War can change a man irreparably; more so a blockchain. In yesterday’s massive Bitcoin Cash hash war, gauntlets were thrown, axes were ground, knives were sharpened, and battlements—as well as blockchains—were breached.
Unlike a real war, though, all of this was thrillingly played out on a YouTube livestream broadcast from the bunker-like office of Bitcoin.com, in Tokyo. It featured such luminaries as Bitcoin.com chief Roger Ver; a BitcoinSV-supporting balding man; a BitcoinABC-supporting crew cut man; and a Dutch guy who might have actually been Spanish.
The livestream, which wore on for a full eight hours, was punctuated by bouts of fear, loathing, and jubilation under the shadow of the fork. It was quickly apparent that few of the people at ground zero seemed to actually understand any of it.
Exciting as it sounds, the War of the Fork began underwhelmingly. The video streamers at Bitcoin.com HQ meekly introduced themselves, giving their names and roles, as if they were teens at a bible camp. Justin Bon, of Cyber Capital, a crypto-investment fund, was insistent that viewers “contact me on Twitter and I can get you into that Amsterdam meetup,” a post-fork-drinks thing he was plugging. Yet Bon had more at stake than just his social cred: his company was one of the few that “holds zero BTC and has a significant stake in Bitcoin Cash,” he said, chuckling to himself for no apparent reason.
On Bon’s team was also bitcoin evangelist and Brazilian jiu jitsu buff Ver, who appeared sporadically, seated at a table opposite a fair-haired guy who said nothing.
One of the streams featured a whole room of people plugged into computers. Were they the miners who were forking? Or was it the VIP area? Perhaps it was a telethon to raise funds for an obscure disease. This was never made clear.
Finally, some early fork news cut through the fog of war. “First three blocks already mined by BSV!" someone called out. At that, Ver looked a little nonplussed, but his jiu-jitsu training must have kicked in. He regained his composure and returned to the historic YouTube chat.
Ver occasionally used his early screentime to deride his enemies. He spoke of “Luke Jr,” a rival who had been asked why he liked bitcoin. “The guy thought for about 40 seconds then said, ‘I like the technology,’” Ver recounted to the amusement of the bunker and the derision of some of those following along in YouTubeLand. (“Roger Ver [terrible insult deleted],” retorted one awful commenter.)
Of Craig Wright, the Satoshi imitator and leader of the Resistance to the ABC Fork, Ver suggested: “Someone should photoshop Craig’s face onto that SJW woman,” a reference people seemed to get. More jeers greeted this sophomoric idea in the bunker. “Someone make that happen. There’ll be a bounty.”
Someone probably is making that happen. This is crypto. Bounties are popular.
Next, Ver absconded, to give more room to the nobodies. Attention focused back on the fork. Two “common blocks” remained until an official split would forcibly occur and two chains would be born.
We waited. We watched. A mysterious man with a European accent, who looked like a sad Alsatian dog, spoke about bitcoin’s early years and admitted that he kind of knew the actual Satoshi Nakamoto while simultaneously denying it. “I never really chatted to Satoshi personally, but I followed his posts religiously,” he reminisced, sad eyes twinkling with nostalgia.
Suddenly, big news: Ver, behind the scenes, had redirected his awesome hashing power from Bitcoin to Bitcoin Cash, ramping it up 4,000 petahash—which seems very big indeed!—and surpassed Wright’s own firepower.
Onlookers gazed in awe.
And even more thrilling news from the Ver camp: “Bitcoin.com just mined a block,” somebody called out. “Well done!”
Was it time to pop champagne? No one knew. They deferred to the owl-like “Kevin,” who alone seemed to understand what was going on. “Kevin” agreed. The miners were supporting ABC. Put a fork in it; the ABC chain was done.
A hot, petahash of relief wafted across the bunker.
But then Pete Rizzo, of CoinDesk, made an appearance and a mist of suspicion tempered the petahash of relief. Not the fake-news-lamestream media!
Rizzo was, as always, cool: “I’m one with the spice,” he assured the bunker dudes.
“No one likes ‘not-spicy’ things,” a smart alec piped up.
A murmur of agreement shot through the crowd. Rizzo was in.
“OOH!” somebody suddenly ejaculated. “A new block was just found by ViaBTC. I’m just watching, right now.”
Nobody seemed to know what this meant, exactly.
Soon, a bitter debate broke out between balding guy and crew cut guy (Justin Bons) over whether Bitcoin Cash splitting would indeed be a Good Thing, as the fork partisans believed. “Will someone stop this bald guy from spewing verbal garbage,” another wag in YouTubeLand commented. It wasn’t clear which bald guy they were referring to since Bons has a crew cut. Nevertheless, it was a sobering moment.
Ver & Co. got one block, two blocks... three blocks ahead. The ABC fork was gaining momentum. Still, Bitcoin SV Balding Man was insistent Wright had a secret plan, that there would be a stunning comeback, that the faux Satoshi had frightening weapons in his arsenal. (“Satoshi’s shotgun,” someone said. “No, Satoshi’s mother-of-all-bombs,” another corrected.) Commenters declared the victors; some said Ver, some said Wright. Nobody really understood a blessed thing, since this was crypto.
At last, the fork seemed to become official. “THE BITCOIN CASH NETWORK HAS NOW BEEN UPGRADED!” declared coin.dance, a “community-driven” service that tracks the Bitcoin Cash blockchain, and which everyone deferred to.
The room lit up like the shtetl watering-hole on a shabbos. Everybody sang, “The Bitcoin Hash Waaaars,” in a tune that sounded worryingly pre-written.
Something, clearly, had happened.
But nobody was really sure what.