Pando

With Bitcoin Foundation to focus solely on core development, crypto-bulls look to wipe the slate clean in 2015

By Michael Carney , written on November 20, 2014

From The News Desk

A major shift is underway for the Bitcoin Foundation, which yesterday announced that it will cease all education, outreach, and public policy efforts in favor of focusing exclusively on core development of the Bitcoin protocol – its original purpose.

In a blog post euphemistically titled “Everybody Pivots,” a reference to the popular HBO show “Silicon Valley,” the organization outlines its new mandate, writing:

In the beginning, the foundation did it all — public policy, education and outreach, core development — primarily because there was no one else to do it. Thankfully we've come a long way since then and, as the ecosystem matures, just as with any startup, it's time to start shedding hats and specializing.
This do-it-all approach hasn’t been the most effective or well-received approach. The Foundation has been criticized for its lack of leadership (and even unethical leadership), limited financial and operational transparency, and ineffective stewardship of the bitcoin ecosystem. To that end, the additional focus of a more narrow mandate should be a welcome change.

Reactions across online community forums can be summed up as, “It’s about time” and “that’s the right strategy.” Reddit user reversedefenestrator points out that for all its resources, the Bitcoin Foundation had in fact under-prioritized core development, its original and arguably most critical purpose. He writes:

This is the right move. The amount of commercial services surrounding Bitcoin is growing like crazy, there's a ton of venture capital being poured in in Bitcoin startups, and yet we only have one (and a half) salaried developers working on the Bitcoin core itself: Andresen (paid by the foundation) and Jeff Garzik (paid by BitPay to focus at least part-time on the core).

Most open source projects suffer from lack of core developers because it's hard work with little extrinsic motivation. But if there is one project where this should not be a problem it's Bitcoin, given that the Foundation has $4 million in the bank. It’s not just the Foundation that views core development as its most important function. A recent survey of members and a Reddit AMA arrived at the same conclusion. The pivot blog post adds:

Here’s what stood out to us:

- 54.66% of our individual members joined just to support the cause - 51% accumulatively believe core development is the most important work of the foundation - 57% are most worried about scalability

It couldn’t be clearer. We’ve found our true calling. Our members are signaling that its time to return to our roots and that is to focus on funding the ongoing core development to build out the critical infrastructure that serves as the foundation of this brand new digital ecosystem. Logistically, this transition will take time, as anything change this significant should. The Foundation will begin by shedding functions not related to core development and then by hiring “at least” one more full-time developer. In 2015, it will then launch “at least” (there’s that phrase again) four developer training and certification workshops in various global locations.

One question in the wake of this Bitcoin Foundation “pivot” is, who will take up the charge on education, outreach, and public policy? At least one candidate has already stepped up and proclaimed its readiness to do just that. Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, the non-profit crypto-currency research and advocacy center, tweeted the following:

— Jerry Brito (@jerrybrito) November 19, 2014 There’s no two ways about it, 2014 has been a tough year for bitcoin. Despite tremendous growth in consumer and merchant adoption, venture capital investment, and entrepreneurial innovation, the headlines have been dominated by scandals (see: Mt Gox) and regulatory battles (see: NYDFS and China), with the direct result largely being depressed and often volatile prices.

For many, 2015 could not come soon enough. With fresh leadership atop the ecosystem and expected clarity on many outstanding regulatory and legal issues, there is plenty to be optimistic about.