BitcoinJ developer and former Google engineer Mike Hearn, creator of the decentralized crowdfunding platform Lighthouse, has been awarded the majority of a $100,000 bounty.
The bounty was offered by self-proclaimed bitcoin millionaire and entrepreneur Olivier Janssens, who in a post on the bitcoin subreddit from June called for a platform to facilitate funding for critical bitcoin projects. In his original statement, Janssens argued that the Bitcoin Foundation was failing to adequately fund bitcoin core development. Because of this, he stated, the bounty winner’s project should serve as a replacement for the Foundation itself.
On 2nd July, Janssens announced that Hearn will receive $40,000 of the $100,000 bounty once Lighthouse is released. The crowdfunding platform is expected to go live sometime in August. Janssens added that a decentralized funding solution takes the politics out of the financing of bitcoin-related development, saying:
“Bitcoin is apolitical. I know it takes time to get out of this mindset, but bitcoin truly liberates the world beyond politics. We should not attempt to recreate unnecessary overhead or middlemen. Let’s have bitcoin set us free.”
Lighthouse, he continued, was chosen because of its ability to directly fund core development, as well as initiatives related to lobbying, community involvement and next-generation bitcoin projects.
CoinDesk reached out to Hearn for comment but did not receive an immediate reply.
Bridging the core development funding gap
In the announcement post, Janssens said that Lighthouse will help resolve a growing problem within the bitcoin community: the underfunding of core development. Lighthouse’s decentralized structure allows projects to crowdfund using bitcoin, and includes several innovative features that streamline the overall process.
As well as awarding Hearn $40,000 at the completion and launch of Lighthouse, Janssens will contribute another $50,000 to the first project listed on Lighthouse that supports bitcoin core development. The remaining $10,000 from the bounty was awarded to the team behind Eris, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) platform.
Janssens said that the Bitcoin Foundation has failed to meet critical funding needs owing to the structure and operational tendencies of the organization, necessitating a project like Lighthouse.
He cited past statements from the Foundation which detailed its financial resources but acknowledged the long-term funding challenges the organization currently faces. As a result, vital funding streams for core development are at risk of disruption should the Foundation experience financing problems down the road.
“They have admitted this buffer won’t last and is going to be a serious issue in the future. We also don’t know how much they are paying the developers and how much money they have left, since their transparency is pretty much non-existent. The funding could stop at any time and endanger Bitcoin even more.”
He noted that Lighthouse enables the community to propose core funding initiatives, leveraging the power of crowdfunding to determine support for a particular project. Specifically, the platform allows bitcoin core developers to seek funding for what they are working on, which would promote greater transparency and accountability.
Calls for funding action
The bounty award is the latest sign that members of the bitcoin community see a need for core development funding to be better managed.
Hearn himself recently spoke about his concerns regarding the financial stability of core development efforts.
In a recent interview, Hearn said developers were “radically underfunded” and that progress in resolving the issue was coming too slowly. As a result, there has been a serious disruption to core development and that critical needs of the network risked going unmet because the resources aren’t there.
Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire echoed these sentiments in an interview with CoinDesk ahead of the Bitcoin Finance 2014 Conference in Dublin on 2nd July. Arguing that the development community needs to “step up”, Allaire remarked that “something needs to evolve there” in order for the bitcoin industry to remain healthy.
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