Two bitcoin focused companies, zkSNACKs and Bull Bitcoin donate .86 Bitcoin (roughly $40,000 worth) to a single person? Despite sounding like the start of a bad joke, this is what happened Monday, March 1st, 2021.
What compels such acts of philanthropy? Why does one person deserve this incredible windfall?
Like most things in life, the answer to these questions is rather complicated.
Open Source vs Closed Source Software
Most companies opt to work on closed source software to maintain control and to profit from their work. The point of opening a business, after all, is to do business = make money. But many argue that some of the best innovations are open source.
This is a problem because there is no financial incentive to develop open source software. It’s as if a pharmaceutical company puts in years of research to find a cure for; polio, let's say, and then gives this cure to the world completely free of charge. Although Jonas Salk did exactly this, it’s hard to imagine any of today’s big pharmaceutical companies doing this (did someone say COVID 19?).
Wasabi Wallet is in a unique situation where it is an open sourced software under the MIT license, but has a private company, zkSNACKs backing its development. This development has been a collective effort by scores of contributors over the years.
Without the support of zkSNACKs, however, Wasabi Wallet would certainly not be as refined as it is today. More importantly, there certainly wouldn’t be a team of developers working on the underpinnings of its next iteration, WabiSabi. To this point, the entire Bitcoin ecosystem is based on the development of open source software.
Collaborating for Philanthropy
This is why zkSNACKs, alongside Francis Pouliot, CEO of Bull Bitcoin, have come together to make a .86 bitcoin, or $40,000 contribution (split evenly between the two companies) in support of the growth and development of Bitcoin Knots - an open source enhanced bitcoin node/wallet software. More specifically, Bitcoin Knots is a Bitcoin full node and wallet software which can be used as an alternative to the more popular Bitcoin Core.
Bull Bitcoin was created with the objective of building the financial and software infrastructure to support the establishment of the Bitcoin Standard. Bull Bitcoin is Canada's most trusted exchange to buy and sell Bitcoin and is designed to let you retain full control of your bitcoins when you buy, sell or spend Bitcoin on this platform directly with your own Bitcoin wallet.
One of Bull Bitcoin’s core values is “skin in the game”.
Cypherpunks write code, but cypherpunks don’t always get paid. We can’t expect the world’s most talented experts to contribute indefinitely without financial compensation. If the companies that profit from Bitcoin open-source development don’t provide the necessary funding, who will? ~ Francis Pouliot
It is no secret that all transactions coming in and out of bullbitcoin.com and bylls.com are anonymized via CoinJoin using software developed by Wasabi Wallet, which itself relies on the Bitcoin Knots software developed by Luke-Jr.
And the Winner is...
Luke-Jr has dedicated years of his life to the advancement of Bitcoin technologies. ~ Francis Pouliot
The list of his contributions and achievements are too long for us to describe without doing Luke a disservice. His knowledge, skills and expertise are invaluable and some might say are without equal. There is no doubt he has been - and remains - one of the most valuable contributors to Bitcoin development.
In the End, We All Win
Of course, zkSNACKs has a history of supporting open source software development. Last June, the company donated 1 bitcoin to the HRF’s Bitcoin Development Fund. Meanwhile, Bull Bitcoin believes that for the decentralization of Bitcoin, it is critical that users have different options when choosing the Bitcoin node implementations that suits them best. Making a contribution to support the development of Bitcoin Knots aligns with both company’s mission in the bitcoin ecosystem: to support the development of open source software to maintain the decentralization of Bitcoin.
The grant has been paid in full, without conditions or expectations.
Something for the Purists:
*Astute observers will note that this grant is awarded at an important time in the history of Bitcoin development: the activation of the Taproot soft fork. While it is true that this event may have reminded us of the invaluable past and current research and development contributions of Luke-Jr in respect to the activation of soft forks, we want to make it absolutely clear that our grant is unrelated to Taproot activation via BIP8 LOT=True.