“Bitcoin changes absolutely everything,” said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to begin a Fireside Chat with Alex Gladstein at Bitcoin Conference 2021. “And what I’m drawn to the most about it is the ethos, is what it represents, is how the conditions created are so rare and so special and so precious, and I don’t think there’s anything more important in my lifetime to work on, and I don’t think there’s anything more enabling for people around the world.”
Dorsey focuses on ensuring that he helps with whatever he can when it comes to Bitcoin’s growth. “Whatever my companies can do to make it accessible to everyone is just how I am going to spend the rest of my life,” Dorsey said, noting that if he were not leading Square or Twitter, he’d be working on Bitcoin. He then took it further and said that if Bitcoin needed help, he would leave Square and Twitter for Bitcoin. However, he does believe both of his companies have a role to play in the present and future.
“Anything that we can do as companies to help also find the right intersection between a corporate narrative and a community, open narrative is for the best.”
Dorsey believes there is still much work to be done on Bitcoin around accessibility and education so that people can “own the idea” themselves. “We don’t need the banks anymore,” he said. “We don’t need the financial institutions that we have today. We have one that is thriving, that is sound, that is owned by the community, that is driven by the community, that has this incredible and amazing consensus that always manages to do the right thing over time. It’s noble. And it’s so rare and so unique. So anything that we can do to build it and to protect it, we’re down to do.”
Dorsey recently launched a new fund with Jay Z in which the two dedicated 500 bitcoins to help grow the Bitcoin ecosystem in Africa and in India. He spent November 2019 roaming around the continent of Africa. He went to Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, and he saw that the number one problem that entrepreneurs were working on was payments. “And I only met the entrepreneurs, I didn’t meet anyone in the government and the media,” said Dorsey. The most interesting among those startups were working on Bitcoin, he thought.
“And when I saw the reports of Nigeria considering banning Bitcoin, it is a reminder that we could use a lot more help developing around the world, finding developers on the continent of Africa, enabling them to do their work without having to think about taking another job is important.”
Dorsey began speaking with Jay Z about it. “Jay loves Bitcoin,” said Dorsey. “He goes very deep on what he loves, he believes in it. And, he also believes in this idea of making sure that if we’re going to create money for the world, it has to be developed around the world. And anywhere there are gaps, we should try to fill them. So, right now, we’re trying to find the right board for it. It’s going to be a completely separate entity, I have no control or say or direction over it. Once we find that board, they’ll hire a lead, and they’ll start making grants denominated in Bitcoin.”
Dorsey thinks Wall Street and Silicon Valley are oblivious to what’s going on globally with Bitcoin. “They’re missing everything,” said Dorsey. “…Go to Nigeria for one day, and see the struggle that people have to put up with with their government, and with their money, and go to Ghana that has a bunch of transplants from all over the continent, and you witness the same thing every single day. Go to India, and you see the same.”
His experience has led Dorsey to commit to the Lighting Network, because he believes it is going to be used by more and more people. He elucidated on his belief in Bitcoin. “It’s an amazing asset, but my belief is the internet needs a native currency. We need to be able to transact with it every single day, and everyone around the world needs to transact with it every day. So, the only reason Square got into Bitcoin is to that end. It’s not just to be an exchange. And that’s why we don’t deal with any other currencies or coins. Because we’re so focused on making Bitcoin the native currency for the internet.”
As Dorsey proceeded to praise the Lightning Network team, Laura Loomer, the self-proclaimed ‘most banned woman in the world’, because of her social media accounts being suspended, interrupted the discussion.
“How can you say this is a currency for everyone in the world, when you are the king of censorship?” she asked from just below the stage. “Bitcoin is about decentralization, and you have no right to be here today speaking about
“We’re working on that, too. We’re working on that,too.”
Loomer continued to raise her concerns. “We can talk about it,” said Dorsey.
“Censorship is a human rights violation,” yelled Loomer.
“We can talk about that,” said Dorsey directly into the mic.
“You are interfering with elections,” said Loomer.
As the fracas settled, moderator asked Dorsey if social media can be more censorship resistant like Bitcoin.
“Yes, I do believe it can,” said Dorsey. “I know there’s a number of you out there who disagree with a lot of actions that Twitter has taken.” The crowd applauded Dorsey.
“Techno-facist!” Loomer could be heard screaming as she was still being led out of the auditorium.
“I know there’s a lot of you out there who disagree with our policies and the way we’ve evolved them. I appreciate that. I recognize it. I also recognize the fact that there is an incentive and a corporate incentive and a business incentive that is different from what might be needed for global communication for public conversation. And my goal in my life, at this moment, is to remove, as much as I can, the corporateness of our companies, and find better intersections with the open source community. Bitcoin has taught me that with Square…”
“You are a liar!’ shouted someone from the audience.
