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508

Why Coinbase didn't sign the industry letter

508
Posted by
Brian Armstrong - Bitcoin Exchange & Coinbase CEO
3 years ago
Archived
Gold3

Why Coinbase didn't sign the industry letter

Coinbase didn't sign this letter because I think the intention behind it is wrong.

On the surface it is a communication about how exchanges would handle the hard fork, and a request to BU for replay attack protection. But my concern was that it was actually a thinly veiled attempt to keep the BTC moniker pegged to core software. I think a number of people who put their name on it didn't realize this.

A couple thoughts:

  • Certainly it makes sense to list forked assets separately on exchanges, especially during periods of uncertainty. But it doesn't make sense to say BTC can only be modified by one development team. If there is overwhelming support from miners and users around any new version of the software (regardless of who wrote it), then I think that will be called Bitcoin (or BTC).

  • The replay attacks are a real concern. We spent some time talking with Peter Rizun from BU last week and he/they seem very open to hearing ideas on replay attack protection and coming up with solutions, which was great to see. It is not as trivial for them to add as I originally thought, because it seems adding replay protection would break SPV clients (which includes a number of mobile wallets). We as a community could probably use more brainstorming on how to solve this generally (for any hard fork). I'll make a separate post on that.

  • I think regardless of what was stated in the letter (and people's personal views), pretty much every exchange would list whatever version got the overwhelming majority of miner and user support as BTC. I also think miners know this.

  • A number of exchanges (GDAX, Poloniex, Gemini) didn't sign the letter, or later clarified their position on it (ShapeShift, Kraken), so I think there are a variety of opinions out there.

  • I think creating public industry letters that people sign is a bad idea. They haven't been very effective in the past, they are "design by committee", people inevitably say their views were not accurately represented after the fact, and they tend to create more drama. I'd rather see private communication happen to move the industry forward (preferably on the phone, or in person - written communication is too easy to misinterpret people's tone). Or to have each exchange state their own opinion.

  • My goal is to have Coinbase be neutral in this debate. I think SegWit, BU, or other solutions could all be made to work in bitcoin. We're here to provide whatever our customers want as best we can across all digital currencies, and work with the wider community to make forward progress.

118 comments
90% Upvoted
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level 1
Comment deleted by user3 years ago
level 2
48 points · 3 years ago

Agreed. Unusually focused and non-hostile posts like this make me glad I'm a Coinbase customer :)

level 1
Comment deleted by user3 years ago
level 2
Brian Armstrong - Bitcoin Exchange & Coinbase CEOOriginal Poster21 points · 3 years ago

Thank you!

level 2
5 points · 3 years ago

If you sell a future of something, you have to be able to deliver. How does that work with fork futures while a fork is not certain?

level 1
78 points · 3 years ago

it was actually a thinly veiled attempt to keep the BTC moniker pegged to core software

TRUTH

level 2
2 points · 3 years ago

and if exchanges do this (this meaning: link any one team or implementation to = "Bitcoin"), then they work to undermine the whole community

Core will probably try again to maintain their position in this ridiculous, unsuccessful power grab to steer the community for their personal profit. There are many more sneaky and underhanded tricks they may pull next. Stay alert.

level 1
Bitcoin Enthusiast45 points · 3 years ago · edited 3 years ago

If there is overwhelming support from miners and users around any new version of the software (regardless of who wrote it), then I think that will be called Bitcoin (or BTC).

Thank you Brian!

level 1
21 points · 3 years ago · edited 3 years ago

Brian, your post is cute and everything but your action do not follow what you just said.

How can your company be neutral in the debate when your director of engineering is the furthest thing from neutral and one of the most vocal proponent of segwit to the point of being trollish and literally spit on any on-chain scaling attempt. He wasnt even present at the BU presentation.

He obviously dont carry your value of neutrality and I dont think we can expect your company to be neutral on an engineering/technical stand point.

level 2
Comment deleted by user3 years ago
level 2
Bitcoin Enthusiast3 points · 3 years ago

You attended the presentation and Charlie was not there?

level 1
41 points · 3 years ago

Was this by any chance also posted in r/Bitcoin ?

I can't see it anywhere...

level 2
Brian Armstrong - Bitcoin Exchange & Coinbase CEOOriginal Poster76 points · 3 years ago
level 2
1 point · 3 years ago

Lol, such statement would banned there at once :))

level 2
1 point · 3 years ago

Are even you serious? Do you think it would see any light there? :D

level 1
15 points · 3 years ago

One of the challenges has been getting all of the members of the Bitcoin ecosystem together to help make decisions on the way forward. Superficially, a lot of effort has been made doing exactly this, except that the organizers of those conferences tended to keep excluding the people who wanted larger blocks, so a false sense of consensus "emerged."

If Coinbase helped organize a conference, for example, that could be enormously beneficial in mitigating the damage that censorship and exclusion has caused.

level 2
Brian Armstrong - Bitcoin Exchange & Coinbase CEOOriginal Poster26 points · 3 years ago

I don't think this would be a good use of time. I spent a bunch of energy on this in 2015 and it didn't seem to be effective. Back channel phone calls, and building relationships with key players seem to be working best.

https://twitter.com/brian_armstrong/status/843179741918056449

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Created May 20, 2011