In brief

  • Brock Pierce, Bitcoin Foundation chairman and Block.one co-founder, claimed to lead an official Bitcoin delegate to El Salvador, which made Bitcoin legal tender earlier this month.
  • While there are figureheads and influencers, there are no “official” representatives for the decentralized network.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include mention of Justin Newton's copy of Noticia that bears Brock Pierce on the cover, and with comment from the editor-in-chief of Noticia. 

One of the odd things about Bitcoin is that, as a decentralized network, it is very difficult to lobby for it in any “official” capacity. Bitcoin has no CEO, the pseudonymous founder has been missing for a decade and the network’s users share no unifying aim.

It’s strange news, then, that Brock Pierce, the chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and former co-founder of Block.one, claims to have led an “official delegation of Bitcoin ambassadors” to El Salvador this week.

In a trip organized by the El Salvadoran Ambassador to the US, Milena Mayorga, Pierce carried the flag on behalf of hundreds of thousands of anonymous users, few of whom have declared him their representative, and planted it firmly in the Central American country, where President Nayib Bukele recently declared Bitcoin as legal tender.

“Very honored to lead this official delegation of Bitcoin ambassadors to El Salvador to educate the government about how Bitcoin, Blockchain and technology can create a brighter future for everyone in their nation,” Pierce tweeted on June 16.

Pierce said his visit wasn’t the first “official” Bitcoin visit, but the first to visit El Salvador in an official capacity since the start of Covid lockdowns.

His use of “official” drew a whole lot of hate online. Pierce said that it referred to “an official formal delegation of members of the ecosystem to meet with the government of El Salvador.”

The hate didn’t stop, so Pierce backtracked a day later, calling it a “poor choice of words due to the reaction of some.” However, he maintained that “we can all be evangelists, advocates and ambassadors.”

Pierce further angered his Twitter following today when he tweeted a picture of him and President Bukele on the front page of New York-based Spanish-speaking newspaper Noticia, alongside a blowout story about his trip on page 8.

“The visit to El Salvador by the delegation has made world wide news. We’re making history,” he wrote in his tweet.

The thing is, none of the editions of Noticia—not the Long Island, Suffolk or Nassau edition—covered Pierce’s visit. The front-page picture is of a doctor vaccinating a boy.

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Actual front page and page eight of Noticia (Long Island edition)

Pierce’s visit was covered by a local newspaper of a similar name, La Noticia SV, but this had nothing to do with the newspaper on which Pierce claimed to have made front-page news. Pierce could not be reached for comment by press time.

Justin Newton, CEO of Nekti, who attended the meetings with Pierce, tweeted that he picked up a copy of a Noticia with Pierce on the front and with the article in question on page 8 in the lobby of his hotel in El Salvador.

Noticia’s editor-in-chief Karmina Fonseca told Decrypt in a phone call on Friday that the paper doesn’t distribute the paper outside of New York, and doesn’t print commemorative editions. She wasn’t aware of a cover story featuring Brock Pierce, which wasn’t on the paper’s website at the time.

The next day, however, Noticia retrospectively added a cover featuring Brock Pierce on its website, as first noticed by Kim Nilsson, a software developer. Fonseca couldn’t be reached for further comment.

Pierce's election to the chair of the Bitcoin Foundation in 2014 was not uncontested. Several members of the foundation resigned in protest over allegations of his “past behaviour that involved drugs and sexual misconduct.”

Pierce, a former child TV star, used to run the Digital Entertainment Network before it went bankrupt in 2000. Employees of the video production company alleged that Pierce had pressured them for sex when they were minors.

Pierce has denied these claims; two of the suits were dropped, according to Reuters, and Pierce reportedly paid $21,000 to settle another.

In 2020, Pierce ran for president of the United States. Alas, he lost to the “official” President of the United States, Joe Biden.