Bitcoin and a revolution in American manufacturing

Foundation Devices is proudly headquartered in Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution. The USA was established 244 years ago on the belief that all individuals deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Bitcoin captures these same ideals, providing sound money that lowers our time preference, allowing us to accumulate savings and invest in our future. 

At Foundation, our mission echoes these values:

Foundation Devices strives to empower humankind – to make Bitcoin and decentralized tech accessible to each and every individual in order to build a new era of sovereignty, ownership, and privacy. Our products are the foundation of a better, sovereign Internet.

Foundation will push for a new American Revolution – a revolution in American manufacturing. 

Before Bitcoin, American manufacturing of electronic devices added cost without adding proportional value. For example, a phone manufactured in the USA is not necessarily more useful or higher quality than a phone manufactured in China. Buyers in the USA might be excited to pay more for the phone because it’s “Made in the USA,” but there is no functional benefit to making the phone locally.

Bitcoin changes this. With immutable transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain, there is no recourse if funds are stolen. There’s no bank to reverse the transaction, no credit card company to issue a refund, no FDIC insurance to protect institutions against loss. Bitcoin devices must securely store private keys and safeguard against numerous attack vectors. This turns traditional hardware security models upside down.

Currently most electronic devices originate from China. You may be comfortable with the risks of having your phone made in China. But what about your Bitcoin hardware wallet?

We are at the beginning of a slow transition to sovereignty and privacy. Bitcoin wallets will replace bank accounts. Private keys will replace passwords. Money, identity, and data will be controlled by individuals instead of institutions.

In this new paradigm, we need more trustable hardware. We need components from reputable suppliers and tight control over supply chains. We need to be physically present on the factory floor and ideally own our own manufacturing facilities. We need open source, auditable designs. And we need to build our hardware in jurisdictions which stand for basic human rights and freedoms.

Yes, in America our unalienable rights are regularly being put to the test, recently with a Coronavirus-fueled government push for greater surveillance capabilities and a ban on end-to-end encryption. But Foundation is optimistic that Americans will prevail. Groups like the EFF are vigorously fighting for our freedoms – and countless individuals and organizations will continue to speak out. 

Foundation will assemble our devices in the USA. We say “Assembled in the USA” rather than “Made in the USA” because most components originate from Asia. This is sadly the state of the hardware industry; almost nothing is made in America anymore. To mitigate this, Foundation is purchasing key components – such as the processor, secure element, and screen – from reputable suppliers that are headquartered outside of China (specifically STMicroelectronics, Microchip, and Sharp). And we are buying all our components through American distributors like Arrow who have high quality standards and strong supply chain oversight.

So what exactly are we doing in America?

  1. We are headquarted in America and pay American taxes.
  2. We design our products in America.
  3. We prototype our products in America, using equipment from American companies like Formlabs and American quick-turn prototyping facilities.
  4. We purchase components exclusively from American distributors or suppliers.
  5. We assemble our circuit boards in America.
  6. We assemble and test our devices in America.
  7. We package and ship our devices in America.
  8. We conduct regulatory testing at American facilities.
  9. We work with an American industrial design firm.

Foundation will strive to continuously onshore our supply chain. This will increase our costs, as American labor is more expensive, but the benefits are significant and it will enable us to build more trustable devices. We believe our customers will be willing to pay a modest premium for sovereign hardware made in the USA.

We have a lot of work to do. It’s not enough for key components to originate from outside of China. We need to bring semiconductor production back to the USA so that critical chips can be produced domestically. We need more efficient processes for plastic and metal production so that we can build enclosures locally. And we need to competitively produce common circuit board components, such as resistors and capacitors, in America. Tariffs will help us, as well as other government incentive programs. Foundation will be leading the charge!

Our first product, a Bitcoin hardware wallet called Passport, will be assembled in the USA. We’ll be publishing more info about Passport over the coming weeks. Pre-orders will open later this summer for shipping later this year.