Cosmos Validators Brief


After the late-January/early-February 2019 blog skirmish (see this), it quickly became evident to me that Cosmos’ current independent validators, on Game of Stakes and in the testnets, are anything but cartels and are in fact creating brand new tools from the ground up at their own expense, while not currently getting any compensation for it in the form of commissions (via validating services for delegators…at least not yet due to mainnet not yet launching).

After inserting myself into the ruckus I very quickly experienced a ‘coming to Jaesus’ hypothesis/vision whereby I concluded that if Cosmos does indeed quickly experience the parabolic-type of development boom I expect it to experience here soon after launching, that this moment, pre-mainnet launch, could very well be the one and only time in Cosmos’ history that these independent validators really make up the bulk of Cosmos’ validator group. Hopefully I’m wrong, however I struggle to see how all of these independent validators will be able to compete against the future “Mega-Validators” not too far on the horizon.

In this hypothetical/prediction, very soon here I’d expect that many mega-exchanges will move to offer their exchange users staking income of Cosmos Atoms (likely among many other PoS coin-staking opportunities) in exchange for very small/negligible fees which independent validators might not be able to compete with….And I would expect to see this implemented across multiple large crypto-exchanges before the end of 2019, possibly sooner.

These exchanges’ commissions for validating services will likely be absolutely puny, or potentially even non-existent, compared to the independent validators’ because the exchanges have the infrastructure/human power already nearly setup and built and they can use their brute force economies of scale to take a minor economic loss in the short-term if it means smaller, independent competitors can’t keep up in the long-term.

So…with that big intro, in the lead-up to mainnet launch I’m going to be putting a spotlight on these independent validators in an effort to help them thrive as long as possible. 
This is basically a “who they are, where they come from, what they believe in, why you should consider delegating to them, etc” exercise.

And so I’m starting with Hendrik Hofstadt, CEO of Certus.One.

Tell me a bit about yourselves — as much/ little as you guys would like to share.

Hendrik Hofstadt (HH):
We are a team of experts in systems engineering, operations and security.
Our experience ranges from defending against some of the world’s largest DDoS attacks in history to operating highly critical bank-level infrastructure.
One of our core principles is to also support the ecosystem as much as possible which is why we are the only validator out there that is a core contributor to Tendermint and the Cosmos SDK. Understanding the software we run has proven to be an exceptional advantage.
We are located in Germany’s blockchain hub Berlin and actively participate in the blockchain community.

Outside of Cosmos/Tendermint, how have you been involved with blockchain so far? What projects have you participated in? What projects do you find particularly intriguing?

We are consulting other crypto projects on their core architecture and some of our team members have been active in the Ethereum dev community and other DPoS chains before.
The projects we think are most interesting are all kinds of PoS protocols which use PoS. They will enable the Internet of Blockchains and start a new era. We are actively watching the most interesting projects and are in particular looking at Tendermint and Polkadot/Subtrate projects because of their technical excellence.

How did you get into blockchain space initially and what keeps you interested? Where do you see the blockchain space evolving in the next 1–3 years?

As system architects and developers the whole blockchain scene is an incredibly exciting experiment as we are entering new ground almost every day. This has motivated us to get into blockchain around the time that the Ethereum mainnet launched and to fully dive into it with our company in 2018.

With regards to Cosmos, what do you think will be the biggest challenges faced by the project overall?

We see the biggest challenge in new zones having a hard time onboarding enough quality validators to make their chain sufficiently secure. Decentralization is the core of this technology and we hope that zones will quickly transition from a centralized validator set and come up with a reasonable incentive system.

With regards to being a validator in Cosmos, what do you think will be the biggest challenges you will face?

We’ve been active in the Cosmos testnets for almost a year now and have learned a lot of lessons, reported+fixed bugs in Cosmos/Tendermint and discovered 6 critical security issues in that time.
This experience allowed us to build the most solid validator setup that currently exists while being one of the few validators that have built a highly-available validator setup.
Our biggest remaining challenge is to provide our delegators high quality services like the Stargazer explorer and producing content while supporting as many zones as possible.