Weekly Updates

ICYMI - A Conversation with Kathleen Breitman at TQuorum

In case you missed it, Alison Mangiero, President of TQ Tezos, sat down with Kathleen Breitman for a conversation that hit on Bitcoin, Smart Contract Platforms, Magic The Gathering, her company Coase, and many other topics. Here are some highlights and stay tuned to the TQuorum Twitter channel and website for the full interview posting soon.

After the TQuorum Global Summit, Brady Dale wrote a piece in Coindesk about what Bitcoin and Tezos have in common. Both communities tend to have very strong animating principles and values, what are some of the values and principles that you think attract people to Tezos?

What I liked about the Brady Dale piece is that people tend to compare Tezos and Ethereum because they are both smart contract platforms but I tend to disagree with that approach. The Tezos position paper came at around the same time as the Ethereum fundraiser, a little bit after the Ethereum position paper, but Tezos was created in reference to Bitcoin. The position paper and the whitepaper are assuming a knowledge of Bitcoin and then trying to build off of that tradition. Fundamentally, the observation that led to the creation of Tezos was that Bitcoin lacks a mechanism to upgrade itself. So, if you think about it as stepping stones towards better digital money, we’re trying to steward that tradition. That’s the 2014 perspective. In 2017 and onwards when the Tezos project became more of a thing, the less competitive language you invoked, the happier people were with you because they saw you as not a threat to their preferred hobby horse/project. Arthur and I, on the other hand, did not shy away from saying no, we are absolutely competing with Bitcoin and Ethereum and everyone is competing with each other. That is kind of a Bitcoin e-cultural thing to harkin to and very out of line with what Ethereum supporters were saying at the time. I think we have carried that tradition which sounds kind of antagonistic, in the sense of Bitcoin maximalists. There are Ethereum maximalists, but it’s not as much of a thing. Ethereum is meant to be the world’s computer, which sounds like a hunky-dorey idea whereas Bitcoin wants to be digital gold, or a store of value. However you want to frame it, Bitcoin is trying to be money. The Ethereum folks, for better or worse, have shied away from that moniker. The Tezos project is more directly situated to do based on its fundamentals, philosophy, and the culture of people that came to the project as they weren’t put off by language that was cased around it. That language was a lot less hunky-dorey than Cosmos, for example, which wants to be something that interoperates with other blockchains. We were like – screw that – we are competing with each other. Which, fundamentally is more of a Bitcoin cultural thing than any smart contract platform.


What makes a public, proof-of-stake blockchain like Tezos particularly valuable for the gaming space?

There are a few different things. For one – being able to contract with someone in a game is obviously valuable, like if you are doing an RPG, where you are replicating real-world contracts because it is open-ended, loose, and you make it what you will. On the other hand, with a digital collectible card game, which is what we are approaching with Coase, what’s interesting is using a smart contract to work on secondaries markets in the game itself, which is what’s broken in other models. Also, in our particular instance, with a public blockchain, when you tie assets to a public blockchain, you allow people to experiment more. In traditional collectible card games, users will take physical cards and find new ways to create play patterns or rules, and more often than not, those become more popular than the original way that’s been dictated. So it’s about facilitating that same type of experimentation that allowed the physical format to thrive. With things like RPGs, obviously you can port your wallet and contract with other people that play the game but ultimately, I think that’s less compelling which is why I’m working on collectible card games. Collectible card games hit on a much more difficult issue that is more fundamental to the digitization of those products. 


Regarding Emergents – how are you balancing building a compelling game with one where the economics make sense? 

