Block.one, the Hong Kong-based blockchain startup that made global headlines in June after reportedly raising more than $4 billion via a token sale is, within months of going live, now running “the most-used and the most performant blockchain.”
This is because, according to Block.one’s Head of Developer Relations Serg Metelin, the company’s EOS protocol has quickly become “the first blockchain that solved the scalability challenge.”
“For a long time this was the biggest challenge. Blockchains were not scalable,” Metelin told Asia Times. This was, says Metelin, until Block.one co-founder and software code developer Dan Larimer “built a few applications where blockchains were very chiseled for a particular idea … He realized that there are many developers around the world who want to build real applications, not just proof-of-concept which doesn’t scale. Real applications need a platform and EOSIO is the platform.
“The majority of the other [industry] players are still trying to figure out this scalability aspect,” added Metelin, “but we’re now moving on to the next big challenges, which are the adoption blockchain and usability.”
The other Block.one founder is fellow American Brendan Blumer. Forbes reported that Blumer started his first business when he was 14 and relocated to Hong Kong from the United States to work as a software developer when he was still teenager. Blumer then created a successful web-based property agency in Hong Kong. Then Blumer and Larimer, still in their early 30s, went out and raised $4 billion.
Block.one’s EOS blockchain protocol has only been live for three months but already is attracting something of an enigmatic aura. And this is partly down to all the money, of course, but also because of the story behind it.
While not exactly publicity hungry, Block.one has also not been shy of setting out big and bold visions. Its year-long fund raising process, according to the Financial Times, raised an eye-popping $4.15 billion, which would make it the largest ICO (initial coin offering) yet.
The company, with typical boldness, then pledged to put at least one billion of this amount into its venture capital arm that will be allocated to help tech entrepreneurs build projects – on the EOS platform of course – that will in turn help develop and grow this nascent industry.
Metelin talked to Asia Times on the fringe of the blockchain.live event in London at the end of September and the effects of this VC investment are all around him. Block.one are the main sponsors of the industry event, that attracts investors, politicians, developers, startups and entrepreneurs from across the world and the Block.one “village” – that occupied the largest portion of the cavernous London Olympia exhibition hall – was a showcase for projects already using the EOS platform.
One such project, Emanate from the USA, is a “self-governing music ecosystem” that pays song composers in real time as their tunes are downloaded. Another, Eva from Canada, is “a cooperative ride-sharing application” a bit like Uber but based on blockchain. A third, IDPass from Thailand, is an “identity creation service” for underdeveloped countries where verified IDs can be issued based on a retina scan.
The IDPass project was the winner of the first “EOS Global Hackathon Series,” held in Hong Kong in July and as such received US$100,000 from Block.one’s VC arm. These global “hackathons,” that challenge developers from around the world to write software applications for the EOS platform that have the “potential for massive user adoption,” have been in held in Hong Kong, Sydney and now, just ahead of the blockchain.live event, in London as well.
Serg Metelin says the London hackathon event had “468 people involved from 44 countries working on 90 different projects.” It was, added Metelin, “a get-together for the developer community … We’ve realized that it’s important to bring people together from around the world who have ideas but need some kind of push forward, an educational component to get started.
“So there’s an element of that with out hackathons where we’re teaching people how to code for blockchain, we also provide tips from an investment projects to help if they want to take their project further. There is also the prospect of monetary prizes, a $100,000 top prize at each event and $500,000 as the grand prize at the grand finale event in December.”
Entrants to each hackathon are set a different challenge and in London this was security and privacy. The winner, says Metelin, was called EOShield and “it’s a young duo from the UK with some very progressive ideas about data technology. It’s a very community-driven project.”
Metelin reckons there are are already “a couple of hundred projects” in development but he says, with emphasis, that “we need to remember it’s very early into the journey. There are plenty of new challenges ahead of us.”
Most pressing of these, concluded Metelin, was increasing “the awareness among developers. We believe that the more applications that are out there, the more the overall network will benefit. We’re employing a lot of talent from both the tech world and from large enterprise organizations to scale things up and bring this to the next level.”
After only three months of operation it will be interesting to watch how far and high this “level” will go.