Bitcoin Core developer and maintainer Jonas Schnelli has announced his departure.
I decided to step down as Bitcoin Core maintainer and contributor.
The last years where amazing and I coded, discussed and learned so much!
I started contributing in 2013 and went full time in 2015. What a ride!
But now, it’s time for me to move on.
— Jonas Schnelli (@_jonasschnelli_) October 21, 2021
Jonas Schnelli, a life as a Bitcoin Core developer
Schnelli started working on Bitcoin Core in 2013, and became a full-time maintainer in 2015, but after eight years he decided to quit.
Bitcoin Core is the main software with which Bitcoin nodes are managed, a direct descendant of the original software created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Since it is open source software run by a community, anyone can decide to contribute.
Schnelli points out that many experienced and highly skilled developers have joined the Bitcoin Core project in recent years, so even in his absence,
“The Bitcoin project is in the best possible hands”.
Reasons for Jonas Schnelli’s departure
As to why he left the project he wrote that sometimes interests change, and there’s not much that can be done about it, but he also added that the legal risks for Bitcoin developers are increasing year on year, which can be stressful. In fact he advises new developers to join anonymously, without disclosing their identity, as he did eight years ago.
But it may also have been influenced by the fact that the value of BTC has risen a lot, and may well rise again.
In 2013, the price of BTC at the beginning of the year was around $13, and peaked at over $1,100. The current values are therefore at least 57 times higher, with a high of 4,800 times higher.
It is possible that Schnelli has accumulated a lot of BTC over time, as in 2013 it was quite easy to mine them, and he now holds a fortune. Given the increased risks, it is indeed possible that it is no longer worth the risk for him.
In fact, he has stated that he will not commit to any other projects for now, and will instead give himself a few months to find his next venture.
He did, however, promise to stay on Twitter tweeting insights into Bitcoin, leaving the door open for him to return as a Bitcoin developer in the future.
The legal risks for Bitcoin devs
Schnelli’s decision brings to light the problems faced by those who publicly engage in the development or management of similar projects, and confirms that Satoshi Nakamoto’s initial choice to remain anonymous was the right one.
In the future, it is possible that new regulations will make it easier to manage this kind of activity from a legal point of view, but for now, it is still a big challenge.
In the course of its history, there have already been many developers who, for one reason or another, have abandoned the Bitcoin project, but the latter has never really suffered. To date, there are 828 contributors to Bitcoin’s GitHub repository.