Eat. Pray. Hashgraph.
I’m not easily won over. I’ve watched overly optimistic projects fall flat because they didn’t anticipate the practical demands of real-world implementations. I’ve spent years architecting and engineering systems for the telecommunications space; one of the most functionally chatty and least fault-tolerant spaces in technology. I’ve also been engaged in the distributed ledger technology (DLT) / blockchain space, playing with cryptocurrencies, and watching ICOs promise the world. You could say that with my telecom experience and my observations of the ICO craze, I’m a little (and by a little, I mean VERY) skeptical of new projects. So when I received a link in my Ethereum investment group to an article titled “Blockchain Just Became Obsolete. The Future is Hashgraph” I groaned out loud. But, I gave it a read…just in case.
I read the article, watched some videos, and before you knew it, I had read the Whitepaper (and other technical docs) and joined the Hashgraph Community on Telegram. I didn’t just join the Telegram group and ask, “when ICO?”, I committed to looking back to the beginning of the history of the Telegram group to read every question posted so I didn’t ask a question that had been asked a hundred times before. I learned a lot doing that (shoutout to Derek Labian for his early questions to Leemon). I then committed to playing with the SDK. After a few hours of playing with code and watching metrics I decided to finally start asking questions. I asked questions about scalability, sharding, node discovery and maintenance, licensing, and almost everything you’re asking yourself about hashgraph right now. I got some answers from the core team, but I felt like there was a lot not being said. If this technology was legitimate, it was going to take DLT to the next level and potentially change a lot of what we use day to day. I needed to talk to Mance and Leemon.
So I bought a plane ticket to Bangkok to meet Mance.
I met with Mance, Jordan and Edgar for mango smoothies and a frank chat about my concerns with hashgraph. I came from two perspectives: one as a startup wanting to run DLT as close to the edge as possible and one as a telecom guy wanting to solve big enterprise challenges. During this discussion, and with an agreement of non-disclosure, I learned some very important things:
1) Mance and Leemon have a plan
A lot of projects state their vision of how they are going to change the world, then brush aside the more challenging details of how to accomplish that vision. At first I thought hashgraph might be that kind of company. They weren’t publicly answering questions about the purpose of the patent, the licensing terms, why it wasn’t open source, or if there would be a public ledger and how that would be accomplished given some apparent technical gaps. But I learned something important during my meeting with Mance: all of the concerns I had, Mance was aware of. Furthermore, Mance was clearly committed to making sure that whatever the company announces was not only feasible, but tested and documented. Aha! It all made sense now. It was not that they were trying to be deceitful or misleading with their silence on certain topics, they legitimately didn’t want to build hype around something they hadn’t already tested and proven themselves. It was the opposite of everything I’d seen in the crypto space. We just have to be a little patient. I know…in this frothy crypto world, being patient is not a virtue that is common. But when you are creating a technology platform that aims to be the trust layer of the internet, you want it to be well thought out, and proven.
2) There are some real players getting behind Hashgraph
While I’m not at liberty to talk about some of the companies engaging hashgraph beyond the publicly announced CULedger, some of the names they gave me along with their current progress of engagement told me that big companies were comfortable enough to move forward. I don’t always trust big companies to do what’s in my favor, but I can always trust that a big company wouldn’t purposefully put themselves in danger. If hashgraph is good enough for the enterprise space where performance, security, and reliability are not just important but qualifying factors, I can be sure that vetting has been done to address some of my enterprise concerns. The Credit Union National Association’s press release on the partnership between Swirlds (hashgraph’s licensing and implementation company) and CULedger highlighted why hashgraph was selected over all other considerations in the space.
3) These are just good people
Without getting religious, the whole team is just made up of good people. By that, I mean that Mance and Leemon have encouraged team members to take time for their families as they do themselves. They don’t speak ill of the competition beyond objective comparisons where professionally appropriate. When given the chance to talk trash about IOTA at the Blockchain World Conference in Bangkok, Mance showed respect for the efforts of the IOTA team and even referred to the leadership as “good people”. They are considerate of other people’s perspectives and experiences. When I proposed a different approach to building the consensus layer they didn’t shut me down but recognized the value of what I was suggesting and encouraged me to put together a proposal. They even involved me when researching the best model for engaging the open source community (which they fully intend to do).
So here I am; six months later. I’m still playing with the SDK. I’m still engaging with the developer community. I’m still impressed by the technical and personal leadership of the core team. I still have some waiting and learning to do before I see the fruits of this endeavor, but I’m confident in the plan and the team. I plan to stick around for quite a while.
And stick around I will…as hashgraph’s new Lead Developer Advocate. When Jordan and Mance asked me to formally get involved it took me all of 3.14 seconds to say yes. It’s my job to make sure that no developer ever has to wonder how to engage with hashgraph again. I’ll be formalizing developer learning and resources. I’ll be engaging the developer community directly to build a strong understanding of the existing platform and seek input for how we can do things better. I’ll be coordinating with the“elite” among that community on projects that make hashgraph more accessible and user-friendly.
Be sure to join our communities and voice your thoughts on how we can work together to better shape hashgraph: