Meet the Team is a series highlighting the core Livepeer team. A video technology veteran and expert, Josh is a senior software engineer and built the Livepeer media player that actually transcodes the streams.
Tell us who you are and how you got into the blockchain space?
I’m Josh Allmann. Before Livepeer, I worked on video conferencing systems, and spent a few years on video-related startups that didn’t really go anywhere. I’m much better at hacking than I am at business.
Dogecoin got me into crypto! I actually built a crypto exchange to trade Doge for Bitcoin a few years ago. More recently, the crypto boom in 2017 prompted me to investigate the latest projects in blockchain, and I found Livepeer.
What made you decide you wanted to work on Livepeer?
With a background is in video conferencing, I’ve been interested in blockchain for some time. As soon as I heard about Livepeer and read the whitepaper, it was a match made in heaven — for me, at least. The E-mails and conversations I had with the team reinforced that this was a very smart, very pragmatic group, which made me all the more certain I wanted to jump aboard.
In engineering, there’s a continuum of problem solving. You can “solve” the type of problems that have been done before, such as developing a signaling protocol. You can develop a novel solution to an existing problem, such as an improved algorithm for forward error correction. The most interesting problems are the ones that no one else has had to consider before, such as trustless verification of transcoding work. Blockchain has super interesting problems, and combined with video, we are truly exploring new territory. I feel so lucky to be able to do this.
Being a Senior Software Engineer, what are the key goals you’re focused on in helping Livepeer realize its full potential?
Reliability and stability are paramount right now, especially as we’re still building the foundations of the video service. With robust building blocks, we’ll see some truly innovative video services spring up around this decentralized infrastructure. In fact, that’s what makes me the most excited: while my view of Livepeer’s potential is narrowly scoped by my own experience, I’ve heard some truly out-of-the-box thinking from some folks about what they’d like to see from Livepeer. My job is to enable that potential with tools which are reliable, capable and performant. It’s immensely gratifying to see a community form and folks start to put in the effort towards that, even at this early stage. The enthusiasm is budding, so I want to do my best to keep that going.
What challenge or obstacle do you need help with right now?
More users, more feedback, more patches and pull requests. The onboarding process could really be smoothed out to encourage more contributions, the documentation needs organizing and updating, and we have more features to implement than there is time for. There are also some very interesting open questions around the economic protocol, transcoding validation, incentivized relay networks, and so forth. The path forward on all those is still wide open, and I really enjoy the process of brainstorming, dissecting and walking through even the wildest of ideas.
What can you help folks with?
Networking, video, and the interactions thereof. Whether you’re a user or a developer, I’d be happy to talk and help, because the feedback leads to improvements in the end product.
What personal principles drive you?
I strongly believe in open standards and protocols that ensure interoperability and choice. Video services are especially prone to being walled off on the Web, due to the complexity and cost of processing and delivery. By making video tools more accessible, distributing that infrastructure, and giving participants a sense of common ownership, I believe we can give folks the capacity to experiment, unlock use cases that wouldn’t be possible under more traditional services, and bring those to the mainstream more rapidly.
When you’re not at work, where can we find you?
Spending time with my family in the beautiful city of San Diego. We try to make the most of being here by staying active — stand-up paddleboarding in Mission Bay, bicycle rides up hills (the views here are awesome) with stops at a brewery or two down in the valleys, runs along the coast, and hikes in the mountains.