Open source leadership vs. corporate leadership

As cryptocurrencies and blockchains have continued to gain steam (and bring capital), a frequent question in the atmosphere is, which sort of leader does it have to be successful in this area?

If it is not already obvious, cryptocurrency growth is open source development. The fundamental challenge in open source development is to receive other technical people to embrace your own technology, and to cultivate broad community support around it. The skills required aren’t only technical, but also political. Open source projects will need to strike the ideal balance between leadership, inclusivity, openness, commit governance & rights, etc — you aren’t just expecting for people to use your technology, but to volunteer their time to keep it. Good trick!

The large political risk in almost any open source project is the fork — since the code is available, everyone can just have a copy and create that in their own manner, siphoning off attention and energy. So the main objective of the politics is to keep folks onboard, as opposed to forking.

But sometimes, even the informed political leadership part might not be necessary. 

“Some folks think I am fine and are shocked when they find out different… I am not a wonderful person, and I do not care about you. 

So in some instances, (like with Linux and Git) the technology could be so great it can survive even hierarchical direction.

WordPress needed WordPress.com (the hosted service) to provide the company model; Ruby on Rails needed Basecamp (saas); MongoDB followed the Red Hat version of business service (and now hosted solutions ), and Linux has the Linux Foundation (corporate donors) — in every case, you had to find a way to construct a business in addition to the open source base. Sometimes this works, but tons of times it does not .

What is different about the current crypto landscape is the business model is built to the item, so there is no longer a need to bolt-on a business version. So maybe we do not want an adult in the area, not in the standard sense of somebody who knows how to”conduct a company” — creating corporate deals, showing up to meetings in a lawsuit, etc..

However, to add another twist: cryptocurrencies are similar to open source projects which are also central banks — they’re both a tech stage and a financial platform. So, take all the politics inherent in open source projects (danger of fork, etc) and lever up that with powerful financial interests tied to engineering choices: you now have the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

The two biggest examples from now are Bitcoin’s continued struggle to take care of its scaling problems , and Ethereum’s current hard fork after the DAO hack. Bitcoin could be reaching consensus on scaling after a few decades, and it seems that Ethereum (under Vitalik’s leadership ) has recovered very nicely after the tough fork.

These two have shown that you could construct a multi-billion-dollar cryptocurrency platform with hardly any conventional business infrastructure, but you will undoubtedly face not just the”regular” open source problems, but a new version that’s even more political and highly charged — that is a tall order, but appears to be what is required.

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