An announcement was posted to the website of the BTC Guild website stating their intention to shut down. Key dates include November 30th, the day they will shut down their mining servers and January 15th the deadline to withdraw coins from their service. In an update to their announcement they float the possibility of being sold and continuing operations. Note that if sold they do not plan to transfer mining history or balances to the new owners. The announcement:
After many months of consideration, I have finally made the choice to announce the planned closure of BTC Guild. Below, I've outlined the closure process/timeline and reasons that this decision was made.
Closure Timeframe and Process
As identified in the support section and in the 2nd post on this thread, BTC Guild has had an official policy for the amount of time that will be given in the event of closure. The official date that BTC Guild will cease all business is January 31, 2015. This post is the start of the identified 3 months of warning.
- Effective immediately, registrations are closed to new users.
- BTC Guild mining servers will remain online until November 30, 2014.
- Users will have until 11:59 PM (PST) on January 31, 2015 to withdraw any remaining balances on their account.
The above timeline may change if BTC Guild is sold prior to the planned date of closure.
Main Reasons for Closure
1) Risk/cost of a successful attack against the pool. As pooled mining in general is shrinking due to large manufacturers creating private farms, the potential revenue for the pool has gone down as expected. While the pool is still very profitable, the amount of time it would take to recover from an attack has increased due to the overall share of the network shrinking.
BTC Guild has, to date, never been successfully hacked. However, I have seen a rise in attack attempts, and things like Heartbleed/Shellshock which show that efforts are being put into compromising common Linux services if possible. Neither of those attacks had any affect on BTC Guild, but they were both reminders that under BTC Guild's own code, there are many services which could be a doorway into the pool's servers if a vulnerability was discovered.
One successful attack could cost close to a year of pool revenue, maybe more depending on what happens in the mining landscape over that period of time. If something else happened in that time (subsequent attack or regulation forcing closure), it would mean continuing to operate the pool beyond this point has cost me more money than it might potentially make in the rest of its lifetime.
2) US government/regulators are already taking stances against specific business types in Bitcoin, applying requirements which would be impossible for BTC Guild to operate under if they attempt to extend regulation into pooled mining, either directly or indirectly due to unclear definitions. Nobody will mine on a pool which requires them to provide personally identifiable information when they can change a single line in their configuration to point elsewhere.
Additionally, state regulators are starting to make noise about Bitcoin. New York is the first to publicly put anything forward, but there are 49 other states which can put their own spin on things. Due to the ability for states to establish a nexus for businesses dealing with their state's residents, it is a scary landscape to continue operating in.
I have no intention of leaving the US myself, and given the recent history of the US when it comes to online businesses, I don't feel safe simply moving the business legal entity to another country while continuing to live in the US myself.
Aquisition and Users's Privacy/Funds
In the event that BTC Guild is acquired prior to closure, users will not have their mining history and withdrawal history transferred to the new owner. All balances up to the date of aquisition will be retained by myself, and a separate service will be made available to claim any funds owed. I am unwilling to compromise on this, because I refuse to do anything where it puts the users of the pool at risk of not receiving what they've earned under my watch.
Pool Recommendations and Advice
For users looking for a new home for their miners, I highly recommend BitMinter, Eligius, and p2pool. I do not recommend Slush over any of those 3 options, and I actively encourage users to not use Discus Fish or GHash.io. Other smaller pools exist which are run by honest people, but due to their size, it is difficult to recommend them to the average miner.
When I got into Bitcoin back in March of 2011, I never expected anything that we've seen over the last 3 and a half years. I had never built a computer before, never run a server beyond a Gentoo PC in a spare bedroom, and never setup a website that experienced even 0.1% of the traffic BTC Guild gets on an average day.
Bitcoin and BTC Guild have both radically changed my life. While I am closing BTC Guild, I still plan to remain a part of the Bitcoin community. I do believe, even in the face of over-regulation, that Bitcoin will continue to grow and become more useful and usable. I just feel that it is time to move on from BTC Guild, and take pride in the fact that BTC Guild's closure can show that not all Bitcoin businesses end with somebody stealing funds from their users, either by "getting hacked" or outright theft.
This is a small update to the previous closure notice. It is likely that BTC Guild will be sold prior to shutting down. As such, while you may want to be prepared to move to another pool, you may not have to. Additional details will be posted if the pool is sold to another party instead of shutting down. As identified in the closure notice, user historical data of earnings and withdrawals would not be transferred to a new owner.