Bitcoin Startup Blockstream Appoints Adam Back as CEO

Open source bitcoin startup Blockstream, notable for its foray into developing sidechains for the bitcoin blockchain will now see a CEO at its helm.

In a recent announcement, Blockstream revealed a unanimous decision by the company’s board of director that saw Blockstream co-founder Adam Back become CEO of the company.

Back held the role of President before his new position and has also operated as the chief operating officer in the past.

Blockstream revealed outgoing CEO Austin Hill will “pursue other opportunities” and has also stepped down from the board.

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Adam Back

A prominent academic in the bitcoin space, Adam has notably contributed proof-of-work systems like Hashcash for cryptocurrencies including bitcoin. As a bitcoin advocate, Back is also a principal sponsor of the communal Scaling Bitcoin annual event.

In statements following his new role, Adam stated:

I am honoured to take on the CEO position at this important phase in the company’s growth and am excited about leading Blockstream to its full potential. We have a world-class team dedicated to building the foundation that will underpin the transformation of finance for years to come.

The firm, which notably announced Liquid, the first Bitcoin sidechain that is aimed at facilitating bitcoin exchanges, traders and payment processors with instantaneous transactions, comprises of Bitcoin core developers.

It has seen its criticism in the past for its supposed influence in the bitcoin ecosystem, most notably from former Bitcoin Core developer Mike Hearn.

The former bitcoin enthusiast, who – to much media coverage – opined that bitcoin had “failed” earlier this year, put the blame on Blockstream for the much-debated bitcoin scaling issue.

Mike Hearn wrote:

Bitcoin’s problem is not a lack of a leader, it’s [sic] problem is that the leader is Gregory Maxwell at Blockstream and he’s a terrible decision maker. Blockstream is the source of the refusal to bump the block size.

Indeed, the block size debate did not stalemate. It resulted in the small blockists winning, due to the much more aggressive tactics they used (e.g. hiring a bunch of developers then asserting they’d all quit forever if the block size were changed).

This year, Blockstream saw a successful Series A funding round where the bitcoin blockchain-centric startup raised $55 million, adding to a previous $21 million seed round. It was the beginning of an eventful year for the Blockstream which soon announced a strategic partnership with ‘big 4’ services firm PwC, in March.

The following month saw Blockstream join the open-source Hyperledger blockchain project, led by the Linux Foundation. More recently, Blockstream acquired bitcoin wallet GreenAddress, as a direct acquisition to accelerate its sidechains platform development.

Images from Shutterstock and LinkedIn.

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About the author

Samburaj Das
Samburaj Das

Samburaj is the Editor for CCN, among the earliest and foremost publications covering blockchain, cryptocurrency and financial technology news. He has authored over 1,500 articles for CCN and is invested in Bitcoin. Email him samburaj(@)ccn.com or find him barely tweeting @sambdas

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