Square, Human Rights Foundation Back New Bitcoin Open-Source Developer Fund

Veteran Bitcoin developer John Newbery just launched an independent organization for funding Bitcoin's open source developer community.

Nov 24, 2020 at 1:38 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:34 a.m. UTC

Veteran open source Bitcoin developer John Newbery just launched Brink, an independent organization for funding Bitcoin's open source developer community, a key component driving the global currency and making it work.

Tuesday, Newbery and fellow Bitcoin Optech associate Mike Schmidt unveiled Brink, with prolific Bitcoin technical writer Dave Harding joining the board as independent director. Brink will dole out grants to developers working on Bitcoin projects, as well as help fledgling Bitcoin developers embark with fellowships and mentoring.

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Bitcoin developers and Brink co-founders, John Newbery and Mike Schmidt

Newbery told CoinDesk he launched Brink to "further decentralize Bitcoin development funding" and to onboard and mentor new contributors "which hasn't been a priority for other funding organizations."

Investors John Pfeffer and Wences Casares are providing "organization funding," while the non-profit Human Rights Foundation, Square Crypto, and crypto exchange Gemini are funding the first two fellows; Bitcoin exchange Kraken is funding the first grant.

A huge reason bitcoin works as a global currency at all is that developers are constantly tinkering under the hood to build and test its underlying infrastructure. Traditionally, these developers have done this work out of passion in their spare time without a paycheck.

But things are changing as more and more organizations are looking to pay Bitcoin developers. Last summer alone, at least half a dozen companies in the space announced new grants for developers. 

Fueling Bitcoin development by donations

Brink's funding model is a bit experimental. For the most part, Bitcoin organizations such as Chaincode and Square Crypto tend to distribute grants directly to developers from their own central funding pools.

Brink's model is unique in that funding comes from donations from diverse sources. 

There might be companies that want to support Bitcoin development but that don't want to have to vet developers to fund. Instead, these organizations can donate to Brink, which will vet and train developers. 

Fueling this path, Brink is applying for charitable 501(c)(3) designation in the U.S., so taxpayers can make tax-exempt donations to the developers funded by Brink.  

"We will be the only organization solely devoted to Bitcoin development that takes direct donations from the public in this way," Brink's press release explains. 


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