A feud between two of Bitcoin’s most famous names spilled into the public arena today. Roger Ver and Charlie Shrem sparred on social media over an issue that appeared both personal and political.
Ver and Shrem Promoted Bitcoin at Personal Cost
Both men are long-time Bitcoin investors and entrepreneurs, and were founding members of the Bitcoin Foundation. Both have been fearless in their advocacy for Bitcoin — acting even when it risked their personal freedom, financial wellbeing and public image. They could have lived extremely well and privately from their early Bitcoin investments, had they wanted to.
But like several other members of what was once a close-knit movement, they’ve diverged on their views concerning Bitcoin’s fundamental nature and future roadmap.
Ver and Shrem have expressed strong views on the issue in public forums — Ver in favor of large-block, on-chain scaling, and Shrem supporting SegWit and the Bitcoin Core development team.
Tensions are high in this years-long debate, which has culminated in the possibility that Bitcoin may hard-fork after 1st August. Depending on the outcome, major stakeholders could be forced to take a side.
Bitcoin Politics and Personal Finances
Ver responded, saying Shrem was “undermining Satoshi’s Bitcoin” — but added that Shrem also owed him $5,000 USD for a past loan (in BTC), apparently to pay legal fees.
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) July 28, 2017
That’s when the argument turned personal. This issue also goes back some time.
When questioned, Ver accused Shrem of “lying about the loan” in other chats. He posted screenshots of emails between him and Shrem from May 2017, in which they briefly discussed the loan. Shrem said he was “working on it” before asking if Ver would come to his wedding.
The exchange ended with Ver declining the invitation, accusing Shrem of “publicly lying and damaged (sic) my efforts to save Bitcoin from a bunch of economically ignorant people”.
Ver didn’t specify that he wanted the loan repaid in BTC, but did mention that his $5,000 would be worth $50,000 today.
Shrem sent $5,000 in BTC to Ver’s address, and tweeted the transaction ID.
You are right. Im sorry. This has been paid $5,000 TX ID: 450a6b05598f462f39e533035aa1555af686fd43727baf61f73a6b001814d259
— Charlie Shrem (@CharlieShrem) July 28, 2017
He also replied in a Facebook feed that Ver’s publishing of his emails while he was serving a prison sentence had seen him punished with solitary confinement.
Many responders on both Twitter and Facebook expressed distaste at the tawdriness of the exchange, calling it “embarrassing”, and “immature”. However, many also took sides one way or the other.
Spat Highlights Deep Divisions in Bitcoin Community
Bitsonline does not wish to engage in gossip, and reached out to both Ver and Shrem for comment.
“We’re both passionate people. I respect Roger and his opinions, I hope he could do the same for me,” Shrem said.
The personal dispute was more of a proxy war in Bitcoin’s wider scaling debate. But it shows the deep, possibly irreconcilable differences in the community. The passions reflect what each side considers to be at stake.
Bitcoin began as a close-knit community who shared a common philosophy — that economic activity should, and could, be the domain of free individuals instead of restrictive governments and self-serving financial cartels.
At some point, however, it was inevitable that differences would arise over how to achieve that. From there, the choice becomes secession or forced union, leaving one side defeated and resentful.
Bitcoin may be like a revolution that fights its enemy, and then itself. On the other hand, it may be like an ordinary family who won the lottery, bought mansions, and realized too late that money can ruin everything, including friendships.
@S_Murphy_PhD I miss the old days 🙁
— Ra (@holynakamoto) July 28, 2017
Can the Bitcoin community unite, or will it splinter? Please share your thoughts.
Images via Twitter, Charlie Shrem, YouTube, Jon Southurst