TQuorum: Global Summit recap
The very first TQuorum Global Summit took place in New York City from September 29th through October 1st. Building on previous TQuorum events in Paris and Berlin,, the Global Summit had broad business and tech elements to engage people beyond the Tezos and blockchain communities.
Thought leaders and experts on digital assets, capital markets, proof of stake networks, blockchain development, and more, gave presentations and sat on discussion panels covering a wide range of topics. There were also a series of technical workshops, conducted in smaller groups in the conference studio rooms.
Forty Tezos community leaders and Meetup organizers convened to meet in person (some for the very first time) and share experiences working with their local communities. TQ President Alison Mangiero and Tezos Commons Executive Director Shaun Belcher presented updates from TQ and Tezos Commons, and on best practices for organizing Meetups and engaging with local community members.
For a technology that relies heavily on network effects, like a blockchain protocol, the community of users is a crucial component that needs to be maintained just like any other piece of technology. Meetups, and other events, serve as opportunities for community members to network and share ideas, reinforce bonds with others, and welcome new members. This makes social events tantamount to software updates for the community.
If you want to be part of the growing global Tezos community by organizing a Meetup in your region, Tezos Commons put together a short form to help you get started.
Global Summit Welcome Party
To kick off the TQuorum Global Summit and welcome our guests from around the world, on Sunday night we held an opening reception at Spring Studios in Soho/Tribeca.
Developers, entrepreneurs, academics, blockchain veterans, the newly crypto-curious — all gathered on the rooftop for good food, good drinks, and good conversation before the conference began in earnest.
Because the Tezos ecosystem is decentralized and distributed across the globe, opportunities for community members to get together en masse are few and far between. On the occasions where it does happen, like the Global Summit, it’s clear why the community is often cited as one of the Tezos network’s most valuable features.
Whether you came to TQuorum familiar with Tezos or not, the community’s passion for the protocol was contagious, making it difficult to leave the reception not feeling excited for the event to come.
As has become tradition at TQ events, our fearless leader Alison Mangiero welcomed the audience and ran through the Global Summit agenda.
The Global Summit, she explained, was organized to not only showcase advances from projects in the Tezos ecosystem, but to share that knowledge with the broader blockchain community and the business world at large. To that end, each day of conference programming had a micro-summit with content focused on a central theme: Incentivize, focused on the proof of stake ecosystem, and Digitize, geared towards digital assets and capital markets.
Next was a welcome address from Tezos Foundation President Ryan Jesperson.
Ryan Jesperson, President, Tezos Foundation
“It’s not only technologically, but also socially that we’ve come a long way. It’s not just the technology, it’s the community.” — Ryan Jesperson
Ryan reflected on how much the Tezos ecosystem has grown in the year since mainnet launched, specifically noting advances in both the technology and the community. Ryan set the tone for the next two days with what was to become a popular refrain throughout the conference, stating, “It’s not just the technology, it’s the community.” This idea would be echoed by several presenters and panelists before the conference ended.
Benjamin Canou, CTO, Nomadic Labs
In the first of two roadmap presentations, Benjamin Canou, CTO of Nomadic Labs, introduced their priorities for core development in the near future. Nomadic Labs is broadly focused on 1) protocol updates, 2) shell updates, 3) Interoperability, and 4) formal methods. Their team is working on things like improving the speed and efficiency of bootstrapping a Tezos node, and bringing formal verification to smart contracts.
Adrian Brink, Cofounder, Cryptium Labs
While Nomadic Labs presented primarily on their work on the Tezos shell, Adrian Brink from Cryptium Labs tackled core protocol development. Cryptium is focused on enhancements to the core protocol that address a wide range of usability challenges across consensus, governance, staking, and scalability:
Arthur Breitman, early architect of the Tezos protocol
After Benjamin and Adrian presented on their roadmaps, Arthur Breitman took the stage to introduce the world to Checker, his latest software project.
Previously teased online, at TQuorum Arthur peeled back the hood to explain what Checker is and how it works:
Checker is a software technology for stabilizing a token with respect to an externally provided index. As noted in Arthur’s presentation, Checker is concretely defined as a Tezos smart-contract, and the external index can be any peg (such as the price of one ounce of gold denominated in XTZ). To function, the software relies on three tokens on the Tezos blockchain: Draught, Checker, and kit. Users lock XTZ in Draught contracts (while retaining control of their delegation) which send kits to the user based on a series of conditions.
The draught and kit tokens are used to manage token supply and locked XTZ, while the Checker tokens are used for governance and price stabilization:
Though Checker is still in its early design stages, it introduces stabilization technology to Tezos that projects, in the financial space and beyond, can build upon.
