Welcome to the World of Blockchain
By Tyr Chen, VP of Engineering
I mentioned two or three weeks ago in the article that I planned to leave the Bay Area and move to Seattle for a blockchain-related work opportunity. After saying goodbye to my wife and daughter at the end of April, I headed off Redmond, just me and my car, with some company from Ted Radio hour, the Backstreet Boys, and LiJun Deng. I headed north passing through Oregon all the way to Redmond where I stopped at a friend’s house. I have now officially been working at Arcblock for a week, and everything has almost settled down, and it’s time to write something.
A lot of friends who care about me will ask: why Arcblock?
Before I answer this question, there is a more important question… why blockchain?
We should first look at the problem from a macro perspective.
First of all, blockchain is a new technology, and its market is too large to ignore. Let’s look at the most direct application of blockchain: cryptocurrency.
Recently, a hot topic was Berkshire Hathaway’s general meeting of shareholders. People try to shorten the gap between themselves and Buffett through participation, taking pictures and commentary. Although the attitudes of veteran financial institutions on Wall Street are changing dramatically — to the point of falling over themselves trying to break into the cryptocurrency market — Buffett still supported his negative assessment at the shareholder meeting, going as far as to say that cryptocurrency has no value based and is certain to crash. Many of my friends used Buffett’s words to remind me of the risks of the industry, but they overlook the fact that he’s not fond of technology stocks. There is nothing wrong with Buffett’s assessment, because he even confirmed the importance of cryptocurrency. Quoting the “Think Differently” ads, cryptocurrencies are already an extremely important and powerful stock. “You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.”
Last week when I was interviewing engineers and designers, I used the following figures to persuade the interviewer to look at the whole thing from another perspective: the entire cryptocurrency market is now valued at $450B (roughly the same size of the stock markets of Russia, Brazil, Singapore, etc.). Daily trading volume is roughly $20B — $25B; if we compare the world’s second largest economic system, our home country’s A share (Shanghai + Shenzhen) is probably a market of $8,000B with $80B-$100B worth of trades per day. So we really can’t ignored cryptocurrenty and can‘t use words such as “totally worthless” or “Ponzi scheme” to describe it.
Second, although the current market capacity of blockchain as well as the future market potential for the target market is huge, it is still in a very early stage. Just like the Wild West of the Gold Rush era, speculation arises when you have both danger and opportunity.
You, more or less, either know of or have heard of the innovation adoption lifecycle:
The cryptocurrency torch, over the last 10 years of development,has been passed from innovators to early adopters like you and me. Even we think that its lifecycle is already in the second half of the early market because almost everyone around you knows about it or is talking about it, and many people are actually using it. Meanwhile, since almost everyone is talking about cryptocurrency but the overwhelming majority does not actually use it, it is not in the mainstream market yet. This means that there is a huge gap that we need to fill between early adopters and early majority. The general public needs a complete, convenient, and usable product, not just some high-tech technology. For example, elders know that wallets are for holding money. When they need to use it, they just open their wallets. They’ll have a hard time when they want to put bitcoins in their wallets. They’ll have question like what is a private key? Why would you jot down a few strange words in English on a piece of paper the first time? Why do I need to remember this? What is a wallet address? I know about a transfer fee, but what is a miner’s fee?
If problems with a product like this cannot be solved, then this gap is insurmountable. This is a product crisis.
There is also a crisis of trust.ICO is the touchstone of human nature. It puts the participants in Westworld where all restrictions and regulations are eliminated and is a real test without supervisors. Many ICO project sponsors can’t resist the huge amount of hidden wealth that could suddenly come from this, so they “promise but do not try their best to honor it” or even flee from it. This put the whole group in turmoil and caused great harm to early adopters who were full of faith, ultimately triggering a crisis of trust among users. The traditional startup, even if it secures a huge amount of financing, still has a time limit for arrival. There are constraints on the board of directors’ financial expenditures, and the banking system’s monitoring of finances make the risk of the founder “taking money and absconding” very small. In the world of blockchain, it is very dangerous to merely count on the conscience of the founder and the team.
When products cannot be developed to meet the expectation the market loses its confidence in blockchain companies. , This may cause a major crisis across the entire industry like the dotcom crash in 2000.
Of course, what we want to see more is for blockchain companies to focus on products. Continuous innovation and iterative development allow the overall market to develop toward the “early minority.” At the same time, the problem of trust among traders, that is, people, is better resolved in terms of organizational structure in order for the entire industry to develop healthily.
