UPDATE (8th April 15:18 GMT): Bitcoin's new lead developer Wladimir van der Laan tells CoinDesk via email he was "surprised" to be offered the role and hadn't expected Gavin Andresen to step down:
"I had noticed that Gavin had been much less active in the Github project lately, but I did not expect him to step down as lead developer. But it makes sense, there is a lot more theoretical work with regard to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general making it a full-time job just to keep up with that (and giving talks, travelling, and such). On the other hand, I have been effectively the maintainer of the code for quite a while. In practice nothing changes."
He added that it was "an honour to be entrusted with the role" and said the positive responses he had received were a reminder that his work was appreciated in the community: "it's easy to forget that sometimes with all the trolling and meanness going on around Bitcoin!"
Bitcoin's lead developer Gavin Andresen is stepping down, and handing the reins over to colleague Wladimir van der Laan, also a very experienced bitcoin core developer.
Andresen, who was responsible for maintaining the core code that underpins the bitcoin ecosystem, said he was taking a step back to focus on broader bitcoin issues as Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation, the body that standardizes, protects and promotes the use of bitcoin across the globe.
In a blog post published yesterday, Andresen wrote:
Today, I find it harder and harder to keep up with all of the great Computer Science or Economics papers related to bitcoin and other crypto-currencies […] to be clear: I'm not going to disappear […] I'll just spend a little less time writing Bitcoin Core release announcements, and a little more time catching up on the latest bitcoin-wizards thinking on how best to implement transaction history pruning.
Van der Laan, who has already been working full-time on maintaining the core code, is the most prolific bitcoin contributor with the highest number of commits on GitHub (although, of course, when it comes to development it's not all about quantity).
— Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) April 7, 2014
Previous projects by van der Laan include Dropship, which in 2011 enabled the sharing of private files on DropBox and thus exposed the poor security practices of the service. DropBox moved to kill the project, asking van der Laan to remove it from Github and then filing DMCA notices against people who mirrored the files on their own Github accounts.
Van der Laan and Andresen were unavailable for comment.
Image courtesy of Gavin Andresen