This author’s views do not represent the views of Coin Brief.
The Bitcoin Foundation is considered by many to be the main representative of Bitcoin. The Foundation is tasked with promoting the global acceptance of Bitcoin, which includes helping major companies accept it as payment, lobbying governments to take a favorable stance towards digital currency, and developing the Bitcoin protocol to make it the best monetary system it can be.
However, it seems like the Bitcoin Foundation has been falling short of serving their purpose as of late. In its early days, the Foundation was a hub of activity, excitement, and optimism regarding the development of Bitcoin and the spread of its acceptance. All of that positivity changed, though, when the Foundation started considering the possibility of sending lobbyists to the various world governments in order to get pro-Bitcoin legislation passed through legal channels. Since then, the Foundation has become shrouded in secrecy and bureaucracy; it has become more of a political stage than a Bitcoin advocacy group.
The efforts of the Foundation to actually improve the Bitcoin infrastructure rather than plead for government acceptance of Bitcoin (which has apparently not been successful so far) have become so stagnant that, according to Mike Hearn, they have “ground to a halt.” and have become “radically underfunded.” Hearn also said that all but one of the three developers working for the Bitcoin Foundation have stopped working on Bitcoin’s code due to political reasons. Every time one of them proposes a change to the protocol, they receive backlash from certain parts of the community. While this hunch cannot really be confirmed, I suspect that it is the Foundation that has made Wladimir J. van der Laan and Cory Robertson reluctant to work on Bitcoin’s core code. Because of the public backlash regarding suggested changes to Bitcoin, the Foundation likely wants to refrain from making major changes to the protocol so that they can uphold their public image. But then again, if they are truly so worried about their reputation, then why would they hire Brock Pierce, someone with an incredibly dubious past? Not only does Pierce have a shady history, but he apparently does not even care about his job as a Bitcoin Foundation board member.
So if it is true that the Bitcoin Foundation is so concerned about politics and public images that they have opted to refrain from making changes to the Bitcoin protocol (and it doesn’t really matter if that is true or not, because it is a fact that Bitcoin development has become stagnant), and they have so far been unsuccessful in getting governments on our side, then what is the point of the Bitcoin Foundation? Why does it even exist, and what is it contributing to the Bitcoin community? I think that the growing ineffectiveness of the Bitcoin Foundation has a lot to do with its shifted focus from Core development to political action. Simply put, if you hang out with governments, you are going to start acting like a government.
The Bitcoin Foundation Needs to just Go Away
At this point, the Bitcoin Foundation is pretty much worthless as a means of spreading awareness and acceptance of Bitcoin. As of late, the Bitcoin Foundation has really done nothing to accomplish any further development in the protocol, or anything else that could be positive for the Bitcoin community. Coinbase and BitPay have done far more in the last few months in terms of getting large companies to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment then the Foundation has. Plus, one of the biggest problems that has faced Bitcoin thus far, Bitcoin mining centralization, has gone all but unnoticed by the Foundation. All they did in response to Ghash.io attaining 51% hashing power was to publish this lackluster blog post by Gavin Andresen. The self-interested action of the free market has done exponentially more than the Bitcoin Foundation to solve the Bitcoin mining centralization problem. Individuals in the Bitcoin community came together—independent of the Foundation—and convinced miners to point their rigs to other Bitcoin mining pools, specifically P2Pool, a decentralized Bitcoin mining pool that would not be vulnerable to a 51% attack if it were to gain 51% hashing power. However, the only way to come up with a really permanent solution to Bitcoin mining centralization is to modify Bitcoin’s core protocol so that mining centralization is impossible. But the Bitcoin Foundation, the organization that has assumed responsibility for Bitcoin development, is no longer working on the core protocol!
The politics and bureaucracy of the Bitcoin Foundation is doing nothing but diverting attention away from the real issues that the community needs to fix if we are to ever see Bitcoin realize its full potential. The government-like activities of the Foundation has simply gone too far. So far, in fact, that Andreas Antonopoulos has completely severed all ties with the Foundation:
The community does not need politics, secrecy, and alleged pedophiles in order to improve upon Satoshi Nakamoto’s initial creation, and spread it around the world. We just need adequate funding for Bitcoin Core developers, which Mike Hearn’s Lighthouse hopes to provide. After we can sufficiently improve the Bitcoin protocol, so that it is the best that it can be, the free market will simply take its course, and Bitcoin will be chosen by the citizens of the world as the most desired monetary system.
Bitcoin is supposed to be an escape from government lethargy and pessimism. Let’s not allow the Bitcoin Foundation to turn it into more of the same.