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Joe Lubin y Jimmy Song Formalize a Bet On the Future of DApps. Who Will Win?

After more than a year of discussions,  ConsenSYS
founder Joe Lubin and BTC evangelist Jimmy Song finally materialized a bet in
which the future of the DApps will determine the winner.

Joe Lubin Believes Dapps will revolutionize the World Wide Web
Joseph Lubin

The two famous crypto influencers talked face to face during Consensus 2019, which takes place from May 12 to 15. Coindesk’s mediator managed to put both of them in agreement on the terms of the bet.

According to the proposed terms, if Ethereum is successful
enough to have at least 15 applications with 10000 active users per day and
100000 active users per month for a period of 6 months and before May 23,
2023, Jimmy Song will send 69.74 BTC to Lubin. If the conditions are not met,
Lubin will pay Jimmy Song 810.8 ETH.

The price gap is large because they used the referential
price of each token during last year. The average amount in fiat was about
500,000 to 600,000 dollars in both cryptos, however, neither Song nor Lubin
wanted to renegotiate these amounts.

In order to guarantee transparency, they proposed an escrow
on which there was also an agreement, however; they did not reveal their name
because at the time of the interview this anonymous person had not yet
consulted on their willingness to fulfill this role.

The bet had been postponed several times because of
communication difficulties. Lubin expressed that this was a higher priority for
Song than for him, but he never refused to bet. The nonconformities arose at
the moment of determining what they could consider as an active user and
what defined a “successful” DApp.

Jimmy Song doesn't believe DApps have a future
Jimmy Song

Song wanted to define an active user as the person who paid for using the DApp, however, Lubin explained that this was unfair since there are many applications (such as Facebook) which are free to use. Finally, they agreed that the user did not have to carry out the transaction, as the DApp administrator could assume it (but there should always be an expense or tx in the blockchain).

The bet happened because Song doesn’t believe that DApps should exist. From his point of view, it is always easier and more efficient to develop a centralized application than a Dapp, and any DApp can achieve the same results using central servers. For this reason, he believes that over time these developments will disappear.

For his part, Lubin defends Ethereum and is sure that Dapps will revolutionize the way the world sees the world wide web. This idea is reinforced by the advances around Ethereum 2.0, a technology that promises to improve the efficiency of this blockchain considerably.

The full video of this agreement is available here

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Jimmy Song Highlights Decentralization as Key to Success of Bitcoin Over Altcoins

An analysis of 2018 price performance and the slowdown of the ICO sector demonstrates the pitfalls of centralization, Jimmy Song says.

Perceptions of Bitcoin (BTC) versus altcoins changed forever in 2018, as the largest cryptocurrency separated itself from the rest, Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song wrote in a blog post on Dec. 31.

An ardent defender of Bitcoin’s decentralized values, Song, who is also a frequent social media commentator, argued that last year “showed […] what Bitcoin Maximalists have been saying all along.”

“Bitcoin is different because Bitcoin is decentralized,” he summarized, adding:

“The advantages of decentralization are often subtle and easy to dismiss, but they are real benefits.”

One of many sources to have criticized the initial coin offerings (ICO) market in 2018, Song noted that the huge amounts of money raised by projects contrasted with the small number that launched, while fewer still delivered a product that the market would want or need.

The mismatch between fundraising and product success was due to centralized operation, he suggested, continuing:

“What we saw in 2018 is that having lots of ‘developer activity’ is not the same thing as producing something the market wants. Bitcoin has distinguished itself by releasing features that are actually used, and not duds that aren’t like so many altcoins.”

Song used the example of prediction market Augur as one of the success stories of the ICO space, despite the platform currently averaging a mere 25 daily users, each corresponding to $3.65 million in market cap.

The perspective on ICOs contrasts with predictions from trading platform BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes, who last week told Cointelegraph the industry was set for a rebirth within the next 18 months.

In a separate interview on Monday meanwhile, Jed McCaleb, co-founder of payment platform and associated altcoin Stellar (XLM), told Yahoo! Finance that financial institutions would not end up using Bitcoin in the future.

