Who Funds Bitcoin Core Developers? Here Are The Facts

Who Funds Bitcoin Core Developers? Here Are The Facts

Even superheroes like the Bitcoin Core Developers have to eat. One of the most mind-blowing facts about Bitcoin is that a group of volunteers maintain and keep developing the code. Private companies, NGOs, and wealthy Bitcoiners support them via grants and donations. This is all done over the counter, with as much transparency as possible. Here’s a Bitcoin Grants Tracker, for example. Nevertheless, suspicion and conspiracy theories abound. As they should. Don’t trust, verify.

Luckily for us, a Lightning Labs evangelist that goes by the name Lucas de C. Ferreira took it upon himself to curate and divulge a list of the main contributors and their sponsors. Over the years, the code has had more than 800 contributors. However, only seven people serve the role of “maintainers” nowadays. According to the official website, those are:

“Project maintainers have commit access and are responsible for merging patches from contributors. They perform a janitorial role merging patches that the team agrees should be merged. They also act as a final check to ensure that patches are safe and in line with the project goals. The maintainers’ role is by agreement of project contributors.”

Before we get into them, let’s talk about the code.

What Is Bitcoin Core Exactly?

Even though the name might suggest otherwise, Bitcoin Core is only one of the possible implementations of a Bitcoin client software. It’s not mandatory to use it, but, it’s the most popular option at the moment. On the official website, they define it as:

“Bitcoin Core is an open source project which maintains and releases Bitcoin client software called “Bitcoin Core”.It is a direct descendant of the original Bitcoin software client released by Satoshi Nakamoto after he published the famous Bitcoin whitepaper.Bitcoin Core consists of both “full-node” software for fully validating the blockchain as well as a bitcoin wallet.”

The recently hacked Bitcoin.org offers a more practical definition:

“Bitcoin Core is programmed to decide which block chain contains valid transactions. The users of Bitcoin Core only accept transactions for that block chain, making it the Bitcoin block chain that everyone else wants to use.”

Anyone can contribute Bitcoin Core.

Some Bitcoin Core Developers’ Patrons

  • Wladimir van der Laan. He took over when the legendary Gavin Andresen left and is the software’s original author. He “has commit access since 2011 and he is currently the Lead Maintainer of Bitcoin Core.” MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative supports his work. According to their website, the DCA’s “mission is to create a future in which moving value across the Internet is as intuitive and efficient as moving information.”
  • @mitDCI also funds the work of @tdryja @ajtowns and Cory Fields. Thank you @Melt_Dem @CoinSharesCo @BaillieGifford @reidhoffman @morcosa @suhasdaftuar @jack @DigitalAssets @GalaxyDigital @GalaxyDigitalHQ @saylor @PaxosGlobal @novogratz @DCGco @cameron @tyler and @jlppfeffer— Lucas de C. Ferreira 🇧🇷⚡️ (@lucasdcf) October 18, 2021

  • Peter Wuille. He “is one of the oldest Bitcoin core contributors, he’s also a committer since 2011. Although he’s one of Blockstream’s co-founders, he’s currently employed at ChaincodeLabs.” The organization funds his work. According to their website, they’re “a Bitcoin research and development center based in Midtown Manhattan, New York. We are passionate about the development progress of the Bitcoin network and adjacent technologies.”
  • Along with Peter, Chaincode also funds work done by @carl_dong @murchandamus and Russ Yanofsky. They also have educational efforts lead by @adamcjonas and @Caralie_C. A lot of the new BTC developers out there went through their seminars or residencies. https://t.co/RgsDIbLcB2— Lucas de C. Ferreira 🇧🇷⚡️ (@lucasdcf) October 18, 2021

  • Jonas Schnelli. He “is one of the GUI maintainers” and the controversial mining company Marathon funds his work. According to their website, “Marathon Digital Holdings aims to build the largest mining operation in North America at one of the lowest energy costs.”
  • Maintainer #04 – Marco Falke, @MarcoFalke, is the QA/Testing Maintainer, and his work is funded by @Okcoin. They just recently renewed their yearly grant to him. It's not the only grant Okcoin gave to Bitcoin developers. We need more Bitcoin companies doing that!— Lucas de C. Ferreira 🇧🇷⚡️ (@lucasdcf) October 18, 2021

  • Marco Falke. He “is the QA/Testing Maintainer.” The former Chinese exchange Okcoin funds his work and “They just recently renewed their yearly grant to him.” Nowadays, Okcoin is “a globally licensed exchange with offices in San Francisco, Miami, Malta, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.” They claim to have “the lowest fees around.”
  • More Bitcoin Core Developers’ Patrons

  • Samuel Dobson. He “is the Wallet Maintainer” and is the only one that has a person as a patron, “Entrepreneur and investor” John Pfeffer.
  • Maintainer #06 – Michael Ford, @fanquake, received grants from @BitMEX in conjunction with @indepreserve. @bitMEX also gave grants to other Bitcoin developers!— Lucas de C. Ferreira 🇧🇷⚡️ (@lucasdcf) October 18, 2021

  • Michael Ford. Funded by Independent Reserve, the self-proclaimed “most trusted crypto exchange” in Australia, Singapore & New Zealand. Plus, by controversial derivates exchange BitMEX, the creators of the Perpetual Swap. They also sponsor the A.C. Milan, so Ford’s in good company.
  • As you can see, we have an increasingly diverse set of Bitcoin companies and advocates supporting Bitcoin development. More and more companies realizing how important is to contribute to open source BTC development.— Lucas de C. Ferreira 🇧🇷⚡️ (@lucasdcf) October 18, 2021

  • Hennadii Stepanov. Another GUI maintainer, he’s sponsored by CardCoins, a service that lets you use “a prepaid gift card to convert your cash into digital currency.” And by Payvant, a personalized “payment card processing platform.”
  • Conclusions: Are Seven Enough?

    For a decentralized, worldwide project, seven maintainers don’t seem like much. However, they’re not the only ones and Bitcoin Core is not the only project. Just look at this list of “people working on Bitcoin and related projects” that you could contribute to. If you’re looking for a way to give back to the Bitcoin project, Ferreira provides these other two options. The Bitcoin Development Fund and Open Sats.

    Also, consider that anyone is welcome to participate and submit proposals to the Bitcoin Core project. Further decentralization is in your hands, dear reader. If you have doubts or are curious about how changes are made, or about how the community selects maintainers, check this excellent article out. If you’re one of those shadowy super coders, the Bitcoin Core project might be the career change you’re looking for.


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