In this episode we welcome back Stephan Tual, the COO of Slock.It, a German startup working at the intersection of the Internet of Things and the Ethereum blockchain. Slock.It’s small team also wrote the smart contracts that power ‘The DAO’, a decentralized capital management entity that recently raised north of $160 million for investing into Ethereum based projects. ‘The DAO’ has been featured in many mainstream news outlets, such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Economist.
The interview explores the vision, motivation and challenges behind both ‘The DAO’ and Slock.It. Some of the topics discussed in this episode are:
– Stephan’s background and role as CCO at Ethereum Foundation.
– What is ‘The DAO’ and how it relates to Slock.It.
– DAOlink and the business opportunity of enabling interactions between DAOs and traditional firms.
– Opportunities, assumptions and challenges for ‘The DAO’.
– Vision and products of Slock It – Univeral Sharing Network and the Ethereum computer.
One of the foundational problems in payment networks is that they are mostly uninteroperable. This problem exists at all levels, from consumer payment solutions like PayPal, to national and multi-national banks. This complexity is brought on by the proprietary nature of payment networks, and moving value from one to another requires a negotiation between parties on which common payment network to use in a transaction. We saw similar problems in the early days of the Internet, assembled around protocols which allow for data to be routed and move between networks in a standardized way.
We’re joined by Stefan Thomas and Evan Schwartz, co-creators of Interledger. This neutral protocol would bring the same level of interoperability we know take for granted around the flow of data, to payments, thus allowing money to move freely across networks. A market maker, who holds accounts in both networks, would receive funds in escrow from a sender, and move funds to an escrow account with the receiver, getting paid by the sender when he shows the proof the funds were delivered to the receiver.
Topics discussed in this episode:
– What is Interledger and what problem is it trying to solve
– Interledger’s architecture
– How connectors and routing works, and how we may compare it to the way data flows on the Internet
– Cryptographic Escrow and its role in Interledger
– Requirements for payment solutions to become Interledger compatible
– Interledger’s community group at the W3C
– How Interledger applies to micropayments
– Ripple’s role in Interledger
In the short history of the Bitcoin industry, there has been an impressive amount of high profile hacks, ranging from a few hundred thousand to many millions of dollars. In all of these, customers, Bitcoin users, where robbed of their funds because poor security policies, negligence, incompetence, or plain old scamming. Recently, the cryptocurrency conversion service ShapeShift fell victim to a hack in which over $200,000 of company funds were stolen, initially by an employee, and then by a hacker to whom this employee had sold sensitive company information. Luckily, no customers lost any money as ShapeShift does not hold any funds on behalf of users.
We talked to ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees who walks us through this captivating ordeal, which sounds like it could be the plot of a movie. He speaks about how the company is trying to recover and what he has learned from this unfortunate event.
Topics we discussed on this episode:
– How the ShapeShift hack went down
– What steps the company has taken to avoid this from happening again
– What he learned from the hack
– ShapeShift’s long-term vision as a company and product
– Ethereum’s role in their recent growth
– His history as an entrepreneur in the Bitcoin space
– His views on libertarianism and the long-term impact of Bitcoin on that movement
As the blockchain field continues evolving rapidly, Sebastien, Meher and Brian take some time to discuss the current environment and the longer term implications of blockchains. We discussed how smart contracts could affect the pace of innovation and the competitiveness of industries. We also talked about the role DAOs will play and what we can take away from the current DAO crowdsale and its connection with Slock.it.
Topics covered included:
– How companies running on smart contracts could impact the pace and cost of innovation
– A smart contract-based insurance example
– Why smart contracts and blockchains will challenge our understanding of organizations
– The current state of DAOs
– Slock.it and the DAO crowdsale
When Jed McCaleb discovered Bitcoin, there didn’t even exist an online marketplace to trade the cryptocurrency yet. The experienced founder who had earlier started file sharing site eDonkey, acted fast and started the first Bitcoin exchange MtGox which he later sold to now-infamous Mark Karpeles. Jed later founded the pioneering Ripple project before leaving to start Stellar.
We discussed his journey through the industry and the ambitious plans Stellar has to create an open financial system that will give access to financial services to a much broader spectrum of humanity.
