Update Kristof Van de Reck

I will start by saying I’m not participating in the election. I have decided a couple months ago that I don’t have the confidence that I can drive the required change in the foundation. I believe that even with a new council and ExCo the foundation will be faced with many challenges.

Since my interim presidency I have tried to fix numerous problems in the foundation but irrespective of the passion and energy I have put in I have to conclude that I failed to make a

substantial impact. There were occasions when I had more than suspicions that people were actively going against me even though I was always acting for the benefit of NEM.

I should mention that it was never the intention to act as interim president for such a long time but I was confronted with multiple problems leading to the delay in the elections.

I’m aware that many of you are disappointed in how the elections caused some issues which ultimately lead to the community asking for a POI based vote which unfortunately is not possible due to division in the council. The POI vote is a good example of what happened for multiple other decisions that had to be made. Seemingly obvious decisions either did not pass council approval or had little to no effect due to a lack of buy-in on a global level.

Most of the elections delay was caused by the membership issue. Those who followed how things developed in the past days have already received some information about that and probably wonder how all of this came about and why it took so long to resolve.

The keyword here is governance. Whatever decision was made now would have an impact not just for these elections but going forward.

Given how things turned out and how the foundation was set up I see POI as the only solution. This isn’t an opinion that recently developed but since I found out about the initial issues in the membership base.

On the other hand having a large group of voters automatically turns elections into a popularity contest which does not always result in the best governance outcome either.

When I followed up Lon Wong as interim president I was forced to continue on the course that was set for the foundation. A course that turned out to have many obstacles on its path. By saying this I certainly don’t want to put the blame in Lon’s shoes. We have to be aware that the landscape changed dramatically over the past two years and nobody would have expected things to go this fast.

Before I point out some of the problems that resulted in my decision not to participate in the election I would like to share my vision and why I believe the foundation should take a different approach.

First of all it’s important to look at where we are in the adoption curve. This is important in order to assess how much time we have left in order to get both the technology and the go to market strategy sorted out. Many of the problems are the result of opposing views with regards to the balance between speed and quality of execution.

There are a couple reasons why I believe real mainstream adoption is not about to happen in the next year and probably even longer.

We have to realise that most of us are influenced by the crypto space. We all read crypto media outlets, follow social media focussed on the crypto space etc. As a result, most of us are living in this crypto space bubble and fail to look beyond that to see how the world looks at blockchain which is quite different to how we do.

Blockchain as a technology is so disruptive that even though it has been around for quite a while the majority of people still have difficulties to envision how it will change our society as a whole. By that, I certainly don’t want to claim that I have it all figured out but I’m confident that we have not even scratched the surface of the disruption the technology will drive. It’s certainly more than dApps, fintech, supply chain and the other usual suspects. Blockchain will not only disrupt how businesses interact with each other and their customers but it will have a huge impact on society as a whole. The ability for individuals to take back ownership of their identity and data ( the digital gold ) will play a big role in this and is what motivates me to be in this space.

Contrary to some other people in the council I’m not of the opinion that we have to focus on fast growth in order to keep up with our competitors. We should certainly look at what other projects are doing and learn from that. An example is Consensys which is an interesting approach that seems to be quite effective for specific target groups. Even though the approach is different than what we are setting up with NEMsp, it also leverages on externalizing specific activities in order to be able to scale faster. Seeing

What we have to do is get ahead of our competitors and that requires a different approach than what NEM foundation has been doing.

One of the main issues in the foundation is that the majority of people working for the foundation lack fundamental in-depth understanding of the technology to be able to provide solid advice and provide insights that point out the advantage of using NEM compared to other technologies.

Upon the establishment of the foundation a choice was made to give regions a large amount of freedom and independence. I was never a fan of this approach and it proved to be a crucial mistake. As a result of this approach regions started to grow apart and are operating in silos. I identified this as an issue even before I became interim president. Therefore one of the first actions I took during my interim presidency was to setup working groups that were intended to break down the silos and start working on what should become the basis of a shared vision and approach. The working groups would let people from all regions work on specific topics to gather experience and ideas from all regions and use that to create a shared vision and approach.

Unfortunately there was not enough buy-in from most regions and this ultimately lead to the failure of the working groups (with the exception of the TECH working group which is still running).

Along with the regional independence, the foundation also lacks global organisation and management. In order to achieve this I believe it’s crucial to have a global executive layer that oversees the regions. This is something that I have proposed to the council but there never seemed to be an interest in that. Without a global executive layer and willingness of the regions to collaborate on a global scale it’s inevitable to see regions growing further apart. This leads to a lack of shared vision across different regions and ultimately fragmentation across teams.