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Jimmy Song: There’s Daylight Between Bitcoin (BTC) And Crypto Assets

2018 Was The Year “Bitcoin Separated From The Pack”

Jimmy Song, a leading Bitcoin (BTC) educator, developer, and proponent known for his penchant for hats, recently took to his well-followed Medium channel to give an end-of-year update regarding the cryptosphere. Song, an often outspoken advocate for BTC maximalism and colloquially-dubbed “s***coin minimalism”, claimed that 2018 was the that Bitcoin separated itself from the pack.

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The decentralist claimed that at heart, Bitcoin is a “social innovation and movement,” as its inherently a form of money — a leading social convention. Song noted that during 2018, Bitcoin has begun to distinguish itself as a “movement,” disconnecting itself from the overarching cryptocurrency brand, which includes ICO tokens, utility coins, digital securities, and alternative natively-spawned cryptocurrencies.

This shift has been made evident by BTC’s relatively strong performance throughout the past 12 months, as the flagship cryptocurrency gained Satoshis on nearly every altcoin as the year progressed. Bitcoin’s resurgence was made even more apparent by the tectonic shifts in market dominance, as BTC’s share rose from all-time lows of 32% in early-January to 52% at current.

Song claimed that there’s a good reason for this thematic narrative. Initial coin offerings, along with the companies/individuals that backed them, were the first factor that Song drew attention to. He noted that these projects have “simply not delivered,” adding that the predictions about a number of altcoins’ eventual use cases didn’t come to fruition. Moreover, as BTC tumbled, altcoins fell even further as dreams of “mooning” become quixotic. This inability to “moon,” coupled with the lack of adequate developments, made investors disconcerted about these projects. He elaborated:

The centralized teams are discovering that raising money, particularly in a bull market, is a lot easier than building a real product that has a market fit. The ICO token buyers are discovering that tokens don’t go up forever and that economic models which depend on continuous new money have stopped working.

On the other hand, in Song’s eyes, the Bitcoin protocol continued to outperform and see boatloads of growth at a fundamental level. At the same time, all other projects are still looking for a killer use case, while BTC has established itself as money (and a digital form of gold).

Bitcoin Technicals, BTC Performance Have Seen “Significant Progress”

The educator went on to touch on Bitcoin’s technical activity, claiming that the Lightning Network, a second-layer scaling solution that facilitates near-instant, basically free, and scalable transactions, has grown at an exponential rate over the past year, only as “demand for Lightning-based hardware, software, and services continue to grow.” In terms of privacy, protocols from MuSig, Taproot, Graftroot, and others have seen “significant progress,” with some projects already pushing out real products that have seen some semblance of adoption.

As reported by Ethereum World News previously, the number of subscribers on Bitcoin’s go-to subreddit and the number of BTC-friendly ATMs boomed throughout 2018 — a positive sign to say the least. With all this in mind, Song wrote that:

In other words, Bitcoin has been in the enviable position of allowing the market to determine what’s desirable instead of some central authority. This is another point in which Bitcoin’s advantage as a decentralized system shows itself.

After making it clear that BTC is fundamentally outperforming, the industry participant noted that Augur, once deemed Ethereum’s most promising application, only sees an average of 25 users per day, which is as dismal as the 265 users it saw at its peak. In terms of the economics, Bitcoin also did well compared to its altcoin peers, as the latter group’s lack of liquidity, delivery, security, and other cardinal factors made them lose traction against BTC.

He brought this skepticism towards altcoins to an interview on Cheddar, an up and coming business-centric media outlet. Song explained to the outlet that the malinvestments in this industry, many of which pertain to altcoins, are starting to get flushed out, leaving only bonafide projects standing.

Above the Clouds Title Image Courtesy by Dominik Schröder on Unsplash

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Joe Lubin and Jimmy Song Make Bitcoin Bet Over Blockchain 'Magic Dust'

Two of the cryptocurrency world’s most outspoken figures are putting their money where their mouths are.

Joe Lubin, the founder of the ethereum startup studio Consensys, and Jimmy Song, a partner at Blockchain Capital, struck a handshake bet in front of an audience of hundreds, perhaps thousands, at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference in New York City on Monday.

The exact terms of the bet have not yet been sorted out – that will happen on Twitter, the participants said. But the broad outlines emerged on stage.

Lubin bet Song “any amount of bitcoin” that five years in the future, the blockchain space will include some number of applications – perhaps five – that have earned a yet-to-be-defined number of users.

Bitcoin maximalist Song took the bet.

