Desperately Seeking Devs: How to Fill Bitcoin's Talent Shortage

Jimmy Song explains why there's a shortage of developers in the bitcoin community, why that's a problem and how the industry is addressing it.

By Jimmy SongLayer 2
Oct 28, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. UTCUpdated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:05 a.m. UTC
By Jimmy SongLayer 2
Oct 28, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. UTCUpdated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:05 a.m. UTC

Jimmy Song is a bitcoin developer, an instructor for Dev++ and runs his own in-depth technical bitcoin seminar called Programming Blockchain.

In this opinion piece, he explains why there's a shortage of devs in the bitcoin community, why that's a problem and how the industry is addressing it.


For all the explosive growth in the bitcoin community the last few years – in users, transactions, companies, open-source projects, press coverage, cultural references and of course the price – there remains an obvious deficit that's both pronounced and difficult to fill.

Simply put, there aren't enough developers.

There are many reasons for the talent shortage, chief among them the insatiable demand.

Just about every company that deals with bitcoin cannot recruit anywhere near the number of developers they need. These companies have considerable revenue and customer growth and would love to expand as soon as possible, but the main constraint is that they can't find enough qualified people to develop. Many who had local-only policies have relaxed those requirements and now allow full-time remote bitcoin developers. One prominent company president regards finding a local blockchain expert akin to finding a unicorn these days.

Another contributing factor is the price rise. While the appreciation has been good for everyone who held on during the bear market, it's bad for a lot of bitcoin companies as they find that many developers simply don't need to work due to the gains on their bitcoin holdings. Many developers would rather start their own companies, contribute to open-source projects or focus on investing instead of working for someone else. In a way, bitcoin companies are victims of their own success.

The talent deficit in the ecosystem is getting so severe that many companies are offering enormous bonuses to find developers and still can't fill the positions. Most would love to hire 15 to 20 developers if possible, but they simply don't get enough qualified people.

Another contributing factor is the higher level of rigor required to program blockchain applications. Messing up a website may take a site down for a few minutes, but messing up a bitcoin transaction may lead to loss of money, which requires a lot more rigor. The thoroughness required from developers is rare.

The industry is not sitting still. There are a variety of initiatives to fill this developer deficit. Chief among them is Dev++, which is led by the Bitcoin Edge Initiative, a nonprofit initiative focused on addressing this gap. This year at Scaling Bitcoin, in addition to a well-respected conference, Dev++ will train up to 100 developers to become more familiar with blockchain concepts. Bitcoin Edge hopes to heavily subsidize this in-person 2-day training with sponsorships from many of the very bitcoin companies that feel the developer deficit most acutely.

Devs: Learn and become a part of this exploding industry. Help make bitcoin better.

Image via Shutterstock

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