AMA Recap: Max Kordek w/ Binance.US
Back in August 2022, the LSK token was listed on Binance US. On October 28th, 2022, Max Kordek, CEO and Co-Founder at Lisk, sat down for a Twitter Spaces AMA with the exchange. He answered a large variety of questions, including how he founded Lisk, why Interoperability is so important to Web3, and how users could get involved in building on Lisk.
This blog post provides a recap of the AMA. The entire Twitter Space can be found here.
The History of Lisk
Steve: Good afternoon, everybody. This is Steve Shay from Binance US. Going to be a good conversation with Max Kordek, the CEO and Co-founder of Lisk. Max, thanks for joining us. Just to kick it off, for those who might not know, if I can ask a little bit about yourself and your background and how you originally got into Web3 and Blockchain?
Max: Hello everyone. I'm super stoked to be here today. My background is doing different kinds of projects and smaller startups since I was 14. However I have been in crypto for 10 years now. I got into it as I was studying electrical engineering. I basically stopped studying soon after. I dropped out when I founded Lisk in 2016. I was always fascinated by finance, but also with Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. For me, Bitcoin at that time really combined all these things which interested me. I quickly learned that in order to make a difference I have to start going deeper and maybe join an existing community, which I did. But then after a year or two I felt I had to involve myself more in the startup world of crypto. I created my own startup (Lisk) and from the beginning it was all about getting this thing adopted, finding use cases for crypto, and making it the next big thing.
Steve: What were the problems that you were trying to solve back in 2016? And how do you think they still apply now?
Max: Five or six years in crypto seems to be a little bit longer than normal years. The pace is very fast, but slow at the same time. We see new innovations popping up all the time. This summer it's DeFi, next summer it's GameFi, then it's just in general NFTs, then it's layer 1’s. It's always evolving, but at the same time it's also slow. I've been in crypto for 10 years, a large chunk of my life, but somehow we are still facing the same problems. In 2016, the main problem we wanted to solve was the problem of accessibility. Ethereum was just starting out at that time, with little to no tools. We wanted to bring in developers because we felt that they needed to experiment with Web3 technology to find use cases to build in the future. That was basically our angle. We wanted to create tools for developers to build blockchains. It took us two or three years to build these tools. Today though, developers can use them to build an initial blockchain on which they can then experiment on in only a matter of hours. So far we've seen that this is really what the space is craving for.
Delegated Proof of Stake vs Proof of Stake
Steve: Can you describe what the proof of stake (PoS) algorithm does and how it works? Max: So PoS in general is a drastic improvement for Ethereum because so much energy is wasted in proof of work (PoW). Essentially what is securing the blockchain is the amount of stake, which means the number of coins or tokens someone holds. In proof of stake, everyone can be a validator. Lisk has something very similar, we call it Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS), where everything is the same but not everyone can be a validator. Rather, you're pointing your stake to a third party. You don't send them your tokens, you just appoint your stake by voting. In Lisk, there are 101 validators, called delegates, with the most stake securing the network. It is a little bit more efficient, but less decentralized than proof of stake. But in the case of Lisk, there are 101 delegates, whereas other DPoS platforms actually have only 21 and less. I think it's a very elegant and simple consensus algorithm that makes it very simple for new developers to build their own chain.
Interoperability and the Lisk Roadmap
Steve: Can we talk about the Lisk roadmap and the Sapphire phase that you're currently in? What are you looking at in this phase? What comes after that?
Max: So our roadmap is separated into different phases and each phase is represented by a gemstone as a name. Currently we are in the middle of the Sapphire phase, whose main focus is something called interoperability. Interoperability is the ability to transfer a token or an NFT or arbitrary data from one blockchain to another. Remember, a sidechain is just a blockchain, but connected to another blockchain, in our case the Lisk mainchain. This connection is interoperability. Because this enables anyone to transfer tokens around our platform, we say that this will be the official launch of the Lisk platform. Essentially this is the fulfillment of the promise we gave in 2016 to build a blockchain application platform. And that is what this phase is all about. I'm so proud of the team to get where it is today. The product is in amazing shape, interoperability implemented, and currently in alpha testing. So I can't wait for the coming months to see what kind of applications are being built on Lisk. Then the next phase is the diamond phase. It's the last phase on our current roadmap. As I said, the Sapphire phase focuses on interoperability between two blockchains built with the Lisk SDK. In the diamond phase however, we're introducing this interoperability not only between Lisk blockchains but also to other ecosystems as well. This means we will enable our users to transfer tokens, NFT's, data, etc from any Lisk based blockchain to, for example, Ethereum. Users on Ethereum will also be able to make transfers into the Lisk ecosystem.