Again, it is worth mentioning that the blockchain is currently the largest “wind gap.” Further, this “wind gap” has continued for over a year and is likely to continue. Over the past ten years, the Internet market has taught us that being on-the-trend leverages extra competitive power . As I mentioned in my previous article, continuous “topicality” is an important unfair advantage. When comparing the development curve of Google and Microsoft over the past ten years, I feel deeply that “attention” is a huge advantage. And Google is doing its best to use this to its advantage. Topics that Google once discussed enthusiastically such as “do no evil,” Gmail’s unlimited storage, Google Doodle, and even Google Glass have already disappeared. This helps Google save a lot of product promotion and brand building costs and achieve a faster development.
In the near future/on the verge of??, Jun Lei, the head of IPO’s XiaoMi, summed it up as a “flying pig theory”: The wind gap/draught is coming, and pigs will fly. Taking it a step further, it has been interpreted as: taking advantage of the situation, the choice is more important than effort; do not use tactical diligence to cover up strategic laziness.
From the standpoint of this industry, the ability of the blockchain-related sphere to create topics even surpasses predecessors such as IoT, ML/AI, personal media, O2O/OMO, the mobile Internet, and Web 2.0. It has always been the center and focus of conversation, which means that with paying only a small price, a product can garner extraordinary and even patient attention. For many projects, such as our Arcblock, there are no signs of them in the external world, but they do have a group of loyal fans. This is an incredible opportunity offered to us.
From a technical standpoint, the blockchain integrates a variety of existing technologies into one unit, and stands on the shoulders of giants to create present-day technologies that are heralded as the peak of perfection, making other areas of the tech industry pale in comparison. The technical “winds” mean patents and papers — while the hills of AI/ML are interspersed with red flags, the hills of blockchain are still bare. For our technical workers, this is a generous gift from Heaven.
I appreciate the further discussion of the flying pig theory from Uncle Lin Zuo(Chinese famous blogger):
The first layer is what kind of “windy gap” constitutes as a “windy gap?” The second layer is that you bet correctly that the “windy gap” is coming. How can you be the fastest to rise when you have already ridden on the coattails of someone else’s success? The third layer is when the wind stops, how are you able to not fall? What are your core services and core barriers?
This was the same focus of the discussion that I had with the founder of Arcblock, Robert Mao, before I joined. Of course we also considered each other’s personality, the degree to which our personalities agreed, cultural awareness, etc. I have known Robert Mao for years. The word “serendipity” was what he said to me, and I condered it confirmation for our predestined friendship. We have the same perspective about of a lot of things, and he recommended that I read Ray Dalio’s “Principles.” He and I have many views in common such as:
- The company to be as transparent as possible
- Care for users. Continue to win the love and trust of users.
- Let everyone participate in and take part in building a healthy,evolving culture.
- Recruit people with potential. Train and empower them.
- Continue learning and improvement.
- Establish and continuously optimize methodology
So what is the outlet that Arcblock has looked into? That would be the $400 billion dollar value blockchain market, a true opportunity for products and tools.
The first area is around the products and applications of holders and creators of digital assets, a.k.a. how to cut the pie. There are the following opportunities:
Cryptocurrency exchange. This is currently a stage for Binance, and will soon welcome the Nasdaq and other traditional exchanges. Perhaps the future DEX (Decentralized Exchange) will become an important and, even, a major force.
Digital investment banking. If the ICO corresponds to IPO, then who will become the Goldman Sachs of the blockchain era? Morgan Stanley?
Digital investment. If you think of token as capital, then who will be the the Fidelity Investments and Bridgewater Associates of the blockchain era? Who will help users manage their digital assets and create suitable cryptocurrency portfolios to preserve and increase their value?
Binance’s daily volume of $10B is comparable to the stock exchanges of small and medium-sized countries, which is enough to illustrate this problem. Just the thought of being able to become the Goldman Sachs or Bridgewater of the blockchain era is enough to make one drool.
The second area is to replace existing solutions with blockchains. There are several opportunities such as:
Decentralized financial technology. The “fintech” (financial technology) field may be the most mature field of application outside of the stock exchange, using Ripple for example
Anti-fraud. There are many opportunities in e-commerce, peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, etc.
Data protection. There are opportunities to produce high-quality users within intellectual property, certificates, identity, supply chain, and user point system, etc.
Smart contracts and distributed applications (Dapps). This is the most vicious, indiscriminate, and concerned area, but aside form Crypto Kitty, there does not currently seem to be much real application in this area. This field needs good thought and adequate infrastructure to be more productive.
