Working (6-15 years of experience)
310London, UKJoined May 2020


Private equity investor (E2G)

Co-Treasurer @ EA UK

Trustee @ EA for Christians

Trustee @ ICM UK



Topic Contributions

I think we're pretty much in agreement. Forgiveness does men forgetting and failing to learn the lessons. I certainly don't in any way want to condone the actions. I just want to make sure we direct our energy to the future and how to move on from this.

Nice post. I really liked your point around having a nuanced view. I remember various conversations over the years on broad vs. deep, as if it's that simple. The reality is that the broader you go, the more likely you are to find the deep people.

Good Governance in the wake of the FTX crisis - turning talk into action

When the EA Good Governance was launched 1 month ago, little did we know that governance would be thrust into the spotlight so publicly.  Given recent news, I'd encourage everybody to take action by learning about the EA Good Governance Project and signing up to improve EA institutions.

I'm not a lawyer, but I think EA organizations (particularly those structured as trading companies rather non-profits) may need to be careful about ensuring they are not trading while insolvent. If you take a provision for funds being reclaimed, then you might need to consider your solvency at the same time.

Given the FTX Foundation is outside the bankruptcy group (please correct me if I'm wrong), is the relevant date here when FTX sent money to the FTX Foundation not when the FTX Foundation sent money to each organisation?

I think it's important to consider the counterfactual when considering the impact of religious groups. For example, many religious terrorists may simply be using religion to try to claim moral authority when the reality often is that their behavior contradicts what the religion teaches. Without religion, they might still be terrorists. I also think that a lot of the positives are not reported / downplayed to fit a secular narrative, e.g. the anti-slavery movement relied on the church.

This is really helpful. Do you / anyone reading have any expertise on when policy work like this can be done tax efficiently (e.g. Gift Aid in the UK)?

My credentials: I am an investor by profession and have experience negotiating governance structures. I have been a director of 3 private companies and a trustee of 4 non-profits.

Governance is often not ideal. That's because it is a weird confluence of fitting within the law (often modern laws layered over common laws that don't make much sense today), relationships and negotiation. For example, you pose the question about whether unusual governance structures have been tried by companies. In general, they haven't because they aren't legally possible.

In terms of structuring like a democracy, I don't think democracies deal well with technical and minor issues. I say "minor" issue because if everything is going well, people will probably not consider it important. It's also impossible for future people to participate in today's democracy by definition.

The final point I'd make is that time horizons are important here. Many organisations struggle to manage both the immediate term and the long-term in the same framework. Within a corporate, it is good organisational practice to divide those responsibilities to a certain extent.

On social choice theory, I think it's important to distinguish between decisions that have to be made (typically handled by the executive, e.g. there needs to be a new Chair of the Federal Reserve) and decisions about changes (typically handled by the legislature, e.g. we could improve the law on bank regulation). Budgets typically require approval of the legislature, but are really something that has to happen (the status quo of the government having no money used to be a reasonable option but is not in the modern day).

Some minor comments on the piece:

  • I know you've tried to simplify things, but governance of for-profit corporations is a lot more complex than you make out. Board members are not as accountable to shareholders as you would expect, e.g. AGM votes often being non-binding, adoption of poison pills. There are also normally minority protections, e.g. takeover rules for public companies, investor vetoes in private companies. CEOs typically serve on the Board (which is different to non-profits), are sometimes also the Chair and can be the controlling shareholder, which adds a lot of additional dynamics. I think it's also very important to consider not just the legal governance but the practical governance, e.g. the Chairman has significantly more influence than other board members even though they all have 1 vote each. Soft power is very important.
  • With non-profits, I have observed a significant difference between UK and US boards. UK boards are typically filled based on expertise, whereas many US board are filled with donors and fundraisers. This is not a legal difference, but does affect the dynamic a lot.
  • Non-profits can also have members that act a bit like shareholders. This is most common for membership organisations, e.g. sports clubs, mutual interest societies, but it's also possible for non-profits to have another organisation as its sole member, i.e. a bit like a subsidiary.

Great post!

One nuance I would add is not to achieve density through jargon. As a long-term EA focusing most of my time on E2G, I’ve often found the Forum (and EA debate in general) to have a high barrier to entry. EA has its own language, which sometimes gives helpful precision, but can just make in inaccessible to those not spending 100% of their time in the EA universe.

I also think the concept of an elevator pitch is a useful one. You should be able to summarise your point in 30 seconds or less.

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