My personal discovery of Bitcoin in late 2013 was utilitarian — I’d been deplatformed, and I needed an alternative to PayPal.

By early 2014, I’d been orange-pilled. I followed the mailing list, I read everything by OGs like Erik Voorhees, I started a company, and I tried to live completely off bitcoin.

In 2015, I attended a Bitcoin client development panel in a dingy San Mateo basement. The room was packed with young startup founders.

That night, a few of us went out for drinks. I had a sobering realization. If we succeeded at convincing the world that Bitcoin was the future of finance... we’d have successfully accelerated the war on cash, perhaps beyond the point of no return. Every person’s savings and transactions would be right there, on-chain, for anyone to see.

It was a chilling moment for me, and the thought of our financial panopticon ruined the rest of the evening. I tried to share my worries with my friends at the bar. “It’s okay”, they said. “We’ll fix that later.”

In late 2016, I met another famous Bitcoin developer over drinks.

After introducing himself, he asked what I was working on.

I told him that I ran a payments company on Bitcoin. Much of our volume was selling coffee and consumer goods for BTC, and I was very concerned about the steep fee market and the blocksize debate.

“It’s okay”, he said. “Lightning is coming. We’ll fix that later.”

Today, the first bitcoin ETF in the US has started trading. It’s a momentous achievement for the space — especially for those who never stopped believing in Bitcoin’s ability to challenge the Fed and provide a credibly neutral store of value to the world.

Back in 2014, we were ignored. Mt. Gox ended the bull run, and the space ran on fumes. Those who stayed involved felt like a small group of hobbyists, the sort of crowd you’d find at a maker space. In retrospect, being ignored was fun.

In 2016, we were laughed at. Pitching a bitcoin company was gauche. VCs and the media wanted to hear “blockchain, not bitcoin”, and “private” blockchain snake oil salesmen ruled the world. The Bitcoin price picked up steam, only to be hammered down by exchange hacks.

After 2018’s peak, regulatory scrutiny increased. Congresspeople shook their fists. They still do, in fact — some things never change.

Yet today, over the objections of the Chair of the SEC, effectively forced by a court order, the largest financial market in the world gained access to BTC.

Following the old adage, I have to ask. We’ve been ignored, laughed at, and fought. Today, are we... winning?

I’m not so sure.

It’s been 15 years since the Genesis Block was mined.

The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks[^1]

It’s been 15 years since Hal Finney’s iconic announcement.

We have had 15 years to scale Bitcoin.

15 years to experiment, explore, and deploy solutions to bring bitcoin to its next billion users.

We have had 15 years to make Bitcoin privacy-preserving.

15 years to avoid building a panopticon worse than today’s surveillance-first, ad-driven Internet

15 years to fight against the war on cash, rather than becoming a pawn.

Bitcoin’s survival wasn’t guaranteed. The fact that the network still runs today, resisting all external pressures, is incredible enough — now, the asset is becoming key to the world economy.

But it’s not enough. Bitcoin’s survival as a tool of freedom isn’t guaranteed, and the ETF’s approval marks a window that’s swiftly closing. If we can’t deliver on these promises, we’ll have earned the new world we’ve created.

After 15 years, it’s time to stop making excuses.