An In-Depth Interview With Stephan Tual Former CCO of Ethereum and founder of Slock.it & The DAO

12/05/2016 11:37 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Stephan is the Founder and COO of slock.it, a project at the intersection of the IoT and blockchain that aims to address security, identity, coordination and privacy over billions of devices.

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Q: What's the current status of cleaning up the whole DAO situation?

A: We dedicated all our resources to help out with the clean up effort until very recently. Obviously WHG did some amazing work, and so did the rest of the Ethereum Community. In the end everyone who took part in that experiment was made whole, thankfully.

Q: What were your main lessons you learned from the DAO and if you could go back, what would you change? Thanks Stephan

A: I can't go back, but I'm really proud of the work we accomplished on the DAO. It was always an open source project with the best minds in the field as curators. It raised massive awareness around the platform, became the #1 crowdfunded in the world, demonstrating unequivocally the need for a decentralized structure of this nature. That need is still here today, and I'm sure it will be addressed one way or another -- stay assured many have noticed.

As for us, well, I remember telling a journalist this was indeed all open source, and something we were supporting because we believed in the concept, and yes, there was a chance a big enough DAO wouldn't even be spawned, or if it was spawned, that it might not even support the Universal Sharing Network and the Ethereum Computer as projects. But that's the whole point of decentralization!

Q: Thanks Stephan,, which industries do you believe will be helped the most with a DAO like platform?

A: Supply Chain, Logistics, M2M. Everything that's shared could benefit from becoming part of a genuinely public infrastructure we all control as part of the "World's computer". Vitalik briefly touched on it a year ago at the London meetup

Q: If you are using ethereum to unlock a smartlock with Slock.it, will it take 12-30 seconds to unlock, or will it open right away?

A: It opens right away because only the 'renting' part of the transaction is done on chain. Opening and closing is done via BLE or similar and just queries the local copy of the chain to check if the user being identified is indeed authorized to open/close the lock. We're still looking at eventually using Whisper for this.

Q: Are you worried about ransom-ware slocks, where people put locks on real world objects and only release the lock when the ransom is paid?

A: Not worried, no. You'd need physical access to the object, and this erm, 'business model' wouldn't scale very well. For example, if you went around slapping slocks on random bikes, the legitimate owner would have all the time in the world to dismantle it (and contact the authorities). Pretty tough to make a living out of that. (Thankfully!)

Q: What fundraising has Slock.it done in the past? Was it self funded, angel money or? What is the primary advantage of raising funds from DAO vs Traditional Angel, VC routes?

A: Slock.it was and still is entirely self-funded. It's a profitable startup now, although we are currently well into the process of seeking private capital in order to scale more efficiently. Your second question, "what is the primary advantage of raising funds from a DAO", is interesting. If a DAO is spawned and sponsors projects, the said projects would IMHO benefit from a much faster due diligence period as it would be executed by experts in the field that are naturally drawn towards new technologies. I think you'd also find the people sponsoring projects much more likely to get involved with 'helping out' the sponsoree than in traditional crowdfunding models, as they would benefit directly from the success of the various proposal they backed.

Q: How do the recent hacks on ethereum and the dao influence your company and have you taken any special precautions or measures against something similar happening to slock.it ?

A: So it's important to understand there was never a hack on Ethereum. There's been a few DDoS recently, though, something that will be mitigated by having a healthy client implementation distribution.

A: As for the hack on the DAO, it highlighted we're dealing with a very young platform (given that everyone in the industry had had a look through the code, and didn't spot the fateful issue). I look forward to formal verification, something I know Yoshi @Foundation is looking into. In the meantime, I think we're finding developers are keeping their smart contracts really simple in nature and sometimes foregoing decentralisation as a whole. That's a bit of a shame, because the whole point of young platform is experimentation! So go out, be brave and develop on Ethereum

Q: How are you dealing with repeated forks in Ethereum, including the newest one announced yesterday?

A: Good question! Ethereum forks do not affect application developers like ourselves -- ultimately we decide where we deploy our smart contract and that's where the network effects are.

Q: What is the current state of Slock.it? Can you mention any important milestones?

A: Keeping busy We just announced the live beta of Share & Charge (https://shareandcharge.com/) and are booked until January running workshops of various kinds for corporate clients looking to pre-empt dis-intermediation. We're also looking at private capital in order to scale more effectively.

Thanks Stephan really appreciate your time!