What’s up with Cøbra?

What’s up with Cøbra?

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The recent legal action filed by Dr. Craig Wright against the online persona known as Cøbra has called into question the latter’s right to host the Bitcoin white paper on the Bitcoin.org website.

In January, attorneys acting on behalf of Dr. Wright issued a copyright infringement notice to “the individual styling themselves as ‘Cøbra,’” who operates on Twitter via the @CobraBitcoin handle and currently controls Bitcoin.org.

The legal notice indicated that Wright, who claims to be the individual behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym credited with authoring the ‘white paper’ that introduced Bitcoin to the world, had decided to enforce his copyright in that document.

Wright’s stated aim in pursuing this action is to compel sites—including Bitcoin.org—that promote protocols that differ from the vision Wright detailed in the white paper to remove said document or face the legal consequences.

(For simplicity’s sake and based on Cøbra’s frequent use of the alt-right pejorative term ‘cuck’ to denigrate his opponents, we’re going to go out on a limb and assume the individual behind the account is male.)

Cøbra responded with a blog post declaring his unwillingness to be “silenced or intimidated,” while issuing a public appeal for financial donations to support his legal cause. (It’s likely that only a fraction of the ensuing BTC donations ever made it to Cøbra, as the notoriously high transaction fees associated with the BTC protocol would have consumed a healthy chunk of these funds.)

Cøbra’s support for BTC makes his desire to continue to host the white paper on Bitcoin.org all the more curious, given BTC’s current lack of resemblance to the technology described in Bitcoin’s founding document. Cøbra has also publicly denigrated the white paper as “outdated and incorrect” and “arguably the worst introduction to Bitcoin.” So what gives?


Cøbra’s eagerness to maintain ties to the white paper is probably based on the document’s reference to Bitcoin.org on its first page. This affords the individual controlling the domain a degree of authority and influence over all things Bitcoin, a perk that Cøbra has been only too eager to indulge.

Cøbra routinely claims that Bitcoin.org helps educate ‘millions’ of Bitcoin neophytes each year. Despite his occasional humble-brags of personal riches derived from early adoption of various digital currencies, both Bitcoin.org and Cøbra’s Twitter feed actively solicit donations from these hordes of noobs. This money is ostensibly directed toward maintaining Bitcoin.org’s operations, although the site is about as technically complex (and nearly as attractive) as a 1997 GeoCities blog.

Cøbra also appears to be monetizing Bitcoin.org’s prominence by serving as an affiliate marketer. While the site offers a ‘Bitcoin Exchanges’ page, the far more prominent ‘Buy Bitcoin’ button at the top of the home page steers buyers to Moonpay, an exchange that has been criticized for charging stiff fees to process digital currency transactions.

To its credit, Bitcoin.org itself warns (in small print at the bottom of the page) that Moonpay charges fees that “may be higher than some other Bitcoin exchanges.” But it begs the question: why does a site that so publicly celebrates the onboarding of Bitcoin virgins wish to see these initial transactions be so unfairly tilted towards middlemen? (The cynic in us suspects it’s conditioning them to getting gouged in the future by the Lightning Network.)

Irrelevant schmirrelevant

BTC’s inescapable association with high fees stands in stark contrast to the low-fee, high-volume, big-block model of the Bitcoin SV protocol that Wright favors. That’s why it’s so surprising that a BTC backer like Cøbra has periodically offered modest praise for BSV’s technology (although initially, this was mainly due to Cøbra’s even greater distaste for the BCH protocol and the hope that BSV would disrupt BCH’s efforts to dethrone BTC).

Cøbra has never voiced similar praise for Wright; indeed, Cøbra has issued numerous statements equating Wright with ‘frauds and charlatans,’ while vehemently rejecting Wright’s claims of being Satoshi and urging others to do likewise. Understandably, both the volume and aggressiveness of these personal attacks escalated following Wright’s legal action against Cøbra.

As part of these attacks, Cøbra has lobbed “have fun staying poor” jabs at BSV supporters for their token’s failure to keep pace with BTC during the latter token’s value bubble surge. BSV supporters have responded by pointing out that BSV’s true value lies in its technology, particularly its nearly limitless capacity to scale.

Interestingly, just two years ago, Cøbra tweeted “Who cares about price? Technology is interesting, price is irrelevant” in reply to someone who questioned his support for a new coin that had just plummeted in value. Relevancy, it seems, is a moving target.

Somebody call a scambulance

Cøbra has a long history of calling out perceived ‘scams,’ a category into which he lumps BSV. These claims have occasionally come back to bite Cøbra, most notably following his six-month demonization of crypto hardware suppliers Halong Mining. In dozens of tweets and a Medium article, Cøbra accused the company of having “swindled millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin from thousands of customers.”

