2019: A Look at the Year Ahead – Episode 9: Holochain Interview


2019: A Look at the Year Ahead – Episode 9: Holochain Interview

A More Human Internet

Holochain is a framework for creating and powering distributed applications, incorporating peer-to-peer content distribution protocol, cryptography, and hash tables. Whereas most normal blockchain projects are designed to be decentralized, Holochain have actually created a distributed network which they say has unlimited scaling capacity.

One of the key features of Holochain is that it has purposely been designed with a distributed cloud-based IT infrastructure. 96% of enterprises use cloud-based computing and it is a $130 billion dollar industry which indicates the significance of the market that they could potentially disrupt.

Holo on the other hand, is a distributed hosting platform that facilitates people using a web browser to access and transact with Holochain distributed applications.

Arthur Brock, Co-Founder, explains how Holochain works in this detailed video below:

Arthur Brock, Co-Founder, explains how Holochain works

The team state that Holochain helps people:

  • Own their own data
  • Control their identity
  • Connect applications to suit their needs
  • Transact without centralized systems
  • Build lighter, faster, cheaper applications

In Conversation

The below interview features numerous members of the core Holochain team including Arthur Brock, Co-Founder, Eric Harris-Braun, Co-Founder, and David Atkinson, Commercial Director.

2018 was a tough year for the Crypto market. From a tech perspective, however, we witnessed even more innovation and advancement than ever before. Can you talk about the progress you made last year?  

Holochain ranked in the top 5-10 for GitHub commits ( We have close to 80 development repos. Our Holochain Rust repo alone has over 7,000 commits. For the most recent commits, you can track and monitor the Holochain Rust repo at We are also currently ranked in the top 5 in terms of commits in the crypto space (

2018 Highlights and Results:

– We refactored Holochain into Rust to make development and adoption easier.

– We designed the Holo Fuel currency and began simulations for the world’s first asset-backed, dynamically supplied mutual credit currency.

– We are consistently in the top 10 for Git activity amongst ERC20 developers according to Santiment.

– Our team has 20+ developers building full-time.

– We have the first Rust Refactor (Developer Preview) released, with a second coming out this week.

– We have 2000+ pre-purchased HoloPorts (mini servers for distributed hosting) fully prototyped, certified, and in preparation for shipping.

– We have incorporated Holo with local team, banking, and finance set-ups in Gibraltar, and are moving forward with a DLT license.

– We have held 21 Hackathons in 11 countries with 400+ participants.

– We have facilitated 50 Meetups in 17 countries totaling 600 participants.

– We have delivered 3 Dev Camps.

– We have many external developers actively building solutions on Holochain.

– We have one live app, 20+ in development (external and internal), and 15 on Holochain GitHub.

We decided not to focus on signing partnerships in 2018, but instead spent that energy on tech, relationships, learning, listening, and growing an infrastructure. We believe that 2019, especially after the launch of the Holo Mainnet, will be the year for organizations to build on Holochain. We cannot wait.

What was your finest achievement in 2018?

We successfully completed our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and Initial Community Offering (ICO), raising the funds we needed to build Holo and Holochain. We refactored Holochain into Rust to make development and adoption much easier. We designed the Holo fuel currency and began simulations for the world’s first asset-backed, dynamically supplied, mutual credit currency.

On your site you state, “Holochain liberates our online lives from corporate control of choices and information.” Privacy and control over one’s personal data are clearly of utmost importance to Holochain and its mission. Can you please give some detail as to why you believe blockchain is so important in solving these issues and how Holochain is fighting for that cause?

We don’t believe blockchain can solve these important issues, but that Holochain, a blockchain alternative, can address them through the design and architecture of framework.  We recently published a post that addresses these issues:

Holochain meets the demands of people who want to own their own data, control their identities, have automatic backups, customize their user experience, choose how to connect their applications, decide with whom to share their private information, and transact without dependence on banks or governments.

The Larger Value Proposition:

Holochain is a generalized crypto application engine, meaning we can fulfill on the promises of many other major crypto projects. Between built-in functionality, applications already built, and applications in progress, we solve many of the most pressing problems in the crypto space—including decentralized storage, scalable applications, and secure identities. We believe that to efficiently deliver on these promises—at scale—a radical rethink is required.

Our solution is Holochain and Holo,​ powered by the five innovations:

1. Scalable P2P applications on Holochain

2. Technological innovations: Hosting P2P apps for mainstream users

3. Currency innovation: A double-entry, crypto-accounting system for rewarding hosts

4. Business model innovation: Leveraging excess capacity using sharing economy principles

5. Funding innovation: Bonding ICO with crowdfunding to demonstrate real demand and establish stakeholders in an ecosystem backed by real-world assets

With Holochain, we are seeking to enable people to enter into patterns of relationship that they find healthy, vibrant, and desirable. That can take many different forms, however, one major pattern we want to enable is an application run by and for the users themselves. This shifts away from the current paradigm that separates the owners of an application from the people that are using it. Contexts will differ, but in general, yes, there will be many ways that sharing of information will benefit the sharer, the group using the application, and the creators of the application or service. Applications that find ways of serving their users, rather than stalking them, will likely find themselves successful.

