Jack Dorsey’s Square Will Fund Open-Source Crypto Developers
03.21.2019

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and Twitter, announced yesterday that Square will hire “3-4 crypto engineers and 1 designer to work full-time on open source contributions to the bitcoin/crypto ecosystem.” The program will apparently be known as “Square Crypto,” according to Dorsey’s lengthy Twitter thread.

Though Dorsey’s language is a little fuzzy, it seems fair to assume that a substantial portion of this support will be aimed at bitcoin development. Square’s Cash App only sells bitcoin, and Dorsey has been personally involved in pro-bitcoin efforts such as sharing the Lightning Torch. He has also been openly critical of Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.

It is crucial to emphasize the distinction between what Dorsey is describing and other blockchain and cryptocurrency initiatives from the likes of Facebook or JPMorgan. Those are efforts to create in-house, branded digital currencies that are almost certain to lack the key features of uncensorability and decentralized governance that make true cryptocurrencies meaningful for the future of society.

By contrast, Dorsey is following in the footsteps of the open-source movement that helped spawn bitcoin, by committing some of Square’s resources to support a shared project. Though Dorsey went on to describe the move as “Square’s first open source initiative independent of our business objectives,” that’s a bit off the mark—Square’s Cash App is increasingly considered an important onramp for buying bitcoin with U.S. dollars, and Square collects fees for that service.

Related: CEO Jack Dorsey Radically Re-Envisions What Twitter Would Look Like on the Blockchain

So supporting bitcoin, and crypto more generally, actually does enhance Square’s business. Its contributions would join those from the likes of Blockstream, the MIT Media Lab, and other organizations that devote resources to improving bitcoin’s core protocol. A similar ecosystem of for-profit companies contribute to the development of key open-source projects like Linux.

Dorsey further explained his desire to hire a designer, writing that “great design will help more people access this technology faster and better.” Another important detail is that the crypto contributors will report directly to Dorsey himself; given that the man runs two huge public companies, that more than anything reflects a serious commitment to real crypto. The bitcoin community will no doubt be keeping a close eye on who Square’s contributors turn out to be. This is one of the most genuinely positive developments for bitcoin in a year that has already been full of them.