Nicholas D’Andrea & Cruz Molina, Truffle
Rounding out the morning presentations on the main stage, Nicholas D’Andrea and Cruz Molina from Truffle presented “Tezos-flavored Truffle- Baking a more delicious developer experience.” The two shared a brief overview of the Truffle Suite developer tools and how they work.
Nicholas gave us an update on their upcoming Tezos integration. To date, the Truffle team has a working interactive REPL and can compile LIGO contracts and deploy them on Tezos networks. Methods for contract abstraction, automated tests, and documentation are still under development. Nicholas said that he and Cruz are excited about many of the projects built on Tezos and they’re open to collaboration, citing a possible integration of Truffle’s Ganache with Stove Labs’ Granary.
After the Truffle presentation ended on a high note with a successful migration to the Tezos alphanet, the conference moved from the main stage to the studios for demos and technical workshops.
During the workshop portion of TQuorum, attendees gathered in small groups for presentations on cutting-edge research and software.
Alessandro de Carli, founder and software engineer with Papers / Airgap, presented a short introduction to the Airgap project and a possible way Tezos applications can interact with wallets in a browser that allows developers to integrate secure signing solutions without having to develop a wallet from scratch. Current browser-wallet interactions, Alessandro explained, leave significant room for improvement in large part due to a lack of standards around how these interactions work. He then detailed the project’s vision for improving wallet interactions by building out these standards and support multiple wallet use cases.
Alex Eichhorn, founder of Blockwatch and KidTsunami, presented some of the lessons he’s learned from developing TzStats about building block explorers and blockchain indexers. Alex peeled back the layers of TzStats to explore the backend which, in his words, is the fascinating part of the block explorer. He explained that traditional block explorer backends are powered by SQL databases and how these introduce friction through slow, expensive ETL processes and limits on data throughput to APIs. Alex then walked through how the next generation backend he designed for TzStats seeks to overcome those limitations.
Vishakh from Cryptonomic presented on Mininax, a retro-inspired minimalist block explorer Cryptonomic is developing. Mininax was created to be a concise, easy to digest block explorer for casual users. The Cryptonomic team was actively seeking to use ReasonML for development, and Mininax was a perfect fit. The mini-explorer is focused on wallet usage and serves as a backup for existing block explorers, as well as a functional stopgap while Cryptonomic’s analytics explorer, Arronax, continues development. The team chose ReasonML, an extension of OCaml, for its functional properties and smoother integration with other technology in the Tezos ecosystem.
Juraj Selep, CEO of SimpleStaking, presented a Tezos node written in the popular programming language Rust. After walking through the technical details of setting up the Rust node, Juraj pulled up the front end for the node he had running which displayed the current block completion rate, time remaining, and other data. Multiple node implementations across a range of different programming languages, Juraj explained, will improve network resiliency as bugs are more likely to stay localized to a subset of nodes (rather than affect the blockchain as a whole). SimpleStaking chose Rust because the language enforces memory safety and supports concurrency while avoiding race conditions, and because of the rapidly growing Rust community. Juraj then offered thorough explanations of the different components of the Tezos shell and the process of bootstrapping a Tezos node.
Istvan Deak, Solutions architect and partner with Stove Labs, presented on programming non-fungible tokens on Tezos using LIGO. Stove Labs recently received a grant from the Tezos Foundation to develop an NFT standard for Tezos. Istvan presented an overview of that standard and demonstrated how simple it is for developers to customize NFTs with LIGO. LIGO is a high-level smart-contract language that compiles down to Michelson, the Tezos smart-contract language. Istvan’s presentation began with an explanation of the interface for the proposed NFT standard on Tezos which allows for the creation of non-fungible tokens (similar to Ethereum’s ERC721). He then presented a live demonstration of compiling an NFT smart-contract written in LIGO to Michelson and deploying it using the Granary test environment.
Christopher Goes, co-founder of Cryptium Labs and Researcher with Tendermint/Cosmos, presented SNARKs, STARKs, SHARKs, a discussion of zero-knowledge proofs and privacy for Tezos. Privacy was a recurring talking point throughout the Global Summit, and after a brief overview of the popular SNARK and STARK flavors of zero-knowledge proofs, he introduced the less common zk-SHARK. The “H” stands for “hybrid;” zk-SHARKs combine an inner transparent zk-STARK with an outer non-transparent SNARK to prove the STARK was verified correctly. Christopher then shifted into a discussion about possible implementations for Tezos, such as smart-contract verification.
Bernd Oostrum, CEO and co-founder of Tezsure, delivered a walkthrough of the Tezsure platform, a decentralized insurance marketplace built on Tezos. The insurance industry, Bernd pointed out, is full of friction: claims take time to process, money is lost on operational costs, and people don’t trust insurance companies. Their solution is a marketplace where users can create customizable insurance products and the platform handles risk analysis and claim verification but fund management is decentralized. Bernd and his co-founder Om selected Tezos to be the protocol behind their platform so as to leverage the security that comes from formally verified code.
