FANTOM (FTM) AMA with Wolf Crypto — Part Two

Wolf Crypto
Apr 9 · 21 min read

We held an AMA with Fantom (FTM) in our public Telegram channel on the 8th of April 2019.

FANTOM is the world’s first DAG based smart contract platform that solves the scalability issues of existing public distributed ledger technology. The platform distinguishes itself from the traditional block ledger-based storage infrastructure by employing an improved version of existing DAG-based protocols.

The FANTOM platform adopts a new protocol known as Lachesis Protocol to maintain consensus. Applications built on top of the FANTOM OPERA Chain enjoy instant transactions and near zero transaction costs for all users.

Here’s what Fantom CIO Michael Kong, Marketing Lead Michael Chen, Core Developer Samuel Marks and Technical Advisor Andre Cronje has to say in the AMA.*

*This AMA has been edited for clarity.

WC (Wolf Crypto Telegram Member)

Welcome back guys, it’s been a moment since we last spoke. This is part two of our AMA series with Fantom. We initially interviewed them in the lead up to their ICO all the way back in June 2018!

Joining us from the Fantom team this time are Michael Kong, Michael Chen, Samuel Marks and Andre Cronje.

Let’s get the awkwardness out of the way early on…in our last AMA we were joined by Jake Choi and Joseph Jang, neither of which are here today?

TEAM & TEAM GOALS

MC

Hey everyone, really happy to be here. Been reading up here for a long time and always liked the quality discussion in this group.

To elaborate on the new faces you’re seeing today, Joseph was removed earlier this year because he was caught up in controversy, so we at the foundation decided to part ways with him. In regards to Jake Choi, I’ve been pivoting into his role as the marketing lead myself since the beginning of March, and I wanted to take this honor of joining for an AMA in one of my favorite groups in crypto.

To elaborate on that, Jake is moving more to an operational level, and maintains good connections with the strategic partners.

SM

Great to be here.

I head up the Rust, DevOps & related stacks for Fantom, under my open-source software consultancy Offscale.io. Really passionate about: open-source, distributed systems, compilers, translating research, and automating medical diagnostics through CNNs.

For added karma I sit opposite Michael Kong in our Sydney office 😄

WC

How about the two Michael’s, Michael Chen you’ve had a recent rise up the corporate chain at Fantom, and Michael Kong, you’ve been there from the start. What are you guys up to at Fantom these days?

MC

I joined the guys at Fantom last year in April (happy cakeday, one year anniversary) to help them with community management actually.

I found them in an early stage, and I was originally planning to purely invest in it, and then Andre Cronje actually got me hooked into the project a bit deeper by showing me some of the sexy technology we’re building and potential use cases back in September or August if I recall correctly.

To add, nowadays I’m coordinating the marketing as mentioned earlier.

MK

I’ve been working a lot of on the Proof of Stake, On chain governance and the middleware layers more recently. And just generally been solving problems.

WC

The Fantom website has changed a bit since the ICO. Several of the advisors who were on the site as part of the raise are no longer there (Steve Bellotti and Ran Ne Nuer to name a few)

Can you explain what the arrangement was with these advisors and why they are no longer there?

MK

We decided to simplify the web page so the core technical members are displayed there. Just became a bit of a hassle to have everyone there as it became a long page and required constant updating.

MC

I’m someone who strictly believes that everyone on the website has to be adding value. I don’t believe in the ‘’stack up your advisory board with faces who don’t do anything’’ philosophy.

I took Ran off because he was mostly active during ICO time, and hadn’t been working on Fantom related stuff after it finished. Great guy nonetheless, but a bit unfair towards the other advisors who are putting in 40–60 hrs a week on the website.

In regards to Steve, Steve mostly helped with the formation of the company and the financials. That’s been delegated to guys like Bob, and the problem solvers which are Michael Kong and Andre haha.

WC

The old website also had quite a few more team members listed (approx 36), mostly from the development side of things. The new website only has 11 team members listed.

What’s your current headcount in total and how many active developers do you have working on the project?

MC

Headcount is roughly the same, need to check. Michael Kong knows more about the active developers and teams working on the project.

