THE @the
Contrary to popular belief, “Bitcoin” Core (the repo, the team of devs, and everything else associated with BTC) is not decentralized. Decentralization doesn’t even actually exist in any practical sense, even though BTC has been working on maximizing it for years. In reality, most attempts create de facto business entities with major liabilities which fall onto individual contributors to systems while creating “decentralization theater” for the public. But to venture investors, it’s all just business, and the developers are collateral damage. They aren’t all innocent though. For example, the name “Bitcoin Core” has been used to establish an online presence to imply leadership or centrality or even ownership of the system to use as a bargaining chip for investment capital from big firms.

Today, the BTC Core team is largely paid by Mastercard Ventures through various venture branches, and they are the rulers of the network through their developer proxies.
Can anyone show me a time when BTC Core wasn’t used as the reference client for protocol consensus changes? I’ll wait… (Source: BTC Core GitHub)

How did it get this way?

Before 2015, most developers were unpaid volunteers in the Bitcoin economy, but the value of the project was growing despite the fact that they were not getting rich unless they were spending their hard-earned money from their day jobs and buying bitcoin like any other person.

This led to the pursuit of investment, and by 2015, Mastercard led a seed round with Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, Transamerica Ventures, FirstMark Capital, and New York Life to establish a company called “Digital Currency Group” led by Silicon Valley darling Barry Silbert. Silbert stated, “being structured as a company, versus a fund, allows us to evolve with the industry given our permanent capital base and flexible mandate,” which means that they can be less held down by financial regulations, and therefore have more influence over their portfolio companies.

This led to the creation of paid BTC development firm Blockstream, and the rest is history! Their portfolio also includes Lightning Labs, Kraken, Coinbase, BitGo, BitPay, Blockstacks, CoinDesk, Circle, Chainalysis, Curv, eToro, Fireblocks, Genesis Trading, Grayscale, ItBit/Paxos, Ledger, Parity, Ripple, Hedera (Hashgraph), RSK Labs, Ripio Network, ShapeShift, Xapo and many, many more. Basically, they own over 90% of the public infrastructure for BTC and all of its competitors.

With hegemonic control in 2015, Mastercard was able to shift the narrative of Bitcoin from being a “Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” and force its user experience into being unpleasant and occasionally unusable in order to create business opportunities for their other portfolio brands to profit from specialized services to BTC like Lightning Network.

Much like Taylor/Powerhouse/Middleby/McDonalds, Mastercard has inserted themselves into every aspect of the management of all the profitable offshoots of BTC’s failure to scale, and they make money whether it wins or loses based on providing services like custody and debit cards where just a year or two earlier, intrepid entrepreneurs would have just built native bitcoin point-of-sale systems.
12:51 PM - Jan 21, 2023
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