Bitcoin 2014 // 15-17 May // Amsterdam Register

Letter from the Executive Director

Jon Matonis

Jon Matonis

Executive Director

Jon Matonis: Why I Accepted the Executive Director Position for the Foundation

I am proud to have been associated with the Bitcoin Foundation since its launch just nine short months ago. A nonprofit organization for Bitcoin can add greatly to the political and economic discourse for cryptographic money and monetary freedom. As Executive Director, I welcome the new challenge.

The Foundation has never claimed to represent all of Bitcoin nor all of its users because that would be impossible for any organization. Rather, the Foundation has consistently attempted to fill the gap where market-based incentives may not have produced the same outcome, such as in the areas of specialized grants and compensation transparency for volunteer developers as well as legal challenges to bitcoin usage and the sponsorship of aggressive legal defense.

For instance, we made our “cease and desist” correspondence with the State of California publicly available which can assist bitcoin exchanges and other bitcoin organizations in the future. Also, we intend to file amicus briefs in significant bitcoin-related legal cases and to offer pro bono legal defense where appropriate. In the next 30 days, we are scheduled to submit comments to FinCEN’s guidance and request for industry feedback on rulemaking. This will be made publicly available too.

The Foundation is not pro-regulation as some have claimed, but it is pro-education. I fully support across the board bitcoin education for legislative and regulatory entities. Proper education is not anti-market and I also agree with economist Peter Šurda who stated that lobbying on behalf of Bitcoin is not necessarily anti-market. However, constructing barriers to market entry and being complicit in certain crony capitalism regulatory outcomes is anti-market. I will steadfastly oppose a crony capitalism direction for the Bitcoin Foundation.

One of my primary near-term objectives for the Foundation is to become more inclusive of the various constituencies within the global bitcoin community. This will involve being more responsive to and communicative with member requests. It will also involve being more open to internationalization. Currently, 60% of the Foundation’s membership is non-US based and we need to do a better job behaving like a global organization. To this end, we will hold the next Bitcoin conference outside of the United States and we will sign on local Foundation chapters in several countries where interested parties have taken the lead on expanding the principles of Bitcoin in their region.

The bursting of Bitcoin technology on the scene at this time in history is not a mere coincidence. It is a reaction to three separate epochal developments largely emanating from the developed economies:

  1. centralized and oppressive monetary authority
  2. a dominant and complicit legacy banking system, and
  3. the eradication of financial privacy.

Future generations will not be very forgiving if the Foundation fails in its mission to standardize and protect Bitcoin worldwide. The youth of today, including the youth of the legislative and ruling classes, certainly grasp this movement and the demographics clearly bear that out. Choice in currency is the free speech of commerce.

Just as those against file sharing and BitTorrent technology were on the wrong side of history, so too are the institutional forces opposed to unfettered bitcoin growth. The great challenge and mandate for our time is in encouraging them to see it that way. Please join us.