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Bitcoin Foundation
Bitcoin Foundation logo
FormationSeptember 2012
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., USA

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."[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]


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.

Lead Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen is employed by the foundation as "chief scientist."[2] 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,"[4] and again when it published their detailed response to the regulators.[5] 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.[6]

Board of Directors

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.[7] In October 2014, Jon Matonis announced that he has resigned from his position of Executive Director of the Foundation, and that he would step down from the group's board of directors at the end of the election cycle on 31st December 2014.[8]

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 Karpeles.[7] Nine members of the foundation resigned following the May election, citing opposition to the appointments and the direction of the organization.[9]


The Foundation and its leadership have been criticized by some in the media.[10][11] Former vice-chairman Charlie Shrem pled guilty to aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed money-transmitting business related to his role in assisting agents of the online marketplace Silk Road.[12][13][14] Executive chairman Peter Vessenes' business relationship to former board member Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of Mt. Gox, has been highlighted as inappropriate.[11] The Foundation has also suffered scrutiny and resignations over its hiring of former child star Brock Pierce.[15]

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. [16] The Bitcoin community itself is divided over the role of the Foundation as a community or industry representative.[10] Some libertarian Bitcoin advocates have criticized the organization's strategy of political lobbying and participation with federal regulators.[10] 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." [17]

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."[18]


  1. Matonis, Jon (27 September 2012). "Bitcoin Foundation launches to drive bitcoin's advancement". Forbes.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bustillos, Maria (2 April 2013). "The bitcoin boom". The New Yorker. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  3. "Jim Harper joins Bitcoin Foundation as global policy counsel and Amy Weiss as media consultant" (PDF). Bitcoin Foundation (Press release). 11 March 2014.
  4. McMillan, Robert (24 June 2013). "California says the Bitcoin Foundation is a money-transferrer". Wired. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  5. Spaven, Emily (3 July 2013). "Bitcoin Foundation issues response to cease and desist warning". CoinDesk. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  6. Lee, Timothy (23 November 2013). "For Bitcoin, a successful charm offensive on the Hill". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Rizzo, Pete (9 May 2014). "Bobby Lee, Brock Pierce join Bitcoin Foundation's board of directors". CoinDesk.
  8. Rizzo, Pete (30 October 2014). "Jon Matonis Resigns As Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director". CoinDesk.
  9. Hajdarbegovic, Nermin (12 May 2014). "Bitcoin Foundation members resign following appointment controversy". CoinDesk.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Neal, Meghan (May 12, 2014). "Bitcoin is Hiring Lobbyists". Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Tiku, Nitasha (March 7, 2014). "Whistleblower Threatens to Expose Corruption at Bitcoin Foundation". ValleyWag. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  12. Jerving, Sara (September 6, 2014) "Bitcoin Promoter Charles Shrem Pleads Guilty" The Wall Street Journal
  13. Hill, Kashmir (January 27, 2014). "Winklevosses, Bitcoin Community Shocked By Arrest of BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem". Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  14. Jeffires, Adrianne (January 28, 2014). "Charlie Shrem resigns from the Bitcoin Foundation after arrest". The Verge. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  15. Menn, Joseph (May 16, 2014). "Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director". Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  16. Higgins, Stan. "Bitcoin Foundation Pledges to Focus Solely on Core Development". Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  17. del Castillo, Michael (22 December 2014). "It's official: Cody Wilson is trying to destroy the Bitcoin Foundation from within". Upstart.
  18. Williams, Mark T. (25 February 2014). "Mt Gox: The tower of toxic sludge". Business Insider.

External links