Staff at the freenode IRC network have resigned en-masse after control of it passed to what one described as a "narcissistic Trumpian wannabe korean royalty bitcoins millionaire." Resignation letters piled up from Fuchs, Ed Kellett, Emīls Piņķis, Jessica Sophie Porter and others, capping weeks of drama in the FOSS world's biggest chatbox.
The new proprietor, Andrew Lee, offers his side of the story in a PDF document posted to Github: "We're beginning of a process of revisiting how Freenode's ownershipis organized so that there's a clear democratic process and outlined relationship between freenode limited and the volunteer staff who keep the network alive. The goal is to makesure that these kinds of problems will not happen again."
Aaron Jones, one of the resignees, details the sequence of events and concludes that "a hostile entity is now in operational control over the network, and is in posession of your data." Another resignee, Svante Bengtson, puts it succinctly:
During the past few months in general, and last weeks in particular, it has become increasingly clear that the owners of the holding company freenode Ltd have been planning a hostile takeover of the freenode network. That takeover is now about to happen, and I cannot in good faith volunteer for this "new" freenode. freenode Ltd's current owners' values do not align with the values freenode the network was founded on and operated under up until now.
Yet another. Marco d'Itri, puts it in still-blunter terms:
To make a long story short, the former freenode head of staff secretly "sold" the network to this person even if it was not hers to sell, and our lawyers have advised us that there is not much that we can do about it without some of us risking financial ruin.
Lee was recently profiled in the South China Morning Post in tabloid fashion, fawning yet distinctly unflattering. He earlier described an ongoing battle for control of Freenode, about a week before the resignations.
Given the millions I have injected into freenode thus far, the fact I own it and the fact that I protected the freenode staff with professional legal work and funding when they needed help and they could still lie and slander like this… says a lot about who they are. It saddens me that christel was forced out, and I wish she'd feel safe returning. I'm frustrated that tomaw's hostile takeover seems likely to succeed, in spite of all. I simply want freenode to keep on being a great IRC network, and to support it financially and legally as I have for a long time now.
Founded 26 years ago and home to some 80,000 users over 40,000 channels, the freenode is reportedly the largest IRC network and has enjoyed something of a rollercoaster history.
A number of those resigning have established a new IRC network, libera.chat.
UPDATED to link to Andrew Lee's statement.