Kadena’s Roadmap to a Hybrid Blockchain Platform

Learnings as we look ahead in 2019

Tony Pham


When Kadena was founded in June 2016 by Will Martino and Stuart Popejoy, the mission was ambitious and clear: build a secure and scalable blockchain to execute mission-critical business workflows that meet the needs of large enterprises. As part of the leadership working on Juno at JP Morgan’s blockchain technology group, Stuart and Will knew that scalability and smart contract safety must be considered in the earliest stages of a platform’s design.

Nearly three years later and with many lessons learned, Kadena is now a team of 20 people preparing to roll out more of our hybrid blockchain platform (with Proof of Work at the core). Our technology gives every entrepreneur the powerful and performant tools required by multi-billion dollar companies. Throughout our growth, we have achieved business and technology milestones that are highlighted on the timelines below.

In July 2016, Stuart completed a prototype of the first version of Pact after evaluating many blockchain projects. He saw that there was a need for a smart contract language designed for use by both business professionals and programmers so he wrote a language that would be as accessible as SQL or Excel. Stuart created Pact to facilitate smart contract changes and upgrades without needing to hard fork; he recognized this as an essential feature for enterprise.

Pact is an example of how a language creator solves security problems in the language itself, taking the burden off of users to audit for buggy surprises in code. The Pact language was open sourced in 2016 so that people could start sharing, studying, and using it.

Also in July 2016, Will made significant strides with Kadena’s permissioned blockchain by building Kadena Kuro from the Juno prototype open-sourced at JP Morgan. He successfully completed real-world performance tests and proved that Kadena Kuro could function at 8000 transactions per second with 500 nodes, which demonstrated scalability without degradation. Crucially, the throughput stayed consistent as the number of nodes increased from tens to hundreds and more.

At the start of 2017, Kadena presented papers on the Kadena Kuro enterprise blockchain as well as the Pact smart contract language at the inaugural BPASE conference, what is today known as Stanford Blockchain Conference.

Will and Stuart also designed the initial Kadena public blockchain specification for a public proof of work blockchain, acquired our first client, and hired our first employee (Monica Quaintance, previously Lead Data Engineer at Rent the Runway) in 2017.

Back then, enterprise blockchain did not garner much attention, and some people expressed confusion over a company developing both public and private blockchains. Kadena has never divided these worlds. In fact, working with enterprise clients early on showed us why a hybrid-ready blockchain is the best solution. If a blockchain platform can serve the scalability and security needs of large enterprises while also allowing for designated transactions to occur in an open and public environment, users get the best of both worlds. With adoption and growth, the ability to have hybrid applications provides increasing value.

Last year in 2018, Kadena formalized and presented the specification for Kadena’s public blockchain at Stanford BPASE 2018. Also in 2018, the company completed a Series B fundraising round with backers including Devonshire Investors (family office of Fidelity Investments), Distributed Global, Metastable Capital, Multicoin Capital, Susquehanna Investment Group (SIG), SV Angel, and others. With the additional capital, the team decided to make a major investment in talent while upholding our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Among Kadena’s software engineers, 33% are women, including Emily Pillmore, lead Pact maintainer and the newest elected member to the Haskell.org programming language standards committee.

2018 also involved running many simulations of Kadena’s public blockchain, the only throughput orientated Layer 1 public proof of work blockchain. Preliminary testing of the network revealed that additional resources would be needed to build the next-generation blockchain that users demand. We came to appreciate that launching Kadena’s public blockchain how we envision it would take more time than first anticipated, and require additional talent. By the end of 2018, we had over 20 employees, including Emmanuel Denloye-Ito as a developer (we recruited him from a Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia; he holds a bachelor’s of science degree from Cornell University).

As we move forward in 2019, we’re seeing that the bear crypto market has brought positive attention to enterprise blockchain because of the validation that comes from real use cases. The launch of Kadena’s enterprise blockchain on the AWS Marketplace received coverage by Fortune and other media.

While Kadena has offered Formal Verification of user-written code for a couple years, we have now made it even easier for anyone with a browser to try out. Go to our “Try Pact” site to see for yourself. Formal Verification is a major leap forward for blockchains. When you do smart contracts right, they offer unparalleled safety.

In addition to servicing Fortune 500 companies, Kadena is excited to work with entrepreneurial startups like Rymedi. Rymedi, a life sciences and healthcare blockchain company, works on eliminating Hepatitis C infections through deploying vaccinations. They have already begun administering Hep C vaccines in Mongolia (in cooperation with the World Health Organization) and are working with Kadena to launch their data management system into the U.S. Given the United States’ rigorous HIPAA compliance requirements for protecting patient health information, Kadena’s hybrid blockchain offers a solution that enables the secure exchange of data among stakeholders.

Kadena wants to share our enthusiasm about the growth of our company and products so we’ll be releasing roadmaps accordingly. Engaging with our clients and community is a top priority. As we look towards the end of Q1, we hope you are as excited as we are for the launch of Testnet. Testnet v0 will demonstrate scaling proof of work in an environmentally friendly way. We look forward to the response.

To learn more about Kadena’s technical progress, reach out to our developers on Discord or simply subscribe to our newsletter, which delivers the latest updates right to your inbox.

For our New York City community, we are hosting a Kadena public blockchain demo event on Wednesday, March 27th at 6 pm. To learn more and RSVP, visit the Meetup page.



Tony Pham

Tony is Head of Marketing at Kadena. Previously, he led marketing teams at Life360 (IPO on ASX), and Slide (acquired by Google).