Marathon Patent Group (MARA) announced Thursday it will bankroll the work of Bitcoin Core developer Jonas Schnelli. The year-long grant is worth $96,000, payable in bitcoin.
Previously, Bitmain funded Schnelli’s work before nixing his and other’s grants last year, something Marathon Patent Group highlighted in its correspondence with CoinDesk.
“Bitmain cancelled all of their funding for [Schnelli and other developers]…which left Jonas seeking a new grant,” Merrick Okamoto, Marathon’s chairman and CEO, told CoinDesk.
“It feels amazing that the community has each others back. I sent a single tweet (that I lost the Bitcoin sponsorship) and things moves super fast,” Schnelli told CoinDesk.
In a press release, Okamoto commented, “We believe it is essential that we do our part to help advance the Bitcoin network. Absent core developers like Jonas, Bitcoin’s efficacy and long-term adoption, and therefore our business, could be impacted. This grant will allow Jonas to continue his important work on our collective behalf.”
The funding is crucial for an open-source project like Bitcoin that has no company or central entity backing it, and it’s coming from a grassroots movement of Bitcoin companies following each other’s leads to give back part of their profits to the developer community.
Schnelli has been contributing to Bitcoin Core since 2013 and his 516 commits make him the the ninth most active developer on the Bitcoin Core code. Along with his work on the Bitcoin source code, he has created a code library for creating Bitcoin applications in the C coding language and helped design the BitBox hardware wallet.
In addition to this grant, Schnelli also has 55 individual sponsors on GitHub.
Another Bitcoin developer, João Barbosa, had his funding from Bitmain revoked at the same time as Schnelli, but Barbosa bounced back at the end of 2020 when he received one of Coinbase’s first Crypto Community Fund grants.
Schnelli and Barbosa’s are not in an unheard of scenario.
Before last year, most all open-source developers in Bitcoin volunteered their time to work on the Bitcoin software and protocol. Others were lucky enough to be hired by a well-capitalized firm like Blockstream or Chaincode Labs, but most never received compensation for their work.
Update (18:42 UTC): This article has been updated with quotes and information from Marathon Patent Group.