The Return of the Hearn: Former Core Developer Named the Main Problem of Bitcoin

News and Analysis

Former developer of Bitcoin Core, and current employee of R3CEV, Mike Hearn reminded the community he’s still alive having claimed that main problems that the cryptocurrency faces are in fact caused by Blockstream, and its co-founder Gregory Maxwell personally.

“Bitcoin’s problem is not a lack of a leader, it’s problem is that the leader is Gregory Maxwell at Blockstream and he’s a terrible decision maker. Blockstream is the source of the refusal to bump the block size. Indeed, the block size debate did not stalemate. It resulted in the small blockists winning, due to the much more aggressive tactics they used (e.g. hiring a bunch of developers then asserting they’d all quit forever if the block size were changed),” Hearn wrote.

The opinion was vocalized by Hearn on Hacker News forum in the course of discussion of bitcoin’s current status and possible rivalry from increasingly popular Ethereum. The question was initially raised by the New York Times and launched ripples across the community.

Hearn responded to Adrian McNeil, former head engineer at Coinbase. MacNeil suggested that any cryptocurrency is doomed without a “genuine respected leader” due to lack of mutual understanding in important issues like block size. The lack of leader, just like lack of any pronounced strategy, MacNeil believes, facilitate emergence of competitors like Ethereum.

Blockstream, a startup formed by Bitcoin Core developers, raised $55 million this February thus making the company’s whole capitalization equal to $76 million. The company is known for creating Liquid, the first sidechain for bitcoin exchanges. Release of open source code and a testnet for sidechain project Sidechain Element was published last June.

However, the Blockstream team, including Gregory Maxwell, Peter Wuelle, Matt Corallo and Luke Dashjr, is often accused of causing a conflict of objectives. In particular, some say the developers are financially interested in keeping bitcoin block size small in order to force the community to use the company’s sidechains.

Necessity of a leader in decentralized systems is subject to debate, as the leadership in question may easily result in usurpation. However, even in his self-imposed exile, Hearn continues raising important questions.

This January, Mike Hearn left the community with a bang and a prediction that bitcoin’s price would soon collapse. He stated the industry is suffering a large-scale crisis.

by Andrew Asmakov

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