AMA Recap: Max Kordek w/Bitrue

On Tuesday, October 11th, Max Kordek, Lisk Co-founder CEO, attended a Twitter Spaces AMA with the Bitrue exchange. Max discussed how Lisk first got started, why interoperability is so important to Web3, and how the team plans to attract both developers and users after the platform launch.

This blog post is a recap of this entire AMA session.

By Lisk

25 Oct 2022


Bitrue: Hey everyone, welcome to another edition of Bitrue AMA. Today we have Max Kordek from Lisk. So if you don't mind Max, could you introduce yourself please?

Max: Of course. Hello everyone. Pleasure to be here. Thank you for this opportunity to host the Twitter Spaces together with you guys. My name is Max Kodek. I'm CEO and co-founder of Lisk. I have a background in electrical engineering, however, that was a long time ago. I would say by now my background essentially is crypto. I've been in crypto for ten years now, so whatever I worked on professionally was always crypto. Before I was just studying. I'm German, living in Berlin now, but traveling the world to talk about crypto and Web3. Our offices are in Berlin, however, with around 70 people right now.

Bitrue: Nice, thank you for sharing that with us. And it's great to hear that you've been in the space for a while because I feel with guests that have so much experience in the space, they've really seen a lot of what has happened before and what's happening now. I think that's very exciting to have you on the show to share about your experience. As you mentioned, you've been in space for ten years, which is a really long time. So I'll just get started to find out more about what Lisk is doing and get a quick rundown of what this is about. So can you just give us a quick overview about Lisk?

Max: Yeah, sure. So Lisk started in 2016. We did our ICO back in the day, and collected 14,000 Bitcoin. It was a huge success. Neither my partner (Oliver Beddows) nor I expected it to be such a big success as it was back in the day. Since then we have been working towards making crypto Web3 blockchain accessible to anyone by offering JavaScript development tools to developers and to users by offering them essentially a Web3 or a blockchain application platform. With that we have the goal essentially to onboard 100 million people to crypto because we feel like the industry is growing rapidly, but it's not big enough to where it should be. And we are trying everything in our powers to make that happen.

Bitrue: That is really cool. I think whenever I discover projects, you kind of want to expand beyond crypto natives and crypto Twitter in general. We already see Web3 adoption in many places outside of crypto. The space has just grown at such a rapid and accelerated pace. I think Lisk is definitely poised to become one of the movers of the space in terms of how you guys want to make it accessible and make Blockchain more accessible to people. So with that being said, I guess that's your motivation. But how and why did you start Lisk apart from that?

Max: Well, when we started Lisk back in the day, there was nothing. There was Ethereum, but all the development tools for Ethereum were lacking at the time and it took a long time for them to get up to scratch and be reliable. But 2016, the industry for developers was very difficult because they didn't have any tools available to quickly and rapidly build blockchain applications. We felt like this was a need and we also felt that it's very difficult to predict what the industry in general is going towards. So the solution for us was to offer developers all the tools they need and see where they can take the industry. No one could have predicted DeFi or NFTs or GameFi, but we felt that by giving 20 million JavaScript developers the necessary tools, they would figure it out. So that was kind of the motivation to start Lisk to grow this industry with use cases real people benefit from. In terms of how we did it, well, I was mentioning I was still studying at that time, electrical engineering. I dropped out because Lisk became so successful. I have to say the industry is reinventing itself every 1-3 years. So the experience helps you, but it doesn't separate you from other players in the industry too much. The whole industry is just growing too fast. At that time we were working in another crypto startup (Crypti) whose financial resources were depleted. My partner Oliver and I decided that we have such a big opportunity in front of us. We needed to do something in this industry. We needed to speak to the developers and offer users a platform for these new kinds of applications which are being created. So we brainstormed a bit, took some components of the startup we looked at before and then said, “okay, let's do it now”. That was January 2016. It only took six weeks to basically go from nothing to having a project, which means a name, a logo, a website, the whole idea formalized in a white paper and in several blog posts. The whole ICO platform at that time developed from scratch by ourselves, promoted Lisk on various cryptocurrency pages, media outlets, etc, etc. It was a very high, intense six week sprint. Then in mid February we launched the ICO, which went on for one month. Every week we were collecting a few thousand Bitcoins. But then in the last week, we had kind of a big announcement that you could spin up a server on Microsoft Azure. We also got a blog post published on Microsoft's blog, which was huge. We suddenly got many more Bitcoins that week alone. That resulted in us collecting 14,000 Bitcoins. I would say at that time I expected us to collect maybe $50,000, but suddenly we collected millions and we were left standing with a big problem of we don't have a legal entity, where do we establish ourselves? We thought it was going to be a small open source project, but it evolved into this massive company. So we were looking around and we couldn’t find any options. It was too soon, too early. We were lucky that we got connected to the lawyer that Ethereum worked with initially, as well as the law firm they work with. They helped us set up a legal entity in Switzerland as a nonprofit foundation. We were, I think, the third or fourth crypto foundation in Switzerland at that time, so it took a bit longer. It took merely until the end of the year, 2016, to just create the legal entity that allowed us to touch the ICO money. So until that point, everything came from our private pockets and then to start hiring a team in 2017. So it was quite complicated to start Lisk at that time because everything was new, everything was unproven, no one had a clue what to do. We wasted like two, three months trying to establish something in Germany, which didn't work. From there, we started to do the regular company startup practices of recruiting a team, polishing all the product visions and goals, and then started to develop and promote what we intend to do.

