Jonas Schnelli, a Bitcoin Core maintainer and contributor, has announced his retirement. He cites shifting interest and rising legal risks as the reasons for his decision. However, recent financial challenges for Bitcoin core developers may have also played a role.
The Bitcoin community is still coming to terms with the departure of one of the network’s core maintainers and contributors, Jonas Schnelli, who announced his departure to pursue a “new adventure.”
The Swiss-based core developer announced his intentions on Twitter yesterday, stating that he had “decided to step down as Bitcoin Core maintainer and contributor.” Schnelli, who started in the role in 2013, also expressed gratitude to other developers he met on the job and for everything the experience had taught him, adding that he was confident the work would be carried out by the “best hands possible.”
When asked why he had decided to leave now, he stated that one of the reasons was that his attention had shifted. However, as he mentions, the major reason may have been the increasing legal risk associated with the role, especially now that Bitcoin is a global financial force and the target of increased government scrutiny. The veteran Bitcoin contributor, on the other hand, has stated that he will continue to engage the community and has not ruled out a possible return.
“Sometimes, interests shift and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Furthermore, I believe that the legal risks for Bitcoin developers are increasing year after year (which can be stressful). New contributors should join anonymously (it’s difficult).”
Schnelli was a key figure in the Bitcoin community during his time as a Bitcoin Core contributor and maintainer. He is regarded as one of the most advanced Bitcoiners, as evidenced by the fact that he is one of the few people in the world with commit access to the Bitcoin codebase. His work on Bitcoin was primarily focused on making Bitcoin more user-friendly, so his Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP 324) addressed this issue as well. BIP 324 was proposed in 2019 and is still being worked on, but it aims to improve Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer layer.
He was also recently in the news for receiving a $96,000 grant from Nasdaq-listed bitcoin miner Marathon Patent Group, payable monthly in bitcoin (BTC) over a year. Schnelli said at the time that he appreciated the grant but that he was in Bitcoin for the “ethos” and that he could earn more as a developer for hire elsewhere. Notably, the company’s decision came shortly after rival Bitcoin mining firm Bitmain decided to cut funding for Schnelli and another core developer, Joao Barbosa, who later received a grant from Coinbase.
Bitmain, one of the world’s largest mining machine manufacturers at the time, was one of the only sponsors of the Bitcoin Core project, which was in charge of maintaining the code base of the world’s largest cryptocurrency network. The arrangement, which fell through due to misunderstandings on both sides, was a boon for the Bitcoin community, as several other sponsors appear to have picked up the slack and kept the team financed.