Steve: It seems like there's a lot of opportunities for folks to get involved in the Lisk platform. We know there's the Lisk Improvement Proposals (LIPs). How would one user or somebody who's interested in kind of getting into the ecosystem submit a proposal? What does that process kind of look like? And is there generally a governance model that may be associated with it?
Max: If you're a researcher and not a developer, and you simply want to research blockchain systems, peer to peer systems, cryptography and so on, then yes, LIPs are for you. We took inspiration from Bitcoin and their Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs). Each LIP is essentially a research paper covering a certain topic we publish. I think Lisk has over 60 of those, some very long and very technical, each basically introducing something new to the Lisk protocol. For example, changes to our DPoS consensus algorithm, or the whole interoperability topic, or our new address system, which we implemented last year. These are all more like groundwork and we invite every researcher in the world to take a look at it, educate themselves, and if they really desire, to write their own LIPs. Like Ethereum, we actually don’t see a lot of LIPs being contributed by the community. Instead mostly what happens is that we publish a LIP and then our community comments on them. This is possible as the process is a very public, transparent discussion before any LIP is approved. That's where people get involved.
How to Get Involved Building on Lisk
Steve: Can you talk a bit about the Lisk Grant Program?
Max: So far we've seen nearly 20 applications accepted to the Lisk Grant Program. What they really need is a little bit of starting money and some expertise from us to just get off the ground. We deem the grant program as one of the most important things we do because our ecosystem is being judged by the quality of blockchain applications on it. And that's why this is our number one priority for the launch of our platform next year, to get a number of quality applications out there. The program itself is divided into different phases. The first one being very short and quick, with the project having to get the website and branding up and running. Then the next step would be to build a minimum viable product (MVP). Then they need to build a testnet where the project is operational, but just for testing purposes. The final step then is to launch on mainnet. What we see, however, is that what we're doing right now is not enough. We have to step up our game, we have to give bigger grants, and we have to provide more support. It is very challenging because while the program is well funded, it is not as funded as other projects such as Polkadot, Cosmos, or Cardano. That's where we have to be extremely intelligent with how we are approaching this project. There will be more news about this whole topic in the coming months. If you want in the program, please head to our website, https://lisk.com/grant-program.
Steve: Can grants come out of LIPs, or are they two totally unassociated things?
Max: They are not associated with each other. LIPs are research papers and the grant program is really about supporting founders building blockchain applications with the Lisk SDK.
Lisk End of the Year Events
Steve: So I know you had referred to some things coming at the end of the year and of course we have some phases with sapphire and diamonds to look forward to next year. Is there anything else that might be coming up for all of us to keep an eye on?
Max: We're going to have another event this year, a short, small one, where we are going to give a bit of an update on what we did this year and what people can expect next year. It will also act as a response to our last event, at the end of 2021, where we gave some promises that we didn't deliver on. That happened in part because you can't always project a whole year in front of you. Sometimes strategies change.
Steve: If anybody wanted to run into someone from the team, are there any events that you plan on or the team plans on attending in the coming months or the next year?
Find Out More About Lisk
Steve: Where can everybody go to learn more about the Lisk ecosystem?
Max: Obviously our website, lisk.com. We are currently focusing on two other channels, which are Twitter and Discord. We use Twitter as a broadcasting platform so you can find all kinds of news and updates. Discord is more about building a community. So if you want to get engaged and be part of an awesome community in the crypto industry then just head to Discord and share with our community members. As for general information, I think the website is more than enough and we are trying our best to create educational pieces like this one right now so that everyone can hear more about what exciting things we are building. So just keep an eye out and whenever you see the name Lisk somewhere, feel free to tune in and read more.
Steve: Is there anything else that you had kind of wanted to share with the group?
Max: If I say one thing to the audience it's to please get involved in building the Web3 space out. Don't just invest money, but also start building because our industry is just going to step up its game and evolve to the next level. I think crypto has the potential, but it requires more builders. So please get inspired and start building with whatever platform or layer 1 you intend to do it on, but just build and your life really will evolve into something bigger itself.