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Who is Bitcoin’s CEO?

Nov 22, 2023
byNDAX Labs

Last week we discussed Bitcoin’s inventor. And if you read the short post, then you undoubtedly know that the title of this post is a trick question. Be that as it may, it doesn’t mean it isn’t still a question well worth examining!

But first, a few caveats…

It is important to note that Bitcoin, as a decentralized and open-source project, does not have a CEO. Bitcoin operates on/as a peer-to-peer network, and its development and maintenance are overseen by a community of developers and contributors rather than a centralized authority. As such, Bitcoin is not subject to the wills of any CEO, Chairperson, Parent Company, Board of Directors or Nation state. This then begs the question…

What does a CEO do, and who does that for Bitcoin?

If the role of CEO were analogous to an orgnization’s brain–bitcoin would have thousands (bitcoin full nodes). If the CEO role were analogous to the heart of an organization, bitcoin would have millions (its users, developers, evangelists and the billions-of-dollars-ecosystem which has sprung up to support it over the last decade and a half).

Bitcoin.org explains this best:

“Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world. While developers are improving the software, they can't force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to choose what software and version they use. In order to stay compatible with each other, all users need to use software complying with the same rules. Bitcoin can only work correctly with a complete consensus among all users. Therefore, all users and developers have a strong incentive to protect this consensus.”

So then who makes changes to Bitcoin?

So glad you asked. It’s Bitcoin’s Strategic Executive and R&D Branches (in name only): Bitcoin.Org, and through them, the community at large. The process happens in BIPs (Bitcoin Improvement Proposals).

A Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) is a formal document outlining proposed changes, enhancements, or additions to the Bitcoin protocol, providing a structured and transparent avenue for the community to discuss and collaborate on network improvements.

Established to ensure a systematic approach, the BIP process enables individuals or groups to present ideas, technical specifications, and rationale for protocol modifications, covering various topics like technical standards, upgrades, features, or governance changes.

Each BIP undergoes thorough community review through open communication channels, fostering consensus-building before implementation. Categorized and assigned unique numbers, BIPs, such as BIP 9 for soft forks or BIP 32 for hierarchical deterministic wallets, are organized for easy reference. Upon gaining community support, a BIP can be implemented in future Bitcoin updates, requiring coordination and testing for compatibility across different software clients. 

BIPs play a crucial role in the ongoing evolution of the Bitcoin network, promoting collaboration, innovation, and diverse perspectives for the cryptocurrency's long-term sustainability and functionality.

Bitcoin’s “Head of PR”

No, it is not (as so many have humoursly asserted of late) the world’s largest Asset Manager, the founder and Chairman of BlackRock, Larry Fink. Nor is it Michael Sailor–Chairman of MicroStrategy–who famously YOLO’d his business intelligence software company’s entire treasury reserves (savings) into Bitcoin in mid 2020 and became one of the media’s favourite spokespeople for Bitcoin… And no, it is certainly not the Shiba Inu loving tech mega-preneur whose name rhymes with Creon Tusk. It is, The Bitcoin Foundation–in their words:

“The Bitcoin Foundation engages governments around the world in open dialogs regarding the benefits of Bitcoin, assists in providing information for pro-Bitcoin legislation, and actively advocates for the prevention of negative regulation.”

In the fascinating and ever-evolving realm of Bitcoin, the absence of a traditional leader underscores the decentralized and community-driven ethos at the heart of this digital revolution. As we explore the influences shaping the landscape, it becomes clear that Bitcoin's success is a collaborative effort. While there may not be a CEO steering the ship, the hivemind of developers, innovators, and advocates propels Bitcoin forward: A journey marked by resilience, adaptability, and an unwavering commitment to its core principles. Bitcoin’s true power lies in its decentralization and the passionate individuals and organizations working together to usher in a new, more just and transparent financial era.

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide investment, legal, accounting, tax or any other advice and should not be relied on in that or any other regard. The information contained herein is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of cryptocurrencies or otherwise.