Hearn: 'Screw you, I'm going corporate'

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Bitcoin core dev Mike Hearn has bailed for a lucrative job in the corporate space, denouncing bitcoin as a failed experiment. Thanks Mike.

A few days ago, bitcoin developer Mike Hearn posted this blog, which he calls The Resolution of the Bitcoin Experiment. In it, Hearn roundly criticises bitcoin as a failed experiment, railing against those he sees as preventing its growth. He states that he has sold all his bitcoins and will no longer take part in bitcoin development. (In fact, he’s moved on to R3, a consortium of global banks that are working on a network of blockchains suitable for the banking system.) Markets ostensibly reacted by tanking, taking bitcoin below $400 and to its lowest point in 6 weeks.

Screw you guys

Hearn delivers his piece with all the finesse of Eric Cartman

Hearn makes many valid points in his post. Bitcoin development is stagnant; mining is centralised and bitcoin is controlled by China; block size is inadequate; the block size ‘debate’ is really a civil war; mods on reddit and bitcointalk were dead against Hearn’s XT and controlled the flow of information to the community; even developers cannot agree on what direction to take, let alone users, wallet developers and businesses. The clock is ticking, and midnight isn’t far away. Bitcoin is on borrowed time unless something happens soon.

Bitcoin has entered exceptionally dangerous waters. Previous crises, like the bankruptcy of Mt Gox, were all to do with the services and companies that sprung up around the ecosystem. But this one is different: it is a crisis of the core system, the block chain itself.

More fundamentally, it is a crisis that reflects deep philosophical differences in how people view the world: either as one that should be ruled by a “consensus of experts”, or through ordinary people picking whatever policies make sense to them.

There is no denying (though plenty of fanatics have tried) that bitcoin has problems to overcome. But the manner of Hearn’s departure leaves a sour taste in the mouth. He has taken his skills to the banking sector, which has values diametrically opposed to those of bitcoin; fair enough, that is his choice, but did he have to salt the ground as he left it? Or, in the words of a core developer for one altcoin, his ‘piss into the well from which you drank’ mentality. ‘The man built his career and reputation from Bitcoin which also got him a nice corporate job in R3 and now he is bashing Bitcoin this way (regardless of the fact that he is right). This is something I find inexcusable.’

Thanks for the work, Mike, but a little residual loyalty would have been nice.

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