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How to Sponsor Bitcoin Core Developers and Why it Matters

Have you ever paused to think about how those working to maintain Bitcoin’s open-source software are supported financially? Have you ever wondered how to sponsor Bitcoin Core developers?

Well, it might interest you to know that a great majority of these developers receive very little to no funding despite the huge role they play in maintaining the Bitcoin codebase.

Let us find out who these developers are, the importance of their work, and how you, as an individual or an institution, can help to sponsor them.

Why Sponsor Bitcoin Developers 

Bitcoin Core is an open-source software that facilitates the use of the asset. Just as technology and companies are continuously developing, the Bitcoin codebase needs to be constantly updated.

That is where the core developers come in. These developers maintain the open-source software that forms the basis of the Bitcoin network and work in the same way as Satoshi did – voluntarily.

Bitcoin Developers Volunteer

There are thousands of cryptocurrency companies with millions of employees who rely on this software maintained by just a few developers.

While the industry has raised investments worth billions of dollars over the past years, the development of the open-source software that the industry relies on has always had the major problem of getting enough funding and volunteers for the work. Therefore, it is pertinent that these developers are sponsored to focus on maintaining the software. 

Top Bitcoin Companies that Sponsor Bitcoin Core Developers

So far, there are some companies and initiatives that are currently funding Bitcoin Core developers. Let’s take a look at just a few of them.

These companies are aware of the importance of open-source software developers and have designed ways to sponsor them.

According to a BitMEX Research report, Blockstream and Square Crypto have the highest number of open source developers, while Chaincode Labs is the largest financial supporter of Bitcoin Core development.

  • Blockstream

Blockstream is a blockchain technology company founded by five Bitcoin Core developers, Gregory Maxwell, Matt Corallo, Jorge Timón, Pieter Wuille, Mark Friedenbach, and several other non-open source software developers, including Austin Hill and its current CEO, Adam Back, who was cited in the Bitcoin whitepaper. 

The company has the ultimate goal of creating a side chain technology that would facilitate digital assets’ interchangeability between both chains. 

Blockstream has about eight developers who are extensively working to achieve the company’s goals and improve the open-source software that Bitcoin relies on, making it one of the highest contributors to Bitcoin development.

The company has two dedicated bitcoin developers, including Pieter Wuille and Andrew Chow, three lightning developers, including Rusty Russel, Christian Decker, Lisa Neigut, and three Cryptographers, Andrew Poelstra, Tim Ruffing, and Jonas Nick.

  •  Square Crypto

Square Crypto is an independent team launched by Square Inc. in 2019 that mainly focuses on contributing to Bitcoin’s open-source software.

It has four dedicated developers, who are all focused on building Rust Lightning, a Bitcoin lightning library written in Rust. Square Crypto recently awarded grants to three Bitcoin developers.

All of these developers are financed by the parent company of Square Crypto, Square Inc.

  • Lightning Labs

Lightning Labs is a San Francisco-based Bitcoin payment startup founded in 2016 to provide clients with fast and private transactions anywhere in the world.

The company is one of the highest contributors to Bitcoin Core development. It has eight developers working on the open-source lightning software.

Its developers include the company’s co-founder and CTO Olaoluwa Osuntokun, Conner Fromknecht, Alex Bosworth, Jonan Halseth, Joost Jager, Wilmer Paulino, Oliver Gugger, and Carla Kirk Cohen.

  • BitMEX (100X Group)

BitMEX is a Seychelles-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange and derivatives trading platform. It currently provides a grant to one bitcoin developer and has one part-time contributor to the development projects.

In August 2020, BitMEX granted $40,000 to Bitcoin Developer Calvin Kim. The company also collaborated with OKEx exchange to award $150,000 to Amiti Uttarwar, who is currently working independently as a Bitcoin Core developer specifically on the peer-to-peer (P2P) layer.

  • Chaincode

Chaincode Labs Inc. is a New York-based cryptocurrency research and development company focused on providing support for engineers and researchers contributing to the maintenance of Bitcoin and other related technologies. 

The company has six dedicated Bitcoin Core developers, including John Newbury, Marco Falke, Carl Dong, Russ Yanofsky, and its co-founders Alex Morcos and Suhas Daftuar.

Chaincode is self-funded by Morcos and Daftuar, which means that they basically pay for their development for Bitcoin Core through their company. It is the highest financial supporter of Bitcoin Core development.

  • MIT DCI

MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) is a digital community focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain.

It currently has two dedicated developers, Wladimir van der Laan and Cory Field, in addition to about five researchers. Donations from various entities finance these developers.

  • Bitfinex

Bitfinex is a Hong Kong-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange. It currently sponsors three developers working on RGB, a tool used to issue tokens on the lightning network. The company finances these developers through its retained earnings.

  • Kraken

Launched in 2012, Kraken is one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges and continue to play a part in supporting the development of Bitcoin.

Kraken currently sponsors BTCPayServer, an open-source payment processor that allows merchants and businesses to receive and send payments using Bitcoin.

  • Coinbase

Coinbase is a San Francisco-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange. It recently made plans to sponsor two bitcoin developers, providing them with grants from its Crypto Community Fund.

Ways to Sponsor Bitcoin Core Development

Now, what avenues are available for supporting the work of these developers? There are two basic ways that individual and institutional investors can support Bitcoin Core development. 

  • BitcoinDevlist

Bitcoin Devlist Sponsor Bitcoin Developers

The Bitcoin devlist website provides a list of individual open-source software developers who can be financed by public donations. 

The devlist makes it easy for individuals who want to support those working behind the scenes of the top cryptocurrency to locate the developers and make their contributions. On the site, you’ll see what facet of Bitcoin Core they’re contributing to, and a link to their Github profile.

You can select a particular developer and make your donations directly. 

  • Bitcoin Core Sponsorship Program

Bitcoin Sponsorship Program

The Bitcoin Core Sponsorship Program is a direct way that large institutions built on the foundation of the open-source software provide their support for developers who constantly maintain the software.

This program is intended to be an easy access point for companies and other cryptocurrency institutions to fund independent research and development of Bitcoin Core by either funding the developers and developer projects or providing needed resources to the project.

Companies that decide to participate in the sponsorship program will be added to a shortlist of entities that already help fund Bitcoin Core development to maintain decentralization.

Bitcoin Continues to Thrive on Sponsorship

The entire Bitcoin industry relies on the work of these developers. Without them, Bitcoin would not have achieved its fame and recognition as the world’s top cryptocurrency.

Unlike most other cryptocurrency initiatives, Satoshi launched Bitcoin without crowdfunding, but the asset continues to lead the cryptocurrency space.  

Therefore, the community relying on Bitcoin’s open-source software needs to provide critical support for its core development, with some support from donations from industry organizations and academic institutions.

Conclusion

We have seen the importance of Bitcoin Core developers, entities that are currently sponsoring some of them, and how you can support their work.

If you wish to support the good work of Satoshi Nakamoto, then deliberate on how best you can support these developers in any way you can. If you’re a startup, it’s worth noting that sponsoring Bitcoin developers can be a great PR opportunity for your business, since many industry news outlets willingly publish news about companies who chose to support Bitcoin developers.

Remember, Bitcoin Core developers have an important role in the ecosystem and these developers need every bit of sponsorship they can get. 

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