MK

Distributed Ledger Team
offscale.io, sfxdx.com
Peter Badenhorst
Quan Nguyen
Anton Neil

Middleware Team
University of Sydney
(1 professor, 1 lecturer, 1–2 postdocs, PhDs, Honours student
Yonsei University
(1 professor, 2 PhD students)

WC

You’ve got the king of crypto code in Andre Cronje working on the project these days. When did Andre start working on the project and what has his involvement been?

MC

Wall of text incoming…

Andre is probably the most hardworking individual I have met. I want to start by boosting his ego and complimenting him because I can’t thank him enough for his work.

Andre joined us last year after ICO, because Joseph, our CSO at the time, kept hammering the guy down basically to review our code in person. Management at the time flew him in, and well then there was the problem; Fantom at the time was a pure research project. Andre basically had to come on, kick everyone’s butts, and help coordinate development for a while. He found us new talented developers and team members as well to put things in order.

Shortly after putting the development on track, we ran into another problem of the burn rate being too high (huge spend on USELESS marketing firms/PR firms/whatsoever). So Andre pivoted into putting the right people into the right places after that, making sure we uphold strict budgets, and he got us sorted on the bizdev front as well.

Tl;dr Andre kicked everyone’s bottoms, amazing guy.

MK

He started getting involved in July / August last year and continued to get involved more helping to guide the developers on the initial distributed ledger (which they are working on autonomously now mostly) and is now focusing on promoting and representing the project, and continuing as a technical lead.

WC

So is Andre already signed on for the foreseeable future?

MK

Yeah he’s staying at the moment.

MC

Elaborating on this, no agreements have been signed yet.

WC

Michael Chen, let’s talk about yourself. How does one go from a lowly community manager, all the way up to the dizzying heights of Marketing Manager?

MC

First of all Winston, what do you mean with lowly? I’ll have to pick a fight with you after this AMA in PM.

Now more seriously speaking…

I’ve been in the space a bit longer than most of my colleagues from a grassroot perspective. I’m not a developer or a big shot in the corporate world, but I was seriously annoyed and flabbergasted at the lack of understanding of the crypto industry and the lack of understanding for the needs of the community.

All these people, who were absolutely amazing in their previous fields, were kinda clueless about what the community wants. We had this huge slump from ICO time till January, and it just sucks when supporters leave the community everyday and call the project a dead shitcoin.

I’ve seen it myself with other projects that I was a fan of previously, and I can kinda get where people are coming from. In my opinion the team needed to face the problem instead of trying to delegate marketing to these cashgrabby PR firms and questionable service providers.

Andre then suggested that I’d take the reels, because I was just whining a lot without actually proposing solutions. So yeah, thanks to Andre again.

Tl;dr I got tired of this alien approach to marketing and communicating with the community. → Andre called me a little twat → Andre asked me to do better.

WC

So Michel Chen, at what stage will you be Fantom’s CEO?

MC

Don’t tell Michael Kong and Samuel, they’ll snitch on me.

MK

Michael Chen is like a politician. You never announce you want the leadership!

SM

Snitches get Fantom stitches.

WC

Being a predominantly Korean project, what has the reception to Fantom been like post raise, in both Korea and around the world?

MK

Mixed. People seem to be happier about the team, development and partnership these days but we to work harder to deliver on items such as the mainnet.

MC

To add to this, I personally think Fantom would see more love from the Western community initially before we push within Korea.

I think a great example of this is Icon, the community was being sold this idea of ‘’KOREAN PROJECT’’ when in fact Icon was only known in the west during ICO and it’s early stages imo.

WC

Does this come from the fact that despite being a Korean founded project, your team is so…dare I say…decentralised?

MC

Yeah we’re pretty split across the world. Sam and Michael in Sydney with Ashton and his innov labs. Andre in South Africa. Myself in the Netherlands. Sikoba boys are in Luxembourg?

THE FANTOM NETWORK

WC

Before we get too deep into the Fantom Network, can you outline some specific use cases for Fantom? Why use Fantom over any other blockchain or DAG?

MK

Currently Fantom seems to work well with basic transactions (i.e updating account balances) if we can achieve scalability via aBFT which is also secure via Proof of Stake then that will be a tremendous benefit to the community in my opinion.

Could be used for simple payments. More complex smart contract execution could also work via EVM, LLVM or other virtual machines such as what University of Sydney and Yonsei University are developing.

