The Power of Open Source in Crypto with Jeremy Bokobza and Dan Gershony
On a cold winters night in London I travelled to Aldgate to meet up with Dan Gershony, CTO of Stratis, and Jeremy Bokobza, now Ex Head of Engineering for Stratis.
Dan is the current Chief Technology Officer for Stratis Platform, who look to deliver Blockchain solutions for business and enterprise in C#, and has been in Crypto from as early as 2013. It was around this time that Dan built a non custodial Bitcoin wallet as he was sure that it would one day change the world. Back then he was looking for ways to contribute and so he wanted to build a payment processor plugin. He soon realised he had to deal with fiat money as well so built a non custodial wallet to benefit the ecosystem.
Jeremy was the Head of Engineering for Stratis for 2 years and would help Dan look after work streams, developer processes, code reviews and much more.
The pair have been writing code in C# for 15 years and so when they had the chance to build a Blockchain on C# with Stratis, they couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
They believe that C# is still yet to explode in crypto world which is surprising as it’s one of the biggest programming languages and Microsoft’s number one language. It’s also particularly dominant in the business and enterprise world. Stratis was built specifically to provide solutions in C# that anyone in any business can work on and so their ultimate goal is to bring Blockchain and decentralisation to the business world.
What is the importance of being Open Source in Blockchain?
Dan: If you build a Blockchain, it simply has to be open source. There are funds/money that’s entrusted. Investors need to be able to see what it is that they are putting their money into. If it was closed source then nobody would deposit or buy Bitcoin for money.
Jeremy: For a crypto project it is the absolute bare minimum that it has to be open source, it’s essential.
Dan: Bitcoin pull requests can go on for months because there has to be consensus, meaning that enough people need to agree in order for a change to go into a codebase. We try to employ that at Stratis too. With our Full Node release, code changes are a lot more stringent and reviewed more harshly. Some of our code reviews can take weeks because we want to be proud of it.
Dan: Any small change can have implications, so it needs to be reviewed by as many people as possible and what these implications are.
Jeremy: Security issues can arise, someone can make a small change in something they think is harmless, but this can open up an attack on the nodes and take the network down. The Stratis Node is very secure and stable.
Dan: A lot of the work we are doing now is replicating an attack on the Node ourselves to test it out.
I’ve read that people are joining Stratis for free so that they can contribute. Can you talk about this in a little detail?
Jeremy: With a Blockchain project you either hire developers or you have contributors that are attracted to what is you are building. They will start sending you pull requests, which they can do as its open source, and then we can then identify good, competent coders who know what they are doing and have shown their expertise and skills. We’ve actually hired a few of these who are now full time!
The fact that Stratis is open source is also cool because some people have taken the code and taken their own network off of it. When they find problems they can give the code back and say I’ve added this feature/fixed this bug and send the code back.
At this stage in the game and the way this ecosystem is growing, as far as developers are concerned – there are only a few devs in comparison to how quickly the space is evolving. It’s the best place for builders as there are still so many things that need to be built. Even where we are now there need to be tutorials, how to’s etc…
Dan: There are so many opportunities in this space, what we need is innovators.
Jeremy once said that until we have something tangible that we can use in everyday life powered by Blockchain technology, we will not see mass adoption. Can you expand on this a little?
Jeremy: What a lot of companies are doing and the most interesting to work for are those who are building a platform. A good comparison to make is that of websites and its “web “builders where you can build 1000 websites. For example when a business has as website you don’t hear about how it was built, you want to know if its fast, easy to use etc..
Dan: I’m not really too sure when this will happen. If you look at the internet it was much smaller and adoption took quite a lot of time for mass adoption. In terms of Blockchain – will it be hidden like the tcp/ip layer is hidden like in the web? Maybe it’s too early and needs to evolve a bit more with more research taking place.
Jeremy: A lot of companies are building infrastructure for businesses to use but you have quite a few of these. The internet is one giant network in which everyone is hosted. In blockchain you have smaller networks. So I don’t know if you’ll see one big winner at the end where it’s obvious this is the best place/company to build the Blockchain part of the process, or whether we are we going to see a bunch of these Blockchains talking to each other.
Dan: this is the argument of Bitcoin maximalism as its unknown whether Bitcoin will take over or whether you will have multiple Blockchains.
Another issue for adoption is poor management of funds. We’ve seen ICOs raise upwards of $50 million only to not manage their treasury effectively and some projects go to zero. What are your thoughts on this?
Jeremy: If you want these platform Blockchains to actually get to their goals and be able to deliver then they are going to have to do it when they still have money and time is obviously not in our favour. Or they will need to have adoption to be able to continue to deliver. So if they don’t have enough customers or no one wants to build then the money will run out and the project will effectively be finished.
I personally don’t think people will use the Blockchain if they have to do anything different then if they’re doing today. It has to solve something and it has to be easy for people to use.
Even using lightning for someone in the street it’s not easy, you need to be able to download an app and the app has to help you in a way without knowing there’s Blockchain in background
Dan: private keys are a problem, I think companies will help solve this and make this safer to use. I also think that one of the biggest problems right now is scaling. I think when the scaling issue is fixed then we will see more adoption.
Jeremy: It’s true that the world is becoming more technical. If you look at 10/20 years ago it was difficult to send emails and now everyone knows how to do this – even older people who are new to technology. So it is progressing but it still needs to be super easy to use, we can’t wait so many years for ppl to become really technical – we need to approach this now.
Dan: My take is that mass adoption is inevitable – this is all happening regardless now. Eventually the Blockchain network and decentralisation will take over. Its unstoppable and that’s the whole idea.
I’d like to thank Dan and Jeremy for their time.
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