The Bitcoin Foundation has been the centre of attention over the past year, albeit most of the focus has been far from positive. Bleeding funds left, right and centre, combined with people placed in a position of power who only push their own agenda, has made the Bitcoin Foundation all but defunct. Just yesterday, the Bitcoin Foundation shouted out to Blockstream, as their Bitcoin knowledge is “extraordinary”.
Blockstream – Funding Bitcoin Development with Money and Knowledge
In the past few months, Bitcoin core development has not been funded by the Bitcoin Foundation, simply because there is no money to do so. While most of the major core developers can sustain themselves for lengthy periods of time, a permanent solution would be a step in the right direction.
Blockstream, one of the rising stars of the Bitcoin community, has slowly started taking over Bitcoin core development. In fact, the Bitcoin Foundation tweeted how Blockstream has funded more core development compared to the total amount funded by the Bitcoin Foundation over the years. Additionally, Blockstream is being credited with an “extraordinary level of knowledge and depth”.
Despite that shoutout, it is important to note that only 38% of all people with commit access to the Bitcoin GitHub are officially affiliated with Blockstream. On the other hand, 40% of Bitcoin core development Github commits have been made by this same group of people, showing a clear dedication to the cause.
To put these numbers into perspective, there are quite a few people working on Bitcoin core development behind the scenes. Most of these developers have no “official” affiliation with any company or individual who is funding them. Then again, Bitcoin offers pseudonymity and having to rely on people’s testimonies might not be the best way to draw up percentages.
While there are many discussions about the block size debate taking place right now, these numbers make some people wonder whether or not Blockstream is slowly pooling a consensus amount of developers on their payroll. In the end, this might not have any negative consequences down the line, but it is still food for thought.
Is Blockstream Funding Core Development, or Sidechains?
A heated discussion has been taking place on Reddit, regarding whether or not Blockstream is actually working on anything related to Bitcoin core development. Having multiple people on the company’s payroll is one thing, but most of the efforts seem aimed towards sidechains and the Lightning Network. Neither of these projects has anything to do with Bitcoin Core development.
No one doubts that Blockstream developers have made valuable contributions to Bitcoin Core in the past, though. But in recent weeks and months, the focus seems to have shifted towards projects that offer an “upgrade to Bitcoin”, rather than what large parts of the community would label as “Bitcoin Core development”.
“Beyond the numbers, thus far the only engineer Blockstream has hired that was already working full time on Bitcoin at all was Patrick (he previously worked at a cloud mining company) and his involvement in Bitcoin Core increased too. And yes, Pieter has been doing somewhat less work in Bitcoin Core the last couple months – and this is directly because hostile actions by you – Mike Hearn – and Gavin are diminishing his interest and energy. He has not been diverted by Blockstream to work on other things (and the other stuff he’s worked on is all public and useful to Bitcoin too). This is also true for many other contributors to Bitcoin Core.” – Blockstream’s Greg Maxwell commented on the Reddit post.
Images courtesy of Blockstream, Shutterstock