Matej Sima, software developer and founder of Stove Labs, presented a beginner friendly smart-contract development course. Matej covered everything you need to know to implement, deploy, and interact with a contract on Tezos using LIGO. As a framework for his presentation, Matej outlined the common frictions businesses encounter with financial transactions and how smart-contracts address those challenges. Matej introduced LIGO, a high-level language for writing Tezos smart-contracts, and how the language relates to Michelson. He then walked through the steps of designing a time-locked multisig smart-contract written in LIGO..
Incentivize: the Proof of Stake summit
Co-hosted by the Proof of stake Alliance (POSA), Incentivize was a series of keynote panels focused on the proof of stake ecosystem, how proof of stake networks evolve, and the economics and challenges of staking.
Exploring the legal and regulatory implications of interacting with proof of stake networks
This panel of leading industry experts focused on the current regulatory landscape and some of the most pressing legal questions facing the blockchain industry, including the unique challenges presented by proof of stake networks.
- Lewis Cohen, DLX Law
- Lorien Gabel, Figment Networks
- Josh Garcia, Blakemore Fallon
- Karen Ubell, Cooley LLP
- Moderator: Katherine Wu, Notation Capital
Governance & user participation
This panel discussion took a deep dive into blockchain governance and a closer look at how proof of stake networks incentivize user participation. With Tezos in the midst of its second major on-chain protocol amendment (Babylon, which was in the promotion phase during the conference), moderator Brady Dale explored what’s worked for the Tezos community and where there’s still room to grow.
- Jacob Arluck, TQ Tezos
- Adrian Brink, Cryptium Labs
- Emin Gun Sirer, Ava Labs
- Lane Rettig, Spacemesh
- Moderator: Brady Dale, CoinDesk
How to stake safely
Proof of stake protocols incentivize individuals and organizations with large quantities of tokens to store them and engage with their networks in unique ways. This panel of staking and custodial specialists discussed institutional-grade best practices for storing and securing tokens.
- Aaron Henshaw, Bison Trails
- Brandon Kase, 0(1) Labs, CODA Protocol
- Konstantin Richter, Blockdaemon
- Luke Youngblood, Blockscale
- Moderator: Mike Reinhart, Obsidian Systems
CryptoMondays after party fireside chat with Arthur Breitman
Lou Kerner of CryptoOracle hosted a CryptoMonday fireside chat with Arthur Breitman, covering broad topics around the technology underlying Tezos and how it evolves. Over one hundred people packed the rooftop of the HGU hotel to listen to Arthur and Lou discuss Tezos, blockchain, and Arthur’s latest software project, Checker.
The future of privacy
This panel of privacy specialists explored the benefits and challenges of integrating cutting edge privacy techniques, like ZCash Sapling, into the Tezos protocol. Setting the bar high for the panel, an early comment by ZCash founder Ian Miers set the tone for the following discussion:
The panelists discussed how important it is for privacy to be a core tenet of technology, not an afterthought, and the challenges that developers face when trying to optimize for both efficiency and privacy:
Key takeaways from the panel include Nomadic Labs’ ongoing efforts to integrate Sapling into Tezos and o(1) Labs developing a DSL called Snarky for programming zero-knowledge proofs.
Towards the end of the discussion, the panel left the audience with what they believe are some of the most significant privacy threats today:
- information asymmetry
- large corporate, private chains
- the narrative that privacy and utility are mutually exclusive
- how privacy-focused cryptocurrency is perceived
- Marco Stronati, Nomadic Labs
- Ian Miers, ZCash
- Izaak Meckler, o(1) Labs, CODA Protocol
- Christopher Goes, Cryptium Labs, Tendermint/Cosmos
- Moderator: Alison Mangiero, TQ Tezos
What can Tezos learn from Bitcoin?
The next panel was a discussion on technical and non-technical lessons from Bitcoin like, what are people missing about Bitcoin’s success and what makes it so resilient?
Tarun Chitra, CEO of Gauntlet Network, tugged at one of the primary threads throughout the conversation: “There needs to be consistent narrative so that new people and new nodes can easily get up to speed.” Reinforcing Ryan Jesperson’s comments in his opening address, Lily Liu and Nic Carter expanded on Tarun’s idea. “Over the long term,” Nic said, “the only way cryptocurrency projects succeed is with internally consistent ethos.” Lily added, “Bitcoin has the non-technical elements that add to its success: the culture, network effect, its status as first. The combination of these elements is more powerful than technical features.”
Success won’t come from a technical feature, it’s from consistent core values.
