AMA Recap: End of the Year with Max Kordek
On Tuesday, December 8th, Max Kordek, CEO and Co-founder at Lisk, hosted a live End of the Year AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Lisk.chat. He answered questions regarding the involvement in the new DPoS consensus algorithm, our marketing plans for 2021, the hardware wallet support, and much more.
In this blog post, we recap the full live AMA session and feature the questions asked by community members, as well as Max’s answers.
Max opens the AMA:
Hey everyone, I'm now available for your questions. Depending on the amount of questions please give me some time to answer them one-by-one. Looking forward. Thanks!
carbonara: Hi @MaxKordek, thanks for your time. Maybe I can start with the first question. The recent change in mentality from Lightcurve deciding to influence the DPoS was pretty shocking in my opinion. In particular in this period, where the DPoS was imposed to the network. This sounds like Lightcurve imposed a change in order to get themselves into the DPoS. Lisk HQ already controls the development of the Lisk protocol, now it also influences the on-chain governance with their +16M LSK (Lightcurve + founders). Isn't this getting too far in terms of centralization? Why not staying neutral as it has always been? This in my opinion destroys the credibility and integrity of the project.
Max: The Lisk DPoS consensus algorithm from 2016 received harsh criticism from the majority of the community. The main reason for it was the creation of cartels. Therefore, we have put a lot of effort into bringing a more fair and decentralized Lisk DPoS consensus algorithm to our ecosystem. The research team worked hard on it and it was revealed in several LIPs. During the entire process, we never thought about running our own delegate or voting for other delegates. We focused 100% on building a great new consensus algorithm for our community and for developers using the Lisk SDK. A question during Lisk Updates was if we intend to get involved with the new consensus algorithm. Having seen the bad experiences with the cartels and individual delegates, we would like to get involved. How that might look like has not been discussed at all yet, therefore it wasn't possible to give more indicators. I can only tell you that it will be done in a fair way. Some things to consider are that with some of our wallets, e.g. bounty or advisor wallet, we are not allowed to vote as they serve a very specific purpose. Additionally, the other wallets can only not be 100% locked through the voting mechanism. Your fear of controlling the on-chain governance is unreasonable. The Lisk Foundation has around 4.4M LSK which can be used for voting while the entire network has over 142M LSK. What Oliver or I do with our personal LSK is out of this question. They are not part of the Lisk Foundation and we are free to do what we want with them. I think it's obvious we are not locking them all into delegates and running 10 delegates ourselves. We didn't discuss this as well ourselves yet. However, I personally might vote for a few promising blockchain applications to get them into the top 101 or for a few partners to get listed onto their staking services. Running a single delegate is maybe also an option to support multiple projects with the returns. It's all up in the air yet. However, we want to make sure the forged LSK serve better purposes than they have previously. We only have the best for Lisk and the ecosystem in our interest.
Stellardynamic: Good Morning Max! Myself and @ultrafresh have composed a few questions, I'll present one set at a time.
- To what extent will the Foundation participate in the new DPoS system. Will it vote for other delegates or will it manage its own forging delegate accounts, and if so how many?
- This is a personal question, but do Max and Oliver plan to personally operate any forging delegates?
Max:To answer your first question - I gave an answer above already. We simply haven't discussed this part yet. However, we want to use our LSK for a good purpose rather than just letting them sit around. Part of that is an improved Lisk Builders program and another part is to participate in the Lisk DPoS consensus algorithm. This could entail voting for delegates who are building blockchain applications or to run our own delegate to either establish the first revenue stream for the Lisk Foundation (something we have to get going, rather sooner than later) or to be able to support more than one project with the additional LSK income. Nothing is decided yet, but I want to make the consensus algorithm a tool to grow our community. Not a tool to split our community, how it has happened with the cartels in the past. To answer your second question, Oliver and I currently do not operate any forging delegate. We don't even vote with our official LSK wallets. I personally acquired more LSK in the course of 2019 and 2020 and also actively vote with this wallet. I don't want to reveal more about this wallet.
Ionut S. | Chainode Tech: Hi Max! I’ll jump in with the second question related to @carbonara’s question. How do you plan to jump into DPoS? Is it in a way to support stake decentralization and stake foundation’s and your tokens with validators that have good metrics? Also in order to maybe support small but dedicated validators that don’t have enough stake to get elected?