Bitrue: Well, thank you for sharing all that. I feel like just hearing that has kind of made me feel like I was part of the project as well. It must have been such a crazy journey. And I think it's so interesting that you mentioned that you came from an electrical engineering background. I feel like I've met a bunch of people from different projects and I always feel like the people who are just from more diverse kinds of backgrounds are able to look at crypto from a first principles kind of point of view. And that's so interesting. And I guess that's the reason why you built Lisk in the first place, which is crazy.

Max: Yeah. I would say I'm by nature more like a tech guy, not a business guy. We realized in 2018 or 2019, that it will take many more years of development to accomplish all of our goals. A business guy probably would have run away to the next project. But me as a tech guy, I stayed in it and said, okay, I got to hustle through this journey. It took until basically now for all of our work to come to fruition, no matter what the price is doing. I think from a tech standpoint, we will deliver top notch quality. That was just so important to do that and to stick to the ICO promises I gave. I did not want to disappoint anyone in terms of what I promised to deliver.

Bitrue: That is such an amazing perspective, and I feel like we need many more people like you in the space, because many people in the space are from a business background. They're looking at stuff like VCs, they're looking at how to raise, but they don't really think about the tech. I guess the whole idea of hustling to you is nothing new. You do many things before this, and you're familiar with how it works.

Max: I've been doing projects since I was 14. Lisk was probably my 50th project I started, and this one was finally a success. This is all about hustling and trying hard and making it happen. At one point, what we learned at least, was that essentially one side of our product is for developers. However it's very hard to attract developers into our ecosystem because whenever we go to development conferences, they actually have quite a few arguments against crypto and Web3. We are more and more leaning towards actually trying to attract entrepreneurs.

Bitrue: Thank you for sharing that really amazing perspective. I think what you pointed out is something that you see a lot now with so many companies, just a mixture of business people and tech people all coming together. And like you said, it's only going to be a matter of time before everyone just comes together and builds together. With that being said, can you tell us more about the product list you'll be offering for both users and developers?

