A foundation was curious as to why we have Bitcoin on our balance sheet, and I thought I would explain it publicly.
The Internet Archive explores how bitcoin and other Internet innovations can be useful in the non-profit sphere– this is part of it. We want to see how donated bitcoin can be used, not just sold off. We are doing this publicly so others can learn from us. And it is fun. And it is interesting.
We started receiving donations in bitcoin in 2011, the first year we got about 2,700 and we sold them to an employee who was heavily involved (for the prevailing $2 per bitcoin). The next year, we held onto them and offered them to employees as an optional way to get their salary– ⅓ took some. We set up an ATM at the Internet Archive. We got the sushi place next door to take bitcoins, and encouraged our employees to buy books at Green Apple Books in bitcoin. We set up a vanity address. Started taking bitcoin in our swag store. Tried (and failed) to get our credit union to help bitcoin firms.
Another year we gave a small amount to people as an xmas bonus to those that set up a wallet (from a matching grant of bitcoins from me).
We paid vendors and contractors in bitcoin when they wanted it. Starting getting micropayments from the Brave Browser. Hosted a movie with filmmakers on living on bitcoin. We publicly tested if people are stealing bitcoins like the press was saying (didn’t steal ours).
A few years later, the price had gone up so much, I personally bought some at the going rate to decrease financial risk to the Internet Archive, but then I did not just cash those in for dollars. We may seem like we are geniuses, but we are not, we saw the price go down as well and we did not sell out then either.
Recently Zcash folks helped us set up a Zcash address, and would love people to donate there.
What we are doing is trying to “play the game” and see how it works for non-profits. It is not an investment for us, it is testing a technology in an open way. If you want to see the donations to us in bitcoin, they are here. Zcash here.
Bitcoin donations have been decreasing in recent years, which may reflect we are not moving with the times. I am hoping that someone will say, gosh, I will donate a thousand bitcoins to these guys who have been so good :). Here is to hoping.
So the Internet Archive has some bitcoin on its balance sheet to be a living example of an organization that is trying this innovative Internet technology. We do the same with bittorrent, tor, and decentralized web tech.
Please donate and we will put them to good use supporting the Internet Archive’s mission.