What Happened to Blocktrail.com?
Blocktrail.com was the home of the Blocktrail Bitcoin wallet. The website promised Bitcoin investors “unparalleled security through Multi-Signature technology.” It informed them that they would be in complete control of their coins at all times.
Today, an attempt to access Blocktrail.com will lead you to a message indicating that the website has been terminated.
In this article, we explore what happened to Blocktrail.com. We follow the site’s history, identify the team behind the service, and describe the launch of the Blocktrail wallet and its acquisition by Bitmain.
Table of Contents
The History of Blocktrail.com
Blocktrail was opened to the public on August 18, 2014. An article published by CoinDesk.com reports that the Bitcoin blockchain visualizer claimed “to be the average Bitcoin user’s ‘dashboard’ for keeping track of transactions.”
The Blocktrail headquarters were in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
According to CoinDesk, Blocktrail was established by Israeli-Russian tech magnate Lev Leviev and a friend, Boaz Bechar. Leviev is more famous for being the owner of Russia’s biggest social network, VKontakte (now VK). The network boasts of more than 500 million user accounts.
Leviev’s curriculum vitae lists a long chain of positions in different companies. PitchBook.com reports that he is the co-founder, chairman, and president at Selectel, a Russian Internet hosting provider. He also cofounded Vaizra Ventures, where he holds the position of managing partner.
The Blocktrail story begins with the establishment of BlockCorp, a company that Leviev called a “holding company” for Bitcoin projects. BlockCorp provided €500,000 (about $528,000) in funding when Blocktrail was established. Leviev made the money from selling his stake in VK.
The Team Behind Blocktrail
When Blocktrail was established, Leviev and Bechar assembled an experienced team of cryptocurrency and developer experts.
Bechar occupied the position of founder and CEO at Blocktrail. He is a serial entrepreneur who has established several other businesses, including the consumer telecom service PokeTALK, which was later acquired by VoxOX.com.
Describing himself, Bechar says, “I have start-ups as my background.”
In an interview published by Newsbtc.com, Bechar talks about the team that started Blocktrail. He says, “Our company came together because our CTO Ruben de Vries and our VP of marketing, Jop Hartog, were working on a Bitcoin project.”
Bechar continues, “I partnered with them along with an investor from Israel to start BlockTrail together.” He adds that de Vries “is a big contributor to the Bitcoin community in terms of open source projects” and has worked in different capacities on the Bitcoin core.
Apart from Bechar and de Vries, an archived Blocktrail.com page lists the other senior team members, including Jop Hartog, Sarah Foster, Oisin Conolly, Alejandro de La Torre, and Geoff Bolton.
Launching the Blocktrail Wallet
In 2015, Blocktrail launched a multi-platform Bitcoin wallet that promised a decentralized model where users created and stored their own passwords. This means that no one – other than the wallet owner – knew the login details of any wallet.
But how was Blocktrail different from many other wallets already on the market? It promised users that the wallet would allow them to:
- Send and receive Bitcoin easily and securely.
- Maintain complete control over their Bitcoin private keys.
- Pay friends without QR codes or long addresses.
Reporting for TechCrunch.com on September 12, 2015, Natasha Lomas writes, “The new Dutch challenger Blocktrail, which has been live in the Bitcoin analytics space since 2014…has just launched a multi-platform Bitcoin wallet…which it claims is more secure than some existing alternatives, owing to implementing multi-signature and HD wallet, which earlier-to-market Bitcoin wallets may not have.”
Lomas cites Bechar, who proposed that the advantage of a decentralized wallet such as the one Blocktrail had just created was that no user could be locked out of their account. It also ensured that if a centralized service provider were hacked, the hackers would never gain access to the user’s login details.
In an article reporting about the launch of the Blocktrail wallet, Gautham of Newsbtc.com concludes, “An average bitcoin wallet user might find Blocktrail wallet to be a bit slower or unresponsive.” However, he notes that the core Bitcoin community would have a different outlook on it.
Making Bitcoin Development Easier by Lowering Entry Barriers
Jp Buntinx of Bitcoinist.com praised Blocktrail for making life easier for developers. He writes, “Rather than letting developers figure out the necessary steps on their own, Blocktrail wants to encourage the Bitcoin economy by offering a selection of secure and reliable tools to help you on your way.”
Buntinx believes that this addresses one of the significant concerns in dealing with Bitcoin: a steep learning curve related to comprehending the effect of the underlying technology. His view is that making it easier to understand the underlying technology behind Bitcoin will reduce entry barriers and grow the use of Bitcoin in all facets of everyday life.
Bitmain Acquires Blocktrail
On July 21, 2016, the operator of one of the biggest Bitcoin mining pools in the world, Bitmain, announced that it had acquired Blocktrail.
In a short statement, Bitmain said, “We are pleased to inform you that Bitmain has acquired Amsterdam-based Blocktrail B.V., the company behind the Blocktrail Bitcoin wallet.”
Avi Mizrahi writes for Financemagnates.com. He calls Bitmain the world’s largest producer of Bitcoin-mining equipment. He also reports that “The Beijing-based mining giant aims to not only merge Blocktrail’s platform into…its Bitcoin block explorer service but also utilize Blocktrail’s talent, which has joined Bitmain as part of the deal.”
What Then Happened to Blocktrail.com?
When Bitmain acquired Blocktrail, the company made it clear that Blocktrail would be gradually phased out.
In the statement announcing the acquisition, the company says, “As part of the acquisition, Blocktrail’s products, services, and team will gradually be merged into BTC.com.”
It also has a message for any users that may have been concerned: “With this acquisition, we will continue providing even better products and services to users of Bitmain and all its businesses.”
Soon Blocktrail was no longer online. Any attempt to access the site today is met with the message, “Today, we regret to announce that due to business adjustments, the Blocktrail website will terminate the service.”