Knowing the developers: an analysis of Bitcoin Core

Quick Take

  • Bitcoin Core, the main repository for Bitcoin, has had 624 unique contributors over the years
  • Metrics like commits do not properly capture the amount of work put in by developers although close to 70 percent of commits in past year have been made by 10 individuals
  • 22 individuals have contributed at least 1 percent to Bitcoin Core’s code base in the past year
  • Despite a price decline of over 80 percent from all-time highs in 2017-18, the number of contributors to Bitcoin Core increased by approximately 10 percent 

Often when we think of open-source software we think of a landscape with hundreds or even thousands of developers all freely working on a project. While it is true that with open-source anyone can write code and submit proposals, most of it works entirely off a merit-based system. It may not be surprising to some, but many popular public blockchain projects intended to eventually be open for all are being built by only a few people.