Micropayment/point-to-point payment. This is a very important area. With my limited imagination t is still currently hard to see how there is a need to use blockchains to replace micropayments paid by WeChat.
The third area is to create a better, faster, more technologically advanced, and easier to build public chain of applications to replace the “slow-moving” Ethereum. Indeed, the market is huge, but it is also the overcrowded “Red Sea.” Almost 90% of blockchain companies have positioned themselves in a better public chain, and in the end they will all be successful.
The fourth area is to eliminate the concept of a blockchain that is only designed for technical geeks, and make the technology more inclusive, or figure out how to extend the boundaries of the pie. This is the area that Arcblock sees to be important and it has the following opportunities:
To build a blockchain product that can be used by anyone,the first and foremost being the purse application.
Develop products for the company in first and second area and become the Levi Strauss of the gold rushers.
Build products and ecosystems to bridge the real world and the blockchain world. This would allow app developers to simply embed an SDK or APIs using the various capabilities of the blockchain. App developers don’t even need to know the details of blockchain tech. Just like how app developers nearly all use HTTP to carry data on the network, no one needs to read protocol such as RFC2616 and RFC7540. Blockchain tech will eventually need to develop to this point.
The #2 and #3 listed here are Arcblock’s opportunities. Arcblock chose this area completely based on the perspective of the user. Since history has repeatedly proved that if you want a practical technology to enter the mainstream market, a basic requirement is that it is simple and also features an easy-to-understand experience for users. But whay may be simple for the user can be a difficulty for the developer. The barrier for Arcblock will be a deep understanding of the needs of users, our internal capability to provide services, our node’s ability to deploy quickly, the auto-scaling capabilities of our blocklet, and the innovation and learning skills that we have built on our quest for the right direction and path.
Thus, our vision is to focus on customer/user demand for blockchain technology and become the AWS（Amazon Web Service） of the blockchain world.
Our mission is: By providing a variety of tools, blockchain technology can be easily used by any company, developer, or individual.
In the employee handbook we are compiling, our values can be interpreted in this way:
Our values consist of a set of principles:
- Whether a worker on the front-lines or a department manager, we are all leaders at Arcblock and have the responsibility to continuously strive for excellence.
- Keep it simple. Simple inter-personal relations, simple organizational structure, simple workflow.
- Our work principles are collectively edited and confirmed as a team. If it is found that existing principles are missing or are unsuitable, concerned parties are responsible for submitting PR, and adding or updating the principles.
I joined Arcblock as a VP of Engineering. In my first week at Arcblock, I did a few things…:
Culture: Discussed with Robert Mao and together we wrote the company’s vision, mission, values, and principles of working together. We launched a rough internal website (handbook.arcblock.io). Each company employee can view and participate in the development and establishing of company culture (just send a pull request, and after merging go online and produce a pdf). When the internal site is mature enough, it is very possible that we will open it to the public.
Recruitment: Interview a large number of candidates.
Education: In setting-up our internal bootcamp, we launched a training site (bootcamp.arcblock.io). In the past week we have held five internal sharing sessions to get everyone on the team on the same page as much as possible. Reinvent the development process: Combineed the processes I learned at Tubi with the current Arcblock process to create a more pull request-driven/review-driven/automized-driven workflow.
OCAP: Discussed and designed Open Chain Access Protocol, and OCAP-service technology selection and design.
Reconstructed Arcblock’s infrastructure. We began to embrace the Infrastructure As Code (IAS) — technically speaking, this was the most important project that I worked on in my last few months at Tubi. We at Arcblock currently do not have the manpower that Tubi has, so we can only smartly use the power of the community and utilize open-source to help us build a better IAS.
Participated in discussions about Arcblock’s other products.
Next, I will continually work on the listed tasks, deal with vendors of various SAAS services, and improve the company’s capabilities to develop a complete system. Also, I will train our engineer to solve end-to-end problems:
Yes, we are eagerly recruiting people. We have the following teams that are actively recruiting (currently all that have been reported to me):
Design team: Designing Arcblock from VI, design language, and all the way to UI/UX for specific products. Currently recruiting 1 Sr. UX designer, and 1 Jr. UX designer.
- Requirements: Possesses good understanding of the product; individual design style is compatible with the client engineer; has strong hand-painting ability.
Infra & service team: Responsible for IAS, OCAP, API/msg gateway, blocklet framework, backend of Arcblock services/management console, billing system and marketplace. Currently hiring 3 Sr. Software Engineers and 3 Jr. Software Engineers.
