in Data Analysis

Bitcoin Big Hit with Developers: Predicting the future with Github


This chart describes the number of Github projects in existance (y axis) throughout the last couple of years (x-axis) that reference selected keywords. It gives us a pretty good idea of how big a hit bitcoin is with developers. But let’s back up a little bit.

Bitcoin Pulse

My friend Tony and I (Flavio) recently launched Bitcoin Pulse to monitor how bitcoin is growing as a technology. We built this because we wanted this for ourselves. Trying to understand how bitcoin is growing as a technology and as a way to exchange actual goods versus just being a store of value or even a way to get rich quick speculation.

What is Developer Mindshare?

To us, one of the most important ideas that can be indicators predicting the success of a new technology platform is what we call Developer Mindshare.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay, 1971

Chris Dixon says: What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years

We believe that hackers are building the future. They are the ones that are building new technology everyday. By that virtue, they are the first ones to play around when new ideas come around and with their builder mindset, they are the first ones who can picture the myriad of ways a new technology can be used. So we believe that measuring Developer Mindshare is one of the best indicators of how successful technology platforms will be adopted in the market.

We define Developer Mindshare as the amount of attention and effort developers are devoting to using and improving certain technologies and platforms.

Now how can we measure Developer Mindshare?

We think that a good proxy for Developer Mindshare is developers’ activity on GitHub. These days, most developers (or at least the ones working with modern tools) have a GitHub account, with many publicly sharing their own projects or contributing to open source projects. GitHub is also the place where many startups host their own private source code.

GitHub then, can be a great place to start looking at what are the next big things. One way we can measure developer mindshare is to look at what languages, platforms and technologies devs are using for their open source projects.

For this specific case, we ran a simple query that tells us how many projects reference Bitcoin on GitHub. The growth chart is very interesting.

What are the limitations of this approach?

As with any approximation, analyzing GitHub data has its limits. An important one is that we only have access to the open source projects on GitHub. We don’t know what most developers are using in the close-source projects they have. But in a way, the open source contributions are even better: What technologies are they so excited about to use that they do it in their free time? Surely, those technologies must have some future promise?

It is worth noting that this simplistic approach does not gives us totally exact values due to the generic nature of the queries. As such, these values should be used as a rough way to see how things are moving.


The interesting thing about developer mindshare is that it is to some degree a viral phenomenon. When more developers start using a certain technology, they tend to build tools around that technology to make it easier to use – think of libraries to interface with more computer languages, UI/UX libraries, patches, integrations and so forth. And through that, they make the original technology even more useful, thus adding value to the entire ecosystem around that technology. This again makes it easier for new developers and entrepreneurs to get started using that technology.

Bitcoin vs Stripe vs Paypal

In order to be able to quantify the general level of interest around Bitcoin, we thought it would be interesting to compare Bitcoin with Stripe and Paypal. Obviously this is a bit of an apple to oranges comparison, since Stripe is a payment processor for credit cards, Paypal a wallet and a payment processor and Bitcoin a technology and a currency / value storage. But we think the relative growth of those platforms is something that can yield some insight into what is rising on mindshare.

So what have we found?

The chart above says it all, but here’s for people who want numbers:

In the 30 days from November 15th to December 15th, Paypal grew by 4.4%, Stripe by 6.3% and Bitcoin by 17.8%! In other words,

Bitcoin projects on Github are growing 4 times as fast as Paypal projects and almost 3 times as fast as Stripe projects.

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