Bitcoin’s Longest-Serving Lead Maintainer Calls It Quits, Names No Successor

Bitcoin’s top developer and Lead Maintainer, Wladimir van der Laan, has confirmed that he’s retiring.

Van der Laan is the second successor to Satoshi Nakamoto and is one of the few people in the world with final commit access to Bitcoin Core’s GitHub.

Nakamoto held this administrative key, which was passed to Gavin Andresen, and then to van der Laan. Van der Laan took the reins eight years ago when Andresen, who learned how to maintain Bitcoin’s code directly from Nakamoto, stopped working on the project.

Van der Laan has maintained Bitcoin’s repository for even longer than Nakamoto but indicated in January last year that he planned to start phasing out his involvement.

In a blog post, he cited “bizarre” arguments on social media and other interests that he’d like to pursue, while also expressing concerns about being a centralized bottleneck for Bitcoin’s development.

And last week, he cited burnout as another major reason for resigning, saying he’d hesitate to get involved in another “thankless idealistic open-source or research project.”

Bitcoin developers are essentially volunteer workers. A few receive charitable donations from other wealthy Bitcoiners or companies to subsidize their labor. Even with these donations, most developers are underpaid relative to similarly skilled developers working in other industries.

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