SM

Closer to mainnet release I’ll go into greater detail here, but to give you a taste of what’s to come: register-based VM written in Rust, as a new backend for LLVM

WC

I’ve read you’re developing in Rust, Golang and Java. Why the three pronged approach?

SM

Currently we’re experimenting with different scalability techniques. When I joined in August 2018, there was just the Go codebase. For performance and low-level access reasons, Offscale.io initially experimented with C, then C++ before finally settling on Rust. The Java codebase is a research-only one used by one of our staff to experiment with different modes (consensus).

Don’t be surprised if the Go & Java codebases are superseded by Rust 😉

WC

Which one is the most advanced or you’re the most confident about?
(Rust, Golang or Java).

MK

Testing will tell us but I think theoretically the rust implementation should be the fastest. It’s also good to have a few different implementations of the distributed ledger like what Ethereum has done.

SM

Go has the most advanced consensus implementation, Rust has the most advanced VM and architectural implementations.

Here is one concept we are currently discussing, which has somewhat already been built in the Rust codebase.

We are also investigating theorem proving, model checking, blackbox testing and other such techniques to award trust to our distributed system design.

WC

Will developers have to develop in Rust or Go if they want to develop a dApp on Fantom? Or they will be able to use any language?

SM

LLVM opens up a world of language possibilities, and translation of code between ecosystems (blockchain and regular).

LLVM is a game change IMHO.

Also it’s important not to think too small here. LLVM is the real deal. C++, Rust, Scala, D, and more. Migrating traditional applications to the blockchain becomes not only possible, but efficient.

WC

What tools are you providing developers that enable them to build on Fantom? API, SDK? How does this relate to what Samuel was taking about with LLVM and moving traditional apps over to Fantom?

SM

We’ll still need simple example applications, and an SDK to simplify development. It’s still a new design paradigm, even with the possibility of translating traditional applications, it’s more likely people will use traditional language to develop new applications, much like cloud native required the rewriting of most applications.

AC

Api’s for dApps. SDKs for VMS. And LLVM and WASM have their own tools. The Ethereum VM supports all their tools. The WASM VM supports all WASM tools and the dApps have their own layers.

WC

Have you thought to offer a complete package according to the as-a-service paradigm? Fantom platform as core service which enables other services available in your ecosystem, i.e. Fantom Pay and others …

MK

Yes we will build tools to assist development. Like how Ethereum has tools such as Truffle etc…

SM

As Michael suggests, we’ve been working on IDE integration — including Language Server — and a web IDE, among other things to ease the barrier to entry (like estimating the cost of running a smart contract).

WC

Has Fantom had any interest from existing or upcoming dApps wanting to build on top of the chain?

MK

Yes we have existing and potential partners who are looking to build a number of dApps.

WC

Any particular markets they are targeting eg gambling, gaming etc?

MK

Mainly payments and smart city applications.

WC

Are features like privacy options, an ID system and interoperability being considered?

MK

Haven’t focused much on privacy-preseving tools at the moment. Interoperability we have looked into DCRM as proposed by Fusion, but we will probably look into it more after mainnet.

AC

And yes to ID system as well. Looking to integrate the UAE pass currently.

WC

I just looked up what that was (UAE pass), were there any issues, permissions, legal or otherwise to implement that?

AC

None, they open sourced it to be integrated.

WC

So we’re talking semi to big picture stuff here in regards to tools to adoption and getting people using the platform, but can I dial it back a bit and talk about scale.

I know you’re just in testnet at the moment and running a few fixed use cases, but how many transactions are being processed on testnet daily? What are you looking to scale up to in an ideal world?

SM

Using the Go codebase, with 65 nodes on a single laptop, we achieve 73k consensus to atropos, sorting the events gets us to finality with 12k TPS on 39 nodes.

Expect greater performance and guaranteed reliability once theorem proving, model checking, blackbox testing and other such techniques to award trust to our distributed system design have been worked through.

WC

So from my understanding, being a DAG that TPS will scale up as more nodes join the network?

MK

More nodes = potential for more transactions per second, but there is a trade off leading to an increase in the time to finality. The challenge is to increase TPS while maintaining a low TTF.

SM

Somewhat, although we’re still working out the staking specifics to incentive higher performance hardware and what I said earlier still applies —

It depends on the hyperparamters, but generally yes, as we are still n dependent so a larger n in a 2n/3 + 1 would still be significant.

