As someone who first found Bitcoin in 2010, built several projects on Bitcoin, and then left due to the increasing toxicity of the space, I heavily empathize with Mike Hearn’s recent decision to move on.
The truth of the matter is that the promise of any value provided by Bitcoin (as a currency or as a payments network) continues to diminish as each claim is thrown against reality.
Having seen the narrative shift over the past 5½ years, I’ve seen the pitch for Bitcoin shift from being a permissionless, instant, free payment method to being a high-barrier system, which large companies build on to then provide their own consumer financial services.
It is indeed almost always the case that when you’re building an entirely new category of technology, the initial promise evolves over time and ends up looking radically different than first envisioned.
However, successful technologies often start out looking a lot like a toy while finding revolutionary applications along the way, and failed technologies often promise a new world before slinking into obscurity. Think Smartphones versus the Segway.
Creating an environment for permissionless innovation on top of cheaper, more open, and more frictionless payment networks is a noble and achievable goal, but not one Bitcoin will achieve.
Ironically, the Bitcoin community as a whole is failing to understand that many of the initial, practical goals of Bitcoin are actively being built in the private Blockchain space in conjunction with existing Financial Services and Governments.
Providing more scalable and open systems for societal and financial interactions is something that may indeed be enabled by Blockchains, but it’s not something we have yet seen from Bitcoin.