The MIT lecturer and former White House advisor Brian Forde joins Bitfury – a company that has already established strong connections to the government. While most people know BitFury as a miner, the firm has grown into an amazingly successful, full-service blockchain firm.
In late November, BitFury announced that it added Brian Forde to its Advisory Board. That he joins BitFury underlines the fact that this company has become one of the most interesting, most successful and politically most connected firms in the Bitcoin space.
Brian Forde is a well-known person in the cryptocurrency industry. He has been the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was a technological advisor at the White House. The MIT’s Media Lab is one of the most important hubs for Bitcoin development. It finances the work of Bitcoin Core maintainer Wladimir van der Laan and the Core developers Cory Fields and Gavin Andresen. The status of the latter as part of the initiative is unknown.
While it is not known that the MIT has not been neutral regarding Bitcoin development, the institute was strongly criticized in the cryptocurrency community for its ChainAnchor project, which tries to connect identities with Blockchain addresses and to make Blockchains permissioned.
On the board of BitFury, Brian Forde likely will meet old acquaintances from his time at the White House. You will find no company in the Bitcoin space that has such strong ties to the US government than BitFury. Not only has the company an office in Washington D.C., it has hired several former government employees and advisors.
Most prominent may be BitFury’s global chief communication officer Jamie Elizabeth Smith. She formerly served as presidential spokesperson, deputy White House press secretary, director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and press director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Her newly engaged deputy, Sam Youngman, is also well-known at the White House.
“Youngman is a veteran White House policy and political reporter with more than 15 years of experience. He has covered the inner workings of Washington, D.C. and political campaigns ranging from U.S. House and Senate races to the presidential campaigns of 2004, 2008 and 2012 for Reuters,” Bitfury’s press release states in mid-October.
More connections to the government can be found on the Advisory Board of the company. Jason Weinstein is a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice; Tomicah Tillman has been a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton and is now director of the Bretton Woods II program at the political think tank New American. The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto is one of the world’s most important economic advisors of governments of emerging countries and Jim Newsome has served as chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
If you have a tendency for conspiracy theories, you could easily create a narrative of the US government infiltrating Bitcoin mining through the BitFury group. This idea could be strengthened by a picture said to show the BitFury team meeting NSA director Michael Roger at the Global Leadership Summit three years ago.
An inquiry sent to the BitFury press center about the nature of its ties to governmental circles has not been answered. But besides conspiracy theories, the most likely explanation is that the building of connections to governments is just the strategy of a business, that focuses more and more on governments as clients for “blockchain solutions.” The company is mostly known as the manufacturer of mining software, as one of the largest Bitcoin miners with close to 10 percent of the global hash rate and according to rumors as the company behind the mining pool ghash.io which reached more than 51 percent of the global hash rate in 2014.
But actually, BitFury has long grown beyond being a mining company. According to its own description BitFury is a “full-service Blockchain technology company.” The company used the $90 million it received in four funding rounds to develop a huge variety of software services, including Blockchain data mining (to score transactions risks and break mixers,) Blockchain asset solutions and property right registrations on the Blockchain.
With this portfolio, BitFury is amazingly successful. The achievements this in this year are stunning. In April, the company started a program with the Republic of Georgia to “design and implement a Blockchain-based land titling system.” In September, BitFury gave a presentation at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation. In November, BitFury became part of a blockchain working group of the World Economic Forum, cooperating with Toomas Hendrik, Ex-president of Estonia, Ma Jun from the People’s Bank of China and other. In the same month, the company signed a deal with Ernst and Young (EY), one of the biggest consultant firms in the world, to provide blockchain software to the clients of EY.
Mining seemed to be just a starter for BitFury. Now the company is dedicated to promote, as well as spread, the use of Blockchain technology in the whole world. The designation of Brian Forde as an advisor seems to fit perfectly in this strategy.