What is Blockstream?

When it comes to discussing Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, there are always some controversial topics to be found. Blockstream is one of those topics that will always lead to heated debates among Bitcoin supporters. However, newcomers may be unaware of what Blockstream is all about and how they allegedly affected Bitcoin development to date.

An Overview of What Blockstream Is All About

On the surface, Blockstream presents itself as a blockchain technology company. That is nothing out of the ordinary, as multiple such companies exist today. Blockstream was co-founded by Adam Back, Gregory Maxwell, Austin Hill, and a few other individuals. Most Bitcoin enthusiasts will be well aware of these names, as these three individuals have been linked to the development of Bitcoin Core in one way or another.

What Blockstream also does is provide funding the development of Bitcoin Core. While it is true developers need to be financially supported, the involvement of Blockstream has been a significant cause for controversy. A lot of people feel Blockstream is actively influencing the direction in which Bitcoin Core is heading right now.

Even though Blockstream mainly focuses on developing sidechains and other Bitcoin applications, there is some overlap where Bitcoin Core development is concerned. The company raised US$76m from various investors over the year, allowing the company to employ prominent Bitcoin [Core] developers. The company also recently welcomed Samson Mow to their list of employees, as he is now the Chief Strategy Officer for Blockstream.

It is worth mentioning Blockstream has also been actively involved in other Bitcoin development. The Lightning network, for example, is made possible thanks to Blockstream hiring Rusty Russell. His job is to develop an implementation of the Bitcoin Lightning Network. This project will only become a reality if Segregated Witness activates on the network, which is the proposed scaling solution by the Bitcoin Core developers.

Blockstream also released an open source project which goes by the name of Elements. This environment will serve as a test bench for sidechain products in the future. Moreover, it can be used to design new Bitcoin protocol extensions. In fact, Segregated Witness was initially tested on the Elements Project testing environment, as was the Confidential Transactions proposal by Gregory Maxwell. It is expected other Bitcoin protocol extensions will make their way to this testing environment as well.

The latest┬ámajor controversy surrounding Blockstream comes in the form of the block size increase problem. Mike Hearn, who left the Bitcoin world in favor of working for R3, felt Gregory Maxwell and Blockstream were actively opposing a proper scaling solution. Those claims have never been proven, even though a lot of people still feel Hearn was speaking the truth. Whether or not that is the case, remains anybody’s guess at this point.

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