The Bitcoin Foundation is an American nonprofit corporation. It was founded in September 2012 with the stated mission to “standardize, protect and promote the use of Bitcoin cryptographic money for the benefit of users worldwide.” The organization was modeled on the Linux Foundation and is funded mainly through grants made by for-profit companies that depend on the Bitcoin technology. The Foundation and its leadership have been criticized by the media.
The oldest and largest Bitcoin advocacy organization. We provide co-ordination & raise awareness of the benefits, uses & technology requirements of Bitcoin. In March 2014, the Foundation hired Jim Harper of the Cato Institute as Global Policy Counsel and Amy Weiss of Weiss Public Affairs as a media consultant.
The Bitcoin Foundation was announced on September 27, 2012.
According to its founding documents, the Bitcoin Foundation’s original members included Gavin Andresen, Charlie Shrem, Mark Karpeles, Peter Vessenes, Roger Ver, and Patrick Murck. Current board members are divided into one of three categories: Founding Members, Industry Members, and Individual Members. The board is made up of a combination of elected members of the aforementioned categories.
Former lead bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen is employed by the foundation as “chief scientist.” In June 2013, the foundation received media attention when it published a letter from the California Department of Financial Institutions requesting that they “cease and desist from conducting the business of money transmission in this state,” and again when it published their detailed response to the regulators. In November 2013, Patrick Murck, general counsel of the Bitcoin Foundation, testified before a United States Senate committee convened to assess digital currencies, at which the reception of bitcoin by lawmakers was generally positive. In July 2014, Bitcoin Foundation retained Lobbying Group to take the Cryptocurrency to Washington.
California DFI error
In June 2013, the California Department of Financial Institutions had erroneously considered the Bitcoin Foundation to be a money transmitter and sent them a letter requesting that they “cease and desist from conducting the business of money transmission in this state”, which prompted a detailed response to the regulators. The California DFI dissolved several days later.
United States Senate assessment
In November 2013, Patrick Murck, general counsel of the Bitcoin Foundation, testified before a United States Senate committee convened to assess digital currencies, at which the reception of Bitcoin by lawmakers was generally positive.
The Foundation and its leadership have been criticized by some in the media. Executive chairman Peter Vessenes’ business relationship to former board member Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of collapsed Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, has been highlighted as inappropriate. The Foundation has also suffered scrutiny and resignations over its hiring of former child star Brock Pierce.
In November 2014, the Bitcoin Foundation announced that it would seek to wind down its education, outreach and public policy initiatives as it turns its focus to core development. Three surveys conducted earlier by the Bitcoin Foundation suggest that many community members, both inside and outside of the organization, want to see it adopt a stronger focus on bitcoin’s open-source technology development. The Bitcoin community itself is divided over the role of the Foundation as a community or industry representative. Some libertarian Bitcoin advocates have criticized the organization’s strategy of political lobbying and participation with federal regulators. In November of 2014, Cody Wilson announced his run for board seat in the Bitcoin Foundation, stating “I will run on a platform of the complete dissolution of the Bitcoin Foundation and will begin and end every single one of my public statements with that message.”
Professor and author Mark T. Williams criticized the Bitcoin Foundation’s priorities, writing in a Business Insider editorial that “A Foundation of ‘B’ players has no business claiming it is a protector of a system that remains vulnerable and untrustworthy.”
In early 2015, Jim Harper, a fellow at the Cato Institute, and Olivier Janssens, a founder of the Freedom Investment Group, were elected to the Bitcoin Foundation’s Board. In July 2015, towards the beginning of his term as board member, Janssens made a public announcement on both the Bitcoin Foundation online forum and Reddit concerning the near-term insolvency of the Bitcoin Foundation, which had been kept secret by the board. As a result of this and a lack of cash flow, various staff were terminated. Following disagreement over the future of the organization—Harper and Janssens having both cast votes to dissolve the Foundation—Harper resigned and Janssens was removed the Board in December 2015.
Bitcoin Foundation’s board of directors, as of May 2014, included chairperson Peter Vessenes, Gavin Andresen, Bobby Lee, Micky Malka, Jon Matonis, Brock Pierce, and Elizabeth Ploshay. In October 2014, Jon Matonis resigned from his position of Executive Director of the Foundation, and at the end of the election cycle on 31 December 2014 stepped down from the group’s board of directors.
BTC China CEO Bobby Lee and venture capitalist Brock Pierce were appointed to the foundation’s board of directors following a May 2014 runoff election, filling vacancies left by the earlier resignations of former BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem and Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès. Nine members of the foundation resigned following the May election, citing opposition to the appointments and the direction of the organization.
On 13 April 2015, the board appointed investor and financial consultant Bruce Fenton as Executive Director of the Bitcoin Foundation. At the Blockchain Training Conference / DEVCORE Toronto, the Bitcoin Foundation announced the appointment of Llew Claasen as Executive Director, effective 1 July 2016
On 29 March 2016, the Bitcoin Foundation was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 27 in the list of 100 Most Influential Blockchain Organisations.
- BitcoinFoundation.org website