Sat. Apr 20th, 2019
Interview with the President & CEO of Lisk - Access the Power of Blockchain

Interview with Max Kordek – President & CEO of Lisk | Humans of Blockchain

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Welcome to our comprehensive interview series – Humans of Blockchain ™ where we get the best in the business to answer a diverse set of questions.

This series will clear the air of doubt in the blockchain space today by focusing on bringing more transparency to the readers.

Our guest today is Max Kordek – President & CEO of Lisk Foundation – “Access the power of blockchain” 

Max is an experienced personality in the Blockchain Industry and his opinions about the Industry mean a lot. Humans of Blockchain ™ had the pleasure of meeting this great individual at TOKEN2049

Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Max himself.


1. We would love to know more about you, Max. Your Journey which brought you into the Blockchain space.

My whole life I was always interested in three things basically –

  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Finance

I always had this dream of becoming an investment banker until 2008. But then the dream shattered and wasn’t something for me anymore, but I was also always a tech guy and I ended up studying Electrical Engineering in one of the best universities in Germany. Annnd… It was pretty Boring 😅

It was just mathematics, and the kind you never use in your day and you’ll never use it in your whole life. So I searched online (was a lot of time online actually), and discovered Bitcoin. Now Bitcoin combined the three things I was interested in, Finance – investment in general, Electrical Engineering – mining, and Computer Science.

Fell in Love the first second!

Back in the day I got hit by a bottle against my head and got some money off of that (I was a poor student you know), so suddenly I had a bit of money, and I went ahead and bought my first miner using the money. I have like a 20 Sqm apartment, I put it up there with three GPUs (Graphics Processing Units), was like 2012-2013, and it was Hot! And Loud… my frustration built up over time and I started to develop a hate for Proof-of-Work, cause it was so resource draining, so I looked around and found Proof-of-Stake! Specifically Nxt or Next. Got super involved, flew all over the world, went to a lot of conferences, hosted their official website at one point and a lot of other stuff. There was a problem though, it was a truly decentralized community and you didn’t know who was the Founder. No real push in terms of Business Development, Development of the Platform, and so on. So it eventually crumbled and failed…

I saw it initially that it will Fail so I searched for a Startup, which was building its own Blockchain. Found one, got involved but they raised only $200,000, a distributed team, not fully aligned, etc. Now I saw these problems in all these communities, you have a Startup which is not fully aligned and development takes a tremendously long time because of that and we needed to bring down the complexity. That is how I started my own Startup – Lisk.

We are a Startup with 55 people in Berlin, and 3 people in Zug, Switzerland. We are working on tools for developers which allows them or enables them to Build their own Blockchain because we think that the Blockchain technology is a disruptive technology and we want more people to build more concepts and innovations with this technology. But its too difficult, I was just talking to someone, he has raised millions, has 20 people, and they have been at it for two years without any fruit. We ourselves, at Lisk, are 50 people and we have been working for 3 years. So that is what we are trying to do, bring down the complexity. And that’s basically how I got involved, how I started all of this.

I was still studying when I found Lisk, and I dropped out, last minute actually cause I wanted to fully focus on Lisk. I didn’t see a reason to study any further, it would have been a waste of time for me.

Didn’t regret it even once.


2. Can you tell us more about Lisk? The vision and mission.

So our ultimate vision is that we want to simply Blockchain Development.

How are we doing it?

We are building a JavaScript toolbox which enables developers to drastically reduce their developing time by giving them multiple small shortcuts.

What does this tool look like?

The real term is an SDK (Software Development Kit) and it consists of many different modules which make a Blockchain – consensus algorithms, P2P modules, chain algorithms, etc. So we give all these tools and a command line interface to the developers with which they can generate a new Blockchain within a few minutes.

That’s what we are all about, we enable developers to build their own Blockchains because in the end, everyone is building their own Blockchain and are considered as island solutions but we want to connect the Blockchains together. At the moment we are not sure how if it’s gonna be one Blockchain with another or all chained with Lisk or divided, some with Lisk and some with others. We are not sure yet, but that would make your Blockchain a Sidechain. So we are all about Sidechains in the end. Which grows organically by giving developers the tools to build their own Blockchain and by adding this interoperability aspect of adding it as a Sidechain.


3. Lisk is using Delegated-Proof-of-Stake, so you will be linking all the other Blockchains using different consensus algorithms?

In the beginning, it will be all DPoS because it’s what we have but as a developer, obviously you can make your own consensus algorithm – simple PoS, PoW, whatever you want but we want to keep it quite simple in the beginning. So this is like our major pillar(s) – Developer(s) and simplify the development of Blockchain technology but there are so many more aspects, we are horizontally aligned, we have our own wallets, we think about user experience, so when a new user enters our platform, making it as easy as possible for him to use our platform, we also have our sights set on education, we want to educate people about Blockchain. Cause we see it like this –

First, you Educate the people about Blockchain – Then you give them easy access – Then you let them build. In a simple manner.

