Sadly, my tenure with Gitcoin is coming to an end. I owe Kevin Owocki and Consensys a huge thank you for believing in my #BUIDL!
As I search for my next challenge within the Ethereum ecosystem, I’m hoping to find a place where I can continue to build and iterate in exploration toward mass adoption, smooth user experience, and great onboarding.
I want the freedom to keep building cool stuff and exploring Ethereum.
I’m following up on a few leads in and out of Consensys. There is a burner-like onboarding tool that Civil wants to build that I think I can help with. I might also be able to help with my small games and developer tech stack too. A simple transition within Consensys is my most likely path right now, but it comes down to landing somewhere that lets me continue building with an open focus on R&D.
We are going to try a new type of dogfooding experiment. There is a chance that I could be fully funded by the community using the recurring meta transaction token subscription system I helped build. Is this possible?!?
Worst case scenario, I can go back to my job at the local marketing company building cool software on top of Docker. I have to do what’s best for my little, growing family. When my pregnant wife asks about health insurance I need to have a good answer. 🤰😅
I got my big break into Ethereum with my research and work around meta transactions; a method of abstracting away the need for ETH and gas while remaining cryptographically sound on-chain.
One of my heroes in the space, Kevin Owocki, insisted that I go full time and start Gitcoin Labs to focus on exploring and improving the decentralized developer landscape. We tackled a new project each week, attempting to illuminate and make accessible topics that previously were too convoluted.
If it weren’t for Gitcoin I might still be working as a devops engineer. Bringing in established old guys like me full-time is something the Ethereum space still needs to work on. Kevin put in the time to get me on the Consensys payroll and I will be forever grateful for that.
Eventually, I landed on the cross-section of usability, mass adoption, and emerging markets. What started as a simple proof of concept I hacked together during layovers on the way to Devcon4, eventually became the Burner Wallet. A web wallet for quick transfers of small amounts of cryptocurrencies with irresistibly simple UX.
After a series of usability studies we deemed Cypherpunk Speakeasies we were prepared for ETHDenver. Participants used the buttery smooth UX of the Burner to purchase 4405 meals from food trucks with a total of $0.20 in fees.
Since ETHDenver the Burner has become more of an onboarding platform for games and apps. An example of an instant-onboarding game I built is Emojicoin Exchange. We also put a Helena prediction market in the RadWallet for Ethereal. I think we will be able to help drive mainnet adoption of the Gnosis Safe too:
Impact and Value
My work has impact in an interesting way that is sometimes hard to measure. The numbers are still small in terms of new users onboarded to mainnet. I think the best way to quantify the Burner Wallet is looking out on a room full of crypto-initiated people using it for the first time:
Their eyes light up, they smile, they can’t believe using crypto is this easy. For the first time many of them participate in a prediction market or play a blockchain game. Not because they weren’t available before, but because the barrier to entry was just too-damn-high.jpg
Since ETHDenver I have not been able to secure enough funding internally or externally to work full-time. That fact alone should help me audit my own work and value.
I am a self proclaimed everyman of Ethereum. If I can’t figure something out on the first pass, it’s too complicated. My particular talent is building products and experiences that give the average Joe the ability to participate in this powerful decentralized technology.
The value of this is hard to quantify. When the Ethereum Foundation has to choose who to fund they have to make hard decisions about who will have the most impact. At this time, my work does not have enough impact to justify a grant and I need to work harder and smarter.
Let’s have some real talk. How can I do better? @ me bro!
Raising VC funding is something that is a natural conversation when I’m trying create more runway for myself. The problem here is it immediately puts me back in a box focusing on revenue. I think I am most effective when I have the freedom to explore, research, build, and share. Sometimes those things I build will produce revenue and I can do a better job personally of this. On the other hand, my passion is to raise all boats.
I was brought up by two school teachers and education is something I’m very passionate about. I would love to help bring in new developers and give them the knowledge and tools to build really great dApps. I also really enjoy making sure participants have an amazing time at Ethereum engagements and experience magic moments using burner wallets:
Irons in the Fire
As I move on to where I can have more impact, my hope is that the Burner Wallet Collective can continue to tackle fundamental development. The mission of the BWC is to make the open source code repository easy to use and extend. An example of this work is the Burner Wallet Factory. Of course I’ll still be deploying code to the Burner now and then, but I’m out of runway and I can use all the help I can get tackling open issues.
I don’t believe the Burner (uppercase B) should be viewed as a long term product either. However, most applications and protocols in the Ethereum ecosystem should have a burner (lowercase b) that acts as a generic term for a more accessible version of their own application or protocol. This highlights the theory that mass adoption will only take place if we navigate the spectrum of decentralization and security in a way where everyone can participate.
Theory: Don’t force a user to memorize a seed phrase or download an app up front. First, let them use an ephemeral version, a burner, of your product and once they have earned value or created a narrative behind their new identity, they are incentivized to be educated about protecting it.
I would like to keep the momentum going, but is there a place for me in the Ethereum fold to continue to iterate on adoption and onboarding hypotheses? Could grants alone provide enough for me to survive here? How can I deliver more value and justify grant funding?
