Nobody is “in charge” of Bitcoin – at least in the sense that Bitcoin is not a company or organization, has no governing body and no organizational structure. Bitcoin is simply a software protocol, like HTTP (aka the Internet and SMTP (aka email). This has been the case since Bitcoin’s creator, the person (or persons) calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto, released their creation into the wild in 2009. There are, however, certain groups who can exert influence over the way Bitcoin functions through various means. Again, though, there are no individuals who can claim to speak for these groups and they contain a plethora of opinions and incentives within. Examples of such groups are Developers: These are the people who write and maintain the software the Bitcoin network runs on. Although Satoshi Nakamoto released the first version of Bitcoin himself in 2009, the code has since been re-written and updated by subsequent programmers. The developers choose what updates to make to the protocol, and consider ways it can be improved. Miners: These are the people (and companies) that own the machines that generate new bitcoins and keep the network secure by validating transactions. As a result, they have the power to “vote” with their hardware and choose which Bitcoin software to support. Developers may create and release radical revisions to the Bitcoin protocol, but they’ll have no effect unless the Bitcoin miners choose to adopt them. Users: That’s you. At the end of the day, if regular users decide Bitcoin no longer fulfills their needs, then it will have no value. You can see the user effect in action just by looking at alternative cryptocurrencies collectively known as ‘altcoins’ – there are currently about 700 different altcoins of varying degrees of popularity. They have risen and fallen in favor as users decided whether to buy, hold, sell, or simply abandon. Merchants have made individual decisions as to whether to accept them as payment or not. Bitcoin faces the same market conditions, and there’s no shortage of new projects claiming their protocol is superior. So far none have knocked Bitcoin from its position as the most popular cryptocurrency, but there’s no guarantee this will always be the case. Large holders, venture capitalists and influential figures in the “Bitcoin community” could also affect Bitcoin’s future path, though their influence is less direct. And again, there is rarely a consensus of vision among them.