On April 13, 2018, Cøbra tweeted that he was “completely wrong about Halong Mining” after confirming that the company had indeed “delivered functional hardware as promised.” Cøbra claimed to be “extremely sorry” for his prolonged assault on Halong’s reputation and promised to eat an appropriately large portion of crow.

But apart from a brief period of self-flagellation, he appears to have escaped serious blowback, which may explain why he swiftly resumed applying his ‘scam’ tag to a wide variety of individuals, entities and products. Apparently, the lack of tangible repercussions only served to embolden him, but his ability to go on dodging the consequences of his actions won’t last forever.

Now how much would you pay?

The legal notice Cøbra received in January also included Wright’s claim to ownership of the Bitcoin.org domain and his “firm intention to enforce such rights in due course.” Cøbra has publicly refuted Wright’s claims to having ever owned Bitcoin.org but the circumstances under which Cøbra gained control over Bitcoin.org are murky to say the least.

The public doesn’t know from whom Cøbra acquired the domain, although the site had at different times been under the control of Finnish developer Martti ‘Sirius’ Malmi and Bitcointalk.org administrator Michael ‘Theymos’ Marquardt. There have been suggestions that Cøbra and Marquardt are the same individual, claims that both parties have denied.

We also don’t know what consideration—financial or otherwise—Cøbra may have provided for assuming control of Bitcoin.org. But Cøbra has occasionally boasted of rejecting “opportunities to sell out for millions of dollars,” so the transaction appears to have left him with a lucrative exit strategy should he tire of this game.

You knew I was a snake…

Regardless of who’s lurking under Cøbra’s scales, his public utterances strongly suggest that the Bitcoin community would be far better off without him in control of a prominent platform like Bitcoin.org. For instance, consider his unabashed praise of former Silk Road marketplace operator Ross Ulbricht as a ‘true thought leader.’

Now, we recognize that a lot of readers hold libertarian views and thus may have viewed Silk Road as a preferable alternative to the failed war on drugs. But it’s undeniable that Bitcoin’s early association with a site peddling not just reefer and mushrooms but fentanyl and heroin, not to mention fake passports used for any number of suspect schemes, probably set back mainstream adoption of the technology for years.

Even if you supported Silk Road, does this support extend to Cøbra’s belief that Bitcoin is “a declaration of war against governments, in particular the U.S. government,” or that “all Governments in this world need to be destroyed completely and thoroughly”?

Are we that naïve to believe that certain governments, if sufficiently provoked, couldn’t end this Bitcoin experiment tomorrow? Do we really believe that waving red flags at angry bulls is an optimal long-term growth strategy?

Not wild enough for you? How about Cøbra’s claim that it was “the US Government that attacked its own citizens” on September 11, 2001 “by blowing up the towers with bombs. There were never any planes, it was all faked by Bush and his cronies to justify his for-profit wars.”

Cøbra has also equated Obama with Hitler and called John McCain’s death “a cause of celebration.” 

Still not convinced? How about Cøbra’s November 2018 tweet that Wright “is definitely some sort of secret agent for the banks (maybe Rothschilds?)” and there had to be “powerful hands pulling [Wright’s] strings.”

Accusing the Rothschilds of ‘pulling strings’ is a centuries-old anti-Semitic slur that routinely serves as a dog whistle for individuals who don’t want to come right out and say they don’t like Jews. Fortunately, Cøbra eliminated any wiggle room on this subject earlier that year, when he referred to Israel as “a special type of evil” and claimed it was “really nasty the way these pigs behave.”

In 2018, Cøbra openly advocated for ‘assassination markets,’ claiming that they were “probably one of the most powerful ideas to come out of the Cypherpunk movement.” Cøbra claimed that “an ideal anarchist society needs a functional way to remove undesirables, and a collective incentive for their elimination could be one way of implementing P2P ‘law’.”

Cøbra left open the question of who got to define ‘evil,’ but in 2019, Cøbra followed up on this thread, saying the “market decides” who deserved to die, adding that “even someone with political aspirations and leadership tendencies might be deemed a threat to the anarchist order and removed.”

As detailed above, the benefits that Cøbra derives from his control over Bitcoin.org are clear. It’s far less clear what the Bitcoin community gains from this arrangement. If the community truly seeks global acceptance, be it BTC’s desire to act as ‘digital gold’ or BSV’s far more ambitious plan to serve as a microtransaction digital payment and data-handling powerhouse, it needs to pick better ambassadors than Cøbra.

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