It was rumbling in the beginning of February in Swiss Zug. The Crypto Valley Association (CVA) was undergoing a major reorganization. On Thursday, Jan. 31, the General Assembly of the Association elected former Swisscom manager Daniel Haudenschild as president of the CVA and the successor to Oliver Bussmann.
The former CVA’s president, Oliver Bussmann, had announced last November — together with the members Vasily Suvorov, René Hüsler and Nicolas Schobinger — not to run for reelection at the General Assembly. Haudenschild, the new president of the CVA, was — until the end of January — the CEO of the blockchain advisory unit of Swiss state-owned telecommunications company Swisscom and left the company unexpectedly. Immediately after the end of the meeting on Jan. 31, two board members — Maria Gomez and Jenna Zenk — also resigned. In a Twitter post, Zenk, the head of technology at Zug blockhouse startup Melonport, cited the reason for her departure in a short video from the General Assembly: One member sharply criticized the one-sided composition of the board of directors with lawyers, investors and advisers.
Cointelegraph spoke with Daniel Haudenschild about his new position, conflicts between the management staff and the developer community in the Crypto Valley and the position of Switzerland, especially Zug, as a global blockchain hub.
CT: The four founding members of the CVA — Oliver Bussmann, René Hüsler, Nicolas Schobinger and Vasily Suvorov — have announced their withdrawal from the organization quite surprisingly.
DH: The CVA is a vital component for Switzerland, and one of the strongest ecosystems in blockchain globally. So some of the basic inventories and systems that other associations have are and were not present in the CVA. The result is that the mechanics of how the CVA works, how it handles expansion, how it does membership recruitment all were inappropriately addressed.
CT: Two board members resigned, saying that there were too many lawyers and consultants on the board.
DH: The work that we need to do now is basic. We need to address the toolset of the CVA with a proper association management system. The board has therefore decided that we will not be electing the additional two members at this time. By making some of the tools fit for purpose we take a big step in handling some of the basic administrative needs of the association. Once the CVA is running smoothly, we will open the process to bring on two new board members.
CT: According to the netzwoche.ch platform, the CVA had conflicts between the management staff and the developer community.
DH: The perception was that the inquiries into the CVA were being handed off to a select few individuals, and that most members did not have access to the business-generating benefits of membership. Although this may have been the case in a few occurrences, the frustration was felt by everyone, and it was mostly the fault of inappropriate systems and resources to help deal with the flood of inquiries. We have taken concrete steps to solve this by investing in a new tool system.
Companies who purchased them felt they were not receiving value, and other smaller members felt that they could not compete with the larger corporates for attention. We now have only two levels of association sponsorship, and two prices: 5,000 and 10,000 [Swiss francs].
CT: Which solutions for conflict resolution do you suggest?
CT: What projects do you want to tackle as the new president of the CVA?
DH: We need to bring the capital back into the valley.
CT: What challenges is the CVA currently facing?
DH: We are understaffed and looking for talent.
CT: In which direction is the Swiss blockchain industry developing, especially in the Crypto Valley?
DH: There has been a flash in the pan regarding the ICO hype. Quietly and continuously serious development in the blockchain space has gone on unabated. We are seeing more registrations for blockchain applications that are not cryptocurrency based, we have seen significant investment by corporates and individuals for education, and we have seen major investment by banks and hedge funds in digital asset storage. For consumer adoption, although we are seeing massive advances in consumer technologies for digital asset management (for example, the Samsung smart phone with a built-in crypto wallet), we still need to make the whole experience much more user friendly.
CT: What government action is necessary to promote blockchain technology in the Crypto Valley?
DH: We need to have clear laws that support the type of asset custody and trading that accompany the transformation of all asset classes into the digital space.
CT: IBM, PwC, UBS and also Swisscom — many large companies today have a blockchain department. How do you foresee the risk of Crypto Valley startups falling by the wayside? Blockchain moves even faster. In large corporations, everything costs a million and takes a year. To be successful in blockchain, it has to cost a few thousand and take a week.
CT: Where is Switzerland really in the blockchain area? Is the Crypto Valley the central location of the world or just one among many?
DH: The world has taken a shift to the east recently. With Switzerland and blockchain, the world has both. I would therefore venture to say that Switzerland and the CVA will continue to be a strong and prominent ecosystem for blockchain adoption.