Who Owns the Bitcoin.org Domain? Why Did Satoshi Transfer Ownership? Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin.org
Bitcoin.org is the first result that appears when you search for “bitcoin” on Google. Bitcoin.org was also the first website in the world to mention bitcoin. It’s where the first bitcoin whitepaper was uploaded.
The story of Bitcoin.org is surprisingly interesting, including how it was registered in the early days, how it was transferred over the years, Satoshi’s ownership of the domain, and who owns the domain today.
This day 10 years ago.
"Electronic cash without a trusted third party"
"BITCOIN: A Peer to peer Electronic Cash System"
On Sunday 17th August 2008 AEST the bitcoin domain was registered. pic.twitter.com/JCxkEAESUH
— Dr Craig S Wright (@ProfFaustus) July 26, 2018
Wright’s tweet was motivated by a special anniversary: on this day, 10 years ago, the bitcoin whitepaper was retitled. On July 26, 2008, the original whitepaper changed titles from, “Electronic cash without a trusted third party” to “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System.”
This was obviously a landmark moment in the early days of bitcoin.
Wright chimed in with another tidbit of bitcoin trivia: on Sunday, August 17, 2008 the bitcoin domain was registered. Dr. Wright’s tweet specifically mentions AEST, which is the time zone used on the east coast of Australia.
In follow-up tweets, Wright added that the site was registered on AnonymousSpeech.com by Sakura. Sakura also hosted the first Bitcoin.org site.
Wright is tweeting about this information because of a recent debate in the bitcoin-dot-org GitHub. On July 25, an issue called “Bitcoin.org Domain Ownership” was raised in the bitcoin-dot-org GitHub. In that issue, skeptics argued that Bitcoin.org co-owner Cobra might “re-purpose Bitcoin.org to promote BCH.”
Cobra, in response, is defending his or her position in the community, saying they’re not going to be pressured “into handing over the domain to some random group.”
Nevertheless, detractors claim Cobra has become a loose cannon who may use the domain to start “propagandizing BCH.”
Cobra goes by the name @CobraBitcoin on Twitter and Cobra-Bitcoin on GitHub, although Cobra’s identity has never been revealed.
One of the proposed solutions is for Cobra to transfer the domain to @theymos, the pseudonymous lead administrator of the controversial /r/bitcoin forum and the Bitcoin Forum. Theymos and Cobra are currently co-owners of the Bitcoin.org domain.
Another proposal is for Cobra to transfer the domain to a non-profit whose membership comes from respected members of the bitcoin community.
Cobra has responded to the attack by saying there’s “no way on earth” he or she is transferring the domain, in spite of the fact that he or she has “serious levels of respect for” Theynos.
Cobra insists they’re not evangelizing BCH, nor are they planning to transform Bitcoin.org to a BCH fan club. Cobra admits that they’ve been talking about BCH increasingly on social media lately, but that they remain committed to accurately representing BTC and the bitcoin community.
How did Cobra come to own Bitcoin.org? Where do Satoshi Nakamoto and Craig Wright fit into all this? Let’s take a closer look.
The Bitcoin.org Ownership Question
The Start: The Bitcoin.org Domain is Registered on August 17, 2008
First, Bitcoin.org was registered and owned by bitcoin’s first two developers, Satoshi Nakamoto and Martti Malmi.
“When Nakamoto left the project,” explains Bitcoin.org, “He gave ownership of the domain to additional people, separate from the bitcoin developers, to spread responsibility and prevent any one person or group from easily gaining control over the bitcoin project.”
We don’t hear a lot about Martti Malmi today. Also known as Sirius, Malmi was a student of Aalto University in Finland. He was a core original developer of bitcoin, and Satoshi attributed some of the new features of bitcoin version 0.2 to him (you can see Satoshi’s posted praising Malmi here). Malmi was removed from the list of project developers on Bitcoin.org in June 2011.
As of 2011, Malmi continued to be the owner and administrator of the BitcoinTalk.org forums, BitcoinTalk.org, and Bitcoin.org.
During this time, Malmi and Gavin Andresen (lead developer of bitcoin at the time) had access to the Bitcoin.org website.
2011 to 2013
As of September 25, 2013, the code for the bitcoin.org website was hosted under the bitcoin project’s GitHub page.
From 2011 to 2013, the site was primarily used for releasing new upgrades to the Bitcoin Core software. In 2013, however, the site went through a redesign where numerous pages were updated, additional bitcoin software was listed, and a translation system added.
In 2014, the major change to Bitcoin.org involved new developer documentation. Updates, fixes, suggestions, and improvements were welcomed from members of the community (and continue to be welcomed to this day).
Up to this time, the owner of the Bitcoin.org domain continued to be Finnish developer Martti Malmi (Sirius).
Starting around 2016, a GitHub commit removed Sirius from the Bitcoin.org domain and replaced Sirius with Cobra. That commit also removed the real name of theymos from the project. Theymos’s real name, by the way, is Michael Marquardt (although there’s some controversy over this, and it’s unclear if the person behind the online “theymos” identity in 2018 is the same person behind that identity in 2010).
Since 2014, Bitcoin.org has been an independent open source project “with contributors from around the world.”
“Final publication authority is held by the co-owners, but all regular activity is organized through the public pull request process and managed by the site co-maintainers.”
Today, the Bitcoin.org domain is owned by co-owners Cobra and theymos. Paxful sponsors the website, and the website is maintained by Will Binns, while the Bitcoin.org wallet is maintained by Craig Watkins. Full information about Bitcoin.org’s contributors and owners can be seen here.
Conclusion: What’s Next?
Ultimately, co-owners Cobra and theymos are controversial figures in the bitcoin community to say the least. Both have been criticized of supporting censorship in the bitcoin community, and both have been criticized for having too much power over the bitcoin community.
The July 25 to the GitHub page introduces further controversy to the Bitcoin.org ownership debate. It’s possible that in the near future, the Bitcoin.org domain could be owned exclusively by theymos, which would give theymos huge control over three major online bitcoin sources.
The debate rages on about the ownership of Bitcoin.org and as always who the actual creator of Bitcoin is in Satoshi Nakamoto. Last month there was also the Nakamoto Family Institute book ploy that came out last month claiming to be Satoshi and would be revealing more facts as time went on but so far nothing has came from this. Then for those that missed it, for those who are still not in the know and on the go by thinking Dr. Craig Steven Wright isn't Satoshi, earlier this year he was grouped in a lawsuit that all but pins him there in the early days with his partner David Kleiman.
Anyway, we have reached out to Dr. Wright to see if we can setup an interview regarding the fascinating Bitcoin.org history to see if we can gain more insights into the early pioneering days of what is now trading at $8,000 USD+ and has seen all time highs of nearly $20,000 USD and has zero signs of slowing down anytime soon.