Long-awaited by some members of the Bitcoin space, Elon Musk joined Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood on Wednesday for "the talk" at Square's Bitcoin conference 'The B Word.'
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO's discussion with Dorsey and Wood was the headline event of the conference whose stated aim is to "demystify and destigmatize mainstream narratives about Bitcoin, explain how institutions can embrace it, and raise awareness around areas of the network that need support."
Although not initially part of the line-up, Musk joined the conference following an exchange with Dorsey on Twitter in June. And although Dorsey had dubbed the panel "the talk," the conversation was far from confrontational.
Often speaking of "crypto" when asked about "Bitcoin," Musk showed himself hesitant at times to commit to certain statements about Bitcoin, but emphasized the potential he sees in the network. While he expressed that he sees Bitcoin's scarcity and lack of a central point of failure as valuable key pillars of the network, he criticized the limitations of its base layer:
“Transaction volume is low, transaction cost is high, and usability for the average person is not yet very good. But it has a lot of potential.”
While Bitcoin's layer one cannot scale up to the replace the world's financial system, with the help of its second layer solutions, it can, Musk further stated; yet still, he showed himself confident in the experiment of a single-layer cryptocurrency that uses exchanges as the "de-facto second layer" — a thought he has previously express on Twitter, speaking about memecoin Doge. He spoke critically of some of Bitcoin's core features, such as its block size, which he stressed were set in "2008 or 2009" — implying they may no longer be appropriate. Although bitcoiners may have liked to see it, Musk received now comments on these statements.
Musk, who stated that besides Tesla stock and SpaceX shares, he only owns bitcoin, ether, and dogecoin, bitcoin making up the largest part of his cryptocurrency portfolio, further stressed that he wants to "see Bitcoin succeed."
Yet following Tesla's bitcoin purchase earlier this year, the energy use of the network skyrocketed, according to Musk, at a rate that could impossibly be handled by renewables. This prompted Musk to rethink the firm's position and conduct due diligence on Bitcoin's energy use — a difficult task considering it is not possible to definitively pinpoint the distribution of Bitcoin's energy sources. After announcing that it would begin accepting payments in bitcoin in March of this year, Tesla eventually halted those payments in May, citing said energy concerns.
With the ongoing shift of miners from East to West, Musk noted a "positive trend" and stated that Tesla would "most likely [...] resume accepting bitcoin" in the future. Cathie Wood showed herself confident in Bitcoin's energy usage, saying that already, Bitcoin is likely "more environmentally friendly than much of the gold mining and the traditional financial system."
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the event was Musk declaring that SpaceX also owns bitcoin. Tesla's announcement that it owned bitcoin was highly publicized in February of this year. SpaceX, however, is a private company and therefore not required to release such information.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey used the panel to reiterate his focus on supporting financial inclusion especially in areas of the world that heavily rely on remittances or are subject to high inflation. Dorsey shared that the Bitcoin community reminds him of that surrounding the early internet, stating that "we need to do whatever we can to help that thrive."
When asked what he would like to see for Bitcoin in the future, Dorsey kept it simple, yet powerful:
"My hope is that Bitcoin creates world peace."