Today we got a chance to chat with Aeron Buchanan, a developer who is part of the team working on the Ethereum project.
Cointelegraph has been closely following Ethereum for the past year and with their recent developments and Ether crowdsale, we thought it would be the perfect time to get the inside scoop on the results of their community-driven funding campaign as well as their progress in building dedicated development hubs in Berlin and Amsterdam.
Additionally, with over 10 million dollars in secured funding, their ambitious expansion plans and an incalculable amount of hype and promise around the project, we were interested in gauging the amount of pressure currently on Ethereum to deliver this game-changing technology while asking an important question - do they need help?
Cointelegraph: The Ether sale has recently finished with over 31,000 BTC raised. Did everything go in accordance to your expectations?
Aeron Buchanan: Yes, making it to 31,000 BTC was fantastic. We hoped to be in our "scenario two" from the Intended-Use-Of-Revenue, and we were certainly very pleased to see the sale get into that comfortably.
Breaking the eight-figure (dollar) threshold puts Ethereum in the top echelons of the crypto-project hall-of-fame, which is brilliant. More importantly, it gives us the best chance we could have hoped for to build the platform and create the future. What we are building hasn't been done before, so the development burden is considerable.
Fortunately, the community recognized this and so we now have the funds to make it happen. The other side of the coin is that there are now a lot of people looking to us to create the future, so we have the level of responsibility that matches the level of funding.
“What we are building hasn't been done before, so the development burden is considerable.”
- Aeron Buchanan
CT: There have been some theories that your Ether sale had an impact on the exchange price in result of the raised funds being cashed in or ‘dumped.’ Do you think there is any truth to this and how are you planning to allocate the raised funds?
AB: The BTC has certainly dropped a lot over the last month or so, starting around half-way through the Ether sale. However, Ethereum has nothing to do with that. For one thing, we can see from looking at our Bitcoin exodus address that very little has been withdrawn. And even then, the major dips we see in the BTC price clearly have no correlation to the few withdrawals that have been made.
So, in so far as Ethereum directly affecting the price of BTC, that is obviously false. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that the number of people holding bitcoins that have acted on rumors of this or that regarding Ethereum's plans for using our revenue is far too small to have had any significant effect. Rumors do tend to have a life of their own (there are people on the internet who seem to view it as a sport), but we have been very active and transparent with our communication with the community.
As you have already pointed out in good style, the use of funds was clearly laid out early on, and there haven't been any developments to suggest that we need to change those plans. In fact, it should be self-evident that it is in our interest not to "cash-in" or "dump": there are so many people involved and so much at stake beyond the money (reputations are much harder to acquire than money!) that any such attempt would be impractical and detrimental to all concerned.
- Aeron Buchanan, Ethereum Dev
CT: You raised 3.2 million USD (based on rates at the time) in the first 24 hours of the Ether sale. Now, due to the new low price, you have about 12 million raised in total. Does the falling BTC/USD exchange rate affect your bottom line?
AB: Even with the fall in the BTC price, Ethereum is still well funded. Naturally, we hope to see the price of Bitcoin go back up, as that will make things easier, but our expectation is that it stays within our "scenario two" as that way our strategy won't need to change. However, even if the worse happens and the price crashes, this won't affect our ability to deliver Ethereum as planned this winter and we can thank our supporters for that.
CT: It has been revealed that IBM has partnered with Samsung to consult on Adept, a protocol which will be used to overcome various problems associated with the increasingly frequently mentioned ‘Internet of Things.’ What do you think about this development and about Two-Bit Idiot saying that these tech giants are taking note from Ethereum and quietly building their own products on the blockchain?
AB: For me, the IBM news is very exciting. It's a welcome endorsement from industry, showing that they see that we are creating something that will become a key component of the way the internet will work in the future.
If IBM's record on Linux is anything to go by, they see that the triplet of technologies that Gavin presented earlier this year will become fundamental enough to be profitable to consult on. I think it's still overlooked that the Ethereum project is more than just a blockchain: it really is a new way to use the internet. Truly a new version of the Web.
