A top funder for Ethereum Classic resigned this week from the board of the Ethereum Classic Cooperative (ECC) after accusing executive director Bob Summerwill of mismanagement in a damning public statement. Summerwill refuted the claims in comments to Decrypt.

James Wo, the founder of venture capital firm Digital Finance Group, joined the non-profit ETC Cooperative as a board member in 2018. ETC Cooperative’s stated purpose is to support the growth and development of the Ethereum Classic protocol. Wo’s statement claimed that he had witnessed “gross mismanagement” at the non-profit. 


“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,” wrote Wo. “Bob hired his fiancé as the accountant, a textbook example of nepotism.”

He further claimed that Summerwill had sown divisions within the Ethereum community: “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." Wo claimed Summerwill had referred to the Ethereum Foundation as a scam on Twitter. (Decrypt was unable to find such a reference, and Summerwill denied making it.)

Wo’s allegations also appeared in a paid press release on CoinTelegraph. (From whom isn’t clear.)  

For his part, Summerwill denied the accusations via correspondence with Decrypt. In reality, he said, “James was due to be removed from the board with cause at the [annual general meeting] which happened less than two hours later.” He provided an agenda of the meeting to that effect. At that meeting, blockchain engineer Elaine Ou, Grayscale Investments legal director Craig Salm, and ETCDEV advisor Roy Zou joined the board.

Summerwill addressed each accusation in turn. Pet projects and financial mismanagement, he said, probably referred to Summerwill’s overseeing of potential changes to the ETC hash algorithm. Said Summerwill, “It is a matter of primary concern and constant discussion. So we are funding work on implementation and testing, to [de-risk] that hypothesis.”

Constant travel expenses? Guilty, said Summerwill. This year, he had been to several Ethereum events, including ETHDenver and ETHCC. “We are tiny and one-on-one contacts are very important. Grassroots is the strategy. There is nothing unusual in that at all.”

And as for the nepotism charge, Summerwill said, “I declared our relationship at the time of her appointment. The board were all aware.” Moreover, he said, “Alison is not just ‘an accountant.’ She is a CPA and financial controller, with many years of relevant professional experience.”

Summerwill further pointed to a conflict of interests statement he has maintained since 2017, which details his finances, professional relationships, and compensated roles. It was last updated on February 29.



Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the Ethereum Classic Cooperative as the ETC Cooperative. We've also clarified that Bob Summerwill is the executive director of the cooperative, not Ethereum Classic.

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