To explain how things came to a head, it’s necessary to back up about 20 minutes. Amber Baldet, former blockchain program lead at JPMorgan, unveiled her new project Clovyr, a decentralized app (or dapp) store that gives users access to projects tied to both public and permissioned, more enterprise-focused blockchain networks.

She then brought Song and Lubin onstage for a conversation that immediately caught fire, with Baldet asking what Song thought about Clovyr.

His reaction was brutal: “I didn’t see anything other than buzzwords.”

The reason, he argued, was an insurmountable disconnect between centralized enterprises and supposedly decentralized applications, which Song dismissed as “magical blockchain dust.”

A back-and-forth among Baldet, Lubin and Song ensued. Lubin sarcastically predicted that the next five years of cryptocurrency innovation would see nothing but “bitcoin 1.0.” Song doubled down, saying “I don’t really see much of this stuff gaining much traction,” he said. Bitcoin, he argued, is “the real innovation here.”

So, Lubin issued a challenge: “I’ll bet you any amount of bitcoin that you’re wrong.”

For now, the number of bitcoin is unknown, as are other terms of the bet. But Song accepted the wager, and Lubin tweeted at Song shortly afterward:

Image by David Floyd for CoinDesk

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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One of Bitcoin's Biggest Investments Might Finally Be Paying Off

Bitcoin appears to finally be making headway with one of its less-appreciated, but critical challenges: recruitment.

Simply put, the number of developers contributing to the cryptocurrency’s open-source code is suddenly on the rise. Sure enough, there have been at least 21 code submissions approved from new contributors over the past 50 days – and that’s no small feat given developers have struggled for years to entice new coders to work on the project.

And while the number of merges over the nearly two-month period didn’t jump up drastically, seeing new names within the Github repository is a welcome sight given that most of the hundreds of contributions to bitcoin over the past several years have been coded by a few dozen veterans.

According to several developers CoinDesk interviewed, there isn’t a direct correlation they can point to explain the increase, though there are likely contributors. Indeed, for some it’s a strong sign serious investments of time and effort in training and academic programs are finally paying off.

“Many educational and training efforts have lately helped to introduce new developers to Bitcoin Core and the bitcoin software ecosystem,” Ferdinando Ametrano, a professor at Politecnico di Milano who has served as a program director at bitcoin developer conferences, told CoinDesk.

Ametrano is, of course, talking about efforts such as Chaincode Labs, which has a residency program in New York where prolific Bitcoin Core developers like John Newberry have been giving their time to helping new recruits.

After attending Chaincode’s first residency in 2016, Newbury has now taught 11 participants from places like Israel and Hong Kong during the most recent program in January and February.

Newberry told CoinDesk:

“It feels like we’re busier now than we were six months ago. It’s almost impossible to keep up.”

But Newbury isn’t the only one teaching.

Another possible contributor is Jimmy Song’s Programming Blockchain Workshop, which has found the high-profile developer and Blockchain Capital partner teaching roughly 250 people since the workshop launched (in multiple locations across the U.S.) in September.

And demand has been so high that he’s offering a few more sessions over the next few months.

Inclusivity boost

Of note, though, is that those surveyed believe these programs could do more than boost contributions to the code by expanding and diversifying bitcoin’s pool of contributors.

“One of the things that surprised me is what kinds of people take my class. I expected it to be all developers,” said Song.

But as it turned out, participants ranged from teenage girls to hedge fund managers and retirees.

“Growing the developer team, in numbers and in quality of contributions and everything else, is important because you need a diversity of views,” Song said. “You don’t want it to just be a couple of people that do everything.”

Others agree the hegemony within the bitcoin developer community could set back the cryptocurrency eventually.

Matt Corallo, a long time Bitcoin Core contributor, tweeted in April about the importance of diversifying the ranks, saying:

Song echoed that, noting that bugs can creep in when there are too many developers with the same mindset working on a project.

Newberry continued, explaining that the Chaincode residency and other new educational programs for bitcoin development are touching on one of the key challenges the industry has typically faced – a lack of face-to-face learning opportunities.

He told CoinDesk:

“It’s very difficult if you don’t have that face-to-face interaction with other contributors.”

‘So welcomed’

This seems to have played out with Janey Gak, who recently attended one of Song’s workshops and is now developing a cryptocurrency wallet for users in developing countries like Afghanistan.

