Stephen Tse and friends.

What is the Harmony Protocol?

It’s the Latest Blockchain Startup to get Seed Funding that signals Silicon Valley is getting serious about the blockchain.

Harmony’s goal is to be 1,000+ times faster and cheaper than Bitcoin and Ethereum. It’s a brave new world for smart contract startups, where Harmony has gotten about half the funding that Nervos did. I’ve recently been thinking about the latest wave of 3rd-generation dApp platforms where you have the people of DFINITY comparing themselves directly to Ethereum.

Harmony isn’t particularly differentiated yet, but it shows how experienced software engineers and tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are now pivoting to the blockchain. And who is Stephen Tse, by the way? He’s an ex-Apple & ex-Google PhD UPenn in compilers & security with an MSc in algebraic geometry.

Top Blockchain Engineers Band Together for Parallelism of Distributed Protocols

What impresses me here is not their vision or their thought leadership, but their engineers. The amount of ex-Google talent here is notable. They want to build and contribute to the decentralized economy with 10x innovations in all components: transport network (Google’s UDP, Bloom tables, 5G mobile), consensus protocol (Byzantine committees, acyclic graphs, monopolist fees), and system tooling (unikernels, multi-core in Rust, zero-copy streaming).

They are located in Sunnyvale and now are on a hiring spree for talent (ahead of specific positions). Currently they use Rust because they are the optimal languages for extreme performance systems. They aim to optimize and scale for 10,000+ machines, some with 100+ cores.

They seek to leverage Rust’s type system for memory-safe parallelism and Go’s extensive libraries for distributed protocols. The fact that they have closed a $18M seed round and are actively recruiting engineers means for the likes of DFINITY, these guys are another band to watch. This is Silicon Valley mobilizing towards blockchain (albeit probably slower than China).

New Startups are Better Positioned to take on Scalability

If scalability is problem number one, Ethereum might not be first to the finish line. DFINITY, Cardano, Nervos and Harmony all likely have better models for how to scale the blockchain.

Harmony for one and all. Open consensus for 10 billion people.

Harmony wants to scale the Decentralized Economy to 10B people, and with some of the top blockchain engineers hopping on board, it will be yet another blockchain ecosystem to watch.

Blockchain for the Robots? Automation is coming…

Like a Silicon Valley company the goals are even grander than Bakkt’s vision. If communication is the key to the future of humans and machines in harmony, the Harmony protocol will be a gateway for micro transactions and online businesses where the fee must be at most 0.1% to support new marketplaces of metered content or fractional work. The most interesting thing about Stephen’s vision is how it all integrates with 5G, IoT how it all must settle agreements within 100 milliseconds to support instant reactions for autonomous robots or on-chain quotes in exchanges.

You can read more about Harmony here.

Harmony’s team is growing. It’s already stacked with blockchain engineering talent.

If you are interested in knowing more about the team look up Stephen and his fellow founding members Alok Kothari, Nicolas Burtey, Rongjian Lan, and Minh Doan. A lot of the core are either ex Google or ex Apple and respresent some of the top academic institutions as alumuni.

Alok was chummy with Carnegie Mellon University and Siri (yes that Siri!). Rong has successfully made the pivot from software engineer at Google to the blockchain space while Minh is a proud Ph.D dropout in computer science and is also ex Google. Many of these folk have already had startups they were involved in acquired. They are, however, young enough to truly understand what the next generation of blockchain and smart contracts needs to be.

The Harmony protocol is new. How new? As of August 12th, 2018 there are just 9 people who say they work at it according to LinkedIn. With the Google connections don’t be surprised if Google helps fund this thing. If Waymo will be a multi-billion dollar leader in automonous vehicles, The Harmony protocol will have its niche in the space of:

  • Transport networks
  • Consensus protocol
  • System tooling

In a world where blockchain goes mainstream and cryptoeconomics becomes a viable added layer to the internet, the Harmony Protocol envisions they will be able to touch 1 billion people eventually. This is a blockchain protocol in a world of AI, VR, automated systems and IoT integration.

It’s “garage days” for growing Harmony. While the rest of the team works in the garage, Stephen and Alok have their one-on-one in the backyard.