VMware CEO takes aim at bitcoin

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Pat Gelsinger
Pat Gelsinger

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, doesn’t like bitcoin, but he’s a big fan of blockchain.

“Bitcoin is not engineered for good, and neither is it good engineering,” he said at his company’s VMworld conference in Barcelona this week.

He said that 95% of the time bitcoin ‘is being used for criminal activity’.

“That sounds pretty bad. And why isn’t it accepted as a currency, as a trading vehicle, for licit, versus illicit activities?”

He said that nation states will not give up their contractual relationships or currency relationships for bitcoin.

He also said bitcoin has no regulatory framework.

“It’s bad engineering because it uses an extraordinary amount of energy. If you (mined) one penny, a fraction of a cent of bitcoin, you’ve consumed enough energy to power your house for almost a day. It’s poorly engineered.”

But the underlying blockchain technology is a breakthrough, Gelsinger said.

“Distributed ledger technology is a breakthrough algorithmically and we believe in it deeply,” he says, adding that VMware has just announced a partnership with the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

This deal will see ASX partner with fintech Digital Asset and VMware to move its exchange platform onto one which uses a distributed ledger.

“We do believe that the underlying algorithms have tremendous promise for good engineering, and we’ve announced a 20X improvement in the scalability of blockchain with the work we’ve done. That’s pretty good. And we believe we’re solving some of the core issues that will allow it to be accepted by a stock exchange.”

Facebook is also using VMware’s HotStuff, a consensus protocol, for its proposed Libra crypto-currency.

Expanding on the company’s aim of using technology for positive change, Gelsinger said: “As technology becomes more integrated into every aspect of society, the tech industry doesn’t get a pass anymore.”

“[In] every aspect of your healthcare, your financial system, your social interaction, how you sleep, how you rest, how you play … the tech industry doesn’t get a pass. We have to do good engineering, and engineer for good and bring about a better world for everybody.”

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