Not only did she learn the technical aspects of bitcoin that she needed to be able to build the app, but also plans on bringing what she knows (and learns) about Afghanistan and the developing world to the Core development community.

And this, according to Song will further decentralize the network and benefit the protocol by having a diverse pool of people to check code.

Echoing this, Newberry told CoinDesk, “All bugs are shallow given enough eyes. We all see bugs other people don’t see. Having that wide range of backgrounds and experiences is very beneficial to the quality of the project.”

And adding more developers is particularly helpful given that there are only a few dozen people right now with enough experience to properly review prospective contributions, creating a bottleneck. Currently, fewer than two dozen developers work on bitcoin’s software full-time out of roughly 40 regular contributors.

But according to Gak, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to attract more developers like herself, since experienced bitcoin developers have been so responsive.

Gak told CoinDesk that after Song’s workshop, several developers reached out to her to offer their help on her project.

“The community is full of very supportive people,” she said, adding:

“I’ve never felt so welcomed in my life.”

And perseverance

But still, hurdles stand in the way.

The complexity of the protocol on which billions of dollars in value currently depends makes the onboarding process for new developers no small task.

Plus, many of bitcoin’s developers work on the project on a volunteer basis, not always the most appealing idea. Although, several sponsorships, including ones from the MIT Media Lab, are allowing bitcoin developers to turn their labor of love into a full-time gig.

Yet still, this type of expertise is rare, with demand currently exceeding the supply of capable developers by far.

Although, this is a challenge shared by all open-source endeavours.

“I’m not sure finding people is a bitcoin-specific problem,” veteran bitcoin contributor Michael Ford told CoinDesk. “Any large open-source project will always struggle to find people who are willing to work and/or give up their own time for free.”

Although, certain idiosyncrasies may compound the issue in bitcoin’s case.

For instance, Newberry said that Bitcoin Core’s rigorous review process can be off-putting for prospective contributors.

“Maybe frustration is a challenge for people,” he said. “It feels like the review burden at Bitcoin Core is very high compared to other projects.”

Indeed, Christopher Coverdale, a developer who recently contributed to Bitcoin Core for the first time, told CoinDesk he noticed it takes an unusually long time to get up to speed on the network’s meticulous standards. And while Coverdale plans to continue participating, he added that it requires perseverance.

“The senior developers and reviewers have far too many pull requests to review and have important projects to work on, so understanding that pull requests might be reviewed a week later is perfectly normal,” Cloverdale said, adding:

“I’ve also found that patience is really important when contributing to bitcoin.”

Programming Blockchain workshop image via Jimmy Song

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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'Programming Blockchain' Will Change How You See Bitcoin

Ariel Deschapell is a full-stack web developer, author, and cryptocurrency veteran.

“All models are wrong, some are useful.”

This phrase was coined by the statistician George E. P. Box to describe probabilistic models, but it also perfectly encapsulates all the mental models we use to make sense of the world around us.

Human time and attention are scarce, and the universe is extraordinarily complex. As a result, we are forced to operate under imperfect mental models, also known in psychology as “heuristics.” Regardless of our level of understanding of any given subject, these models and ideas are necessarily erroneous or incomplete. The deeper one dives into any one subject, the more obvious George Box’s aphorism becomes.

Perhaps nowhere is this more readily evident than programming, where one of the most foundational principles is that of abstraction. To the visitor of a website, no knowledge of code is required to click links and input information, just as one doesn’t need to understand combustion engines to drive a car. We might have an approximate mental model of how they work but not an accurate one.

Similarly, web developers themselves need not understand the intimate workings of TCP/IP and the other core protocols on which the internet is built in order to build applications on them. We regularly use and incorporate software written by others in our own applications without ever knowing how they actually work. Software development, and technological advancement more generally, can thus be thought of as building on top of a series of these nested “black boxes,” with each box containing an even more abstracted-away mystery.

To those who haven’t invested the time to truly master the innerworkings of a particular technology, it might as well work by magic. The deeper you dive, however, the more the magic falls away.

This is what Jimmy Song did for me and the various other students of his workshop, Programming Blockchain: strip away the magic.

Crypto globetrotter

As a contributor to the Bitcoin Core repository and former vice president of engineering for the early bitcoin wallet software Armory, Jimmy Song is well known in the cryptocurrency space.