People don’t know what Blockchain actually is, they read about it in the news but they didn’t fall in love or really connect and then there are people out there who have many more ideas than we have and we want them to build and realize their ideas. Similar to The iPhone, before it was just a smartphone with built-in apps, but then they added the App Store which enabled people to build applications on it and now its a mini computer which helps us in every aspect of our daily life and we assume something similar will happen to the next phase of the internet with the Blockchain technology and then obviously there needs to be this developer infrastructure in place which enables developers to easily execute their ideas. We are their path.


4. Where is the company headquartered?

We have the Lisk Foundation – Non-Profit which is based in Zug, Switzerland. Same as, for example, the Ethereum Foundation and we have a Gmbh – for Profit company based in Berlin, Germany. The Lisk Foundation takes care of all the operational stuff like overseeing the money we collected in our initial coin offering (ICO) we collected in 2016 and overseeing the overall progress in development, design, and marketing. These three aspects are outsourced to the Berlin-based company which is doing those on a daily basis. Just progressing the platform, progressing our tools, promoting them and also taking care of the Business Development.


5. Are there any shortcomings in the Blockchain industry which hinder the development for Lisk’s developer tools?

There are many problems. We are still in the early stage and there are many problems which need to be tackled. An obvious one is Scalability, are we there yet? Probably not… Bitcoin is not scalable enough, Ethereum is not scalable enough and Bitcoin if compared to the VISA Network is nothing because if we were to say that the whole world should use Bitcoin, download the app, billions of people cannot be facilitated on the current network and then we can argue that the Blockchain is better at the settlement layer and it should not be used for a worldwide use case but that is yet to be figured out. Very difficult to say but in terms of scalability we are definitely not there. And in terms of development infrastructure we are not there, I mean, Ethereum gave a big step forward to the developer community in Blockchain but again if you look closely, they are using tools such as Truffle and so on, which have existed for the last 10-20 years and that is super-super bad… It’s understandable, we are also working with some CS, and we are also not there yet, it’s very normal and it takes time because its a new technology we are working with. And the rest is quite easy to state – Use Cases, we need more use-cases but we just don’t know what Blockchain can be used for on a broad basis other than Information Technology.

Just gotta figure it out over time, not overnight, and again giving the people the tools and they convert their ideas to reality. But right now the tools are shit so they take longer. So a lot of shortcomings and people complain – we need to move faster but there’s a lot of progress, especially now in the Crypto Winter where people talk less and do more.


6. We are in the first quarter of 2019. What do you see the year holding for Blockchain Projects and Lisk?

For Lisk itself, we will release our SDK as an Alpha version which will enable a developer to spin up a Blockchain, do custom transactions, to play around, basically build a simple application. This is a major step for us, we have worked on this for years, and it’s such a great feeling to see it finally come alive. So this is all what we are about for the year, pushing out the SDK, refining it, establishing a feedback loop with the community to see what we need to change or improve in the SDK but it will also build our first use cases. Without uses cases we are nothing, we can have the best tools but if no one is using the tools then we have nothing. We really want to partner up with Businesses and Developers to build use cases which make sense to the world. We will be building our first use case internally as part of a Hackathon, and eventually, phase it out.

In general, we see a lot of progress in terms of technology, people are developing, things are finally getting in place, rhythms have established, people are not losing themselves at crazy parties or a lot of money, they are just working hard to, maybe, go back to the point where the prices were skyrocketing, but right now we see many people who are the hardcore believers of the Blockchain Technology. Last year there were a lot of people who just thought that they were gonna be rich. Not so much anymore today haha. This is a positive step towards building a better future. And the Bear Market is actually good because the Hard times break us but they also make us.


Any Ending Remarks for the people out there, Max?

Sure. For Investors, I can just sayGuys it takes a lot of time to develop something which has to do with Blockchain technology. Please accept it and just wait for it. Check regularly for updates, go on to Github, be patient as these projects which are still developing have just the best in their minds. They just want to deliver what they promised and they just want to make it more positive for the industry.”

This is just a really big remark to the investor community and to all the projects out there who are still building, who still have the funds, who are still kicking ass… Good Job!

Lets do more and I think we still need more cooperation, Startups need to work more closely together to really think about what the industry and people need, there is a lot of infighting happening because of fierce competition, people don’t have half a billion dollars in funds anymore, only a few million and they are getting nervous, which is leading to such fights. We need to work together so that the population can benefit instead of a few people getting richer

Generally, I like where we are at the moment, I never cared too much about the price, I care about the technological advances and we have seen more in the last few months than in any months for the years 2018, 17, and 16 because now things are established and that’s very good to see.


Check out More Humans working in the Industry Here!

What do you think?