I believe in the magic of three. It represents time — past, present, future. And as I celebrate my three year anniversary at the helm of the Stellar Development Foundation, that seems to fit perfectly with how I think about my Stellar journey.
Let’s start with the past. When I joined three years ago, I was focused on the basics. What did we need to get in place to make sure SDF could be successful? It was about creating structure, articulating a strategy, and defining our role in the ecosystem. Committed to transparency in this process, I made our mandate public, created a detailed vision, and started publishing an annual roadmap with our goals toward the mission.
That gave us clarity. With that, we needed to solidify our foundation by ensuring network stability and growth. I saw the most impactful way to do this was by building relationships with developers and partners, and by being responsive to the key functionality they sought to put the network on track to accomplish “big things.”
That approach led us to bring USDC to Stellar, giving the leading digital dollar stablecoin a fast, affordable network to thrive. It also led us to create the Enterprise Fund, so we could support innovative entrepreneurs building on the network (and it’s been pretty impactful – have you heard about the Wyre acquisition yet?). It pushed us to collaborate with the ecosystem on bringing leading edge products to the network, like Vibrant and AMMs. It motivated our relationship with MoneyGram International - an important player in global money transfer. It inspired me to share the real use cases being built on Stellar with as many people as possible, which for me, culminated in being invited to testify in front of Congress late last year in the first hearing on digital assets.
That’s not everything, but you get the idea. For me, the past has been about getting the chess pieces into place so this network can make smart moves in the year(s) to come.
That brings me to the present. Where are we now? Have I been leading the organization in the right direction? It’s a question I constantly ask myself – and I’m convinced the answer is a resounding yes. Those pieces we’ve been moving into strategic positions are finally ready to come together seamlessly, with new products entering the Stellar ecosystem and the digital asset economy as a whole. Next month, our solution with MoneyGram International will be live. It is unprecedented the scale and reach this product will have, creating access for millions of people around the world to on and off ramp crypto to cash and vice versa. This product required so much of the work of the past, leveraging the strengths of the network architecture, as well as USDC, Wyre, Vibrant, Lobstr, and creating real interoperability with the traditional financial infrastructure1. I can’t wait to get it into the hands of more people to prove what differentiates Stellar in the market – as a fast, affordable, interoperable, and efficient blockchain network.
And now, to round out my three, I come to the future. All this work over the last three years has set us up for what I see will be the next wave of change for SDF and for the Stellar ecosystem. Big picture, I have an unrelenting focus on interoperability and inclusion. This is what will propel SDF to achieve our mission to create equitable access to the global financial system. What comes next will be driven by that focus. The most immediate on this front is smart contracts and creating new surface for development. We've learned that smart contracts are not only important but necessary for the developer focus that Stellar wants and needs. We announced Project Jump Cannon and have been sharing regular updates on how the tech stack is being developed. It has already created deeper and more engagement and will bring with it greater surface area for developers to build cool things.
This extends beyond smart contracts to things like bridging and scalability. On bridging, we’re already in development, recognizing it is a critical component to interoperability, and it needs to be accomplished in a way that ensures fees not only stay low but are fit for the purpose of the activity. And we’re bringing our attention to TPS, liquidity, and scalability. (I’ve got a new favorite website – realtps.net) Of course, we have not forgotten that hand-in-hand with these new developers, we need to bring even more partners who see the value of what Stellar and the ecosystem can offer.
While I’m on the topic of the not-too-distant future, a priority for me is also to make sure you’re hearing from me even more. So, I’m excited to announce that I’m launching a podcast (not words I ever thought I’d write or say). It’s called block by block, and the very first episode will launch in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I just released a trailer to give the backstory on why we’re bringing this content to the public. I hope you give it a listen.
The last three years have been magical for me. I have learned so much, had the great fortune to meet many new and interesting people, and been continually inspired by the creativity that comes out of SDF and the Stellar ecosystem every single day. I’m no Pythagoras, but I do believe that what will multiply from all of the work done by the SDF and ecosystem during my first three years at SDF is set to make the Stellar network a positive force not just in crypto, but in the world.
1I can’t help myself from mentioning that there is also another big initiative just on the horizon that also brings some of these components together, but I can’t share the details just yet. Hang tight (I promise you won’t have to wait long).