To use a web application, you probably open a web browser or a mobile app. To access an Ethereum application, many people use an Ethereum browser. In previous episodes, we explored Metamask and Mist, which are Ethereum browsers for the desktop. In today’s episode, we explore Status, a mobile Ethereum browser.
Status founders Jarrad Hope and Oskar Thoren join the show to talk about the engineering of Status. How Status connects to the Ethereum blockchain, what people want from Ethereum applications, and the engineering of the Status app itself. Status is built using React Native–which is working out quite well for them.
We also talked some about the mechanics of an ICO. Status has raised $100m in their ICO for the Status Network Token. An ICO differs from raising equity in several ways. Rather than representing a direct stake in the business, a token represents a stake in the ecosystem that is being built.
Through their ICO, Status raised much more than a startup at a similar stage in company development would have–and the vesting schedule for the founders is 2 years. After two years, their stake will be liquid. This illustrates another way that the ICO can contrast with a traditional startup equity offering.
In a traditional startup, there is not a liquid open market for equity prior to the company going public. This can be good, as it forces the founders to maintain their skin in the game until they have proven the business. But it can also be bad–founders should arguably be able to take some money off of the table even if their business model is not completely worked out.
In the interview, Jarrad explained that he anticipates the open source community around Status to be contributing more to the Status app over time, because the community has a stake in the app by purchasing the Status token. I hope this is the case–it would be very cool to see more consumer-facing open source applications.
Status is a consumer facing app–and it did make me think that it is strange that there is so much open source software for building applications (think about React Native, Kubernetes, Kafka), but there are fewer consumer-facing open source apps. There’s not an open source Uber, an open source Facebook, or an open source Google. Why is that?
Maybe that’s because we are still in the days where someone has to pay for the backend compute layer. In other words–open source code is free to host, but running the actual application infrastructure still requires the owner to pay–so it makes sense that consumer applications are still developed and maintained by central actors.
With Ethereum, maybe that will change and we will see more consumer facing, open source, decentralized applications. That is certainly the world that Status.im is hoping for.
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