Through his regular written and video content, he’s established himself as a vocal figure in crypto, one who is passionate about improving bitcoin.

He also isn’t shy about sharing his opinions on what’s needed to do that:

“Training more developers is the biggest bottleneck in the ecosystem.”

Enter Programming Blockchain, Song’s flagship effort to give interested developers a deep crash course into the fundamentals of how the magic behind bitcoin and the blockchain actually work. Finite fields, elliptic curve cryptography, transaction parsing and validating proof of work are just some of the topics covered.

“It’s like a water hose of information for two straight days,” explained Song.

As a web developer fascinated with the wider implications of cryptocurrency for the last several years, I couldn’t resist.

Since blockchain is a global technology and phenomenon, it’s fitting that such an ambitious endeavor to demystify it is itself global in scope. The locations for Programming Blockchain vary widely, having been held and scheduled for areas as disparate as China, California, North Carolina and Israel.

“If the idea is to make more developers, I want to do this in as many jurisdictions as possible.” explained Song. “By doing this in different areas of the world, I am hoping developers in different areas of the world create more things. Having more businesses start in different jurisdictions reduces risk for bitcoin.”

The latest iteration of the workshop took place in Tampa, Florida. While not the most internationally recognized city, Tampa is home to a vibrant cryptocurrency community and the newly opened BlockSpaces, a co-working space dedicated to blockchain projects which played host to Programming Blockchain.

Choosing Tampa as a location paid off. This latest iteration of Song’s in-person instruction was his largest yet with 30 students. While some of these developers naturally hailed from the Sunshine State like myself, others had flown in from various locations including Washington D.C., California, and Brazil.

Demystifying blockchain

Blockchain is the hottest buzzword in tech, one that’s being thrown at everything. Surveying the ICO and blockchain landscape, you can find a project or startup for every use case from health data to banana tracking. No matter your problem, blockchain is the solution to your ills.

But what actually is it, how does it work, and what makes it so special?

It’s common to hear that blockchain is “the technology behind bitcoin,” a distributed and tamper-proof database which could be leveraged in many other applications. It’s also common to hear that like AOL or MySpace, bitcoin could quickly be overtaken by competitors who better leverage this technology.

But blockchain is so new and inherently different that all analogies aimed at simplifying it or the crypto ecosystem quickly fall apart in their usefulness.

Blockchain’s uniqueness makes it exceptionally difficult to understand because try as we might, we possess no preexisting conceptual pigeonhole to fit it into. By extension, it is exceptionally easy and tempting to project upon it a panacea for every problem without any clear idea of how it will help.

We take descriptions of the blockchain’s emergent properties such as “immutability” and “decentralization,” and often seem to conclude these are magical passive properties of blockchain which can be dragged and dropped onto any application. But there is no such thing as magic, and even the most seemingly benign assumptions made when thinking about cryptocurrencies and blockchain can be surprisingly off.

Take even the very concept of a bitcoin, which is itself nothing more than an abstraction. The bitcoin protocol tracks units of value only in satoshis, not in bitcoins. What many know as the “smallest” unit is actually the only unit in the protocol.

It was simply an arbitrary decision on the part of Satoshi to make a “bitcoin” equivalent to 100 million of these units, which subsequently became standard notation for all wallet software built on top of the protocol. But even the concept of some kind of “coin” or “token” itself is a total abstraction. The structure of bitcoin transactions has a surprising detail brought to our attention by Song that showed this to be the case.

When it comes to monetary transfers one thinks of X unit of value being sent to the address or account of a recipient. In a raw bitcoin transaction, however, nowhere is the amount of satoshis being “transferred” specified. There is simply a reference to the unspent transaction output, or UTXO, with which the transaction is being funded. A UTXO can be thought of as debit entry on the blockchain ledger. The total amount of bitcoin displayed on a wallet is the aggregate of all the UTXO it controls rather than a single account which holds funds.

Additionally, if the value represented by a single UTXO is less than that which a user attempts to spend, multiple UTXOs must be included in the transaction to provide the liquidity. However, a UTXO must also be spent completely, meaning that by spending an amount smaller than that represented by a single UTXO, your wallet software must actually generate a “change” address to send itself the difference.

