As many of you in the Tox community have likely already heard, a serious situation was brought to our attention which has forced the Tox development team to disassociate itself from the Tox Foundation, along with its sole board member, Sean Qureshi (aka Stqism, aka AlexStraunoff, aka NikolaiToryzin). We learned by Sean’s own admission that he “took a loan against the Tox Foundation”, and used the entirety of the foundation’s funds on personal expenses completely unrelated to the project. He did not inform anyone about his actions prior to taking them, then proceeded to disappear for weeks once we found out, ignoring our attempts to contact him and get an explanation.
The exact amount that he took is unknown due to his having complete control over our finances, but it is in the low-thousands. This fund regrettably included a small amount of donation money, but was primarily made up of money that we received by participating in Google Summer of Code last summer.
First, we want to sincerely apologize to the community and take responsibility. We could not have predicted that something like this would happen, but we certainly could have handled our finances in a more responsible and transparent manner. While our development team consists of many skilled programmers and designers, none of us are experienced in business or financial matters. This led us to put too much trust and power into the hands of a single person, who turned out to be just the sort of person who would take advantage of such a situation. We can blame no one but ourselves for this.
Unfortunately, Sean refuses to take responsibility for what he has done, and seems to carry the attitude that what he did was perfectly acceptable. Despite our having spent a great deal of time and effort trying to engage with him, giving him opportunities to pay us back and redeem himself (which is part of the reason why we have waited this long to make an official post about it), he has shown no remorse for his actions, and continues to hold some of our infrastructure “hostage”. This includes the tox.im, toxme.se, and libtoxcore.so domains. For this reason, we have have also been forced to disassociate ourselves with the aforementioned domains and begin again from scratch with a new domain, tox.chat.
In spite of the damage that has been done—which we do not wish to understate—we’d like to look on the bright side of things and consider this a very expensive lesson learned in project management, and life in general. We’ve lost some money, but we’ve gained a ton of insight. We have also been lucky enough to have a few long-standing members of the community step up and help us out with things like server management, and we should have everything back to normal in a short while, with a stronger and better equipped team than before.
As far as finances go, we are not going to repeat the same mistakes twice. We will not be taking any official donations* until we have set up a proper organization with an emphasis on transparency and protection of assets (more details on this at a future date).
In the mean time, we hope that you will continue to support us, if not financially, then in spirit. Despite all of this drama, we have not lost sight of our vision to provide secure, private communications for everyone. Tox development hasn’t had so much as a hiccup in the midst of all this; our second run at Google Summer of Code is going better than our first, and the number of enthusiastic developers who share our vision continues to grow.
Thank you for your understanding and continued support.
* If you still want to give personal donations to individual developers, most of us have bitcoin wallets or paypal accounts and can be reached in IRC (#tox and #tox-dev @ freenode)