WC

So that brings us to a point everyone I’m sure is interested to talk about. Staking…

MC

Do you want to hear marketing and spicy hype mechanics, or the proper technical thing?

WC

Both of course! Sell the dream and give us the reality!

MC

Well yeah the dream is decentralization, anyone can come in and run a node as long as they have the necessary tokens as a stake. It’s not like a couple ‘’Crypto Bros’’ come together and decide to run the network, the people and the community can say hey I buy some cool hardware and start running a node with my tokens.

WC

Do we know how much time tokens need to be locked for to be eligible for a validator node?

MK

Under the current specification you just need to stake at least 3.175m tokens at a minimum consistently.

WC

How many validator nodes will the Fantom Foundation be running and will they always keep these or will they be slowly transitioned to ‘community nodes’?

MK

TBD.

WC

How many tokens have been set aside for block rewards once mainnet is released?

MK

Minimum 30% of total supply set aside for block rewards over 4 years. There are validator nodes (who participate in consensus) and listening nodes (who can submit transactions to the network but don’t contribute to consensus).

We are aiming to allowing people to delegate their stakes via apps as well.

WC

Have you been acquiring more tokens from the secondary market to support future block rewards? Or you already hold these tokens?

I’m just looking at this breakdown of token supply from the whitepaper and wondering where those tokens are coming from?

MK

They comes from outside the token sale. We already have enough unminted tokens which will be available on the mainnet for block rewards.

MC

Adding the transparency flavor, we bought them back from the market.

FANTOM PAY

WC

What features or benefits does Fantom Pay have compared with other crypto payment apps?

MK

If we can get it to work on the distributed ledger than —

  1. Runs on decentralised network without requiring third parties.
  2. Low fees (no markup through 3rd party provider)
  3. Fast transaction processing. Be your own bank.

WC

What timeline do you have for a full working release of Fantom Pay?

MC

I’ve seen Q4 2019 on the roadmaps we’ve sent in for application forms. But I think there are moving factors in there and I’m not sure what Andre Cronje and Michael Kong think about the Fantom Pay roadmap.

WC

Is Fantom pay purely C2C or you will also be targeting onboarding merchants?

MK

There is a merchant’s API.

WC

Will Fantom Pay be able to store offline data? Such as digital coupons, loyalty points and other (much more interesting) collectables?

MK

Any developer building an application can decide what they want to be on-chain and off-chain we can’t control that.

WC

You’ve mentioned using the Fantom Pay wallet to allow users to access up to $1000 worth of “credit”. How will this actually work in practice? Surely you’ll need to be partnered with a credit provider?

MK

To deal with fiat currency you need to use an existing provider or have your own license as it’s regulated. With cryptocurrency transfers you do not need such a license Peer-to-peer (but I am not a lawyer).

WC

Outside of Fantom Pay what is currently being built on top of the Fantom Network?

MK

A variety of ecosystem tools, but mainly we are focused on delivering the mainnet that is secure and works.

PARTNERSHIPS

WC

Does Fantom have any crypto partnerships or are you going it alone?

MC

E.X.P.L.O.R.A.T.O.R.Y.

Fusion DCRM is cool, so that’s one thing we will likely look into deeply and tap into in the future.

On the other hand there’s Terra, that’s pretty much ‘’hey let’s use each others payment apps in the future, IDK yet though’’.

There’s a few others I’m not sure if they are signed or if we’re doing something with, So TBH if we’re not doing anything with those or if not signed I’m not going to waste space in this chat with that.

WC

How many of the VC’s who invested in Fantom are still actively involved in the project? What type of support are they providing?

MC

Honestly speaking, some of the VC’s didn’t move a single token and keep providing us big added value such as one of them that wants to open a staking farm that supports Fantom staking as a service

Other VC’s just got it over with and left the ecosystem. If you’re asking how many, I think you can count them on 1 or 2 hands.

WC

I know Fantom has partnered with the University of Sydney & Binance has recently launched in Australia & helps to focus on education. Could there be a collaboration to educate from both parties in the future?

MK

I’d have to ask the Binance guys and Bernhard Scholz from University of Sydney.

