Over at XDA, a bounty has been issued. The first person to figure out how to unlock the bootloader on the Verizon Galaxy S4, and provide a reproducible step by step guide, will be given $1,030. The amount continues to climb as more and more users pledge. Currently there is also a $675 reward for a root method with the same requirements. Why is there such a large bounty out?
The Verizon S4 launched with a locked bootloader. Root was still achieved, however, thanks to XDA users "sextape" (for providing the prerelease and stock kernels that allowed the exploit) and "djrbliss" who created the Motochopper Root Exploit Tool. Root was achieved, and a work around allowed custom recoveries to be installed. Then the Verizon update occurred. This week Verizon pushed out an OTA update that changed the bootloader and patched the current root exploits, which also removed root for those users who already had it. As of now, its looking bad as developers continue to try and find another exploit.
For now, if you want to root your S4, do NOT install the update. If you are already rooted and have a custom recovery, the install will fail. If you want to get rid of the annoying notification, you can use an app like "Titanium Backup" to freeze "SDM" and "FWUpgrade". If you're one of the unfortunate people that installed the update without knowing, you can head on over to the thread to check the progress, or donate to the cause.