- Bitcoin lead maintainer Wladimir van der Laan has formally stepped away from his role
- Van der Laan cited “burnout and health issues” as his reasons for stepping away
- Legal action by Craig Wright has also put major pressure on developers
The Bitcoin Core lead maintainer, Wladimir van der Laan, has formally stepped away from his role after eight years. Citing health issues and burnout, van der Laan has been working on an exit since last August, and has become the fifth Bitcoin Core maintainer to have stepped aside. Bitcoin development has always been a stressful job, given the pressure put on these volunteers, but the legal actions of Craig Wright in recent years has made it a much more financially perilous position to hold.
Bitcoin Core Group Shrinking
The Bitcoin Core team is typically made up of long-term developers, volunteers who occasionally receive subsidies from groups like Blockstream and Block who have a vested interest in keeping the chain healthy, but the group has shrunk in size in recent years. The Bitcoin Core group numbered in the double digits in 2021, but four have quit in the past 18 months and now van der Laan, who has been involved in the process of maintaining Bitcoin code since 2014, has formally stepped down, citing “burnout and health issues”.
Craig Wright Lawsuits Partially to Blame
Other developers have quit due to the increasing legal issues, which are almost all down to one man – Craig Wright. Using money from his sugar daddy Calvin Ayre, Wright has been on a mission to “hunt every dev until they are broken, bankrupt and alone” in his attempts to use British courts to get legal rulings that BSV is the real Bitcoin.
More than this, he is seeking a legal ruling that blockchain developers have a fiduciary duty to token holders, making them partially responsible for not returning lost or stolen coins. Wright lost this case last March but won on appeal, meaning that a host of Bitcoin developers, including van der Laan, will have to defend themselves in trial. This is just one of a host of cases being brought against Bitcoin developers by Wright, so it’s no surprise that many have quit the job and no new ones are being found to replace them.
If such action continues, and legal protection is not offered for Bitcoin developers, we could see the number reduce even further.