- Requirements: Capable of at least two programming languages; love for software development; willingness to provide end-to-end solutions (from requirements analysis, to discussing design, to the development/UT, to deploy the script, to going online, to monitor, to solve the entire loop of problems that the user may experience); Functional programming/Erlang/Elixir experience preferred.
Client team: Responsible for the development of web site, management console, billing system, marketplace, iOS/ android app, and internal system. Currently hiring 3 Sr. web frontend engineers, 2 Jr. web frontend engineers, 1 Sr. iOS engineer, and 1 Sr. Android engineer.
Requirements (web): Familiarity with webpack and front-end infrastructure tool chain; good development capability and no bias against react/vue/angular; willingness to use any framework and independently develop a complete SPA. Electron development experience is preferred.
Requirements (mobile): Familiarity with the relevant platform HCI and various mainstream open-source frameworks; ability to independently develop a beautiful app; Swift/Kotlin experience preferred.
Data team: Responsible for working with me to build Arcblock’s analytics data pipeline and ETL; ability to handle core company KPI metrics, and A/B testing; ability to create a data-driven decision-making culture within the team. Currently hiring 2 Sr. Data Engineers.
- Requirements: Experience using Python/Scala to analyze and process data; ability to build data pipelines using open-source projects or third-party services; ability to write basic machine learning models. Experience with tools such as Airflow/Redshift/Athena is preferred.
All “Junior” positions above welcome graduates and interns who are able to intern for a longer period of time and desire to stay after their internship. Domestically, we also recruit experienced leaders, who can be any of the above roles.
All positions require:
Cares for users; passion for product development; willing to listen to the user; able to continuously optimize the user experience
Has a good aesthetic judgement; have a strong desire to properly fix things that are not aesthetically pleasing; have an innate desire for cleanliness (Does not tolerate casual coding, ambiguous variable names, unreasonable spacing or font size, etc.)
Pays attention to basic skills and details
A quick learner and a hunger for new technologies
Easy to communicate with and willing to share knowledge
Willing to think deeply about and solve problems
Willing to grow, able to accept the development of various projects within the scope of interest
Since we already completed our fundraising (37,500 ETH) in February of this year, our capital reserve is complete. Most of these funds will be invested in building our products and services, that is R&D. We will provide competitive packages and benefits. At the same time, being a part of the initial team, your vision, connections, and network will have the opportunity to greatly expand. We are creating our own new bootcamp similar to Facebook’s new employee bootcamp, which will allow you to fully expand your knowledge base (including blockchain/backend/devOps/client/design/ arch, etc.). At the same time, weekly BBL will help your knoweldge of the industry keep pace with your colleagues and the pace of today’s world. In addition to a variety of internal learning opportunities, we also provide opportunities for various conferences, trainings, and classes to help you grow quickly in your career at Arcblock. We are creating our unique employee handbook similar to Ray Dalio at Bridgewater so that you have the opportunity to participate in the revision process of editing the original version.
For the United States and China teams, business trips are absolutely necessary. The future is not limited just to China and the United States, as the blockchain industry naturally has various globalized elements.
We don’t require “996,” or 9AM to 9PM, 6 days a week. Most of the time, you only need come at 9AM and leave at 6PM. We believe that you need time to study, travel, enjoy life, and spend time with family. We hope that work can be done during the day so that you don’t have to come home late and face an unhappy spouse. Believe me, this is a very bad experience for young couples. But when you work, we need you to invest yourself in it. Just like the great UCLA coach, John Wooden, told his boys, “make each day your masterpiece.”
Finally, all positions except for the design team are available in both the United States and China. In the United States, the office location is the City Center Bellevue. Remote work is not an option… as you can see, I have moved from the San Fancisco Bay Area. In China, the work place will be located at the true center of the universe, Beijing Wangjing (Wangjing SOHO, Alpha Commune, or other). We apologize to our friends in Shanhai, as we have decided, after much consideration, that Beijing is more suitable for acquiring talent than other cities. Meanwhile, we do not consider remote at the moment.
If you are interested in joining us at Arcblock in either Seattle or Beijing, please send your resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put your name, the position you are applying to, and what program life you are coming from in the Subject line. (Ex: Subject: Meimei Han — Sr. Web Frontend Engineer — program life). We will give first come, first serve priority in processing.
Success is peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable. Regarding success, others cannot judge you; it’s like character and reputation: your reputation is what you’re perceived to be; your character is what you really are. And what you really are is much more important than what you’re perceived to be.
- John Wooden, Head Coach, UCLA, Ted Talk “The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding”