Wladimir van der Laan is a Bitcoin Core Developer and the Lead Maintainer of the Bitcoin repository on GitHub.
From mid-2010 until April-2014, Gavin Andresen maintained control of the Bitcoin Core GitHub repository and was considered Bitcoin’s lead developer. On April 8, 2014, Andresen stepped down and van der Laan agreed to take over as Lead Maintainer of the Bitcoin repo. His salary is paid by MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative, where he works on Bitcoin development with Andresen and Cory Fields.
van der Laan has taken more of a backseat approach in Bitcoin’s scaling debate. He stated that there is “a problem with proposals that bake in expected exponential bandwidth growth” and that a “a hardfork is extremely hard to coordinate”.
Because Bitcoin is a decentralized system, van der Laan believes that any code changes or BIP proposals must reach consensus among other Core developers before being implemented. Former Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn is one of the critics who have claimed that van der Laan’s approach is too conservative.
I mostly have a problem with proposals that bake in expected exponential bandwidth growth. I don’t think it’s realistic. If we’ve learned anything from the 2008 subprime bubble crisis it should be that nothing ever keeps growing exponentially, and assuming so can be hazardous. It reduces a complex geographical issue, the distribution of internet connectivity over the planet for a long time to come, to a simple function.
On the other hand a hardfork is extremely hard to coordinate. Even one that just involves changing one parameter. Everyone with a full node has to upgrade. This is not something that can be done regularly. Certainly not with such a near time horizon. Changing the rules in a decentralized consensus system is a very difficult problem and I don’t think we’ll resolve it any time soon.