- Nic Carter, Castle Island Ventures
- Tarun Chitra, Gauntlet Network
- Lily Liu, Investor
- Moderated by: Joyce Yang, Global Coin Ventures
Marc Beaunardeau further expanded on Nomadic Labs’ ongoing efforts to integrate Sapling into Tezos. Nomadic Labs is aiming at proposal 006 for integrating Sapling into Tezos’ smart contract language, Michelson. Marc presented some of the challenges Sapling poses for smart contracts and how Nomadic is exploring Sapling applications beyond private transactions. One of the most significant hurdles is reconciling blockchain privacy with the legal and regulatory landscapes, maintaining the privacy of users while remaining compliant and auditable.
Adrian Brink from Cryptium Labs took a deep dive into programmable staking, one of Cryptium’s most exciting ongoing research projects.
“The main motivation behind programmable staking is to empower Tezos bakers to run more secure setups and avoid that consensus, governance or spending capabilities are in one single set of keys. It enables different keys to have different capabilities.” — Adrian Brink
Programmable staking opens up the possibility for bakers to innovate around the services they offer and create new business models leveraging smart contracts.
Houman Shadab & Jerome Simeon from Clause explored some of the commercial benefits of using smart legal contracts and how the Ergo programming language for contracts can be integrated with Tezos for blockchain applications. Houman and Jerome also introduced the Accord project, which aims to build an open source ecosystem for open legal technology.
Nate Maddrey, senior researcher with Coin Metrics, presented his analysis of Tezos network activity using on-chain data. Looking at dozens of metrics derived from on-chain data, such as Tezos transaction activities, active addresses, and token distribution, Nate put together a picture of Tezos activity and economics.
Michael Klein, senior software engineer with TQ Tezos, presented on Tezos smart contracts and potential applications in capital markets. Using an arcade as an example, Michael demonstrated how smart contracts can be fine-tuned for a wide variety of business cases — both on and off-chain.
Izaak Meckler and Brandon Kase, of o(1) Labs and CODA Protocol, introduced the CODA project. Their workshop gave an overview of the Snarketplace, the marketplace they’re developing for zkSNARKs, and their efforts to use recursive zkSNARKs to compress blockchains.
Fedor Fedorov from Serokell gave a presentation on the Haskell programming language and how it could possibly be the factor that takes Tezos to the next level. Serokell worked on the development of Lorentz, which lets users write Michelson using Haskell, and Indigo which introduces variables and imperative statements over Lorentz, making manual stack management easier.
Roland Zumkeller, a consultant with SmartPy, presented the SmartPy programming language and demonstrated how to use SmartPy.io to write smart contracts with Python-like syntax. SmartPy is also a Python library, meaning developers use Python to construct SmartPy programs (not to execute them). Roland then walked through the various components of a smart-contract and how to construct them using SmartPy.
Digitize: the Digital Assets Summit
Digitize served as a primer on all things digital assets. This collection of panels covered the latest on tokenizing assets, STOs, and how blockchain-powered instruments affect the financial landscape.
Enabling opportunity — How blockchain-based markets can change investing
The first panel of Digitize served as an introduction to the worlds of digital assets and blockchain-based markets. Panelists discussed the factors that are positioning these new markets to change traditional investing, like the technical foundation that makes them possible.
- Nisa Amoils, Grasshopper Capital
- Stephane De Baets, Elevated Returns
- Alexander Green, Globacap
- Evan Malanga, Securitize
- Dave Siemer, Wave Financial
- Moderator: Chris Lawlor, TQ Tezos
Rewiring capital markets — the state of technical infrastructure for digital securities
This panel explored the technical challenges that come with digital securities. Like security tokens or other digital assets, digital securities are sophisticated financial instruments that come with the financial and technical challenges of traditional assets. The panelists discussed what causes friction for businesses looking adopt digital assets, and what elements are missing for markets to take digital assets seriously.
- G. Daniel Doney, Securrency
- Bilal El Alamy, Equisafe
- Ryan Lackey, Tezos Foundation
- Dave Hendricks, Vertalo
- Moderator: Christine Kim, CoinDesk
DeFi meets CeFi — innovative financial instruments
The final panel of Digitize, and the TQuorum: Global Summit, the DeFi meets CeFi panel explored the areas where digital securities and other blockchain-based assets are most directly impacting traditional finance.
- Andrew Beal, Ernst & Young LLP
- Mason Borda, Tokensoft
- Allison Lu, UMA
- Aaron Travis, Tokenvault
- Moderator: David Morris, Fortune Magazine
Stay tuned for more TQuorum events
The TQuorum Global Summit was a clear demonstration of the Tezos community’s strength. We were thrilled to bring the Tezos community together with so many individuals from other industries beyond the blockchain space to engage in thoughtful discussion.