When people work on a cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin, they're contributing to the cryptocurrency realm in general as well as helping to improve Bitcoin. The Bitcoin maximalists, the people that say that there is only one true cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, and if you are not contributing to it you're wasting your time, are speaking from a position of ignorance. They are not correct. From my experience as a co-founder of Horizen, our team has already influenced Bitcoin and other projects and will continue to do so even more in the future.
The people who contribute to alternative cryptocurrencies contribute directly to Bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. They come up with different ideas and implement them in creative ways. This experimentation and idea generation lead to different ways of doing things, which in some cases turn out to be better or more advanced than what other projects are doing. The other projects are welcome to incorporate those improvements into their projects, and over time all the cryptocurrencies get stronger and better as a result.
Furthermore, the great enemy of any project is time. What may not be an obvious problem or an issue in the short-term may turn out to be something genuinely detrimental to a project in the long-term. Having many cryptocurrencies experiment with different methods of addressing security, scaling, user interaction, and software implementation make the ecosystems stronger.
For example, when Horizen first launched, the team decided it was better to do it as a chain split off an existing project than as a complete new blockchain. One of the big reasons for doing this was to have a large group of people that wanted to see our new project succeed since it would directly benefit them as well. It gave us a more accessible entry into exchange listings and allowed for immediate price discovery of ZEN.
We did this in May 2017. As far as I know, we were the first project to do this in a planned and deliberate way. The Ethereum and Ethereum classic chain split was done months before we launched our project, but that was done in a hurry, not planned for ahead of time. One of the issues in the Horizen launch is that, when we were looking code that was available to protect against transaction replays, there was not any other project on the Bitcoin code base that had an implementation that worked. There was the Bitcoin Improvement Protocol 115, but it was ideas and example code, not a full implementation.
When we launched, it turned out that our transaction replay implementation was flawed, and we had some issues with live transaction replays. Fortunately, some talented IOHK developers contributed to our project, fixed the BIP-115 implementation, and Horizen was protected from further transaction replays. ZEN was listed on Bittrex, price discovery took place, and the Horizen team was able to use the Community Funds to hire developers to continue to implement the other ideas we had for building a better cryptocurrency.
A few months after Horizen launched, Bitcoin Cash did a change split from Bitcoin. They used a different implementation of transaction replay protection, but it was in there before the fork happened. I don't know if they took inspiration from our project, but for the rest of 2017, there were many forks of projects, especially Bitcoin. After that, many cryptocurrency projects Incorporated transaction replay protection into their project, since transaction replay attacks can go both ways, and they wanted to prevent issues should there be a fork of their project down the line.
Another form of contribution to other projects is through competition. Competition is standard in the business world where organizations work to serve customers better, do things more efficiently than others, and seek new markets to service. The contributors to a new cryptocurrency project would like to see their work get used by more and more people. It is not just about increasing the price of the currency, many of the contributors find it rewarding to see that people use and gain value from the project.
Through this competition, creative energy is unleashed, new ideas formed, and people take action to implement the ideas. It also keeps the more popular projects, like Bitcoin, on their toes. They see that there are active contributors to many other projects that may figure out how to do things better than they do. If leading projects like Bitcoin don't continuously improve, there is the potential that one of these alternative cryptocurrency projects will not only be better in many aspects but become more popular.
Every contributor and community member that actively works to make Horizen better also helps to make Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency projects better and stronger. The team at Horizen is one of the best in the industry. The 51% attack protection upgrade has already influenced other projects. The software that is currently in development going to make a big difference. The sidechains upgrade, liquid democracy treasury governance, BlockDAG improvement, decentralized node tracking and payment, and new user software interface system are all significant contributions to both Horizen and the cryptocurrency projects space.
There are other aspects of activity the team at Horizen does that are less noticeable in the short term but will, over time, be recognized as industry leading as well. The Zen Blockchain Foundation (the Horizen team) is composed of people at the top of their game working well together, each taking direct action and delegating activity relevant to their area of operations. The culture of the team is to take action quickly, adjust time and resources to the activity that demonstrates results, and also plan for the longer term. When there are different paths to success, the team discusses, solicits advice, then makes a decision and moves forward together.
When the Bitcoin maximalists claim there is only one cryptocurrency project that matters, and all the others are inconsequential, they fail to see the bigger picture. The many developers, users, and merchants who make use of and contribute to the other cryptocurrencies actively contribute to making Bitcoin better by providing examples of other ways of getting things done, and through their direct competition for adopters. The Horizen team will continue to take inspiration and incorporate improvements that other projects make, and will continue to contribute to the improvement of the cryptocurrency space as a whole as we deploy our innovative ideas for people to use.