Back in mid-May, we posted about bitcoin millionaire Olivier Janssens and an initiative he started to get the community to program a software platform that could replace the Bitcoin Foundation. A bounty of $100,000 was offered, and today, Janssens has announced a winner.
“I am now confident though that I have selected the best possible winner. I have also selected a runner up because these guys deserve to get a prize for what they accomplished,” he wrote Wednesday on a Reddit.com post.
He writes (in full):
Before I go into the details of who won, I want you to know the rationale behind my choice. The initial question was: What is the best platform to replace the Bitcoin Foundation? To start off, we have to ask ourselves: why do we need a Bitcoin Foundation in the first place? In other words, which purpose does the Bitcoin Foundation serve? According to their website, it is ‘Keeping Bitcoin rooted in its core principles: non-political economy, openness and independence’. I guess those 3 things somehow failed to apply to the Bitcoin Foundation itself, as they want to be the main representatives of Bitcoin, and as a result also on Bitcoin.
Further analysing the Foundation, the main thing they are doing right now is funding some of the core Bitcoin developers. And I might add, they are not doing a very good job at that. Since people expect the Bitcoin Foundation to take that role, there is no real initiative to fund the developers directly. As a result, the developers are underfunded, because the Bitcoin Foundation does not have that much money (it got lucky with the price of Bitcoin rising and it’s memberships fees being paid in Bitcoin since it’s inception). 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. There have been highly concerning reports about the core devs being chronically underfunded, and as a result, Bitcoin development is grinding to a halt. As such, and to guarantee the (political) independence of the developers, the community should start funding the developers directly, ASAP.
Next to that, the Bitcoin Foundation has been doing some lobbying with Washington. Again we are lacking serious transparency here. It would be much better if we as a community can select our lobbyists directly and actually know what they are doing. Good lobbyists can come forward with a proposal and set their goals. We can then decide directly to fund them or not. Which is pretty much what is happening all over the world without the Bitcoin Foundation. People are coming out of the trenches and have their own lobbyists involved with their local governments. The same thing applies to organising conferences. Do we really need a Bitcoin Foundation to organise the one big conference? No, as has been proven many times over . There are many big conferences that are a huge success, and none of them are organised by the Bitcoin Foundation. We can do this ourselves.
Now, the question remains, what is the best way to organise all of this? Do we need a platform that simulates the Bitcoin Foundation, but with a better voting mechanism? A sort of “direct democracy”? After careful consideration, the answer is no. Such a “direct democracy” will still have the overhead of politics, getting people elected, etc. 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. And for this very reason I have selected Lighthouse from Mike Hearn as the winner
Hearn’s Lighthouse platform is built atop the bitcoin block chain technology, allowing for assurance contracts that will have money returned if obligations aren’t met.
It’s a Kickstarter-like endeavor, and will allow core developers of the bitcoin protocol to propose their schedules, and set extra features when they receive extra funds.
Hearn’s Lighthouse will also allow lobbyists to make proposals that can be funded by the community, in additional to a slew of other possibilities.
“Mike has agreed to release the platform as open source before the end of August. He will be awarded $40,000 on completion. After the platform is live, I will put an additional $50,000 towards the first core dev crowdfunding project that gets made on it. This should help them become independent the moment it gets released, and hopefully will start streamlining Bitcoin core development again,” Janssens writes.
Janssens also selected a runner-up: Eris by Project Douglas, which runs atop Ethereum, allowing many applications to run in decentralized fashion sans needs for servers.
For their work, Janssens offered a prize of $10,000.