For Holochain itself—there are a couple things that are very different about blockchain—other than the agent centric-ness. One is it doesn’t have its own token; we suggest it doesn’t need it. The other is that it doesn’t have a hard consensus algorithm. It has a touch of a soft consensus algorithm in the form of DHT gossip—that is when all the holders of a piece of data have signed it, you could say that they’ve reached consensus, that the data is valid. If you need to code something that requires consensus, or rival data—we would assert that for distributed applications, most of the data is non-rival and you don’t need the consensus.

holochain team
Holochain have over 20 full time developers and a growing team

What you do need is validation. I think validation is underemphasized a lot in the crypto space. You can run different versions of Bitcoin software to mine Bitcoin, but everybody runs Bitcoin Core, so that they’re using the same validation rules. That’s actually the part that matters, because if they aren’t validating in the same way then they risk forking themselves off into a different reality that others don’t accept. That’s the strongest part of the equation here. The reason they have to do consensus is because they’ve created a token-centered or data-centered model, plus, they need an absolute time for all state changes on it. When you are doing things in the Holochain, agent-centric manner, you rarely need consensus. In the few cases where you have rival data, for example, when you download Holochain, it comes with a peer to peer Twitter.

In part, we wanted to show that you can basically rebuild all the functionality of Twitter in a couple hundred lines of JavaScript on Holochain. It’s a very powerful, adaptive platform. The only rival data is your username. With anything else, it doesn’t matter if people happen to Tweet the same thing—“beautiful morning,” “my lunch”—whatever. It’s not a problem that different people might tweet the same thing at different times. We just need the one who owns the username. We use the username as an anchor to which we attach links to all of the other data associated with that username—where their posts are, who’s following them, who they’re following. All you have to do to retrieve is know their username.

Arthur Brock CEO
Arthur Brock sees validation as underemphasized in the crypto space

You speak often of Social Media platforms being peer-to-peer, with Holochain being an ideal way to achieve it. Do you believe that after the controversy surrounding the various data breaches Facebook suffered last year we will begin to see a strong push towards decentralized software?

We believe that there will be a strong push towards distributed architecture as a result of social, technological, and economic demands shifting over time.

Part of our scenario planning included a variety of ‘stop’ or ‘slow down’ measures taken by companies, governments, and other institutions. As with any innovative tech, you fly somewhat under the radar in the early days, and then at a certain level of adoption challenges are made by those who benefit from the status quo. To a degree, we will look at those moments as big wins because it will mean that we have the influence and momentum required to hit a tipping point in moving software to distributed architectures. We also think that some of these institutions might choose adoption as well because they see the benefits. In a nutshell, we think challenges will come, but we are planning for them and believe that they won’t be insurmountable.

Some folks in our online community have pointed out that the popularity of Facebook and Google indicate that people must not really care whether or not they control their own data. I disagree. People can dislike something and still participate in it. I think of some of today’s applications as being akin to being in an unhealthy relationship. Yes, these services can be useful. No, that doesn’t mean that we love everything about them. I think that the reality is that when people find that having access to and control over their own data lets them accomplish more with less effort, it will lead to a significant shift.

We are the product on Facebook; the real thing that’s going on is they’re selling our profiles to advertisers, Holochain is agent-centric rather than data-centric, you’re the agent. You decide where your data goes, and who gets to see it.

holochain hackathon
Holochain host hackathons all across the globe

It was published that you reached 50 hApps and over 10,000 unique devices in Q4 of 2018. Are you starting to see exponential growth with hApps being developed and users actively using products that were developed with your software?

Holo Alpha and Beta are set to launch in 2019. The hApps are actively being developed on Holochain, and the unique devices will be a part of the Holo Network when Holo Beta launches. We continue to see an increase in the flow of requests to learn more about building on Holochain.

Throughout Q4 you had an increasing amount of GitHub activity and have released an impressive amount of updates in your Developer Preview Release 0.0.3. Does this, combined with the fact you’re hiring new Devs, indicate that you are looking to further expand your team to produce more exciting and improved services?

We are currently focused on reaching and delivering our milestones. We are expanding and hiring. Our priority remains on the development of Holochain and Holo, communicating our progress and accomplishments as we achieve our milestones.  

We have several open positions—if you know of a Rust developer who maybe interested in working with a world changing company, please have them consider applying for a dev position—

What can we expect from Holochain in 2019? Are there are many surprises around the corner?

The community can expect that we will be delivering on our milestones—completing three phases of Testnet, the launch of Mainnet, and of the Holo Beta Network. They can also expect the release of Holochain Beta and Holo Beta. We will continue building the community of developers and working with partners and app distributors who are launching new Holochain apps. We will deliver HoloPorts to all of our IGG customers; even now, all of the customers are ordering on our live HoloPort store. Through the Commons Engine and our Partner Program we will continue to collaborate with groups that are designing asset-backed currencies and applications to run on Holochain and Holo!

What are your views on Crypto as a whole for 2019?

David Atkinson: It appears that while 2018 challenged a lot of projects in the industry, the fundamentals are strong, and institutions and enterprises are moving more seriously into blockchain implementation and adoption. In 2019, I expect to see several projects leap ahead of the rest based on adoption, technology, and/or social and user impact. I don’t think we will see a mainstream crypto app yet, but we should be close by the end of 2019.

I sincerely thank everyone from the HoloChain team who gave their highly detailed and informative answers in this broad interview.

Alex Libertas

Further Reading

Coin Market Cap



Blockchain Explorer


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Follow Alex on Twitter.

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Alex Smith
Alex is the Founder of The Daily Chain and has been in the space for just over two years. Fascinated by the community and everything that blockchain has to offer, Alex dedicated himself to creating content and contributing back to the industry.

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