Coinbase Awards Its First Round of Bitcoin Developer Grants

Coinbase, one of the oldest and most profitable companies in crypto, has awarded its first round of Bitcoin developer grants.

Dec 23, 2020 at 1:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:47 a.m. UTC

Coinbase has revealed the inaugural recipients of its Crypto Community Fund developer grants. First announced in October, the fund was established to support Bitcoin developers in their work on projects that support the cryptocurrency’s underlying technology.

The first two developers, João Barbosa and pseudonymous developer 0xB10C, were chosen by the fund’s advisory board, which includes Stanford cryptography professor Dan Boneh and Bitcoin developers Carla Kirk-Cohen, Anthony Towns, Amiti Uttarwar and Felix Weis.

Coinbase said 0xB10C, the creator of mempool.observer, will work on a software fork visualizer on Bitcoin’s Signet test network, a tool which could be used to monitor updates of the Bitcoin software (and which may prove useful in light of Bitcoin’s Taproot upgrade). They will also continue to publish research and work on Bitcoin code review.

Barbosa, who only just recently lost his funding from mining company Bitmain, will work on a user interface for Bitcoin Core that will allow its users to access advanced functions without having to use the command line – a coding interface that allows you to talk to your computer to make it interact with applications in the form of text lines. 

Additionally, the advisory board chose Barbosa because they “value [his] previous work on code reviewing, and wanted to ensure he could continue in the future,” the release said.

"I'm very fortunate to keep contributing to the project on a regular basis. I hope to be up to the task for one more year," Barbosa told CoinDesk.

Bitcoin developer funding

Barbosa, along with a handful of other Bitcoin developers, recently had funding cut off from Bitcoin mining behemoth Bitmain.

As evidenced by Barbosa hopping from one grant to another, open-source work is fraught with financial uncertainty, and even the best Bitcoin developers may be funded for their work only partially or not at all. 

For much of Bitcoin’s history, its developers have worked as volunteers to maintain and improve Bitcoin’s code. Some companies including Blockstream and Chaincode, among others, have funded Bitcoin Core development since before 2017, but it hasn’t been until Bitcoin’s latest time in the limelight that other companies and organizations have upped their efforts to dole out grants.

In addition to these sponsorships, some of the more prolific developers have attracted donations from Bitcoin users on GitHub.

Coinbase’s advisory board is accepting proposals for its next grant round until Jan. 11, 2021. 

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