a positive role in developing blockchain technology. 

However, Bob’s behavior has been troubling. 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. Bob hired his fiancé as the accountant, a textbook example of nepotism. That, combined with the opaque finances, raises a red flag that needs to be addressed. 

Bob has failed to meet the basic fundraising goals. The budget has shriveled. There are fewer donors now than when Bob started. He has antagonized partners and failed to find new ones. For full disclosure, I provided significant funding to the ECC in 2018 and was prepared to do so in 2019-2020. But Bob made this impossible by attacking us and our partners repeatedly and publicly, while seeking funding from us privately. 

In a nutshell, Bob is not living up to his word.  

Most troubling is that Bob pursues a personal agenda at the expense of the organization. He professes anti-tribalism, but uses the Cooperative to settle old scores with Ethereum, to bully those who disagree with him, or to jam through dubious technical changes without community consensus. As an example, he published a series of irrational tweets in October criticizing the Ethereum Foundation and calling it “a scam.” He publicly apologized at my urging, but about 1 month later, he re-published the same attack. We see these kinds of vindictive, apology-non-apology, hard-headed assaults from Bob on a regular basis. This behavior alienates developers, community members, and partners alike. Sadly, the person leading the Cooperative is unable to cooperate. 

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. It is a tiny, 3-person operation, that needs partners in order to be effective.

Thankfully, there are other organizations and partners in the Ethereum Classic community with resources and true expertise, such as the ETC Core Development Team, which manages ETC’s development roadmap; and ETC Labs which is building a vibrant and inclusive ecosystem. Also, there are many partners we are collaborating with to make ETC stronger, such as Chainsafe, Gitcoin, Chainlink, and Whiteblock, among others. I will continue to collaborate with these and other constructive organizations.  

Published by James Wo

James Wo, CEO and Founder is an experienced investor and entrepreneur in blockchain technology and digital assets; delivering a 200% return on investment in less than 2 years. In 2015, James founded the Digital Finance Group where he oversees a hedge fund that is largely outperforming the market, and a VC portfolio that includes Brave, Ledger X, Circle and more currently valued at $253M. In 2018 James founded ETC Labs, a program dedicated to accelerating the development of Ethereum Classic and supporting blockchain startups. Additionally, he manages one subsidiary named Matrix, a regulated spot exchange holding IPA license issued by Abu Dhabi (ADGM). He speaks internationally on blockchain technologies, digital assets and trends as well as Ethereum Classic, investing and entrepreneurship. Most recently, he’s spoken at Blockshow, Vegas Blockchain Week and ETC Summit. His work with DFG and ETC Labs has been featured on the Bloomberg Radio, Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, CoinDesk, Decrypt, CryptoCoin Show and more. James earned his B.A. from Fudan University and an M.A. in statistics from Columbia University and currently resides in Shanghai, China.

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