Long-serving bitcoin (BTC) lead maintainer and developer Wladimir Jasper van der Laan has reportedly had his access to Bitcoin Core’s GitHub repository taken away.
According to Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Van der Laan voluntarily gave up his access to the bitcoin client software on Feb. 16 after being at the helm for more than nine years.
Satoshi Nakamoto’s second successor
Van der Laan had spent the last two years trying to step away from his role as a maintainer, citing burnout, health issues, and “constant, bizarre spats on social media.”
As the second successor to Bitcoin’s mysterious inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, he was one of the few individuals having final commit access to Bitcoin Core’s GitHub repository.
Nakamoto first owned this administrator key and then transferred it to Gavin Andresen. When Andresen, who received direct instruction from Nakamoto on maintaining bitcoin’s code, stepped down from the project nine years ago, Van der Laan took over.
Van der Laan has played the lead role in maintaining all aspects of Bitcoin’s development for even longer than Satoshi. He led all operations involving bug fixes, code reviews, upgrades, software maintenance, and dispute resolution.
However, the WSJ report indicates that as far back as January 2021, Van der Laan announced that he would reduce his involvement in running the world’s largest cryptocurrency.
Van der Laan now becomes the third maintainer to step away from their Bitcoin Core role in the last 18 months.
In December 2021, Bitcoin Core maintainer Samuel Dobson announced his resignation to finish his Ph.D. program. Dobson worked on the project’s crypto wallet and ensured the protocol’s security.
Dobson’s departure followed that of Jonas Schnelli, who left in October 2021, citing the stress of increasing legal risks for developers.
Only five Bitcoin Core maintainers remain
With Van der Laan’s departure, Bitcoin’s development will now be steered by five people: Hennadii Stepanov, Michael Ford, Andrew Chow, Marko Falke, and Gloria Zhao.
Each is responsible for an aspect of Bitcoin; for example, Stepanov maintains the network’s graphical user interface, while Ford oversees the build system.
Gloria Zhao, the only woman in the maintainers’ team, writes and reviews the code that governs Bitcoin’s transaction validation process. Andrew Chow is in charge of programming for crypto wallets, which allow investors to store their bitcoin, while Marco Falke focuses on testing.
Together, these coders keep Bitcoin’s digital ledger up to date on its network’s thousands of computers. They must ensure that the software remains compatible with the latest versions of operating systems like Windows or MacOS and that it keeps up with transaction volumes.
Many of the cryptocurrency’s proponents claim that its current value and future potential are partly in the hands of these maintainers.