Bitcoin Is Having An Election

Brian Armstrong, CEO of our portfolio company Coinbase, published this deck on Friday.

In the deck, Brian argues that the current debate over Bitcoin scaling is an “election” not a “split.”

There is certainly a raging debate in the bitcoin community about how to scale Bitcoin and the value of decentralization versus scalability. That debate has been going on for quite a while and may continue to go on for much longer. But one way or another, Bitcoin will eventually figure out how to scale. The process may be messy, but so is the process of electing a President. That’s one of the main points Brian makes in his deck.

Another important point Brian makes is the need for competition in core development. Since the beginning of Bitcoin, the development of Bitcoin’s core software has been done by a small group of developers who have come to be known as Bitcoin Core. That has led to a dependence that is not entirely healthy. Brian makes the comparison to web browsers where there are four competing browsers, all with more than 10% market share and none with more than 50% market share. Each browser development team competes to bring new technologies to market, some of which eventually get adopted by all of them. And consumers have the choice of which ones to use. That is a much healthier market architecture for sure.

For me, this scaling debate is not really about Core vs Classic or XT or any other version of the core protocol. I suspect in ten years none of them will be used. Much like nobody uses the Netscape browser anymore. This debate is about whether we want a truly diverse and distributed developer ecosystem building, innovating, and maintaining the software at the core of Bitcoin. And I think the answer to that question has to be yes. It’s just a question of how we get there.