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'Bitcoin Santas' are surprising hackers with anonymous Christmas donations

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This holiday season, if you’ve been a good hacker, working tirelessly to build a better, more open-source digital world, you just might get an email (and a large donation) from a mysterious altruistic funding group known as Bitcoin Grant.

Dubbed by Wired as “Bitcoin Santas,” the secretive group has been cropping up in the inboxes of those they believe to be altruistic coders, working, often with Bitcoin, for the betterment of the world. They make large, anonymous donations to spur innovation and keep projects afloat.

The mysterious group has backed eight projects to date, including peer-to-peer Bitcoin software and an open source mobile operating system. Though they do not publish the exact amounts given to the various efforts, Wired dug up a few: Back in 2012, Bitcoin Grant gave Avalon, a company that makes Bitcoin miners, 10,000 bitcoins. At the time, it was worth more than $100,000, enough to jumpstart the project.

Why do they do it? “If until now, you have been working purely out of love, the Bitcoin Grant would like to fund you, no strings attached, so that excellent work continues. It is that simple,” the group wrote on its website.

Wired apparently attempted to get into contact with the mysterious organization but had no success. As the group stated, “There is no application to fill out, do not send us a email; simply continue to do great work and the Bitcoin Grant will reach out to you.”

What we’re dealing with, then, appears to be a mysterious, wealthy, libertarian-minded group willing to toss large sums of money at individuals working towards goals it believes in. In other words, what billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg is to gun control politics, Bitcoin Grant is to open access cryptocurrency innovation.

Photo via fdecomite/Flickr