On January 3, a news site was set up under the name “Nakamoto”—the pseudonymous surname used by the inventor of Bitcoin—to provide dialogue from thought leaders in the crypto space.
The site doesn’t specify who runs it, but former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan is the owner of the accompanying Telegram group chat, suggesting he may be in charge.
In just three days, Nakamoto has gotten off to a rocky start.
Things kicked off when the Nakamoto Twitter account announced that, “All Nakamoto contributors are pro-Bitcoin (BTC) for the long-term.” The contributor list had raised a few eyebrows beforehand, since many Nakamoto writers were figureheads in other communities rivalling Bitcoin’s own—including Michael Arrington, co-founder of Arrington XRP Capital, and Bitcoin Cash proponent Roger Ver. With Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin moderating the Telegram channel, the “pro-Bitcoin” tweet sent crypto Twitter into a frenzy.
The Nakamoto logo uses the Bitcoin symbol but not everyone is convinced. Image: Nakamoto.
“Look it is ridiculous to have Vitalik of all people moderating a Bitcoin forum. There are other balanced moderators, dozens of them they could have organized. Personally I'm not that interested in having moderators telling me or anyone else what I can talk about,” said Blockstream CEO Adam Back.
Already a Twitter account has been set up to parody Nakamoto, with a similar name and #PROBTC as its name. And bitcoiners have set up an alternative Telegram group called “#ProBTC” in order to speak openly without getting banned.
The Bitcoiners’ exodus
Other moderators of the Nakamoto Telegram Channel include Zooko Wilcox, CEO of the Electric Coin Company, which builds privacy coin Zcash, and its “community admin” Hudson Jameson, who is the community manager at the Ethereum Foundation. But not only are the people running the Nakamoto group focusing on coins other than Bitcoin; there is a notable absence of Bitcoiners.
While there were a few Bitcoiners involved in the project to begin with, they are already packing their bags. Tuur Demeester, founding partner at Adamant Capital, a Bitcoin alpha fund, tweeted, “My profile has now been removed from the [Nakamoto] contributor page. I initially consented to contributing, but after learning more I decided I'm not comfortable attaching my name to the platform.”
Worse, some Bitcoiners who tried to join the channel were instantly rejected. Pierre Rochard, founder of Bitcoin Advisory, pseudonymous Bitcoiner StopAndDecrypt and John Carvalho, CCO at Bitcoin gift card company Bitrefill were all banned.
“Imagine being so #ProBTC that part of your day includes banning people before they can even speak something anti-BTC,” said Carvalho.
In just three days, the Nakamoto Telegram group bloated to 1,950 members and, unsurprisingly, everything got too much for the moderators. The group chat has effectively been suspended and now remains in read-only mode. Srinivasan blamed “trolls and spambots” for the swift closure, before adding the group might be reborn in a paid chat. But perhaps its demise was for the best.