NYTimes: Mike Hearn "Gave Up"

Nathaniel Popper writes in the New York Times that Mike Hearn "gave up" on Bitcoin in the wake of the decisive defeat of his proposed XTCoin fork. In the piece Popper paints the most charitable image of Hearn possible, the "guy who quit Google to devote his time to working on Bitcoin" (archived).

Only a passing mention of the post-Google salary Hearn drew from United States Government security agency linked venture capital firm Andreessen1 Horowitz was offered by Popper. The focus of Popper's piece was instead on the Blocksize distraction Hearn was involved in. Little was made by Popper of Hearn's previous Bitcoin software development. Let's go over a shorter but more comprehensive history of Mike's "contributions":

  • BitcoinJ, a software library in Java created for and still featured in some Bitcoin SPV clients.
  • Contributions to "Bitcoin" v0.82 where two changes pushed by Hearn were introduced:
    1. Blockchain handling database changed to LevelDB, leading to the Fork of March 2013.
    2. Bloom Filters, which lead to several means to remotely crash bitcoin nodes serving them, and presented a perennial annoyance to nodes not serving them until recently.

    The Bitcoin v0.8 series clients required more point releases to handle the problems introduced by Hearn's new "features" than any other release produced by the Power Rangers since v0.3.21 introduced full precision decimal amounts. Clients descended from the v0.8 series will likely have to keep addressing bugs introduced by Hearn's changes for years.

  • Numerous network changes introducing new commands for nodes in order to better serve SPV clients while greatly increasing the resources necessary to keep a Bitcoin node online. When these proposed changes were soundly rejected he made the first BitcoinXT patch set.
  • He in concert with Gavin Andressen released an XT client for the Bitcoin network which under certain circumstances would fork off into an altcoin, opening the only chapter of Mike Hearn's Bitcoin involvement Popper cared to mention in anything resembling detail.

The entire corpus of Mike Hearn's body of work directed at Bitcoin aimed to transform Bitcoin from itself into something else readily centralized and controlled by the extant fiat order. Mike Hearn's work was dominated by measures which ever so slightly increase the ease3 of using SPV clients at substantial expense to the operators of the Bitcoin full nodes making the network possible. He even openly advocated a future for Bitcoin where nodes had to exist on Google's scale and in a number that could be counted with the fingers of one hand.

Mike Hearn was not the first and will definitely not be the last agent of sabotage directed towards Bitcoin projects. In Mike's place other agents continue the work he started, with their every new attempt against Bitcoin more desperate than their last.


  1. No blood relation to Gavin. Just a shared employer.  

  2. This was coincidental to the time where those threatened by Bitcoin began less quiet probing of the space.  

  3. But never materially increasing the security of SPV clients.  

13 thoughts on “NYTimes: Mike Hearn "Gave Up"

  1. It's worth noting that Mike was sufficiently interested in Bitcoin to have racked up extensive [alleged] communication with Satoshi, despite not understanding either the economic incentives nor the moral principles behind it; most WoT members, despite passing both counts, hadn't heard of this newfangled ecash until around when Satoshi ragequit.

  2. Mike Hearn is a big asshole and idiot. Software development knowledge does not make you be smart. He did everything he could to destroy the Bitcoin and decreed on their own the digital asset failure. How pathetic. As so often, the Bitcoin died again, now decreed by a complete idiot.

  3. Mike Hearn hates Bitcoin. He understands fully what its implications for society are, and he does not like them. He is a Statist. He is against anything that undermines the current economic order, and believes fully in the "democratic system" and can accept no other form of getting things done. Thats why he calls the idea of Anarchism "Jive".

    Ideas in software are either right or wrong, they either work or do not work. Low brow thinkers like Mike Hearn, bereft of imagination and narrowly specialised in one practice (software) are immediately at odds with the philosophy of Bitcoin and its real world goals, which have been achieved.

    Men like Hearn do not have the intellectual capacity. maturity or discernment to make a judgement about the true value of Bitcoin, or the correctness of its goals. They are not lofty thinkers, world changers or innovators. They work in the back rooms of banks.

    • Mike Hearn hates Bitcoin. He understands fully what its implications for society are, and he does not like them. He is a Statist.

      This is actually a lot more common than people generally realise.

      Random schmuck with "an education" and who is "polite" and politely-castrated intuits readily that in a MP world his standing will not be nearly as high as in the Clitler world, and consequently… hey, he "just wanted to", right ?

  4. Felipe,

    Whether they have this or that motto is really unimportant. It's just a way to tell people "sorry for your loss" (i.e. fuck you!) , when their loss is only being too stupid and panic selling, or using Coinbase or whatever. In general it's a pretty sensible way to tell people "Stop whining, I dun give a shit". Although a much more honest "don't spend what you don't have" could be a better fit.

    Not that I myself always get the correct perspective at first sight, but I wonder why you have this strange tendency to pick on a really small and insignificant detail and treat it as if it was the gist of the issue.

    • Actually "don’t invest what you can’t afford to lost" is the summary of mediocrity. Is it a detail? Could be, but this motto just sum up the feeling about what is Bitcoin for him: an idiot experiment. Everything else is a consequence of that stupid thought.

    • It's no different from the real (ie pre-Bitcoin) world, only that here, much like transactions themselves, all the shit is better documented and publicly accessible. Which is and advantage for anyone trying to navigate the world, sign of this system being much superior than all the crap it replaces.

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