I have probably spent way too much time and effort making a fun game to the point where maybe we made too fun of a game and it took us a little while! But it took a couple of years for Richard Garfield, the inventor of Magic the Gathering to come up with a rule set and a card file that he was happy with. So I gave my co-founder, Zvi, a mandate to wait until he came up with something he was really proud of in terms of gameplay. Basically, the game can exist outside of the economic loop that we created and I think that’s really important. A lot of our competitors put the blockchain bits in the front of their marketing materials and in their pitches to investors because there is a novelty factor there. One of my competitors wants to launch a full fledged blockchain before they launch a game. I think that’s kind of quaint – and it’s something you’d only say if you’ve never been around the launch of a blockchain before. But yeah, Arthur believes that consensus ought to be boring and I believe that custody ought to be boring. I think really ironing out the user experience and thinking through the way that all of the blockchain bits are pushed to the back and secondary. They should merely facilitate a better gameplay experience through creating more opportunities for experimentation is the goal. And that’s a very banal goal but in no way are we trying to harp on the fervor around blockchain. I’ve been working in the industry for five years and I have to tell you, those people, that are enamored with blockchain for the sake of blockchain, fade out pretty quickly. So you have to think about the end goal for using this relatively clunky piece of technology.

Additional Ecosystem Updates:

Last Friday, we announced that Danny Masters, Co-Founder of the CoinShares Group, joined the Tezos Foundation as a non-executive council member. Below is a roundup of other updates from around the community.






What lessons has the TF learned from the last two years in operation?

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” – Richard Feynman


The above quote, from the American physicist Richard Feynman, sums up the Tezos Foundation operating philosophy well. The key ingredients to becoming the winning smart contract technology are a solid long-term runway, a future-proof system of on-chain governance, strong product-market fit, and a team with great execution skills on all levels. In terms of what we’ve learned, considering the speed of blockchain adoption, including the many hurdles for the adoption of cryptocurrencies generally, the Foundation believes that the life-span of TF will have to be long enough to effectively support the creation and growth of a sustainable Tezos ecosystem. The Foundation’s purpose is not, however, to exist in perpetuity; it intends to wind down over time.


Which priorities that TF has set out have worked, and what has not worked?

One area that certainly needs to be improved is the efficiency and effectiveness of the grantmaking process, tying the latter to wider product and market/user requirements and ecosystem goals/needs. To this end, a new grantmaking platform and revised processes are currently in the final stages of preparation. We will have more to share in the coming months.


Another place where there is room for improvement is the developer experience. There should have been a stronger focus on documentation and UX from the start. Currently, multiple entities in the ecosystem are focusing on improving the quality of the documentation and we are hearing first positive feedback from users. 


In terms of what has worked, the Foundation has funded a number of solid core-tech teams. This has been key to laying the foundation for a scalable technology and it continues to be a priority of the Foundation. We have also successfully focused on professionalizing TF. TF is very likely the only PwC-audited blockchain foundation in the space and this has helped to legitimize the Tezos project in traditional industries.


Lastly, putting in place an executive team, allowing the TF Council to step away from day-to-day management, is a decision that will clearly pay off in the long term and shows that TF values sound governance beyond its legal requirements. 


What do you believe has been the biggest failure of TF ?

The lack of execution and focus by the Foundation leadership in the period directly after the fundraiser and until early 2018. This led to negative attention. 


Are there any specific targets (annual/quarterly) that TF sets out to achieve that we can read about?

One of TF’s main goals right now, with the burgeoning volume of ecosystem activity, is to build out a reliable system of operations that works seamlessly around the globe. Additionally, TF is constantly evaluating the quality of asset and liquidity management, the safety and auditability of the crypto assets in custody, and the efficiency of the grants process (as mentioned above – changes in this are a major focus). The weekly and biannual updates regularly and transparently report on these targets and the next biannual update will be issued by the end of August 2020.


How can TF be even more aggressive in driving Tezos adoption? Where do you see Tezos by the end of 2020, and where do you see it in the next 3-5 years?

TF should more aggressively and effectively foster Tezos adoption and deploy funds in relevant markets and industries and grow the Tezos ecosystem globally. 


The focus in 2020 is on making Tezos scalable and easy to adopt. By the end of this year the developer experience should be massively improved and we should see the groundwork in place for more widespread adoption. In the next 3-5 years, we see high-value transactions occurring on Tezos at scale. We are only at the beginning of many years of excitement and widespread adoption of Tezos.

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