Last Thursday, April 18th, we convened the Tezos community in Paris, where the code was first injected, for our first ever day-long conference. The gathering, held at Station F during Paris Blockchain Week, brought together subject matter experts from across the Tezos ecosystem for a series of keynotes/panels and specific technical workshops.
The day was full of key learnings and insights (beyond that Paris is beautiful in the spring). Here are our key takeaways:
- 2019 is the year of staking.
- Athens has shown encouraging signs about the Tezos community’s ability to coordinate using the formal governance mechanism.
- UX, especially around onboarding and key management are major opportunities to improve in the short-medium term.
- Privacy on public blockchains will become fundamental to their adoption and success.
- Developers are building exciting tools and projects at every level of the Tezos stack.
To Stake or Not To Stake
One of the largest and diverse panels of the morning was on staking — sure to be a highly relevant topic in 2019. Luke Youngblood (Coinbase), Emin Gun Sirer (Ava Labs), Zaki Manian (Tendermint), Jason Stone (Battlestar), and Fabio Federici (Base58) led a discussion moderated by Isabel Woodford (The Block).
Unsurprisingly, the panel generally agreed that staking is the future of cryptocurrency — both in terms of network security and governance/participation. They identified a few key advantages of staking over mining:
- Greater security
- Environmentally friendly
- Better incentive alignment (in the parlance of game theory — creates a positive sum game)
The takeaway: We have long discussed how staking will work in the abstract — this year we will see how it works in practice and under the stress of live network conditions.
Governance in Action
Another engaging panel at the start of the day covered the topic of governance. Jacob Arluck (TQ), Marco Stronati (Nomadic Labs), and Adrian Brink (Cryptium Labs) came together to update us on the progress of the Athens amendment and discuss the future of protocol governance.
As Marco pointed out — Athens was all about demonstrating that the Tezos on-chain governance mechanism could work. While that demonstration is showing encouraging progress — Jacob pointed out that there is a need for better tools to discuss and signal preferences. He is also looking forward to a vote in the medium-to-long term in which the community effectively strikes down a very bad proposal.
Adrian also touched on the Cryptium’s controversial Burebrot proposal. He noted the mixed reaction from the community and stressed that they were not offering just one overarching proposal, but rather that these were the set of features they are interested in exploring. He also said that it is in the network’s best interest for protocol developers to cooperate rather than compete in these early governance cycles.
All the panelists agreed that the future of formal governance on Tezos is bright. As Adrian summed up so eloquently: “There are many different ecosystems right now. With on-chain governance, we can see what works and implement it to Tezos in the future.”
The second to last panel of the day covered UX with Claire Belmont (Celo) and Ouriel Ohayon (KZen). Both Claire and Ouriel stressed the importance of onboarding, both at the key management level and in terms of product-market fit.
For Claire — their approach at Celo focuses on creating a powerful value prop that sparks product demand before focusing on liquidity. She contrasted this approach with the way that other DeFi products are launched — no clear “why” but an emphasis on delivering liquidity in novel ways.
Ouriel pointed out that Zengo, which will be available for Tezos wallets and staking, is laser focused on ways to make the onboarding process easier. Specifically, they honed in on removing the seed phrase to make the onboarding process seamless and frictionless.
Public Blockchains Need Privacy
Our last panel of day focused on privacy. Buoyed by a last minute addition of the legendary privacy pioneer David Chaum (Elixxir), all members of the panel agreed that privacy was a fundamental necessity to driving adoption of a public blockchain. Chaum praised the Tezos community for being inclusive and for understanding the need for privacy in transactions.
Jean-Baptiste Baraton (Banque de France) stressed that private chains to date have been wholly inadequate for the needs of an institution like theirs. Public chains, with strong privacy protections, are the way to convince large institutions with sensitive transactions (e.g., central banks) to adopt blockchain technologies. Tom Pocock (AZTEC Protocol) doubled down on Baraton’s sentiment and pointed out that a large amount of value in financial markets will use privacy features on public chains in the long-run.
Marc Beaunardeau (Nomadic Labs) expressed that leaps in cryptography have made this future possible but that the real deficiency is on the engineering side.
Building on Tezos
In the afternoon — we shifted from panels to more technical breakout sessions that provided walkthroughs for the exciting tools/products that are being built on the protocol. We heard from AirGap, Edukera, SmartPy, Stove Labs, Morley, Cryptium Labs, and Nomadic Labs.
A few key highlights:
- Edukera presented Archetype, a language for formally verified smart contracts, with examples drawn from finance and insurance
- Francois Maurel’s SmartPy presentation offered a proof of concept of state channels written in SmartPy
- Stove Labs presents RELiq, showing how dapps can be developed in ReasonML
- John Burnham of the Morley Project presented Tezos smart contracts representing assets written with Haskell
- Bruno Bernardo from Nomadic Labs presented an overview of the current work that they are doing on Michelson
- Awa Sun Yin of Cryptium Labs gave us a walkthrough and comparison of different Proof-of-Stake mechanisms
In addition to the afternoon panels — we also heard from Tezos builders on why they chose Tezos for their projects. Christophe Dore (MoneyTrack), Carlo van Driesten (BMW Group), and Bernd Oostrum (Tezsure) gave us an overview of their projects and then sat for a discussion about why they chose Tezos.
Where We Go Next
TQuorum Paris was the first day-long Tezos event in the TQuorum series. We love bringing together experts and builders and we should have some exciting details on the next TQuorum coming soon — keep your eyes peeled.