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Gitcoin End of Year Letter 2018

Celebrating all we’ve achieved in 2018, and looking forward to 2019. Dear Gitcoin Community, As 2018 draws to a close, I’d like to (a) wish you a joyous end of year (b) celebrate our successes in this shared blockchain adventure. In order to celebrate this occasion, I want to revisit some of our shared history.

Celebrating all we’ve achieved in 2018, and looking forward to 2019.

Dear Gitcoin Community,

As 2018 draws to a close, I’d like to (a) wish you a joyous end of year (b) celebrate our successes in this shared blockchain adventure.

In order to celebrate this occasion, I want to revisit some of our shared history.

2017 Gitcoin

During 2017, we witnessed a Cambrian explosion of experiments in the new n-dimensional market-spacetime created by the invention of programmable money. Ethereum was gaining traction, developers were hungry for something new and it was showing.

2017 Gitcoin was the ‘hacker in the garage’ phase of the Gitcoin.

Here’s a shot of my office. Not quite a garage, but close!

Big ups to my friend Piper Merriam for planting the seed in my mind that working on Gitcoin full time was a possibility. This conversation was from July 2017:

In August of 2017, a rough prototype was built to test the idea that we could use programmable money to connect coders to funders in a more fun, healthy way. Turns out, we can.

Mark Beylin created a smart contract that we use to connect those two sides of the market. When we learned that we needed to grow this market, we outlined a mission that believed that the market craved and promised we would stand up for our values, have an impact, and ‘git’ coins in the process.

Here is the first email exchange that Mark and I had:

After about 3 months of courtship, I joined ConsenSys. Another thing that happened in 2017 is that I met Eric Berry. Eric and I did a podcast together:

You can listen to that podcast here.


In January of 2018, many of the early team joined me — including Eric, Alisa March, Mark Beacom, and Vivek Singh. Most of them were bounty hunters before they were team members. I hope we can continue that tradition into the future. It creates a lot of empathy for our customers, and I think that’s really important.

In 2018, our community grew tenfold. I love to meet all the new faces everyday, from very different parts of the world, united by a common purpose: Growing Open Source.

2018 was good times. We accomplished a lot; there was no economic gravity, and in that way it was like being in space as we explored the blockchain ecosystem together. Many teams in the ecosystem squandered this opportunity to BUIDL. We did not — Here’s 2018 our dance card.


  • New Bounty Details Page, An Avatar Builder
  • New Issue Explorer, Project Types
  • Authentication, Data Dashboards
  • Gitcoin Chrome Extension

Community + Partnerships

  • The growth of the Slack community to 7,000 strong
  • The creation of the first cohort of Gitcoin ambassadors, who make a huge impact helping us steward and lead our open source community.
  • Many wonderful ETHGlobal Events (Denver, Bangalore, Berlin, and Singapore)
  • Grants with the Ethereum Foundation, Ethereum Community Fund, and MakerDAO worth $250K in open source work!
Don’t forget the early launch of these testimonial videos…


  • The validation of a market category of ethical advertising to support Open Source. The re-launch is here!
  • Working with publishers like Material-UI, jsbin, plunkr, Daily, and Code Sandbox to fund wonderful open source projects
  • The formation of a dream team — Nate Hopkins and Eric Berry — to solve the problem.


  • We discovered there was a problem with intrinsic motivation when you pay people for Open Source, so we built Kudos.
  • We want to show people that we care about intrinsic ethos of Open Source. We also jumped at the idea of creating more positivity in software, via sincere compliments.

Gitcoin Grants

  • We’ve soft launched Gitcoin Grants in the last week. The first Gitcoin Grant for Austin Griffith’s Burner Wallet has already been funded!
  • We believe that the category potential of subscriptions in funding many open source goods is high
  • We believe in the importance of paying the maintainers
  • More to come in early 2019! When we learn how we survive, we will adjust course as we always do.

Gitcoin Labs

Gitcoin Labs was kind of a left field move for us. It was the first time we’ve created a position / department just to sponsor someone’s work. That person is of course the inimitable Austin Griffith. Austin’s work will support the ecosystem, make complex topics more consumable to everyday developers, and will give Gitcoins other products a brand halo effect.

Blockchain UX is the focus for 2019, and Austin’s work is pioneering for us to play a huge part in the growth of the ecosystem as a whole.

Gitcoin Thinkpieces

We’re proud of a lot of writing we did in 2018 to help articulate our worldview. We hope it helps articulate why we’re building on Ethereum, working on blockchain UX, and growing open source here first (because we think it will expand to help broader open source in the near future)! Here are some highlights.