Max: Well, we're trying to attract users and developers. Let me start with the developers. We are offering a software development kit, an SDK written in JavaScript, which developers can use to build their own blockchain. And with that they can natively implement their applications logic into this blockchain protocol. It is very similar, for example, to Polkadot and Cosmos, where you call this approach an app specific approach, or you're building an app specific blockchain. So that means just for one Web3 application, you're going to have your own blockchain. That's quite a different paradigm to smart contract development where you just write a small script and upload it to an existing layer 1, like Ethereum, and everyone can execute it. When we built this, it took us about two years to have a stable blockchain. With our SDK, a developer can do that in 1-2 hours. So this is already a massive improvement in terms of speed. But of course, the quality, stability and security is so much higher than back in the day. So with our SDK developers can rapidly build these blockchain applications. A problem though, is that these applications are independent, they're isolated, they're not connected to anything. They are their own blockchain. So in order to benefit from different synergies and be part of a bigger, say, industry or landscape or ecosystem, you need to connect this blockchain to other blockchains, right? Imagine you're building a decentralized exchange, but you want to trade different tokens for that. Your decentralized exchange blockchain needs to be connected to the wider ecosystem so that people can send their tokens to your own blockchain. And that's essentially where something called interoperability and where our platform comes into play. So with an interoperability protocol, you're able to transfer assets. That means, for example, entities or regular tokens or just arbitrary data from one blockchain to another. So, for example, a DEX blockchain could receive any kind of tokens so the user can trade them, or an NFT marketplace can receive any kinds of NFTs from all the blockchains being created and can auction them off. That is essentially the implementation of this interpretability protocol, the birth of what we call our Lisk platform. What we try to do there is to build an insanely accessible platform for regular users, essentially for the mainstream users already. And obviously we have wallets available for desktop and mobile, which offer essentially the window to this platform. But there's a platitude of other products as well functioning in cohesion there to create the platform itself. And what we basically intend to do is to offer something like an Apple App Store for Web3 and a way to transfer your assets between different apps. That's our user facing product, essentially all of this under the umbrella of making blockchain accessible. What we see is that apps currently building on Lisk have this mantra of making it accessible. I was mentioning earlier that every 1-3 years the industry is reinventing itself. So it becomes kind of a new industry in some sense. And with our platform, we feel like the teams building on it already have this accessibility mantra deeply ingrained in their minds. So when they're building their apps, they really already have the regular user in mind.

Bitrue: I think the whole idea of having an app store is so simple, but it's so concise and it's really what people are looking for these days. Especially the whole idea with interoperability. I think interoperability is something that we all need to see more and more as we progress towards the future in which different blockchains can interact. Definitely great to hear that you guys are on that path to making your blockchain interoperable. I think the next part that we can dive into with regards to applications is definitely examples of applications that are currently being built.

Max: Let me first quickly mention interoperability again because I think we have enough time to cover different topics a bit more deeply. Interoperability is a must for any layer 1 in the future and I think all the layer 1s would have to be connected. So when I was talking about interoperability so far I mainly meant Lisk interoperability. That means all these blockchains built with our SDK are interoperable with each other. What is the next step? What we call just blockchain interoperability is that we are also going to build bridges but native within our protocol, not within a smart contract. So they will be much more unlikely to get hacked to different layer 1s. Let's say Ethereum. So that all the tokens, all the entities on Ethereum could also be transferred into our platform and be used. So I think that's very important to recognize. With that in mind, several applications are currently in development on the Lisk platform. We see applications which I think have mainstream users in their mind. For example, in terms of NFTs, we have two projects. One is called Colecti, which is building an NFT marketplace. If you go to their website you really see that they're trying to take this from a different angle where regular people will or can benefit from NFTs. So this is not for the 100 crypto experts or NFT experts on Twitter knowing a lot about all of this and know how to use more advanced protocols by now, but rather for normal people. They hear about NFTs, they want to spend just $5 on NFT to be part of this new future. The other NFT use case currently being built is Enevti, which is trying to combine NFTs with social media. That means that they essentially can offer celebrity NFTs to incentivize the celebrities' individual communities. So again, this is not about crypto influences, this is about regular people outside of the industry trying to achieve mainstream adoption. We also have a DAO platform called Kalipo, which is going to be developed. It is also focusing on more real world use cases. It supports all the more advanced crypto stuff as well, which we are so far used to, but also it's looking into ways it can create centralized autonomous organizations for non-crypto related use cases, which I think is pretty interesting. Obviously we also have these very to the point crypto use cases which I think will still take a while to get into the mainstream. Like the whole metaverse thing. There's a project called Topas City which is working on something like a virtual reality world. So there are many apps being built on Lisk, but I think we have to really ask ourselves what's the next big thing in crypto? And I think that's very hard to estimate in terms of what kind of new industries are being formed in terms of DeFi and GameFi. A few examples given, but I think it's more interesting to see where we're going next. The Lisk platform is set to be launched early next year. We hope to get a beta out this year and I think major things are being developed on platform only once it's live because then people can experiment much better with it and see how high the quality really is going to be and how scalable their applications could be. So yeah, I think once we launch there will be a large number of new apps being developed which really will try to fit into our vision of making blockchain accessible.