Currently the council is (micro)managing the foundation due to a lack of global management team and policies/procedures. It’s impossible to get to a properly functioning organisation without more structure on a global level.

One of my biggest frustrations over the past half year has been to see how the majority of the regions was mainly focussed on marketing and community building. Growing teams that have little to no knowledge of the technology makes no sense. It may lead to a good lead generation ( which seems to be the primary KPI to some people ) but driving adoption requires more technical knowledge.

Our approach needs to change drastically overall. We can’t look at smart contract blockchains and copy their approach. NEM requires a different approach that starts with solutions rather than explaining our technology. Again this is a result of being too focused on what happens inside the crypto and blockchain space.

Another major issue is the culture that grew in the foundation.

Fueled by an increasing market cap last year it seems like some people lost touch with reality.

Along with that there was a lack of collaboration across regions. Some regions were developing resources ( e.g. training material ) but went out of their way to share these. It was ( is ) as if we are in competition rather than working for the same cause. The failure of the working groups is a testament of that.

Transparency is something that was not part of the culture of the foundation and although I should say that it’s something that I intended to improve it’s something that requires buy-in and effort. Since we had quite a number of conflicts in the council and as I was constantly trying to keep up with an increasing amount of issues in combination with a ridiculous amount of day to day involvement it was one of those things that unfortunately never really happened.

All of this doesn’t look good for the foundation, that’s something we have to acknowledge but success is not defined at times when everything goes well. Even if the foundation would fail it would not mean the failure of NEM. NEM is much more than the foundation.

Even though I’m not a candidate for the elections I’m still committed to help get NEM through this difficult period. After the election I will share everything with the new leadership and do whatever I can to help the new council and ExCo.

I’m also not planning on leaving NEM. Even though it may seem as if the CoE made little progress I should say that more progress was made than it appears. There is a basic plan for how to proceed and I will do whatever I can to help NEM go in the right direction.

I understand that much of this came as a shock to the community in the past weeks. At the same time these problems were there for quite some time and I should say that in the meantime some potential solutions developed too.


This is very disconcerting but it also answers a fundamental question for me. I always wondered why everyone seemed to think nem was better than other blockchains. This explains it perfectly, they just don’t understand the tech and hence fail to see it’s shortcomings.

I think to most that is not news. While it was never spelled out this way, I think the frustrations regarding awareness vs adoption are getting at exactly this issue.

Do you mean not share them ? I don’t see what’s negative about sharing that kind of material .?

The extent certainly was a shock to me. The fact that foundation has massive issues ? No, that was obvious.

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Yes, I know for a fact that some resources were intentionally not shared even though they could be useful to other regions. I have to admit that I don’t understand that attitude either. It seems some people prioritise regional competition over teamwork which is very disappointing.

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It should be grounds for letting those people go. I mean this isn’t just disappointing it’s straight-up counterproductive.


→ Agree that we have not yet scratched the surface and mainstream people still trying to figure out where the impact of change is going to be
As example in a company I am familiar with, there are plenty of Senior IT that cannot envision a use case for Blockchain as a product in their Industry, why ,cause blockchain still needs to settle in their thoughts and mind. They still need to sit down, do some research, do some coding and then the business relationship process links will be made eventually or when client start asking for it :wink:

→ Data is gold for sure and now the individual will have ability to control it, very exciting and liberating ! Data is a massive market and mainstream is also still getting use to this.

→ You raised and identifies some crucial points Kristof.
One can clearly see that you where correct in what is happening with regional silos and that a global executive layer is required to ensure alignment with vision and mission, to ensure there are conman goals to work towards.

→ Beautiful!! - “NEM requires a different approach that starts with solutions rather than explaining our technology”

@Xpedite , thanks for sharing Sir. Clearly you had a plan and something to work towards. No one said it was going to be easy and to step in as interim pres is always a tall task.
I looked forward to you being more vocal in the electronic channels, sadly it was not the case, but it is what it is and your letter clearly indicates you had focus, directions, purpose and an uphill battle.

Sad to see you leave the council.
It does seem that you entered in a resistance period, but you have plowed the fields and started to address major issues, when NEM starts to shine even brighter in the years to come, the general public might not think to acknowledge the past presidents, but due to experience in governance and management, I know that future success is also attributed due to the labor and effect of past members.
Thank you Sir and looking forward to NEM being a solution.

And now that you are stepping out of council, hopefully you have some more time to banter a bit in the comms channels :wink:


As a person that has been on EXCO, I can say that it is often more difficult of a job than one would think. Thanks for sharing and all your hard work. Glad to see that you will stick around even if you aren’t running.


Looking at my policy I feel I pinpointed your concerns.
I am sad you aren’t running for the ExCo or council, but I hope if elected we will work together to change the way Foundation works. If I would have to summarize what you’ve written, it would be: “More technology, less empty words”.