“We’re doing everything in our power to do that,” continued Dorsey. “And we’re trying to do the same thing with Twitter by creating a new platform, a new open source standard called Blue Sky,” said Dorsey, referring to an initiative of Twitter to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. He announced the initiative in a tweet:
“Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.”
He went into details at Bitcoin 2021. “We’re just starting it, and it will have none of the restrictions that you see on Twitter. So, inspired entirely by Bitcoin…”
“Liar!” a man yelled.
“We want to do the same thing for social media,” said Dorsey. “And again, I know you’re not going to believe me, I know you think I’m lying. I’m going to prove it to you. And then we can have another conversation later.”
Dorsey says he appreciates the criticism, and encourages people to continue criticizing him.
He remains focused on making Bitcoin the currency of the internet. “Square Crypto and Steve, team, and Matt, have been focused on making sure that any wallet can easily turn on Lightning and make it accessible to everyone,” he said. “So the more people we have considering using Bitcoin for payments—for tips, for streaming money—the stronger this ecosystem is, and the more we achieve our goal.”
Square Crypto is considering building a noncustodial, hardware wallet, said Dorsey. “And the thing we want to do is make it completely out in the open. So, from all of our software to all of our hardware design, whether it be open source, or be on GitHub, we want to build it in collaboration with the community. So, we started a thread today just asking some questions about our design principles. We don’t want to compete with hardware wallets out there, we just want to take it to the next level and get to 100 million more people who have non-custodial solutions.”
Dorsey said Square Crypto is likely to do something very soon. “But, we wanted to make sure that we’re thinking about this in the correct way, and we’re reaching out to the right folks in the community to build it. And as a custodial exchange, we need to push more companies like us to make sure that people have non-custodial solutions.”
In Dorsey’s mind, there’s nothing else that compares to Bitcoin. “The conditions that created Bitcoin, everything that went into it, from the Proof of Work model to the development model, no single points of failure, everything about it, is why we’re into it…And we have no interest other than making sure that we are building a native currency for the internet and helping in every way that we can. So, all the other current coins to me don’t factor in at all.”
Dorsey sees central bank actions as bumps in the road. “And they’re [expletive]. We have a much better alternative in Bitcoin. We have designs for that sort of privacy and that freedom within it. And the more we can, especially our governments, realize that, and get in the boat sooner, the better off we all are.”
As for those who say Bitcoin is only for criminals, Dorsey thinks people are just making an excuse. “It feels like it’s a cover for something else going on,” said Dorsey. “I don’t actually hear that a lot from regulators. Square was one of the first companies that was a public company that talked to the SEC about Bitcoin. That never came up. So, it feels like there’s probably something a little bit deeper when you’re hearing any of these excuses. And it’s just trying to understand what that really is. And I think it’s really losing power, effectively.”
Dorsey doesn’t foresee Wall Street dominating Bitcoin. “It can’t and never will,” riposted Dorsey. “And the more companies small, big that demonstrate that and try to offset their corporateness by doing things that are more supportive of the community itself, such as creating a Square Crypto or a COPA to give up Bitcoin patents to protect the community. It just becomes more resilient everyday.” COPA, or Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance, was formed in September 2020 by Square to pool patents and preserve the industry’s open-source spirit.
Dorsey dismisses that Bitcoin mining is bad for the environment. Just look at the economics of it, Dorsey says. “Ultimately, miners have to make a profit and get cheap, renewable energy maximizes their potential for profit. It’s really that simple. And I thought I had some agreement with some notable figures out there, and then that seemed to change over a matter of a few weeks, and now it’s in a weird kind of place. But, I believe fully that Bitcoin over time, and today does incentivize more renewable energy. It does incentivize more awareness around how we’re getting that power, and gives people more freedom to convert unused, wasted power into something that actually creates value for billions of people around the world.”
Is Bitcoin patriotic?
“100%,” said Dorsey. “But I mean, It benefits the entire world.”
“You are unamerican,” yells a young man from the middle of the crowd. Dorsey continued.
“That’s what makes [Bitcoin] incredible is like every single person in the world will benefit and get value from utilizing this,” said Dorsey. “And the more accessible we make it, just that realization that we finally have a currency that can be traded to any single point on the planet is pretty incredible. And what that enables going forward is mind blowing. And, I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure that that happens.”
Is Bitcoin the way forward?
“100%,” said Dorsey. “It’s the only way out.”