Topics covered included:
– Jed’s early involvement in the industry and founding of MtGox and subsequently Ripple
– Why Jed left Ripple and started Stellar
– How Ripple and Stellar differ
– The Stellar Consensus Protocol
– Why the organization behind Stellar is a non-profit foundation
– Stellar’s focus on developing markets and Nigeria in particular
– The role and distribution of Stellar’s currency Lumen
We were joined by repeat guest , a definite contender for having (co-)founded the most projects in the blockchain space including Ethereum, Kryptokit, Decentral and Jaxx. We got an update on the vibrant Toronto blockchain scene and Decentral. The main discussion revolved around the new wallet Jaxx that is simultaneously a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet and takes a significant step towards a more unified and accessible cryptocurrency experience. Finally, we discussed his recent appointment as Chief Digital Officer at the Toronto Stock Exchange / TMX Group and the upcoming trade show Blockchain World Expo.
Topics covered included:
– Update on Decentral and Kryptokit
– How the Jaxx wallet
– Unique UI challenges of Ethereum wallets
– The role of community in bringing innovation to corporates
– His role as Chief Digital Officer at the TMX Group
– The upcoming Blockchain World Expo in Toronto
One of the major drawbacks of Bitcoin is its low transaction throughput. Maxing out only a handful of operations per second, there have been many proposals to scale it up so that it can compete with existing distributed database technologies. As the blockchain’s demand continues to increase, it’s unclear if the Bitcoin protocol will ever be able to handle thousands, if not millions of transactions per second. BigchainDB is taking a different approach. Rather than trying to scale up blockchain technology, it starts with a big data distributed database, RethinkDB, and adds blockchain features and characteristics.
, Co-founder and CTO of Ascribe and BigchainDB, joins us to talk about how this protocol may become to databases, what IPFS and Ethereum are to distributed filestorage and computing, respectively. Able to perform more than one million writes per second and capacities in the petabytes, BigchainDB has the ambition to become the world’s public database platform.
Topics we covered include:
– A brief update on Ascribe since Trent was last on the show
– The motivations behind BigchainDB and that problems it’s trying to solve
– How BigchainDB plans to solve the typical scalability bottlenecks found in blockchain protocols
– BigchainDB’s capacity, performance and latency characteristics
– BigchainDB’s consensus model, applied to RethinkDB
– Potential application for BigchainDB, in both centralised and decentralised application stacks
The relatively new concept of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), is often praised as a new type of organizational structure that has no identifiable owner or owners, and whose actions are automated and determined solely by a pre-defined set of rules. Views on DAOs differ widely. On one hand, members of the Bitcoin/blockchain space often portrayal them as AI-like swarm organisms, free from the shackles of nation-states, and that can act at will regardless of laws or regulation. On the other hand, legal experts caution that, like corporations, DAOs and their creators could be held liable in civil lawsuits, and that they may be served a hard dose of reality when they end up in court.
We are joined by Florian Glatz, attorney, researcher and software developer (not to mention the proud owne r of the awesome domain name blockchain.lawyer). We discuss some of the basic legal concepts surrounding contracts and in what ways smart contracts may or may not fit within our existing legal framework. We also dive deep into DAOs, and address some of the challenges they may pose in the near and distant future.
Topics covered include:
– The history of innovation in law
– How merchant law (Lex Mercatoria) emerged in the 13th century
– How we can define smart contracts
– The legality of smart contacts
– The need for natural language contracts vs. contracts which are written in code
– Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
– The Slock.it DAO
– What would happen if one tried to sue a DAO
The challenges Bitcoin’s wild volatility represents for achieving mass adoption have made the necessity for stable cryptocurrencies apparent long ago. With Ethereum applications, the problem is even more apparent as many use cases from predcition markets to insurance are impractical using the even more volatile ether. Maker DAO is an ambitious attempt to solve the problem by building a bank-like system to issue a value-stable currency on Ethereum.
Rune Christensen joined us to discuss the need for Maker and the complex system to guarantee stability.
Topics covered included:
– Why money is the most successful product ever
– What makes stablecoins are necessary
– The different components of Maker such as the stablecoin Dai, the token MKR and the role they play
– Why Maker needs insurance against black swan events
– Maker’s different planned stages of increasing decentralization
– The MKR token sale and its value proposition for investors
We’re joined by , Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, investor and all around emblematic figure of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Brock tells his story, from his early beginning a entrepreneur in his teens, to the massively successfull video game industry businesses he built in the early 2000s.
As Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, he gives us his perspective on how the Foundation’s role has evolved over time and its areas of focus going forward. Brock also weighs in the recent debates around governance and block size.
Topics covered included:
– The lemonade-stand beginnings of Brock’s entrepreneurship story
– How he became involved in gaming and pioneered the sale of digital goods
– The 400,000-strong professional gamer supply chain he built in China
– His first contact with Bitcoin and the initial concerns he had
– Blockchain Capital and how he ended up investing in dozens of Bitcoin startups
– The blocksize debate and whether Bitcoin needs an explicit governance process
– The future of the Bitcoin Foundation