One of Bitcoin’s top developers believes it’s a failed experiment


Mike Hearn has been a prominent part of the Bitcoin community for years, even going so far as to walk away from a job at Google in order to work on the digital currency full-time, but now he’s done. Hearn recently took to Medium to express his frustration with the Bitcoin community, and made it clear that he’s always viewed Bitcoin as an experiment, one that he claims has failed because the community has failed. The idea behind Bitcoin was to create a completely decentralized currency, but Hearn claims that a handful of people have undermined that by taking control of it, and the systems that were supposed to prevent people from doing that have failed. With that in mind, Hearn believes that Bitcoin is no more efficient or secure than the current financial system, and is therefore a failed experiment. 

I’ve spent more than 5 years being a Bitcoin developer. The software I’ve written has been used by millions of users, hundreds of developers, and the talks I’ve given have led directly to the creation of several startups. I’ve talked about Bitcoin on Sky TV and BBC News. I have been repeatedly cited by the Economist as a Bitcoin expert and prominent developer. I have explained Bitcoin to the SEC, to bankers and to ordinary people I met at cafes. From the start, I’ve always said the same thing: Bitcoin is an experiment and like all experiments, it can fail. So don’t invest what you can’t afford to lose. I’ve said this in interviews, on stage at conferences, and over email. So have other well known developers like Gavin Andresen and Jeff Garzik. But despite knowing that Bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed still saddens me greatly. The fundamentals are broken and whatever happens to the price in the short term, the long term trend should probably be downwards. I will no longer be taking part in Bitcoin development and have sold all my coins. Why has Bitcoin failed? It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked “systemically important institutions” and “too big to fail” has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse. The mechanisms that should have prevented this outcome have broken down, and as a result there’s no longer much reason to think Bitcoin can actually be better than the existing financial system.

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