“I think it's still overlooked that the Ethereum project is more than just a blockchain: it really is a new way to use the internet. Truly a new version of the Web.”
- Aeron Buchanan
The Ethereum project is about decentralization of the Web in its entirety: a new blockchain for contracts is only part of this decentralization. Internet communication, currently reliant on centralized DNS servers, for example, needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up, hence the vision of Ethereum + Whisper + Swarm, for the decentralization of agreements, messages and data dissemination respectively.
In this light, IBM's press release feels somewhat like a re-announcement of the Ethereum project. Now, IBM are coming from the world of corporations, a very different arena from where we stand here at Ethereum, and so their "Internet of Things" branding of the vision does, understandably, vary from Ethereum's, so while it would have been nice if they had made more of how much they seem to be taking from the Ethereum project, I can see why they haven't bothered to put much effort into that part of their announcement.
Nevertheless, part of the key to Ethereum's success is adoption, and so Two-bit's commentary is pertinent I think: having high profile uses for Ethereum will help. Having said that, it's not clear whether IBM will just be taking our codebase or deploying on our official blockchain as part of their development process.
CT: You are currently building a development hub in Berlin that will be supported by the Amsterdam hub. How is this process coming along so far and how will this work once finished?
AB: We are actually quite proud to be creating a development hub in Berlin, as it is an important center of development in the blockchain world. Some of the first bricks-and-mortar establishments to accept Bitcoin are here, and the blockchain start-up scene is very strong.
People seem to readily understand the importance of decentralization here, which makes describing, explaining and spreading enthusiasm much easier. Amsterdam is also a major blockchain center, so having a hub there was also a natural choice. Being actively part of blockchain communities, both virtually and physically, really helps with the development of ideas, which feeds into making Ethereum as successful as it can be, both explicitly with solid code for the client software that will run the system, and implicitly through a diverse range of applications making use of the platform.
I've heard some people shout about how building development hubs is an inefficient use of funds, but that misses important insights into the holistic necessities of creating a new system. The Ethereum project is building more than just a codebase on github. It's building a new web, which includes content, applications and enthusiasm for their consumption, and we need the community to build as much of that as they can.
Ultimately, of course, we need programmers: particularly, C++ coders who are up to the challenge of building the foundations of a decentralized Web 3.0, as well as somewhere for them to work and all that goes with making sure that place remains a great and stable environment where they can produce the best code they are capable of. Initially, we underestimated the difficulty of setting up an official operations center and have been very busy creating our hub, but we are well on the way to having a permanent office in Berlin.
Of course, the code remains the priority, so it's a great that we have such a talented, dedicated and adaptive team that we have built up so far. The Amsterdam operation is little more lean, and will be concentrating on developing parts of the codebase in the Go programming language, although there will be considerable overlap between the two hubs.
Applications to join either team are very welcome! We are also setting up a communications team in London, to take advantage of London’s great international connections and the UK’s enlightened stance on Bitcoin. Any technical and mainstream writers enthusiastic about explaining Ethereum to the world should also apply.
“Applications to join either team are very welcome!
“Any technical and mainstream writers enthusiastic about explaining Ethereum to the world should also apply.”
- Aeron Buchanan
CT: Will we be seeing the Ethereum Mainnet go live soon and what can we expect?
AB: As I'm sure you know, the testnet is running right now and can be accessed automatically using our reference clients, which can be downloaded via the website and github, so for those who are keen to start working on their ideas as soon as possible, they can already join the large community developing distributed applications on the prototype Ethereum platform.
We are in the process of refining and finalizing the protocols and APIs so that the community can be sure of what to expect when the mainnet goes live this winter. Transparency is a foundational part of our strategy, and when it comes to providing a development environment for distributed app authors, we want to give them as much as possible as soon as possible so that the Ethereum ecosystem can hit the ground running on launch day.
However, an announcement on when the official blockchain will go live will be made more specific as we become more sure about the progress of development of the system itself.
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