A fork of a fork of a fork?
With Friday’s birth of a new coin called “bitcoin private,” the cryptocurrency space just keeps getting more meta. The much-discussed launch finds the cryptocurrency being created from a copy of the zclassic cryptocurrency (itself a copy of zcash, which was a copy of bitcoin).
But if that sounds crazy, it’s all – allegedly – in the spirit of innovation.
“The big experiment with airdropped coins was that they’ll just fail, and if people are getting free coins, they’ll just immediately sell them and it will dump down to pennies,” said Rhett Creighton, who’s leading the bitcoin private effort.
Yet, in a number of cases, that notion just didn’t pan out.
Bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold and ethereum classic, three high-profile hard forks, are now valued at $1,285, $115 and $34, respectively. And for those who owned large amounts of bitcoin or ether, those launches meant big gains with little effort.
But for zclassic, its fork wasn’t exactly a success story. Zclassic flatlined throughout most of 2017, falling to under $2 per coin, while zcash stayed in the hundreds.
Rather than walk away, though, in December, Creighton doubled down.
“I would like to propose revitalizing zclassic by migrating it to become a bitcoin hard fork, ‘Bitcoin Private’ (or possibly another name),” Creighton tweeted.
And although Creighton told members of a Telegram channel he didn’t write any of the code or create the white paper, logo or website, his concept has come to life.
In this way, bitcoin private is perhaps the pinnacle of the forking phenomenon, and in turn, it has become somewhat of a punching bag for crypto enthusiasts on Twitter. Trader Peter McCormack dismissed it as “brand stealing” and “unnecessary,” while a popular Twitter user @dandarkpill called the project “an abominable potpourri of buzzword features.”
Yet, the cryptocurrency has garnered a significant amount of interest, for distributing new, free coins to users of, not just one existing blockchain, but two: zclassic and bitcoin.
By forking a code base, a user’s private key can be made to access multiple wallets, a method that, while criticized on security grounds, Creighton sees as a feature that could become important over time.
He told CoinDesk:
“So you have in the case of bitcoin, all these people have their private keys, but when forks spring up now the same private key can be used in different peer-to-peer networks. It seems to be a key piece to the technology.”