Why do blockchain dev teams remain anonymous?

I’m sure there’s some good reasons but I don’t really know what they are.

What are the dangers of having a public identity associated with a project? What are the benefits for concealing it?

There may be some blockchains that have some anonymous devs (like Satoshi), but I think most devs do not remain anonymous, unless they are creating a blockchain that is based on anonymity (or a scam coin). The pool of blockchain developers is very small at the moment. Most of the top devs work with each other and work on multiple blockchains. It would be very difficult to remain anonymous and still have an academic reputation so you can get your whitepaper even read by your peers.

Here is dev team that built and are building Cardano https://iohk.io/team/

You can check Ethereum founders on Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethereum

Bitcoin devs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin#Creation

Polkadot devs: https://polkadot.network/about/

Algorand Devs: https://www.algorand.com/about/our-team


I don’t think there are any dangers beside your usual rich and famous dangers. Unless you are working on privacy coins that can evade taxes or break the law in any way (or scam coins).

As for benefits. Some people say the fact that Satoshi is a mystery allows people to truly feel like BitCoin is decentralized. There is no founder crowning this or that fork as the main one, or deciding that he can now change code to something different, or adding more coins, or starting new/better BitCoin. Kind of like when an skilled artist dies and all their works now skyrocket in price because that is it. No more coming, no changes. Sense of finality and stability sets in.

Personally I would never invest in or be a part of any project where the whole team refuses to stand behind their work. If main devs distance themselves from the project that has no reason to be a secret, then why would anyone join.

I do appreciate your detailed response but I don’t think we’re on the same page about this. I think it’s true as you say that some of the major developers like IOHK and devs behind ETH 2.0 may be public but I don’t believe that is the norm or at least it’s not uncommon for entire teams to remain anonymous.

Off the top of my head I believe all of the following DeX’s have anonymous teams: Uniswap, pancakeswap, sushiswap, yayswap.

Even SundaeSwap just recently revealed some more of their team members publicly after concealing it for some time. I think one of those sites even had pseudonymous team members in the “About us” linked to Twitter accounts that are also pseudonymous there too.

Perhaps I have a mistaken assumption about the landscape here but if not I’d like to know why it’s common even for good intentioned (non-scammer) devs to conceal their identity behind the projects they run.

There is no byline on this article but the author & founder identities himself in the first quoted tweet (and then many others through the article).

…and SushiSwap is just a copy of UniSwap code (Cut and Paste Style). PancakeSwap is Binance clone of UniSwap, etc… So, these aren’t really development teams. These are usually a few people that are trying to get business going on already developed platforms. These aren’t blockchains, they are basically programs running on blockchain. When you asked " Why do blockchain dev teams remain anonymous?" , I assumed you meant actual blockchains, not Dapps or software.

Dapp or software teams may be anonymous because they live in a country that outlawed crypto, or they don’t want to pay to incorporate their business, or they want to avoid taxes, or they are not sure if it’s gonna work so they don’t wont to destroy their careers. Either way, they usually don’t develop anything. They try to repurpose what’s already developed, so they don’t commit much to the project. They can easily walk away if it doesn’t work out and the reputation will not follow them into next business they try to start. (or it could be a scam).

Ahhh I see I didn’t communicate my question so clearly as you indicated…I should have specified “Dapp devs.” I think in US startup tech culture being a part of a failed startup isn’t viewed as shameful, it’s considered good experience (other countries may look at it with more disdain), but since you say Dapp devs don’t want their careers ruined if it doesn’t work out, is there some stigma in the tech world for being associated with Dapp (and not being a high profile dev)? Like is there a stronger negative perception towards a failed Dapp development team over a failed iOS team? I think the failed iOS team members would still note on their resumes and portfolio the work they did rather there rather than have their association with the project be concealed in anonymity.

Oh would you look at that, yeah. Didn’t see any members shared in an “about us” page but you’re right that’s not an anonymous leader.

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It’s not about shame and not about failing either and it’s definitely not a startup tech culture issue, since these are not companies at all (so they can’t be a startup). Most of these are just one-off products.

If you say that your job was to develop a Dapp that was found to malfunction and cost users/company losses, then you are just not a capable developer. If your name gets attached to incompetence you will not be hired. Sometimes all is needed is one person on your new/unproven team to mess up and your names will always be connected with incompetence or a scam. In the age of social media HR departments will Google your name before even inviting you to an interview. What do you think happens when first 3 things they get on their search are links talking about how you lost 10s of millions for some company or users? And everybody knows that these days when people feel burned, they will spam hate online all day long.

Very different situation. Even if iOS development completely fails you still have Apple Inc. that is accountable to their customers. They didn’t just close their twitter accounts, dump their coins and disappeared. Failure of iOS would be by management, not coders. That might even get you more interviews because everyone would like to hear insider info of how Apple could have such epic fail.

Check out this video that talks about similar situation and imagine if everyone knew who Devsin is.

Yeah that makes sense. Good explanation, thanks!

US startups are completely different than Dapp ‘teams’ (I have a lot of experience with both). For starters, the US is obviously localized to one country. This has changed quite a bit over the years as most of the startups I worked for in the past decade did some amount of offshoring to Eastern Europe and SA. Startups tend to want some kind of recognition because of the investment structure and time frame - they either want to be a unicorn or an acquisition target. So it’s in their nature to want to have attention. In fact, they need it; they need the buzz to get the user base, to either get more investment or revenue, etc.

Dapp’s and crypto environments are very different. It is still even more wild west than startups, they are world wide, and one person can still make something big. I personally anonymize most of the projects I work on for two simple reasons: hacking and targeting.

Numerous crypto folks have been doxxed for whatever reason and I personally know more than a few that have lost access to their primary online accounts through sim hacks and/or password related hacks. Being a part of a youtuber, for instance, with 250k subs creates an attack surface for anyone on a team associated with them. There is a massive difference when your resume shopping within the community and sharing your public persona vs. being named in a video with a million views. That’s just a fact of life (this also happens with startups, but I think it’s less since crypto is still young and ripe for exploit).

And yes, crypto is targeted more because the money is built in. If you breech a server in a real world startup/app, then you will probably not be able to steal millions. The payment processing systems are fairly well segmented and have been around long enough to build the protections in (plus, there is an entire sub-industry in banking/payments to counter fraud).
In crypto though, you have much more opportunities. You could get a wallet private key on that server hack or you can find an exploit in a contract. The latter seems to be the preferred method for a lot of folks and has had big consequences. And frankly, contracts are hard and when I hear of hacks, I’m not surprised; traditional development doesn’t usually expose the inner workings of the codebase like contracts do. Some hacks have been done with a simple 1 line error in a contract.

So, tldr; crypto is more public and younger than tradtitional dev - it’s still very much the wild west and immature technology yields a big attack surface (this is good and bad). Devs have a legitimate claim to anonymity as they are targets for doxxing/hacking. Dapp scammers are real, but small (I think) in comparison to the amount of dapp’s out there and I don’t see this as the main reason why they want to remain anonymous.