WC

With smart cities being a focus of Fantom, I am going to assume IoT devices are what we are looking at and this is where that Danfoss partnership comes in?

MK

More details will come out soon. We’re integrating turing-complete smart contract engines so theoretically a lot of applications could run on Fantom.

MC

Adding the flavor of transparency here. Most of these partnerships still waiting for a mainnet launch, or in an exploratory phase. Not to blow things out of proportion.

EXCHANGES

WC

BitMax is currently one of the more hyped exchanges out there. Can you explain how Fantom got listed on BitMax and how you’ve found the experience so far?

MC

TBH Bitmax have been pretty nice to us. I know there was some controversy and all, but no listing fee plus some cool media help is much appreciated.

WC

Fantom was recently listed on https://chainx.kr with a KRW pair. Can you give us some insight as to why you chose this exchange and what a KRW pair means for FTM?

MC

Free listing. KRW pair. Gives Koreans the chance to partake in the ecosystem for the first time. Nothing beats that really, a free listing.

They have some cool guys behind it that are deeply into the marketing stuff for ChainX. I figured it was beneficial.

WC

What’s the deal with Binance V-label? Is this Binance endorsing the project?

MC

No. It’s Binance INFO.

So literally a sign of approval ‘’you guys are good at updating info on Binance Info, and we like your transparency’’

ROADMAP & FUTURE GROWTH

WC

With the difficulties of Fantom Pay and the team’s focus on mainnet, what is the next goal after mainnet launches? To revisit Fantom Pay or something else?

MK

To build out tools to help people build applications on top of the ledgers for example Javascript.

Engage with existing and new partnerships who are looking for a mainnet.

Continue research to improve consensus speed and security. Implement additional Proof of Stake and On-chain governance incentive mechanism.

Further development the middleware, and look at a few other ideas that could be implemented such as zero-knowledge proof pruning to reduce the data size of the network.

WC

There has been a lot of buzz around Fantom of late, mostly from the community and influencers. Can you give us some detail as to what your strategy is here?

MC

Well as there is no tangible product in your hands right now, mainnet is not up, I’m trying to bridge the gap between today and mainnet with a strong community drive and interviews/content creation.

Let me say it this way…I’ve seen a problem with other communities and projects where they do a great job to start an initial spark, then proceed to drop the ball and forget their community and the projects dies a slow but painful death straight into the shitcoin graveyard.

The strategy here is to keep hammering down on the marketing to bridge the time between the usable product (mainnet) and today. With the developers trying to push mainnet to Q2, and with all the guys from YouTube and Twitter that still haven’t reviewed yet, I think it’s safe to say that we’re not going to drop the ball.

WC

For those who haven’t seen the latest wave of reviews and AMA’s Fantom have done, can you give us a few you’d recommend to check out?

MC

Chico Crypto: that video was really high quality. Loved it.

The other one would be OhHeyMatty’s 2 hour livestream with Andre (hey this AMA is also nearing 2 hours hehe).

Those two rundown anything you should know. Any kind of mistake we’ve made, controversy or whatsoever is discussed in the OhHeyMatty video.

It’s a long and rocky road and mistakes have been made. Let’s not make the same mistakes again and just be as transparent and honest as we possibly can.

I mean I do notice that there is always a small inclination towards the old ways of fluffing things up. As soon as I see that I just slap it down and say ‘’NO’’.

So we’re still working on making sure we don’t go back to the old habits lol.

WC

So…when mainnet? How confident are you on a timely release etc?

MC

Mainnet is scheduled for Q3 2019. I always like to under promise and over deliver.

Michael Kong and Samuel Marks mentioned that they’re pushing for Q2.

No promises, under promise and over deliver is the way to go. So promising you guys Q3 for now.

WC

With Andre being in Dubai for talks, were some of those talks about smart city implementation using Fantom?

AC

Still here, still talking.

WC

Is there any one area you are targeting for Fantom?

MK

We’re targeting all four (Dubai Korea Australia and South Africa) mostly because we have connections in those areas.

WC

What your marketing plan is moving forward? Will we see more of the same regular and honest communication as we have from Fantom since you took over the role?

SM

No, from now on only dishonest and irregular communication 😂

WC

So just like most crypto projects then?

MC

Seriously speaking, yeah honesty is key. People get more angry from dishonesty than saying things as they are…I simply don’t see the point of fluffing shit up.

