Mark Radcliffe
Oct 10, 2018 · 2 min read

I think that this post (and his prior posts) raise one of the most important issues in making blockchain successful today: governance. I believe that the current system of governance for public blockchains makes it very difficult to have enterprises adopt such blockchains for critical infrastructure because many stakeholders cannot participate in major decisions about the future of the blockchain. I don’t doubt the goodwill of the core developers, but it is difficult for them to know, much less respond, to the concerns of the other stakeholders, especially the users. Consequently, I think that Vlad is right that the blockchain community needs to examine governance and how to improve it.

However, I think that he missed a major alternative for governance which is particularly well suited to governance of blockchain communities: open source software foundations. Most major open source projects, such as Linux, OpenStack and Eclipse, are run by foundations which provide structured decision making and representation for all of the community stakeholders. Such foundations are quite different from the NGOs or international law. In fact, national laws are a much richer resource for entity governance than international governance. The traditional open source communities have many years of experience in managing communities which are focused on collaborative development (these communities are also quite varied: the governance of the Linux community and the Apache community are quite different). Both the OpenStack Foundation and the Linux Foundation were founded after their projects were already established and had to adapt to the way the community was operating. I am most familiar with the OpenStack Foundation because I drafted the formation documents of the foundation. The negotiation among the founding members (including IBM, ATT and HP) took months as we balanced the their interests with community’s interests. However, that time was well spent because the OpenStack community is vibrant and growing. The foundation was designed to “fit” the manner in which the community then operated and improve it. I think that the blockchain community should learn from the experience of their open source brethren.

    Mark Radcliffe

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    Mark Radcliffe is senior partner at DLA Piper. He assists companies in strategic intellectual property advice and venture financing. My opinions are my own.