Max:Again, this was not discussed and nothing was concluded. However, we would like to support delegates with a good purpose. A delegate who only shares LSK is not a good purpose for me unless this comes with significant leverage (e.g. a big staking service provider begins to support LSK). A delegate who is actually a company building a blockchain application with the Lisk SDK on the other hand is a very good purpose. I think the human aspect of DPoS means that we should not only focus on metrics, i.e. which delegate has the highest uptime. However, we should also focus on the person/company behind and what their intention is. However, good metrics should be a standard. Uplifting some hard-working smaller validators is definitely a noble cause and I personally would be interested in doing so. We actually don't have that many LSK to vote with and we also can't lock them all away as this serves another risk.
Reo: Hi Max, Reo here from leasehold. We would also like to present a question to Lisk hq and our question is, how is Lisk hq planning to help projects more in terms of support or guidance. Since Lisk’s main feature was always interoperability, and a lot of projects have come up recently. This includes some that have made substantial investment on their products basing them on the Lisk chain and following the project, these projects I believe should be getting more support in which currently they do not. Just would like to know if it’s worth all of us sticking around or should we rather leave and build on chains that offer more.
Max: We have just paused the Lisk Builders program which purpose was to build proof of concept blockchain applications. We have not seen interest from existing blockchain application projects but rather from active community members who would like to play around with the Lisk SDK. In 2021 we plan to start a new developer program that will focus on production blockchain applications in order to work towards having some ready for the Blockchain Interoperability launch on Mainnet. That will be a big effort next year and funds will definitely be allocated for that. In regards to third party blockchain SDK and interoperability providers, it all depends if you see more benefit in them or in us. I think Lisk will have an extraordinary simple developer experience, comparing it to other players on the market. Overall, I think our SDK will attract quite a few developers and will be top of the shelf. We just needed to give it some love which it received with the Lisk SDK 5.0. I personally would stick around, else you are selling at the bottom. Not talking about LSK but about the value in our community. With the release of Lisk SDK 5.0 and the Lisk Core 3.0 mainnet deployment, I think the future looks very good for us. The only thing we now need to do is to build some momentum and hype, get some great announcements out there, and grow our community. Something we were not doing for the past 2 years in order to get the products ready. I think it's very possible to build hype a second time, but not a third time. Therefore, I've waited. 2021 we will start again.
Reo: Thanks for the in depth answer, looking forward to 2021.
Ionut S. | Chainode Tech: And another one: do you plan to organize an incentivized testnet for the new Lisk mainnet? I think it is a very, very good chance for Lisk to attract new technical people but also regular users by having a plan for the incentivized testnet for each of these groups. Ref. projects for this: cosmos based projects, solana, some from polkadot. If you ever need clear names for the ref. projects, just pm me.
Max: We have not discussed having an incentivized testnet. However, I'll look into it. Would be great if you can send me all the information related to it. I think it would make sense during the RC stage of the Lisk SDK, i.e. after the beta stage when interoperability is implemented but not on Mainnet yet. We need an exhaustive and extended testing time for that and an incentivized testnet would probably serve a great purpose here.
carbonara: Another question from my side. Now that intentions on DPoS are more clear, changing a bit the topic: How is it possible to think of removing the Hardware support for Lisk V5? This is a huge backwards step. People hold their LSK on hardware wallets because it is the industry standard. Besides locking out many people from their owned tokens, are we making steps backwards in terms of development? Ok to cutting corners, but you can't cut all corners. Isn't it also against the blockchain morale?
Max: I don't like how you are phrasing your sentence. We never thought to remove hardware wallet support for Lisk Desktop 3.0.0 (what you refer to as Lisk V5). I don't even know where you got this from. We merely said that it won't be there for the Mainnet launch and will be implemented as soon as possible into Lisk Desktop afterward. Ali has now sat during the weekend to take a look at the current hardware wallet support. Besides popular opinion, it wasn't just a simple merge of a PR. There were many problems. He fixed most of them and is still working on it during the week and maybe next weekend. We plan to release a fix with Lisk Desktop 1.27.2. I have no idea if one of the many problems he fixed is the big problem the community raised in the past. However, to my knowledge, he worked together with Hirish so it should be all fine. Fingers crossed.
carbonara: But do you understand that you are locking users out from their own funds even if for a shorter period? What would you do if your bank account gets frozen for an unknown time?
