Open-source funding platform Gitcoin is facing backlash over its new year-long partnership with fossil fuel company Shell. The partnership aims to leverage blockchain’s coordination capabilities for the energy sector’s transition to renewable sources. Shell’s donation to Gitcoin’s Grant Program and sponsorship of an upcoming hackathon have drawn scrutiny.
Critics accuse Shell of engaging in “greenwashing,” a tactic where a company misleadingly promotes its environmentally friendly image through marketing. The partnership has sparked concerns about the ethical alignment of Gitcoin’s open-source ethos with Shell’s interests. Ethereum developer Lefteris Karapetsas likened it to aiding Shell’s greenwashing efforts.
Some folks have been asking me "How could you allow the Shell deal to go through?" I want to offer a bit of context here.
This was a deal that was put "on my desk" to merely review and sign as Shell needed a legal counterparty (the job I often play). The Public Goods Funding…
— Kyle | Gitcoin | kbw.eth 🟢 (@kbw) August 16, 2023
Community Uproar and Reflection
Gitcoin’s co-founder Kevin Owokci acknowledged the controversy, noting Shell’s $500,000 contribution and the potential brand damage to Gitcoin. Ethereum educator Anthony Sassano expressed his opposition, stating the partnership contradicts Ethereum’s values. Gitcoin’s executive director Kyle Weiss explained the reasons behind the collaboration and admitted mistakes in contract negotiations.
Navigating Funding for Public Good Projects
While critics highlight the ethical dilemma, the issue underscores the complex challenge of funding open-source and public good initiatives. The tension between sourcing funds and maintaining ethical integrity remains a topic of discussion within the crypto community.