As Jimmy Song demonstrated to us, there are no tokens being sent back and forth, even digitally. Rather it’s a conceptual metaphor. All there is is simply a quirky accounting ledger, the particulars of which are of course abstracted away completely by basic wallet software.

“Once you understand these raw transactions, it’s like reading the Matrix,” Jimmy said.

The pitfalls of abstraction

Many abstractions, like easily understood currency denominations, are obviously useful. They are necessary for operating in a vastly complex world, yet they can still introduce intellectual pitfalls.

Take unit bias, which is when a cryptocurrency seems like a better buy relative to a more “expensive” coin, despite the fact that the unit price of a coin is irrelevant in this context.

If two cryptocurrencies possess the exact same market cap, but their supply and denomination is such that you are capable of purchasing a “whole” cryptocurrency A over a “fraction” of cryptocurrency B, we are predisposed to own a whole of something rather than a part. Yet the denominations of these cryptocurrencies are, necessarily, totally arbitrary.

Unit bias is a fairly benign mental error. When it comes to simplifying details for the sake of explanation, however, other pitfalls can be much more dangerous.

For example, bitcoin’s so-called “immutability” isn’t the result of some special line of code which can simply be copied and pasted into any application. It is the result of the ongoing interplay of incredibly intricate mathematics and economic incentives. The structure of the blockchain is rooted in a type of computation known as hashing. It is easy for a computer to verify if the answer to a hash is correct but difficult for it to find the answer itself from scratch, though far from impossible.

Miners, however, create a hashing arms race, where reproducing their total and ongoing sum of computations in order to make changes to the blockchain is exceedingly expensive, rendering it all but impractical the more that time passes. This is only possible because the miners have a powerful profit motive: the reward of bitcoins themselves.

Thus it’s not even accurate to think of the bitcoin blockchain as perfectly immutable. It most certainly could be tampered with, under certain conditions like 51% attacks. But neither is it possible for any blockchain to promise even practical immutability without a native and valued token with which to reward those who secure it.

“Bitcoin is the technology that powers blockchain, not the other way around,” summarized fellow student Nick Baldwin.

A sense of perspective

The more deeply you delve into blockchain, the more the magic falls away. You realize that like all things, there are no true mysteries. Only that which we haven’t taken sufficient time to understand.

As our simplistic and flawed models are replaced by more sophisticated ones, there are interesting ramifications. You may think your sense of wonder fades along with the magic. Sometimes it does. You become acutely aware of how little you actually know and how much there is left to solve and build. A sense of disillusionment can be the natural reaction.

But by pressing on you earn something much more valuable than naive wonder: a sense of perspective. The work left to do is immense, but the work that has already been done by those who have come before us is just as terrifyingly intimidating.

It stands testament to the fact that we already stand on the shoulders of giants, and all the challenges ahead of us can be conquered, just as those before us were.

With this knowledge and shift in perspective comes a sense of focus. All we can do is solve the next problem. Take the next step. All else is noise.

As Song imparted to us as our impactful workshop came to an end:

“Wisdom is cutting things out of your life, not adding more to it”.

Astrological image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Project Platypus: Jimmy Song's Plan to Fund Unpaid Bitcoin Coders

One of the most respected developers in bitcoin wants to give a new generation of open-source developers a revenue stream.

Jimmy Song, known for his easy-to-understand technical analysis of cryptocurrency, is in the process of designing a laboratory to train and pay crypto developers under his new auspices as a partner at Blockchain Capital. Informally dubbed Platypus Labs, the project will support developers with a combination of residencies and fellowships, with an initial focus on coders building on Bitcoin Core, the most used version of the bitcoin software.

According to Song, the project, while still in its early stages of development, has already garnered the interest of several of Blockchain Capital’s portfolio companies, plus a number of investors that have bought into the venture capital firms’ funds.

It’s not all that surprising given the lack of talent in the space as compared to the number of developer jobs needed. According to stats from, the number of blockchain jobs posted in the U.S. alone rose by 207 percent between December 2016 and December 2017.

Illustrative of this, Blockchain Capital co-founder Bart Stephens told CoinDesk, “Without exception, all of the 62 companies in the Blockchain Capital portfolio need engineering talent. We couldn’t be more pleased to have him join the team and allow us to support and contribute to the ecosystem in this way.”

With such enthusiasm already, Song expects to roll out a fellowship or residency program in the next two months.

