Monthly Bitcoin Funding Roundup – September 2020

Another month gone by, let’s have a look at the Bitcoin grants provided in September 2020.

In last month’s roundup I mentioned a growth in Bitcoin design focused grants and this trend continued in September with a grant to Daniel Nordh. Daniel will bring structure to the Bitcoin Design Guide and will focus on contributing a private key management section.

The other noteworthy trend overall in Bitcoin funding is that everyone loves BTCPay Server, so much that Square Crypto renewed their grant over $100,000 for another year. BTCPay is by far the best funded project over the past years. If you’re keen to know more about BTCPay and it’s founder Nicolas Dornier, check out my extensive interview with him.

Grants and amounts committed

Since we only have one grant with an amount specified this month, the comparison to August is not very insightful. In August 7 grants were sponsored with a total of $140,000 while in September we total 3 grants with $100,000 given to BTCPay Server – definitely a quieter month. The main reason for this being that OKCoin and BitMEX had communicated that funding for the year was used up, so this will likely impact the remainder of the year if no new companies step in.

List of September 2020 grants

Here is the list of all grants announced in September 2020, for more details like grant amounts and development focus visit my Bitcoin Grants Tracker.

Funding announcement Grantee
Square Crypto Daniel Nordh
Square Crypto BTCPay Server
John Pfeffer Antoine Riard

Notable articles

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Monthly Bitcoin Funding Roundup – August 2020

With the next Bitcoin bull heating up a lot of important information gets drowned in the daily news grind and so I’m introducing a new section on Polylunar – the Monthly Bitcoin Funding Roundup.

My plan is to highlight the months donors and grantees, look at trends on which topics get funding and track the amounts granted. It will ideally serve as a one-stop shop to find out about all the funding efforts that happened in the reviewed month, complementing the Bitcoin Grants Tracker.

So let’s dive into what August 2020 had in store, three things stand out:

  • Square Crypto continues its focus on Bitcoin design
  • OKCoin led August in terms of funding committed (>$100,000)
  • The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) emerged as another regular donor following up its initial grant to Chris Belcher by distributing additional three smaller grants

Focus on design

August showed that more Bitcoin projects are being funded that focus on designing good user experiences. Square Crypto provided their third design grant to Johns Beharry to design better pull and push payment workflows for Bitcoin and Lightning Network. Further the HRF provided grants to openoms to work on a graphical user interface for JoinMarket and Evan Kaloudis to continue his work on the user-friendly, mobile Zeus Lightning wallet.

I think this is an indication that the groundwork of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network is being addressed sufficiently by other funders and companies but there’s a need to make the usage of these tools easier for the average user. This does not mean that there’s no more work to be done on the base layer but rather that an additional area of focus has been identified by and is tried to be addressed by these grants. With Bitcoin moving ever more into the mainstream I concur that good UI and UX is essential to onboard the next group of users and welcome these developments.

Grants and amounts committed

In all of August 2020 we’ve seen a total of seven grants being awarded by four donors, totalling more than $140,000 committed:

Donor Grants funded Amounts committed
HRF 3 n/a
Square Crypto 2 n/a
OKCoin 1 >$100,000
BitMEX / 100x Group 1 $40,000

Compared to July 2020 that is 2 grants more dispersed and over $90,000 more committed, which is a welcome development.

Additionally I like that the HRF is emerging as a return funder that plans to continue its rolling Bitcoin fundraising efforts to support more Bitcoin technologies that allow people to privately secure and transact their wealth.

Individual developer funding

Although this one came in on 30 July it’s a nice effort and worth a mention in the inaugural monthly Bitcoin funding review. The Bitcoin Dev List by Matt Odell and Dennis Reimann allows you to find people working on Bitcoin and funding them directly, either via Bitcoin donations, Patreon or Github sponsorships. So head on over there to find your favourite dev and send him/her a few sats per month.

List of August 2020 grants

Here is the list of all grants announced in August 2020, for more details visit my Bitcoin Grants Tracker.