Max: I do understand that people would be for a short time, temporarily locked away from their funds. However:
- That's the counter-party risk of using a third party wallet. These hardware wallets did already change which we had to react to. So it's not unlikely that in the future these short-term lock-outs will happen again. We are not always at fault for that.
- There is an alternative wallet which plans to support Lisk Core 3.0 at launch. (Thanks to Hirish for that!)
- Users who really need their LSK could just move away their LSK from the hardware wallet before the Lisk Core 3.0.0 launch and move it onto it again sometime after. I know this might pose a security risk for some, however, with the right precautions this would be 100% safe.
Again, all these three points are not perfect. Some of my suggestions might even make you angry. But that's all we can do for now. If we see the current work of Ali will be successful and full hardware wallet support on Lisk Core 2.x will be restored soon, we might change strategies. This is not decided at this moment and I will not make that call today. We just have to see how we are going.
forgie19: What is the strategy for growing the community? Right now it seems around 30+ people are really engaged and active in the discussions on Discord. What do you expect to be the size of the community at the end of next year? What are activities next to Lisk.js to attract more active users, especially developers, to the Lisk community?
Max: We didn't have any growth strategies for the last 2 years in order to focus on product development. I fully believe it would have been a lost cause and people would disappear again and would never come back. Now we have a good chance to pull people back into an ecosystem with the required technology to back it up. E.g. the Lisk SDK with a proper architecture or more clarity on interoperability. I definitely think we should multiply our community of engaged participants on Lisk.chat by many. Our goals are to build excitement and hype again. That will be done through the way what, how, and when we announce things. Before we just published everything without promoting/announcing it before. That will change, among other things. Another topic is to get involved with third party communities to pull these people into our channels. By leveraging existing developer and blockchain communities around the world and showing them how amazing Lisk is, I think it's very possible to attract some of them into Lisk.chat and get them to start building with the Lisk SDK. These are only a few information about the process and one specific strategy without too many details. However, I am fully aware of the problem and I completely agree that now is the time for growth hacking. This is a major focus for the new year with the marketing department.
carbonara: Not to be the negative one, but similar words were said also last year, anyway I hope this time will be different.
Max: Yes, I can always only say what I fully believe at that point of time. Sometimes I'm wrong. At one point it has to be different. We are all working hard to make a difference.
someonesomeone: @MaxKordek what happened to Madana? Are they still working on Lisk or have they moved away? I saw that they are on eth and neo.
Max: I put a lot of money into them and I don't see enough for it. The only thing I do know is that they are alive and working hard on achieving something. For that, they are taking every angle they can. Their blockchain component is relatively small in their entire suite of applications/services. So it seems like they intend to make that part blockchain agnostic. Personally, I hope they will bring it to Lisk at one point. That is and was their intention all along, it's just a hard fight to survive as they didn't raise too much money. Let's give them all the support they can get and maybe try to convince them to become more active within the Lisk community again.
Captain_Slow: Is Lisk at all considering to hire a well seasoned marketing lead/growth lead with years of experience?
Max: No. I think our team is amazing and performing very well. It's all about the timing and when we want to deploy a specific strategy. Additionally, a well-seasoned marketing lead with years of experience would have to re-invent themselves to survive in the blockchain industry. The experience will be helpful but is not the deciding factor. That's my take on it and I'll persist on this path. We didn't have good experiences with people believing they are the big know-it-alls.
lzwq: How could you ghost John? Feel free not to respond as it isn't essential, but it feels disrespectful to ghost an individual who single-handedly carried moderation on some community channels.
Max:I simply just forgot. So many people message me every day and we prepared something, but then it got lost during the stressful period. It was right at the time of our lay-off last year. A time in which I felt awful. I honestly didn't think about it anymore until I read it a few days ago. There was one additional message later, but I didn't read the previous messages at this point. Just checked it. I'm sorry if I disrespected @John_Muck and hope I can make it good again somehow. It was not on purpose. Please accept my apology.
