This interview with Brian Fabian Crain, CEO of Chorus One, was conducted by Jesse Livermore, a Cosmos community member, as part of his "Cosmos Validators Brief" series. You can find the original on his blog.
Introduction by Jesse
Brian Fabian Crain and Meher Roy are Founders of Chorus One. I first encountered the duo in their Epicenter podcast many years ago (I think either the episode with Gavin Wood or this one with Shawn Wilkinson was the first episode I heard which introduced me to Epicenter).
The podcast provides a fantastic tipping off point for those who are educating themselves and are becoming engrossed, or are already fully engorged, in Crypto or specific Crypto projects. Case in point: Here is the episode with Jae Kwon of Tendermint/Cosmos, which I recall having watched multiple times many years ago.
Anyhow, Brian brings with him valuable past experience of having worked at Tendermint as their COO and the duo combine to bring valuable, in-depth, Crypto knowledge rarely found elsewhere.
I believe the most intriguing thing here from Brian is that the last paragraph circles back to what I mentioned in the first Brief, regarding the imminent presence of large exchanges in Cosmos’ Atoms… and the absolute importance of independent Validators.
I’ll let him tell the rest…
Tell me a bit about yourselves — as much/ little as you guys would like to share.
Brian Fabian Crain (Brian):
At Chorus One, we’re helping token holders earn interest on their holdings and actively participate in the success of their networks.
This involves a few different things:
Secure & reliable infrastructure. We were the first validator to design a highly available architecture for Cosmos, which includes physical validator nodes using HSMs in multiple datacenter capable of signing. We’ve invested a lot in monitoring, alerting, key management to have an institutional-grade infrastructure.
Governance. We have contributed to network governance in Cosmos already (e.g. economic design) and will help steer the network in the right direction. We will also focus on helping token holders be informed about and participate in governance decisions.
Network Support. We are and will contribute to the development of these networks. For example, on Cosmos we contributed to the HSM support via the KMS.
Content. We’ve published content on Cosmos & PoS. Much more of that is coming down the line.
But it might also be interesting to share a bit about our background.
My history with Tendermint/Cosmos, goes quite far back. In 2015, I joined a company called Monax (then Eris Industries), which was the first company to build enterprise applications on Ethereum. Monax had forked Ethereum and wanted to replace proof-of-work with something more compatible with consortium chains. They found Tendermint. At that time, it was just Jae with a whitepaper and some early code. Monax’ first hire, Ethan Buchman, became the first outside contributor to Tendermint.
Later, Ethan left Monax and became CTO at Tendermint. When I also left Monax, I joined the Tendermint/Cosmos team in January 2017 and became its COO. At the time the team was just four or five people and I was the first non-engineer. I helped with running the Cosmos fundraiser, scaling the team to over 30, and set up the Berlin hub. Including a great blockchain co-working space called Full Node together with Gnosis.
Towards the end of 2017, I felt that there was a big gap in that validators have a crucial role in proof-of-stake networks, but very few teams were seriously working on it. I ended up leaving the Tendermint team in early 2018 and started Chorus One together with my co-founder Meher Roy. Since then our team has grown to six and we’ve been deeply involved in the Cosmos community and working on other networks too.
Outside of Cosmos/Tendermint, how have you been involved with blockchain so far? What projects have you participated in? What projects do you find particularly intriguing?
Besides Chorus One & Cosmos, I also co-founded the Epicenter podcast. We did our first episode in January 2014 and have done over 270 episodes since then. In total, our episodes have been downloaded/played over 4,000,000 times.
People reading this, might want to check out our episode with Jae about Cosmostwo years ago.
On the Chorus One side, we’re also launching validators on other PoS networks. The first one is the Loom Network with which we will be going live this week.
How did you get into blockchain space initially and what keeps you interested?
I learned about Bitcoin around May 2013 and I fell down the rabbit hole immediately. I was originally an economist, but had also been interested in tech and startups. With Bitcoin all those interests came together perfectly.
Ultimately, what excites me most about blockchain is to develop better tools of collaboration. We have systems like nation states today, which are really collaboration structures. But they’re fraught with inefficiency, corruption, intransparency. With blockchain we can build systems that are more efficient, more scalable, transcend national borders and maintain individual liberty better.
Where do you see the blockchain space evolving in the next 1–3 years?
Within three years, blockchain infrastructure will have matured to the point where it can support applications with millions of users. I also suspect we will see the first applications reaching that scale then.
I think there will be another bubble, but one that is actually driven by the beginnings of mainstream adoption.
I also expect that we will see Cosmos take off. I think we’ll have at least 100 live chains then built on Tendermint/Cosmos, but it could easily be 1000+ as well.
With regards to Cosmos, what do you think will be the biggest challenges faced by the project overall?
The biggest challenge will be governance. For the project to really succeed, the community needs to start driving progress. Development needs to become decentralized. My ideal scenario is that people start making improvement proposals via governance and the hub directly starts funding that. My vision is for Cosmos to become a proper DAO. This could also entail launching other blockchains that will be secured by atoms and taking a larger role in the Cosmos Network as a whole, even beyond the hub.
With regards to being a validator in Cosmos, what do you think will be the biggest challenges you will face?
What we have spent the most time on is security and operations. Having institutional-grade security to make sure no slashing takes place and you can guarantee maximum uptime is challenging.