In a conversation at CoinDesk’s annual Consensus conference, Michael Saylor, chairman and CEO of MicroStrategy
The controversy stemmed yesterday when Saylor and Musk both announced on Twitter they held a meeting with executives of major bitcoin mining operators in North America, including Argo Blockchain, Galaxy Digital and Marathon Digital Holdings, among others. The miners formed the Bitcoin Mining Council “to promote energy usage transparency and accelerate sustainability initiatives worldwide.”
Though the participants collectively control less than 10% of the global computing power on the bitcoin network, the news immediately caught fire and faced criticism. “This move “has absolutely nothing to do with green energy or climate. It has everything to do with CONTROL,” wrote Marty Bent, co-founder of Great American Mining, in his newsletter shortly after the announcement.
Speaking at the conference, Saylor noted in response to critics: “The only reason we had the meeting is because we wanted to ensure the success of a decentralized cryptocurrency and the source of decentralization is energy usage.” He also called concerns over the sustainability of energy sourcing “the existential threat to bitcoin – to the extent that we want to defend Bitcoin, we need to manage any concerns, especially from uninformed parties, concerning energy usage,” making sure that people who are “hostile to Bitcoin and the crypto industry aren’t defining those narratives, models and metrics. In the absence of any good information or any response on our part, they will define those models.” Fending off the closed-door nature of the gathering, Saylor quipped, “If it was a secret meeting, I wouldn’t have told millions of people the next day.”
According to Saylor, he reached out to Musk first and offered to convene the meeting between him and the miners. “We wanted to understand how we could be the good guys in the entire ESG debate”, because “we [bitcoiners] are the good people” who are “actually driving sustainability,” says Saylor.
The council’s first order of business will involve the creation of a protocol that would standardize energy reporting requirements for the miners and serve as a “benchmark versus other industries,” giving institutional investors “comfort as they enter the space,” says Saylor. Additionally, the group plans to come up with industry-wide Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) goals.
The council is announced less than a week after Chinese authorities warned of a crackdown on cryptocurrency mining and trading activities. By some estimates, China accounts for more than 75% of the total processing power on the bitcoin network.