Why TBD is open source from the ground up.
Hi 👋🏻. My name is Andy Rubinger. I’m the Head of Open Source at TBD, Block‘s decentralized financial services business. Block, formerly Square, is rooted in a mission of economic empowerment. And for the past decade, we’ve made the economy more accessible.
At TBD, it’s our job to build digital financial systems that leave no one behind.
That’s a loaded statement. It accuses traditional financial systems of leaving people behind. And it acknowledges that digital money (e.g. Bitcoin) will positively impact the world and change people’s lives for the better, but it has a ways to go. We intend to help realize its promise. All of that is true, and I’m going to leave its analysis for another day. Today I’m going to talk about open source. Because open source drives our strategy to fix these problems.
Open source is at the heart of our lives online. It runs on our laptops, our phones, servers which power our favorite websites and messaging platforms. The web is the greatest advancement in human communication since the printing press, and open source made it possible.
That’s because open source software is built to last. When software is built under the protections of an open source compliant license, its future is not reliant on one developer, company, or organization. Healthy open source communities have many contributors, often competitors, working together on their shared goals. For as long as there are willing participants, open source projects thrive after any one party loses interest.
The services we make at TBD must be similarly built to last.
Remember, TBD is a decentralized financial services business. We promote trust in systems rather than organizations. Healthy open source software is also decentralized. And it breeds that same system-based trust.
So open source is threaded into the very ethos of TBD. It’s also behind Bitcoin and other digital intangible assets. We’re building and assembling the pieces necessary to reimagine global banking. We take our responsibility seriously, and it demands partnership. This is a worthy journey that requires the innovation and consensus of financial service providers, banks, lenders, regulatory agencies, and governments.
At the end of the story is a financial future that allows anyone with a cheap mobile phone and internet to send and receive money. No lengthy delays. No mandatory account minimums. No physical barriers to banking services. No predatory check cashing services or fees in remittance transit.
Traditional financial systems have continually shut many out of the economy, especially systemically underserved groups. We believe that the economy should be inclusive and we want to build a future where everyone can access and participate in the economy. The technologies we use - blockchain, cryptocurrency, decentralized identity, Bitcoin - are tools. Our purpose is financial freedom. This is about people.
People are also the ones building the tech. We’re going to design our engineering efforts around them. In broad terms, here’s what you can expect from our open source programs:
Anyone with the capacity to contribute: can. We will be proactive in welcoming a diverse contributor base for our code, documentation, developer relations, education, and communication efforts. Bad actors will be met with a published governance model and enforced code of conduct. Our users deserve representation in our development communities, and we will be building systems to encourage varied perspectives and respectful debate.
Decision-making will be open by default, with rare exceptions made for security, compliance, personnel, or other sensitive issues. Projects under TBD’s stewardship will conduct design, roadmap, issues, bugs, and code reviews in public. This is critical for accountability and to promote the inclusive environment necessary for project success.
Projects need well-defined scope to succeed. They also need accessible, comprehensive documentation, a stellar Getting Started experience, and well-defined expectations. TBD will be fostering an environment built for contribution without personal intervention. Newcomers should be able to follow the project status on their own without additional explanation.
Right now, there’s one Big Thing on my desk: setting up the infrastructure which gets us building together. We can’t wait to see you there.
Financial freedom is To Be Developed. Here we go.