Friday, March 1, 2013

Bitcoin Needs a Leader

Bitcoin is quite a remarkable, audacious project.  I’m rooting for Bitcoin and all the startups building in that ecosystem. But I can’t help but wonder if the Bitcoin movement would be better served if it had a clear, well-known creator. Every non-commercial movement needs a cheerleading parent:

Wikipedia has Jimmy Wales…
The world wide web has Tim Berners-Lee…
Linux (and also Git) has Linus Torvalds…

These charismatic creators can get up on stage and really motivate people to jump into the parade they are leading.  It’s an amazing sight to watch (I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of seeing Jimmy speak, and it’s incredibly motivating).

Bitcoin, like any major project, does have a creator, but that creator(s) chose to hide behind a pseudonym: Satoshi Nakamoto. The myth of Satoshi and his true identity certainly adds to the mystique of Bitcoin. It also generated some nice PR with two investigative journalism efforts to unearthing his/her identity via the New Yorker (warning: paywall on that NYer link :/ ) and Fast Company.

But, I don’t think a couple of news articles makes up for the loss of a charismatic creator.  No one can tell the story of a movement like a Founder can. I hope that a thought leader emerges in the Bitcoin movement that can fill in the gaping hole left by Satoshi Nakamoto’s absence.


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