2 Prominent Bitcoin Core Contributors Step Away From Their Roles

Developer John Newbery and maintainer Samuel Dobson have stepped back from their duties working on the software that keeps Bitcoin running smoothly.

AccessTimeIconDec 10, 2021 at 10:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 12, 2021 at 4:43 p.m. UTC

Brandy covers crypto-related venture capital deals for CoinDesk.

Veteran open-source Bitcoin developer John Newbery announced on Friday he will take a step back from his work, continuing a series of departures involving Bitcoin Core, an implementation of Bitcoin’s software that keeps the global currency running.

Newbery tweeted that he’s taking a break “for some time.” He has left his role as a director of Brink, the independent organization for funding Bitcoin’s developer community that he launched last year. Newbery has also handed over the reins at the Bitcoin Optech newsletter and management of Bitcoin Core’s PR (pull requests).

Bitcoin Core connects to the blockchain and keeps things running, with open-source developers contributing research, peer review, testing and documentation. A small group of project maintainers can directly access Bitcoin’s code.

On Thursday, Bitcoin Core maintainer Samuel Dobson announced he was stepping down to focus on the end of his Ph.D. program. Dobson was a maintainer of the project’s crypto wallet and contributed to the security of the protocol.

Dobson’s departure followed the October exit of Bitcoin Core code maintainer Jonas Schnelli, who cited the stress of increasing legal risks for developers. According to Bitcointalk.org, the maintainers with commit access to Bitcoin’s code currently numbers just three people: Wladimir J. van der Laan, Marco Falke and Michael Ford. There are also two people with commit access who are not maintainers – Pieter Wuille and Hennadii Stepanov. And while there are many Core developers and contributors working on Bitcoin’s code, only maintainers and those with commit access are able to merge new code with the existing Bitcoin Core code.

And earlier this year, van der Laan, who’s listed as a lead maintainer, announced he was taking more of a “background role” on the project to help decentralize it.

When reached by email, Dobson said he felt all the recent departures from the core development team were “just coincidence.”

“There are a lot of regular contributors and people are always coming and going,” Dobson wrote. “I guess it is just a season for some change.”

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Brandy covers crypto-related venture capital deals for CoinDesk.

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Brandy covers crypto-related venture capital deals for CoinDesk.