Joining the Ethereum Foundation

While I’ve been writing lots of articles over at thoughtram and MachineLabs within the last years, I guess few people know I’ve had this private blog for almost a decade now. I admit, I didn’t really gave it much attention lately which is why the last blog post (on Rust!) dates back to 2014 already.

Today is the day that I decided to break with the silence and bring in some fresh air here!

Looking back

I’ve been writing software for more than 20 years in various languages and environments but looking back it stands out to me that I’ve spend the majority of my professional career doing web development. In fact, I’ve been running a business with my friend Pascal for about 4 years, that took us on a journey around the world to teach Angular to a large number of people. It’s been a fun ride and I wouldn’t want to miss a single day.

That said, over the years I’ve become more and more tired with this field. I felt like, I’ve been moving in circles for far too long. I’ve been following the development of Angular since 2010, been preaching about RxJS (even in this very blog) since 2011 and yet I was still talking about the exact same things again and again to make a living.

On to something new

I’ve found myself striving for something new, something that would grab my attention and sparkle new excitement. In 2016 I got more and more excited about Machine Learning, started blogging about Keras and eventually co-founded a new company MachineLabs, Inc to help fostering the growing Machine Learning community. Last year, in 2017 I also began to read more and more about decentralization and cryptocurrencies and got really fascinated by the Ethereum network.

Let me cite from the beige paper for a short description on what Ethereum is.

The Ethereum Protocol is a deterministic but practically unbounded state-machine with two basic functions; the first being a globally accessible singleton state, and the second being a virtual machine that applies changes to that state.

To me, Ethereum is one of the most exciting and important ongoing research projects that has huge potential to reshape our world for a better future.

Joining the Ethereum Foundation

Today I’m excited to announce that I’ve officially joined the Python development team at the Ethereum Foundation as a Senior Software Engineer. The Ethereum Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps building up the Ethereum ecosystem.

The Ethereum development isn’t driven by a single team or even a single project. Instead, the development is much closer to the way web standards evolve. Multiple teams and projects implement software according to a defined specification. There is a constantly growing number of projects developing software in all kinds of different languages that are building on top of this spec.

I’ve started to look around in the space and it’s been a couple of months ago that I found out about py-evm a fresh reimplementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). It caught my attention for several reasons:

  • It’s written in Python, a language that I became to enjoy through my Machine Learning work
  • It’s aimed to support Ethereum research at the forefront
  • It has a super nice and welcoming team working on it

I started contributing for fun, but when I was offered the opportunity to join the Python team at the Ethereum Foundation, I didn’t have to think very long about it.

I’m ridiculously happy to get the chance to join a very talented team in such an exciting, open source, research project. At the same time, I’m starting to get a bit of an imposter syndrom because everyone just seems to be way smarter and more experienced than me. I still have long way to catch up with them!

What to expect from me?

I’ll be working along the rest of the team to close the remaining issues that keep us from shipping a first working node that can participate in a network.

Besides helping with the core development as well as improving the testing utilities, a main focus of my work will be on improving the documentation.

Great documentation leads to greater adoption and more external contributions and in general plays a very crucial role in the success of open source projects.

The fact that I am new to the blockchain field myself can be an advantage here, since I can very well relate to the questions that people are looking to get answers for from the documentation

What about thoughtram and MachineLabs?

If you’ve been following my work you may be left wondering about what happens to thoughtram and MachineLabs.

Although I will continue to be involved in the overall management of thoughtram, I will no longer have much to do with the day-to-day business. That said, we have a great team of trainers who still live and breath Angular and deliver excellent workshops. In fact, Pascal and Dominic just recently added tons of new courseware and we have many more courseware updates planed for the future.

Lots of the day-to-day tasks that one needs to take care of when running a business were already taken over by Elvira, Executive Assistant for both thoughtram and MachineLabs who will continue to work closely with Pascal to steer the business.

To conclude, I am confident that thoughtram has a very bright future and I am grateful to have a strong team behind me supporting my career shift.

MachineLabs on the other hand is a different beast since Machine Learning continues to be a major field of my personal interest next to Ethereum. I’m not gonna lie, obviously, in the future I’ll have less time that I’ll be able to dedicate to the project. That said, I will continue my work on MachineLabs as well as everyone else. Also we have just recently open-sourced the entire code base and are planning to shift to a decentralized governance model.

In that sense, MachineLabs aligns very well with my vision for an Ethereum-powered decentralized future. In fact, we’ll be on the forefront of the movement building an opensource service that will be owned and governed by the community that runs it. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Wrapping up

I couldn’t be more excited about the future. We are heading interesting times both technologically as well as a society. I’m a big believe in the decentralization movement and I believe this movement will keep us busy for the next 20 years or much longer. I’m excited to contribute to it and I encourage everyone to join the movement!