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I was convinced that you are the right person for NEM in this election.


That’s why I think the election of council makes no sense. Since we have decided to remove foundation non-profit status, it should be ran like one. The President/CEO should have dictatorship power just like all private organizations. Let him/her built his/her own team and fire people at will. I don’t see how most of the problem will be solved with this council election where they don’t all hold the same culture/attitude/agenda. The way I see it, the bickering will only get worse as they are “elected” by members, not appointed by the superior.

Hi Kristof,
I have to say that I’m surprised that you are not going to the elections. Of course I respect your decision and hope you can help NEM, same as you have been doing until now. We talked a few times, specially with the BD groups video meetings. I think you did a great job that not everybody in NF recognize and some people didn’t help.

Saying that let me share some personal though about your statement:

Agree 100%. Quick profits and lambos are a wall that we need to climb to see what’s beyond. Internet adoption and other technologies we are using now took years in become mainstrean.
Some NF regions approach strategy is quantity vs Quality, and yes maybe if you sign more MOUs you can get more chances, but the reality is the adoption is very low, specially in the public blockchain. We need a new strategy.

I want to share my personal experience with this particular point. After Lon left and Kristof took the lead, he gave the freedom to the NF representatives to choose among Business development, Marketing, Tech and Regions groups. I chose BD. Despite the efforts from Kristof and specially NEM Europe BD guys, most of the people who are supposed to be in that group with one hour weekly call, didn’t contribute at all. And we were 23 people in that group and the average participation in the following months was around 5 participants in each video call, mostly NEM europe guys.
One example of this failure is when NEM SP program were announce to the public, guess what happened. Head of regions started to ask about this because the BD people didn’t care about this initiative. That’s the reason I’m saying in my council policy that internal communication and procedures have to be fixed. Freedom doesn’t mean do whatever we want.
There is a lot of value material in that BD group that sadly a few took in consideration. I felt very frustrated same as other workmates.

I think some regions are helping each others but not as it should be. There is also a lack of trust among some representatives and I have the feeling based in my own experience that a few people have the desire and purpose that other regions and employees fail.

I’m sorry if this was so long. Thanks Kristof. Hope we can meet in person one day.


Although I am very far from being a NEM OG, I had the occasion to meet Kristof in august in the process of trying to join the foundation, and I would like to say a word.

During our interview, Kristof explained me how the foundation is working, as well as what he was trying to achieve.
It sounded very practical and full of common sense. Most important, Kristof started by laying out the technical architecture of NEM ecosystem to layout his vision, thus showing that his reflexion was primarily based on tech.

This was all very far from the image that is given of the foundation through all the election-related blog posts.

In my opinion, pushing COE and NEMsp is the best solution to grow NEM.
In the end, it is all about training professional people that will have a financial interest to implement NEM in organisations. On top of that, it could also (this is just my opinion, idk how it is defined) be a way for the foundation to generate revenue in a healthy way, in order to have a sustainable budget.
I hope COE and NEMsp will be pushed forward by the next foundation members. I also hope that the next team will take into account Kristof experience as an interim president.

Also, one should keep in mind that it is impossible to have a significant impact on an organisation in 6 months, especially when it is scattered geographically and have many cultural complexity.


Thanks so much for sharing @Xpedite, really insightful. I was particularly struck by your emphasis on technical understanding (or rather the lack of it) in the NF. Why do you think this happened? What do you think should be done to address this even among the non-technical employees? / Should there be an onboarding course or training/ why isn’t this being done or public if so?

Also how far on the adoption curve do you believe we are? 3 years? 5? 10? This one is really out of curiosity and I would like to hear your opinion on this.

It’s a combination of multiple reasons that got us here. Mainly the perception that we had to rush expansion in order to catch up with competition.
In combination with a high regional autonomy ( and opposing vision ) there was little that could be done to stop the expansion.

It’s mainly the non-technical employees that I’m talking about. I believe for current staff an in depth training wouldn’t hurt , this could be after competence testing.
For new employees, first of all it’s important to hire people that have some technical knowledge ( maybe not all positions require that , but the majority should ). Then there should be proper on-boarding training maybe in combination with apprenticeship ( we take that approach in Europe ) .
It compromises speed initially but once you grew the team you can expand faster.

Difficult to say but I think 5 years for mass adoption and 7 to 10 years before it will be practically impossible to compete with the big boys.
Although I feel like it’s further away than we often think it doesn’t mean we don’t have to work as hard as we can. The main reason I put that part in my post is because I’m convinced we should (have) focussed on quality in the first place.


omg please run for VP at least ? Seriously, you make so much sense.



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