We look forward to exploring many more concepts, ideas, and topics in 2019. There’s more research to be done. If you have ideas, hop into our Discourse to talk Blockchain UX, Open Source Sustainability, or anything else.

A bunch of weird stuff.

We tried a lot of different experiments. A lot of this stuff should go in the deadpool. But let’s celebrate it anyhow!

  • Bounties Universe + A Gitcoin iOS app
  • d3 visualizations of our various datasets
  • Gitcoin Results
  • Ethos of Ethereal, Colorado Coin
  • Github Universe
  • ETHWallpaper
  • Whatever else is on Gitcoin Tools


If I had to sum up the theme of 2018, it was the year we evolved from an experimental bounty product to a suite of products, all designed from first principles to support our mission of growing/sustaining OSS.

Outlook to 2019

2018 was a hugely significant year in the the History of Gitcoin. We thrived in the chaotic, beautiful, Cambrian explosion of blockchain projects.

But 2018 is now in the rear view mirror. We are in a new environment that is a contraction period.

In this new environment, it’s Gitcoin’s time to evolve to a position such that we can survive & thrive.

When the market expands and contracts, we witness the eternal human struggle between fear and greed. We are witnessing Darwinian evolution in the form of global capitalism allocating resources to promising projects. We are witnessing the creation of a new category of an open source financial system.

As my friend Vic told me recently:

I am older than most people here and I have been through similar readjustment many times before — sometimes I was out and sometimes stayed. They happen because people human and fallible and markets are complex things that are difficult to anticipate. You can do everything right and still be wrong. That is the way things are. You just have to be resilient and roll with the punches. At the end of the day, everyone will be OK.

It will be hard for some but you come back — believe me. I lost everything in the dot com bust and was on the streets but I came back. I lost a corporate in-fight in 1995 and was out in my ass, but I came back. It is just capitalism. We have a great technology and a great group of people — we will have ups and down and some of us will fall by the way but I still believe we can change the world and we have the future on our side. Negativity just hurts us. Time to saddle up, get back on the horse and ride out. There are worlds to conquer.

“We will have ups and down and some of us will fall by the way but I still believe we can change the world. We have the future on our side.”

Preach. I like to think of the 2019 environment as a stormy sea. We are about to set sail on the stormy seas of a bear market. I don’t know about you, but I intend to not only survive in the new market; I intend for us to thrive. I also intend for us to do so without compromising our values.

In order to do these things, we need to build a viable ship for this new environment.

What I think the ship looks like

  • It is a vessel that is seaworthy.
  • It is a self-reliant ship. It draws power by being a sustainable force in itself.
  • It can be steered and accelerated by the Gitcoin community, together.

We all play a part

Like any ships crew, we have a diverse group of skillsets, viewpoints, and contributions.

It is up to us to work together to make this happen.

  • Because Open Source needs to be sustainable.
  • Because Coders deserve better than their current options for finding work.
  • Because it is our responsibility to make Ethereum as usable as possible.

Our Journey is a Multi-Year Story Arc

Broadly speaking

  • Gitcoin 2017 was proving bounties & ethical ads could work
  • Gitcoin 2018 was about growing these products, and adding new ones which support the mission of growing open source
  • Gitcoin 2019 will be about blockchain UX, Gitcoin’s sustainability, and research into OSS sustainability at large

We’re planning Gitcoin for a much longer story. As blockchain UX improves and open source software continue to grow, we believe opportunities are abound for developers and projects to be built in new, different, and ultimately better ways.

The End of the Year

I often struggle to walk the line between knowing that Gitcoin is a top tier project in the blockchain ecosystem and the long term existential risk that we (well, the entire ecosystem) bares every day. There is a continuous struggle between these two truths. The TL;DR is that change is the only constant, and we must execute / evolve to survive. As long as we stay ahead of it, we will both survive and thrive.

I encourage you each to take some time to enjoy the holidays, be joyous with friends and family, and if you have personal challenges, work together to overcome them. Focus on your family & community for the holidays.

Next year, we will chart a course to amplify our impact, we will dock on the shores of significant revenue, we will build a seaworthy vessel, we will batten down the hatches, we will ride the waves, we will visit many new shores. We will not compromise our values or our focus on our mission. We will work together and we, We will get there.

Early next year, I will circulate the course I’ve charted for this ship. Next year is going to be a hell of a ride.

PS — Here, have a holiday Kudos

Kevin Owocki

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