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Bitcoin Foundation
Bitcoin Foundation logo
Formation September 2012
Headquarters Washington, 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, Patrick Murck and Mehul Puri. 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."[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] In July 2014, Bitcoin Foundation retained Lobbying Group to take the Cryptocurrency to Washington.[7]


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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[8] Nine members of the foundation resigned following the May election, citing opposition to the appointments and the direction of the organization.[10]

On 13 April 2015, the board appointed investor and financial consultant Bruce Fenton as Executive Director of the Bitcoin Foundation.[11] At the Blockchain Training Conference / DEVCORE Toronto, the Bitcoin Foundation announced the appointment of Llew Claasen as Executive Director, effective 1 July 2016 [12]


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.[13][14]


The Foundation and its leadership have been criticized by some in the media.[15][16] Former vice-chairman Charlie Shrem pleaded 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.[17][18][19] 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.[16] The Foundation has also suffered scrutiny and resignations over its hiring of former child star Brock Pierce.[20]

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.[21] The bitcoin community itself is divided over the role of the Foundation as a community or industry representative.[15] Some libertarian bitcoin advocates have criticized the organization's strategy of political lobbying and participation with federal regulators.[15] In November 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." [22]

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."[23]

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.[24] 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.[25] 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 from the Board in December 2015.[26]


  1. ^ Matonis, Jon (27 September 2012). "Bitcoin Foundation launches to drive bitcoin's advancement". Forbes. 
  2. ^ a b 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 April 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. ^ Wilhelm, Alex. "Bitcoin Foundation Hires Lobbying Group To Take The Cryptocurrency To Washington". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-11-20. 
  8. ^ a b Rizzo, Pete (9 May 2014). "Bobby Lee, Brock Pierce join Bitcoin Foundation's board of directors". CoinDesk. 
  9. ^ Rizzo, Pete (30 October 2014). "Jon Matonis Resigns As Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director". CoinDesk. 
  10. ^ Hajdarbegovic, Nermin (12 May 2014). "Bitcoin Foundation members resign following appointment controversy". CoinDesk. 
  11. ^ "The Bitcoin Foundation Welcomes Bruce Fenton as Executive Director". Bitcoin Foundation. April 13, 2015. Archived from the original on May 10, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Bitcoin Foundation Appoints Llew Claasen as Executive Director". Retrieved 2016-07-12. 
  13. ^ "Top 100 Blockchain Organisations: From CoinDesk to BitPay, These Are the Most Influential Organisations in the Distributed Ledger Space". Richtopia. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  14. ^ "Blockchain Organisations Top 100". Blockchain Age. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c Neal, Meghan (May 12, 2014). "Bitcoin is Hiring Lobbyists". Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Tiku, Nitasha (March 7, 2014). "Whistleblower Threatens to Expose Corruption at Bitcoin Foundation". ValleyWag. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ Jerving, Sara (September 6, 2014) "Bitcoin Promoter Charles Shrem Pleads Guilty" The Wall Street Journal
  18. ^ Hill, Kashmir (January 27, 2014). "Winklevosses, Bitcoin Community Shocked By Arrest of BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem". Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  19. ^ Jeffires, Adrianne (January 28, 2014). "Charlie Shrem resigns from the Bitcoin Foundation after arrest". The Verge. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  20. ^ Menn, Joseph (May 16, 2014). "Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director". Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  21. ^ Higgins, Stan. "Bitcoin Foundation Pledges to Focus Solely on Core Development". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  22. ^ del Castillo, Michael (22 December 2014). "It's official: Cody Wilson is trying to destroy the Bitcoin Foundation from within". Upstart. 
  23. ^ Williams, Mark T. (25 February 2014). "Mt Gox: The tower of toxic sludge". Business Insider. 
  24. ^ "Olivier Janssens and Jim Harper Voted to Bitcoin Foundation Board". CoinDesk. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  25. ^ Pick, Leon (July 4, 2015). "Olivier Janssens: Bitcoin Foundation Has No Money Left". Financial Magnates. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Two Board Members Exit as Bitcoin Foundation Seeks Funding - CoinDesk". CoinDesk. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 

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