Back in 2016, a giant rumor started about Bitcoin Core claiming that Bitcoin was being controlled by corporations. To date, most people don’t actually understand the truth and coins such as Bitcoin cash use this confusion to boost the value of their own coins.
For Bitcoin to truly be trusted as a decentralized currency, new users need to be able to understand what happened within Bitcoin Core, which is the core development team, that started these rumors.
To flatly answer the question of “Is Bitcoin Controlled by Corporations?”, the answer is actually yes. However the simple answer doesn’t actually tell you the truth behind all this.
In 2016 Bitcoin decided to create what they called a “Sponsorship Programme“.
According to the Bitcoin Core page:
The Bitcoin Core Sponsorship Programme provides a way for the Bitcoin industry to fund independent research and development of Bitcoin Core, by funding developers, developer projects, or otherwise providing resources to the project. The programme is tailored for larger industry participants and at this time, we have no mechanism for taking smaller donations.
It is because of this, that the simple answer is yes, Bitcoin Core is controlled by corporations, or at least the funding is.
What it doesn’t tell you, is the corporations that got involved which sparked this rumor, or who actually runs those corporations. Without that knowledge, the rumor behind it is vastly misunderstood.
The original corporations to partner with Bitcoin Core in this sponsorship program were MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, Blockstream, Chaincode Labs Inc., Ciphrex, and BTCC.
The thing to note about these companies, is they were not your traditional corporations, and they were already very involved with bitcoin.
The MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative was founded by 3, at that time, Bitcoin Core developers – Wladimir van der Laan, Gavin Andersen, and Cory Fields.
Eventually a couple of these members were removed from the Bitcoin Core Team, most notably Gavin Anderson when He opted to support Craig Wright as “the real Satoshi”.
This is an important factor to note, because it shows that despite the corporate influence and being one of the original Bitcoin Core developers, the corporate influence did not guide the direction of Bitcoin, else he would not have been removed from the team.
Blockstream, which is one of the biggest corporations that is consider “in control” of Bitcoin, was founded in 2014 by Bitcoin developers Gregory Maxwell, Dr. Pieter Wuille, Matt Corallo, Jorge Timón and Mark Friedenbach.
So of these two corporations, both of them were already very involved with Bitcoin development. There was no corporate takeover. The very people involved with Bitcoin development, were the same people who owned the corporations from the start.
Chaincode Labs was never part of the Bitcoin Core team, but also never made any major decisions about the Bitcoin Core development process.
Bitcoin Core developer Eric Lombrozo in 2014 started the corporation Ciphrex. So again, another corporation that was created by a Bitcoin Core developer. Not merely a takeover of Bitcoin.
Also it is worthy of note that these people were involved with the development of Bitcoin before the Sponsorship Program ever began. That is to say, this was not some sort of corporate take over the way many mislead people into believing.
The last of the original corporate partnerships was BTCC which was a Bitcoin exchange founded in 2011. This company was not directly involved with Bitcoin Development but it should be noted that they did employ many of Bitcoin Core development team members.
So was there ever really a takeover of Bitcoin by the corporate world? The answer is obviously no. The original corporations who got involved to help fund the Bitcoin Core coding efforts, were vastly owned and run by the very people who were already coding Bitcoin and part of the Bitcoin team.
The last important thing to note is that Bitcoin has taken code from hundreds of developers who have contributed through the Bitcoin Github project page. Github shows a total of 534 total contributors, meaning that it is still run as any open-source software is, and is not some corporate controlled project.
The corporate control that people claim, were nothing more than corporations the team members of Bitcoin Core, had created themselves.
Since the original formation of the Sponsorship Program, other corporation have partnered with Bitcoin Core, but none to such a level that Bitcoin Core has been controlled by any of them, they still make the decisions of the future of Bitcoin, and it doesn’t appear as if the amount a company has funded has any real power of that development.
One need merely examine what happened with Gavin Anderson being removed from the team to see this is in fact true.
So if you ever hear the rumors that Bitcoin is controlled by corporations, hopefully now you will understand that it is, but that many of those corporations are also controlled by Bitcoin Core founders