I know that when I entered the space and invested I freaking hated getting hustled on and being lied to as well… Not sure why we should ever be doing that. So yeah more honesty, and for marketing we shouldn’t drop the ball and keep up the pace.

I mean at this pace of development marketing just needs to keep the eyes on the ball for like a couple months to bridge the gap to mainnet.

WC

I assume you have a comprehensive marketing plan for mainnet planned? And this latest push is just a taste of whats to come?

MC

I also sincerely believe we need to put in place a Vitalik ( so to say), a developer as the face, instead of having a public person like me who is not a developer. If you’re building a competitor to Ethereum instead of a competitor to Tron you should have a Vitalik and not a Justin Sun competitor on your front.

MK

Yeah honestly is just the best policy. I tell you the good and the bad of how the project is going.

DUE DILIGENCE CHECKS

WC

Speaking of mistakes made by ICO’s, its been ages since you’ve raised now, how has Fantom managed their treasury since raising, what is your monthly burn rate and how long is your current runway?

MC

We managed that treasury really badly until Andre came in and kicked everyone’s bottoms. Unnecessary spend on big marketing firms that were absolutely USELESS and crazy PR costs. He put in tight budgets and now we have a solid 2 years of runway, which is why I think he’s a better CFO than developer lol.

To follow up on that, we have a dedicated financial team that also makes the payments now, but TBHwe need someone full time on that treasury because Andre has better things to do in my opinion.

WC

So does that dedicated financial team include creating any revenue projections for Fantom?

MC

No revenue as of yet.

WC

Do you have any projections as to when you first generate some or is that a mainnet first kind of thing?

MC

Mainnet first kinda thing. Unless someone decides to pay us for a pilot which would be wonderful.

WC

Have you had to liquidate any team/foundation tokens for operational costs?

MC

Team tokens are going to Siksin and Dr Ahn. I for example do not receive a single penny of FTM from the foundation, and therefore we can’t liquidate it for the foundation.

Foundation tokens, no we aren’t liquidating those, we actually bought more tokens for staking/block rewards.

The team tokens are vested over 24 months by the way.

WC

Have you released how many tokens you have brought back?

MC

More than 30% is in block rewards. So I assume a large part of that.

WC

Which country was the Fantom Foundation founded in?

MC

Everyone came together in Australia and Korea initially to discuss the project, but the company is in Cayman’s because no other jurisdiction makes as much sense from a point of regulation and stability.

WC

Ok that makes sense. Fantom hasn’t sent you to head office on the beaches of the Cayman’s yet then?

MC

I haven’t been outside in 7 days. I barely know what’s outside of my room.

Okay that’s a lie, I went outside yesterday with Ivan from LTO Network (planning our upcoming Fantom meetup with LTO), but other 6 days I was inside.

But elaborating on Cayman, basically every project settles in either BVI/Cayman/Gibraltar/Seychelles because it makes sense when you’re building something decentralized for the people, that you don’t want some regulator peeking over to say ‘’hey no we’re going to regulate your decentralized network’’.

WC

Does Fantom have a publicly available Github?

SM

Yes, you can find our development here —

CLOSING THOUGHTS

WC

Before we sign off from this AMA, can you drop on us some of your favourite Fantom memes?

MC

WC

Thanks to Michael Chen, Michael Kong, Samuel Marks and Andre Cronje for joining us tonight, we looked forward to catching up again closer to mainnet!

MC

Appreciate the AMA, always good to be around here.

Let’s do a 4 hour AMA at mainnet. Will bring 4 more team members. They get longer every time we do them sir!

MK

Thanks all for the opportunity.

Fantom Resources

Website: https://fantom.foundation
Telegram: https://t.me/Fantom_English
Medium: https://medium.com/fantomfoundation
Github: https://github.com/Fantom-Foundation
Whitepaper: https://fantom.foundation/contents/data/2018files/10/wp_fantom_v1.6.pdf

Wolf Crypto Resources

Website: https://wolfcrypto.net/
Public Group: https://t.me/WolfCryptoPub
News Channel: https://t.me/WolfCryptoAnnounce
Blockchain Project Reviews: https://t.me/WolfCryptoICO
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WolfCryptoGroup

Wolf Crypto

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