Wladimir Van Der Laan, lead maintainer of Bitcoin Core, the reference software implementation of Bitcoin, has announced that he is stepping down. He is the third person to have held this position after Satoshi Nakamoto himself and his first successor Gavin Andresen. What does this sudden departure mean for the future of bitcoin? We will explain you everything.
Bitcoin, Wladimir Van Der Laan wants to move on
Since bitcoin’s inception, its open-source code has been maintained by developers, most of whom are volunteers. The role of the lead maintainer is very important in the evolution of the protocol. The latter is responsible for integrating into the code the proposals for improvement known as BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal).
This is done after careful analysis by his peers and a global consensus of the bitcoin community. Since its inception, only three people have served as the main maintainer. As Bitcoin took its first steps, it had as its chief developer Satoshi Nakamoto, its mysterious creator.
In 2011, U.S. intelligence curiosity about Bitcoin had prompted the disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto. In a short message to the community, he said he wanted to “move on.
He had entrusted his keys to Gavin Andresen. The latter held the position of maintainer until april 2014, giving up his place in turn to Wladimir Van Der Laan. Since then, the latter has carried the project for eight years. “Stressed” and “tired”, the Dutch developer decided to withdraw from the project. In a message relayed on twitter, he said:
I’m a little exhausted, stressed and tired of the same discussions, the same problems. It’s been so long! I’ve changed, the world has changed, and I feel it’s time to move on.Wladimir Van Der Laan, lead developer of Bitcoin
Van Der Laan had been packing his bags for over a year
In early 2021, Wladimir Van Der Laan had been the subject of controversy. The reason was his decision to remove the Bitcoin white paper from bitcoincore.org, following threats of legal action by Craigh Wright (aka Faketoshi), who has been claiming authorship of Bitcoin for several years without providing any proof.
In a statement, Cøbra, in charge of the bitcoin.org website, had expressed his indignation in these terms:
Unfortunately, without consulting us, the developers of Bitcoin Core removed the Bitcoin white paper from bitcoincore.org, in response to allegations of copyright infringement, giving credence to the lies of Craig Wright.Cøbra, in charge of the bitcoin.org website
In an article published in February 2021, Van Der Laan explained the need to take Bitcoin’s decentralization seriously. Although he had never unilaterally decided on updates to the protocol, for him, being the only person with the access key to Bitcoin Core was like “a centralized bottleneck”.
Van Der Laan then decided to reduce his contributions. However, in the same article, he proposed ways to decentralize the maintenance of Bitcoin Core.
Who will succeed Wlad?
A successor to Wladimir has not yet been designated. However, Pieter Wuille, who was his second in command until now, should naturally take over.
But things could turn out differently. Indeed, a month ago, Pieter Wuille gave up his role as Bitcoin Core maintainer. Furthermore, he said that he would continue to work on bitcoin, but without doing any maintenance.
“To be clear: I’m not going to stop contributing to code, review, and all the projects I’m involved in. It just happens that I don’t do much maintenance anymore, so it’s time to revoke my permissions.”
Another important candidate could step into Wladimir Van Der Laan’s vacant role: Marko Falke, a Swedish engineer. For more than a year, his contributions to the maintenance of Bitcoin Core have exceeded those of Wladimir Van Der Laan and Pieter Wuille combined.
Will Marko Falke be Wladimir’s successor? Maybe, but there is another possibility… A year ago, Van Der Laan mentioned the possibility of handing over his access to an organization or a group of developers so that the integration of new features would only be done by one person. So even more decentralization! In any case, Coinpri is following the issue closely!
Since 2017 I am fascinated by bitcoin that I no longer hesitate to popularize by organizing meetups/conferences or by sharing its news through this article you are reading.