While the project, which will have a physical location in San Francisco, will at first focus specifically on building up the developer ecosystem around bitcoin, the lab could eventually expand to include support for other cryptocurrencies.

Song told CoinDesk:

“We want to reward developers, because they’re obviously adding tremendous value to the ecosystem, and we want to see them get compensated for it, if that’s what they want to do.”

Developer interest

That modifier on Song’s statement, though, stems from the fact that getting developers to participate could be more of a challenge.

During bitcoin’s infancy, all Core developers were volunteers, working on the code in their spare time for free. Although other times, developers had large sums of bitcoin and so worked on the code to protect their investment.

“If you own a lot of bitcoin, then it’s in your interest to work on it – at least that’s why I started contributing to Core,” Song said.

But as bitcoin became more popular, educational institutions such as MIT and venture-backed startups like BitPay, Blockstream and Chain Code Labs began hiring bitcoin developers to keep up their work on the public blockchain.

Yet, not every Core developer has shown interest in such monetary support, in some ways stemming from the perception of working for a company versus the altruistic autonomy of working alone.

“Certain developers, you’re never going to get them to do that, they’re doing it for other reasons than money,” Song said. “But certainly, if that is a concern, and if that’s something that certain developers are interested in, we want to support that.”

Supply and demand

Song also wants to support new developers that might want to get trained in the nascent technology, but have limited resources to do so.

While Song has committed 14 changes to the Bitcoin Core codebase, he’s better known as an educator, making a name for himself through Programming Blockchain, a two-day seminar designed to give Python developers the necessary skills to write code for bitcoin applications.

Yet, he wants to add to that with Platypus Labs, primarily in teaching developers how to update core infrastructure that’s been overlooked for some time.

For one, there’s bitcoin’s aging open-source libraries, such as bitcoin wallet library bitcoinj, which was already getting old when its creator Mike Hearn walked away from bitcoin altogether in 2016.

“A lot of open-source libraries in bitcoin have fallen into disrepair,” he said. “We’d like to make sure those are shored up for the sake of our portfolio companies at the very least, but also for the sake of the ecosystem.”

In this pursuit, Song is in the process of contacting each of Blockchain Capital’s 62 portfolio companies to ask which coding libraries they use. He’s also asking them which new tools they need and what other ways Platypus Labs might be beneficial to them.

Once that reconnaissance is done, Song expects to formally reveal the criteria for the joining the laboratory.

On top of that, he’ll be perusing the industry for companies – that Blockchain Capital might invest in – run by entrepreneurs that can code the “basics really, really well.”

Speaking to both his expanding the role on Blockchain Capital with his laboratory, plus his thesis for finding companies for the firm to invest in, Song told CoinDesk:

“I like to see companies that are innovating and not rent-seeking.”

Image via CryptoPotato YouTube

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Bitcoin Dev Jimmy Song Is Now at Blockchain Capital

Venture capital firm Blockchain Capital announced today that bitcoin core developer Jimmy Song has joined the company as a venture partner.

With his expertise around cryptocurrency technology, Song’s addition is aimed to provide technical assistance to the firm’s investment research efforts, as well as build a connection between Blockchain Capital and crypto developers, according to a press release. He will also head upcoming programs to advance blockchain innovations.

The blockchain industry has been evolving differently from the internet, stated co-founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital, Bart Stephens. This difference, he said, has made possible for developers and engineers to stand at the forefront of innovation.

With Song’s addition to the firm, Stephens continued:

“Jimmy has demonstrated a deep commitment to the crypto development community. These ‘unsung heroes’ push the innovation envelope and bring to market much of the technology and services that comprise the blockchain and crypto industry today.”

Aside from his bitcoin development work, Song has served as a principal architect at blockchain firm Paxos, as well as vice president of engineering at open-source wallet management platform Armory Technologies.

At present, Song also runs a training company called Programming Blockchain, that provides blockchain programming and development training. He is also the author of “Bitcoin Tech Talk,” a cryptocurrency-focused blog.

With his new role, Song stated that his passion for cryptocurrency industry grew two years after bitcoin was founded in 2009.

At that time, the community was relatively small and comprised of a core group of developers willing to volunteer their time and intellectual capital for the good of the industry. Now, the ecosystem has soared past numerous milestones,” he said.

Shaking hands image via Shutterstock

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