Why Mintlayer doesn't have a Foundation

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

TLDR: While foundations are typically beneficial for blockchain projects in terms of providing developers with the tools, resources, and knowledge to build; Mintlayer doesn’t have a foundation because we want to encourage complete decentralization within the project, something which can become diluted, or “uncertain” in other projects who opt to operate within a foundation. This article outlines how we’ll achieve it and why we think this is so important.

While traditionally, in the blockchain world, foundations have been seen as the “overarching” organizations responsible for structuring and driving developments in the blockchain world by promoting stability and reliability…

Mintlayer chose to proceed and build without a foundation.

What is a foundation?

Contrary to popular belief, registering a project in crypto as a foundation isn’t just about increasing the benefits for the venture.

Cryptocurrency foundations provide the following:

  • Development
  • Research
  • Education
  • Marketing and PR

All whilst relying on donations or external investors.

Registering under a foundation allows crypto entities to try to get closer to the original purpose of cryptocurrencies in the first place: decentralization. Of course, the foundation itself becomes a point of centralization, defeating the original intent of said approach. Cryptocurrency foundations supposedly help digital currencies to achieve their full potential, all whilst allowing the cryptocurrency to exist independently.

Not only does this allow the crypto entity to bypass taxation so long as specific requirements are met, but it also allows for the raising of funds via crowdfunding in the form of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

The centralization of ideas and innovation, which occurs naturally through a foundation, even when the desire to avoid such a situation exists, means individual voices hold greater sway than they should, and ideas from bright outsiders are often ignored or at the very least lost in the noise coming from the foundation’s own ideas.

Often led by a group of stakeholders whose own interests do not necessarily align with those of the wider community, a foundation is open to internal politics, corruption, and fundamental changes to the project, such as rolling back a blockchain following a hack or security incident.

The centralized nature and internal politics of a foundation leave a protocol open to influence, be it internal or from an external source such as an investor or government entity. Mintlayer believes that a blockchain protocol should be agnostic to any such influences. The open market of developers working on Mintlayer would provide insulation to such pressures.

But from Mintlayer’s perspective, avoiding a foundation can only be a positive step toward innovation - without curbing the decentralization of the project as a whole.

What is the alternative?

Many actors in the crypto, and more generally blockchain spaces, have a lot to say when it comes to crypto regulations. Still, when the government of San Marino announced plans to regulate crypto within the country, the news was welcomed with open arms at Mintlayer.

RBB LAB, the company, incorporated in 2019 and headed by Enrico Rubboli, backs regulation in the crypto space and sees it as a gateway to mainstream adoption.

In fact, the transparency and controls put in place by San Marino and the legal framework of the country will do nothing but accelerate the end goals of Mintlayer: to achieve full decentralization.

RBB LAB is committed to releasing a fully open-source product with a roadmap spanning several years. We are also committed to reducing the importance of the company’s control to the minimum possible in hopes of achieving the following:

  • Consensus code crystallization to such a point that it becomes virtually impossible to amend; meaning that in the future, any entity will not be able to make significant changes to the code.

  • Code maintenance is to be achieved by pledges from interested developers and companies alike.

Following in the footsteps of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero, RBB LAB hopes that they will be but one of a multitude of contributors to Mintlayer and the broader ML ecosystem. Mintlayer is open to pull requests or improvement proposals from anyone at any time.

Mintlayer intends to emulate these creations, as having a foundation can arguably nullify decentralization forces introducing a centralized source of “truth” invariably run by a project’s founder, whom the public looks to for leadership and guidance.

Success without a foundation?

What makes a project successful, is having a multitude of companies and individuals with a shared interest, in a competing market. This is where creating an environment that welcomes, encourages and fosters creativity from builders and creators alike is so important.

RBB LAB’s CEO: “We think we will be stronger within an open and free world, where we are not alone. Not leading but competing.”

Mintlayer core repo MIPS

You can help

Mintlayer is an open-source project. If you are interested in contributing, you are welcome to look through our list of good first issues.

Looking for work?

Mintlayer currently has several open positions. Why not check to see if there’s a role that matches your skills?