- To really shed some light on a very common but unsubstantiated rumor: Is it true that there is concern that the LSK token may be seen as a security by the SEC in the USA and this is a reason why LSK not being listed on many US exchanges.
- Are there any known reasons, such as the coming fork or rules on finality, that is keeping Lisk from being listed on Exchanges?
- Is there an active plan or efforts being made to have LSK be tradable on more exchanges or have more direct fiat to LSK access?
- The LSK token doesn't have a classification in the USA. We don't have a legal opinion drafted yet. I don't know if you count Kraken as an European or American exchange. With other US exchanges we have talked in the past, but we will require this legal opinion. In my opinion we are very similar to ATOM. We have never heard anything which makes us believe that the SEC classified the LSK token as a security. This has no basis whatsoever.
- Which exchanges are still missing? What real value does it add to get added on even more exchanges? Don't we have to create some value first and demand for the LSK token? I personally wait for the Lisk Core 3.0.0 Mainnet deployment to even think about further exchange listings again. Else, they just have two times the workload and won't be very happy and I think this is a topic which can wait for a few more months, because we are on big exchanges already.
- Not right now. It would be great if you could provide us with a list of exchanges which you think are very relevant but still missing. I only see maybe Coinbase and Binance.US. So this would be greatly appreciated. I see you are talking mainly about the US markets. As far as I remember we are on Kraken and Bittrex. Is that not the case anymore?
someonesomeone: Will you be using any of your btc reserves to buy back Lisk tokens from the market?
Max: Nothing of this sorts was discussed yet. We have quite a few LSK already. We could only acquire more LSK with our funds if there would be a specific and very valid reason for it. There is also a new regulation coming up called MiCAR which might impact this slightly.
Stellardynamic: FYI the LiskUSA testnet bounty that has been achieved by and rewarded to over 40 community members is simple and works like this: 3 months > 99% productivity will allow you to claim 50LSK. The model could be modernized but this is the basic gist.
Max: The US is unfortunately a difficult market. Message me if you think we should pursue the market more.
przemer: @MaxKordek in November in a Reddit comment you said: “This Friday we will get a first glimpse into our interoperability direction with the real deal being revealed next year”. What did you have in mind saying "real deal"? Interoperability as a whole or a specific feature?
Max: I needed to dampen the expectations as you guys were hyping it up again. What I had in mind here were all LIPs to be revealed at Lisk.js 2021. Let's see how far we come with development afterwards.
jong: What is HQ's view of projects like the Lisk DEX community project? Do you feel that community-built DEXs and other similar solutions have a place alongside the main Lisk strategy? How does HQ feel about more community involvement in some of the deeper technical areas of Lisk (not just DAPPs)?
Max: Every project building on Lisk is worth to us and we love to see it. With your DEX we obviously had some internal controversies and big arguments as you are well familiar with. Nonetheless, I think also community-built DEXs and other similar solutions have a place. Not sure how many DEXs there are on Ethereum but I think they all have a purpose. I don't feel good about community involvement in deeper Lisk Core related or Lisk protocol related topics besides as part of the bug bounty program. This would slow us down and we are already not the fastest. That's why we now fully modularized our code base. I feel great about community involvement of blockchain apps, custom modules and plugins, meaning literally everything and anything can be contributed. Something we will keep in mind when we launch a new developer program.
carbonara: I have two more questions, but they are more general.
- Max, how do you spend your days at Lightcurve while your team is developing? What are your main priorities/tasks?
- The other day @John_Muck brought a really good example:
- Last weekly Youtube video from Charles Hoskinson 12k+ views, which cost 0$.
- Lisk video, 1-year-old video. 2k views, cost: $$$.
How do you see this?
