John Newbery’s New Nonprofit Brink Will Train And Support Bitcoin Developers

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How do we fund Bitcoin developers, and how do we ensure there are enough of them in the first place? 

Former Chaincode Labs developer John Newbery and Blockstream alumnus Mike Schmidt are launching a nonprofit to help answer both of these questions.

The new organization is called Brink (a nod to the newspaper headline embedded in Bitcoin’s genesis block), a new London-based, independent nonprofit to support open-source development for Bitcoin and related technologies. Through Brink, Newbery and Schmidt — who also collaborate on the Bitcoin Optech project — will issue developer grants and mentor new contributors.

“We believe that Brink’s unique model of funding, grant awards and focus on mentoring will further decentralize Bitcoin’s protocol development and strengthen the Bitcoin network and developer ecosystem,” Newbery told Bitcoin Magazine.

Brink’s most distinctive activity will perhaps be its new fellowship program. Over the course of a year, talented developers will, under the mentorship of Newbery, get the opportunity to learn the ropes of contributing to Bitcoin projects like Bitcoin Core or one of the Lightning projects. Newbery and Schmidt hope this will help more developers get started contributing to Bitcoin projects.

“The fellowship is pretty unique,” Newbery told Bitcoin Magazine. “Other than the Chaincode Residency [a shorter trainee program for Bitcoin developers that Newbery went through himself and later helped organize], it’s hard to establish yourself as a Bitcoin Core dev. There’s a steep learning curve, I hope to help move the needle on that with Brink.”

Besides the fellowship program, Brink will also issue funding to existing Bitcoin developers. Newbery and Schmidt’s company will in this sense act as an intermediary between individuals and organizations that would like to sponsor Bitcoin development (but that don’t have the time and/or expertise to select worthy recipients) and developers working on open-source projects that add value to the Bitcoin ecosystem.

“Individuals can sponsor developers,” Newbery said. “We’ve already seen some GitHub sponsorships, but this is a way to scale up funding.”

The Brink team consists of seasoned Bitcoin experts. Besides co-founders Newbery, who will be Brink’s executive director; and Schmidt, who will be the company secretary; Brink’s board of directors will also include Bitcoin Optech newsletter writer Dave Harding. Organizational funding has been provided by investor John Pfeffer and Xapo CEO Wences Casares. The Human Rights Foundation, Square Crypto and Gemini are funding Brink’s first two fellows, and Kraken is sponsoring its first grantee.

Brink has applied to be a 501(c)(3) in the United States. If granted, this designation would let U.S. citizens make tax-exempt donations to the organization. Brink would then be the only organization exclusively devoted to Bitcoin development that takes direct donations from the public in this way.

For more information about Brink, visit its website at brink.dev. If you’d like to contribute to Brink, contact donors@brink.dev. More information about Brink’s grant and fellowship programs can be found at brink.dev/programs.