Funding announcement Grantee
BitMEX Calvin Lim
HRF Evan Kaloudis
HRF Fontaine
HRF openoms
OKCoin Marco Falke
Square Crypto Johns Beharry
Square Crypto Lloyd Fournier

Notable articles

For those keen to read a bit more about this month’s funding activities on other sites, these are worthwhile reads:

This concludes the first of hopefully many editions of the Monthly Bitcoin Funding Roundup. Follow me @Polylunar_ or subscribe to the Polylunar Dispatch to stay updated on Bitcoin funding related news and more. To find out more about the specific grants, funders and grantees, visit the Bitcoin Grants Tracker which contains all the relevant information and links to the original announcements, grantees and further information about the work they’re doing.

Bitcoin Grants Tracker – One week later

screenshot of the Bitcoin Grants Tracker
Bitcoin is open-source and open-source funding is hard. The Bitcoin community needs to work together to make funding Bitcoin development better.

One week ago I announced the release of my Bitcoin Grants Tracker and posted a short thread on Twitter.
I did so out of personal interest in Bitcoin, its development process and how development is being funded.
I didn’t expect the tracker to attract much attention but wanted to share it with the Bitcoin community in case others were interested in this too.
The amount of feedback I’ve received ― on Twitter, via email and even by Marty on the Sat Standard ‒ makes it obvious that Bitcoiners are seeking more transparency and insights into the Bitcoin funding process.

What can we do?

There are many things that could be done but it is important to spend our time on things that can have an impact.
In my opinion, the following three things need to be focused on if we want Bitcoin to succeed in the long run:

  1. Better and easier ways to fund developers and projects
  2. More organizations and companies funding Bitcoin development
  3. More Bitcoin developers

These are broad goals and I’ll break them down into more granular goals and actionable tasks in upcoming posts.
For now I’ll add another table to the tracker, focusing on all the great Bitcoin companies employing developers to work on Bitcoin Core, Lightning etc. – Blockstream, Chaincode and Lightning Labs come to mind.
I also plan to write more about the funding process in general, dive into some statistics on grants distribution and discuss how interested developers can get their start into Bitcoin.

Education is key, and helping potential funders and developers navigate their way through this beautiful maze that is Bitcoin is something I’ll gladly try to do. My humble page might not be able do too much about it but I’ll try to move the needle a little bit.

If you have any other ideas of what can be done to move the needle, please reach out via DM and email. There are many Bitcoiners out there willing to help, we just need to reach out.

Onward and upwards!

Tracking Bitcoin Grants

I’ve just launched a little new page intended to track grants provided by companies sponsoring open-source software (OSS) development in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Lo and behold, the Bitcoin Grants Tracker.
Let me explain why I think this is helpful, if not important.

Bitcoin’s success is tightly related to the amount and quality of developers constantly developing, reviewing, maintaining and deploying the Bitcoin code. Developers need to put food on the table though and hence usually have to earn an income, be it as an employee, freelancer or entrepreneur. Therefore devs generally support the Bitcoin development and its ecosystem in their free time.

Organizations providing grants to individual devs or whole teams allow the recipients to not worry about an income, at least for a specified amount of time, and fully devote their time to Bitcoin development. This is great and funding activity has only increased over time.
While in Bitcoin’s early days mainly non-profits provided grants, nowadays commercial companies support it as well, either by providing grants (Square Crypto, BitMEX) or even hiring full-time developers to work on Bitcoin (Blockstream, Lightning Labs).

So why track this Bitcoin funding activity?

Initially I was solely interested in finding out how all these great OSS projects like BtcPayServer, Electrum, Wasabi, Samourai etc. can sustain themselves. Upon finding some with interesting business models that allow them to support themselves, I noticed that there is an ever-increasing amount of funding activity going on but distributed all over Twitter and blogs. To better keep track I started a spreadsheet and later figured that publicly sharing this data could have several benefits:

  • it might help others understand who’s funding which devs and projects, and why
  • it could help projects get exposure and thereby attract new devs joining them
  • it could help the funding organizations and companies get more exposure, potentially encouraging them to provide more funding in the future
  • it could act as the basis for more analysis of the Bitcoin funding space

But in the end I enjoy the OSS space, discovering new projects, digging through their repos and learning about the development process. It’s a vibrant space and if my Bitcoin Grants Tracker can help provide a little more transparency, I’m happy about that and will try to expand it in the future.

Please let me know if you’d like to add a project and/or grant by sending me a DM or email — onward and upwards!