- This year the main priority was to bring the team and company back on track after the lay-off. Super happy to see that we are now more efficient and have more output than ever before, after just one(!) year, while still delivering constant communication and achieving roadmap objectives. For that, Oliver and I went back into the teams. Became heads of development and marketing. To restore efficiency, deliverance and restore morale/culture. That means until now I was focusing on the marketing team and performing cross department tasks. It involves many meetings:
- Lightcurve and Lisk Foundation management meetings
- Foundation board meetings
- Weekly head meetings
- Weekly marketing meetings
On top of that, there is a lot of foundation stuff to work on, as there are always new regulations popping up we need to take care of. We further need to do yearly audits on an operational level, on the same level as banks do them. As well as prepare big yearly reports for the ESA with all our achievements etc. Overall it's a lot of work! Next to that I'm constantly refining the strategy, reviewing work by the team, keeping the budgets in check, tweeting from time to time (e.g. all the technical tweets are from me as our Tech Evangelist left us again after 1 month). As well as keeping myself informed what we are doing as it's quite a bit and I need to stay informed about it all. Right now we are creating the marketing strategy for 2021 and the corresponding budget. Just recently I have made Monica our Marketing Lead as she consistently performed extraordinarily. This will give me in the next year more time to focus on other areas. This might go a bit into your next point. I plan to become more active on social media channels. I see this as very important but never had the time to deal with it. Additionally, I will try to actively work on our strategy in a more agile way so that we don't do it just once a year. In regards to the social media channels I would like to host live AMA's with the community, have more videos of myself online (same as Charles is doing), be more engaged here, on Lisk.chat, interact more on Twitter and so on. Ultimately, to raise my own profile in order to raise Lisk's profile. A big project like Lisk needs a strong and known leader.
- How I see the difference between the two linked videos. We can't simply compare them on the basis of reach. Else you could compare a tweet from Elon with a Super Bowl advertisement. Maybe a similar reach, but one costs nothing and the other costs millions. However, I deeply agree with the point which is being made. I fully agree with Balaji's statement that every company should build their own PR arm and pull people into their own channels. Something I will have in mind for next year for myself and Lisk.
Stellardynamic: Is HQ still doing anything with WEG bank?
Max: We are using WEG Bank as a banking provider for the Lisk Foundation. Nothing else was ever planned or announced from our side. They miscommunicated it back in the day.
punkrock: @MaxKordek how does a usual week look like for you and Oliver? Of course regarding Oliver, it would be good if he can answer it.
Max: The community has to accept that they will not hear from Oliver here. I'm taking care of that for the management and foundation related topics, as well as going forward for more general topics as well. The research and development teams take care of that for their respective fields. That was our strategy this year and it won't change. Oliver is pulling the developer teams together and refining their processes. It's a tough job but he did splendidly since he took over just 11 months ago. I think our GitHub repositories speak for themselves. Similar to me he has some management and foundation meetings/tasks. Else, he is constantly sitting with the developer teams to do requirement gatherings, tactical/governance meetings, quality assurance and strategy sessions. As well as accepting new LIPs and handling the quarterly code audits of Lisk SDK, Lisk Core, Lisk Desktop and Lisk Service, and the recent audit of the Lisk SDK 5.0.0. Having two departments under him he is more than busy next to being the director of Lightcurve and vice president of the Lisk Foundation.
someonesomeone: If you don't have a growth strategy, then why is there such a big marketing expense every month? And thanks for the responses to my questions.
Max: That was answered many, many times already. All the development and marketing expenses are a cumulative sum of the number of people involved in the departments. Marketing always also involves the documentation team (Mona+Chris), next to the website (Bart) and general Marketing (Monica). Now we also have the community management (Mateusz) and the LCB under it. However, the CHF amount per person is not only including their salary but also the partial cost per head for our internet connection, our office, our equipment, insurances, server costs, software costs, taxes and so on and so forth. This is the case because Lightcurve is being paid a lump sum per person. But has to pay many different aspects (as mentioned above) from it.
punkrock: How long will devs work on Lisk this month? Or from when to when are holidays for them?
Max: The majority of people will go on holiday at the end of next week. For me it's my final week with a handful of meetings reaching over my entire holidays.
carbonara: Thank you for your AMA @MaxKordek
Ionut S. | Chainode Tech: Thanks @MaxKordek!
Corbifex | Moosty: @MaxKordek Thanks for all the answers. Hope your hands don't hurt too much.
Max: Thanks everyone. Have lovely Christmas days and a happy New Year!
Thanks to everyone in the community for their participation in the live AMA on Lisk.chat.
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