My hybrid approach of heads down work with heads up documentation and screencasting will keep funders in the loop while we continue to ship. I’ll list key metrics below, but the bottom line is making dApps more approachable and bringing new users and developers into the space.
In the short term I want to focus on the Burner as a platform at the top of the funnel. As new users are seamlessly onboarded they will have something analogous to cash in their pocket. Let’s give them something to do with it.
Decentralized finance and governance are exciting fields in Ethereum, but participation is lacking. My aim is not innovating out on the edge of ETH 2.0. It is on the ground; getting great tools into the hands of anyone who wants to build and making products irresistible to use.
My open source work is for everyone in the space. Anything I build has a purpose of solving problems for all of us and it is available for anyone to take and extend permissionlessly. If I’m not building in the right direction, tell me.
I hope we are building a platform, or even a mechanism, where decentralized applications and games can finally get the users they deserve.
Austin Griffith R&D Community Grant
We are going to try to fund my research full-time with a shared ecosystem grant. This is a first of its kind as far as I know. If you would like to see my work continue, every little bit counts, contribute here.
Is it possible for me to survive from a community funded grant? Is my work having enough impact to justify this? I would really like to keep exploring R&D around onboard and adoption and this is your way to help me continue doing that.
How rad would it be if we could say this old dude is fully funded from the community, using recurring meta transactions, health insurance and all?
BW Gitcoin Grant
Every little donation to the Burner Wallet Gitcoin Grant helps the BWC, especially during the CLR matching periods. You can follow where we are spending it on-chain. It goes to bounties and other small things here and there to keep this Burner afloat.
An anonymous donor sent me $5k in DAI a few months ago and it is incredible the impact it had. Not only did it fund numerous bounties to clean, translate, and extend the Burner Wallet, but it also helped me reward developers as they jumped into the code base to help out. At any given time I would guess that I’m managing 1–5 different contributors to the repo and it stems from this donation and the recurring Gitcoin Grant.
This will get me two months down the road and also support a handful of bounties. If you appreciate the work I’ve shipped so far, this will help me continue. I can’t write down exactly what I’ll be building, but it will have a focus on usability, onboarding, and mass adoption. Remember, two months means eight bow tie Fridays. What would you like to see me build?
Best: Hire Me!
If you think I could continue my work under your brand or within your organization, let’s chat. It’s important for me to meet the baseline ethos of onboarding, user experience, and adoption. Perhaps there are other ways I can build supplemental things that align with your vision. I will also be more effective with a small team around me and the freedom to pursue what we see as the next big thing.
Binance Labs has committed 5k a month for the next three months to help push forward the development and mission of the BWC. I am grateful for their contribution and it will go a long way to making the Burner Wallet open source repository cleaner and more extensible.
I’m working closely with Gnosis through GECO. They are one of the best teams I’ve ever interfaced with. We are getting the Safe out on xDai and then crafting an onboarding strategy to drive mainnet Safe adoption. I think this could be the start of a great relationship and grant funding is en route.
Maker is also working with me on the idea of building a paper wallet generator. We think this might transition into a full Burner Wallet white labeling for events.
My Peripheral Goals
- Create games and apps on the Burner platform and get them in the hands of new users.
- Rewrite the Burner in a way that starts with the minimum functionality focusing on simplicity and extensibility.
- Create modularity within the Burner for different layer 2 solutions that all have the same deposit, send, receive, and withdraw API.
- Continue to build new and engaging onboarding studies like Emojicoin.Exchange.
- Build and iterate on interesting methods of creating permanence within the Burner wallet. How do we teach someone about a seed phrase?
- Many other small improvements in the trello board.
- Continue to evolve tooling like Clevis and Dapparatus to make building dApps easier and more approachable.
- Continue to give participants at engagements a great experience and make hosting them easier.
- Continue integrating with other platforms to drive onboarding like Gnosis, Aztec, Maker, Portis, 3Box, OpenSea, Connext, Helena, Rimble, GSN, Wallet Connect, Fortmatic, etc. Who am I missing in this list? HMU!
- Continue to document everything with Medium, screencasts, and Twitter.
- Find new ways to push great onboarding, trading, and sharing in the NFT space. Is it RAREAF yet?
- Get a Burner Wallet in the hands of anyone even slightly interested in Ethereum.
- I have a long list of games and apps to build… let’s get a beer or get on a call and I can rap about them all day.
The Ethereum ecosystem has been so warm to welcome me and I’m so excited for the next challenge.
Ethereal 2019: DeFi and Paths to Everyday Usage - Unchained Podcast
At Ethereal, I spoke with Austin Griffiths, director of research at Gitcoin and founder of Burner Wallet, and Arjun…
Ethereum in Emerging Economies
Mass adoption will start where decentralization is necessary
Decentralized Cypherpunk Speakeasy
So you want to run your own event with a Burner Wallet POS?
Technologies Driving Mainstream Web3 Adoption
Seamless onboarding powered by ephemeral key pairs signing meta transactions
I’ll leave you with a video of me onboarding into crypto, buying a beer, and chugging it… all within 52 seconds: