ABC is Bitcoin's biggest asset, a CEO's perspective
As a follow-up to the article Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin that I published 2.5 years ago, let’s revisit the Bitcoin community’s state of affairs. In particular, let’s have a closer look at the infrastructure players involved, as the future of BCH basically depends on the quality of the people steering this currency.
Who am I to do this assessment and why? I am the CEO and main shareholder of a midsize software company (profitable, growing, non-crypto and no VC on board), I have been following Bitcoin since 2011, I have done various technical contributions such as proofreading the Avalanche code. Being a long time investor in BCH, I am concerned with the ongoing performance of this investment.
Anecdote: I was the one to put the roadmap of ABC in writing - the schema actually - back in 2018. Disclaimer, I mostly put in order the ideas of Amaury Séchet, Jason Cox, Shammah Chancellor and Antony Zegers who were visiting Paris at the time.
Since summer 2017, the team of Bitcoin ABC lead by Amaury Séchet, in addition to creating BCH in the first place, have been delivering nearly all of Bitcoin’s infrastructure-level improvements. Reading online discussions, it appears to me that most of the community underappreciate not only that much of the BCH value depends on this single team, but how incredibly effective this team has been despite a woefully inadequate funding.
Few people realize that BCH is in mortal danger every single day. It only takes one software problem to kill the network. This risk is unfolding at IOTA right now, although experts had long pointed out that the IOTA cryptography was essentially a joke. In this regard, Bitcoin ABC has been exemplary, spending most of their time doing the tedious job of backporting the maintenance done from Bitcoin Core1 to their own clients. In order to succeed, BCH needs first to survive.
Let’s point out that Amaury Séchet has been nothing short of exceptional in three areas:
- correctly framing the fundamental problems associated to a digital currency, both from an economic perspective and from a software perspective
- not playing political power games, which kills any rational discussion
- identifying toxic folks months, if not years, before these became obvious to the rest of us
In contrast, since 2017, two other teams have only been the source of ongoing friction for the community at large: Bitcoin Unlimited (lead by Andrew Stone) and Flowee (lead by Thomas Zander).
Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) has abysmal development practices, and keep misleading the community about the “grand” features they have delivered. This team has zero clue on how software is supposed to be engineered. By way of anecdotal evidence, this recent commit merged into the master branch: 267 changed files with 18,311 additions and 4,526 deletions. For infrastructure code, this is beyond amateurism, this is madness.
Flowee on The Hub, or rather its (near) sole contributor, Tom Zander, is relentlessly turning every single online discussion about BCH into a political arena, delivering ad hominem attacks to whoever he perceives as an enemy. While Flowee benefits from saner development practices than BU (the bar is low), politics don’t have any place when low-level infrastructure is involved.
For nearly its entire lifetime, Bitcoin ABC has been enduring constant astro-turfing attacks, turning unaware and misguided enthusiasts into weapons of mass distraction. So far, Bitcoin ABC has been suspected of:
- Trying to kill Bitcoin with its EDA (Emergency Difficulty Adjustment), until it became clear that EDA had saved BCH.
- Opposing “freedom” by not removing the block size limit, until it became clear that unlimited blocks were a DoS (Denial of Service) attack vector.
- Crippling BCH by opposing OP_GROUP opcode, until it became clear (a) OP_CODE was harmful and (b) simpler solutions existed (e.g. SLP).
- Enacting vendettas by keeping the transaction chain limit capped at 25 forever (not true), while, much like the block size, a limit is required to prevent DoS attacks.
The latest crisis - where ABC is presented once more as sabotaging Bitcoin - is centered on the resolution of a long overdue problem: the ABC team needs funds to keep operating but the most obvious funding options are poisonous for the Bitcoin ecosystem, hence off the table - at least as far as honest players are concerned, like ABC.
Thus, a group of miners - not ABC - have proposed a fully reversible mechanism referred to as the IFP (Infrastructure Funding Plan) to fund ABC and a few other well-deserving participants.
This IFP is the single most positive news in Bitcoin’s history, right after that Amaury Séchet decided to dedicate a large portion of his life to this venture. It may not work out, after all, the proposed funding mechanism is at risk, as miners can pull back at any time, but nonetheless, it demonstrates that key people are paying attention.
The Bitcoin Core camp might be economically illiterate, but software-wise, their work is decent, which is more than what 99% of the crypto space can say. ↩︎