Bitrue: Well, thank you so much for the deep dive into everything that Lisk is doing and everything that can be done on this, I think. I hope the beta comes out later this year and when you guys eventually launch the platform in 2023, everything goes well and goes smoothly. I think it's really exciting. With that being said, I guess I just want to ask you a question about what has been going on in crypto lately with what people call crypto or with the correction and stuff like that. What do you think about it and how is this coping with it and dealing with it?

Max: Well it's not our first crypto winter and I would say if this is a winter then it's a pretty warm one because $19,000 (BTC) is very comfortable but what we are always trying to do is to have enough financial resources in our banks or stablecoins for the next three years. So not crypto like Ethereum but rather currencies or asset types which are more stable. So that's what we did and that means we have enough runway for another I think like two and a half years now in stablecoins and in cash in order to pay our bills. If it sustains itself beyond these two and a half years then we have around I think another three years of run rate in Bitcoin. So we still have a relatively long run of like five and a half years. So we don't hear the markets right now at all. We also have a big goal next year to start earning revenue. We start very slowly but we're going with a goal to become sustainable by the end of 2025. That means by the end of 2025 we want to earn as much money as we spent and I think it's realistic. There are a large number of opportunities where we can earn money and that has to be our goal anyways because I want a sustainable business, a real business and not just a business based on raising more money and hype. The crypto winter in general, I think it's not that bad right now at all. Like I said, the price is still high but I don't buy the price so much. I see a lot of development going on. I just attended TOKEN2049 in Singapore during the Asian Crypto week and it was insane. So many projects doing something in crypto. It's like out of this world and if you go to these events you see how passionate everyone is. How intelligent everyone is and that gives you a lot of confidence seeing that just a week ago. I can for sure guarantee that this industry is just marching ahead. Just being developed further and further and new use cases are being discovered. I'm sure of that because when I was in it in 2012, 2013, nothing was happening. A new project popped up once a month which was promising, but today there are new projects popping up every day.

Bitrue: It's so heartening to hear that you have that perspective and also to hear it from someone who has been in this space for almost a decade and seen close to everything that needs to be seen. For you to say that the space is growing and people are getting involved in these projects, are getting cooler and cooler, crazier and crazier and more and more interesting is really happening for everyone and I'm sure everyone in the community. With that being said, I think I would just want to kind of ask you a few questions about your partnership and your collaboration with Bitrue. So why did you decide to partner with Bitrue?

Max: So we decided to take this opportunity because every new exchange often sets up a large number of new users and our goal is to make crypto accessible. I think the first step is to give access to the LSK Token so that people can use it to use the list platform. And that's very important that people are using our platform, but for that they need a few tokens. So we're partnering with great exchanges all over the world to let them give us or offer us this on ramp so that we can attract more and more people to the platform. Because I really want to see people benefit from Web3 and if providing access is what's needed for that, then I will do that any way I can.

Bitrue: Yeah, that's really cool. And I just want to ask you more about any future plans or campaigns that you are planning to do with it that you might want to share here. I think now's the time since everyone has kind of gotten an idea about what Lisk is doing. I think we're all really excited to know if you guys have any future plans or any future campaigns with us.

Max: We are now starting to work again with more influencers out there until the end of the year in order to prepare ourselves for the big launch next year. So everything we're doing right now is to prepare ourselves for the big launch and building our expectations so that more eyes are on us when we're actually launching this thing. We also have on a weekly basis smaller community giveaways. Best for you would be to join our discord channel (