I’ve taken a break from writing for quite a while because, as most of you will know, I only like to write about things I’m really excited about, and projects that excite me enough to share are few and far between. One project I’ve been vocal about over the last few months is IoTeX, and this article will serve as the first installment in a series of articles detailing why. Let’s start with the team.
A cursory look through the IoTeX website will afford you enough time to stumble across this image — the team background. Assembled from an array of elite universities and S-Class companies, the IoTeX team is one of the most perfect combinations of academic and industrial expertise I have seen in any new blockchain project this year. These logos not only represent brief stints like internships or research partnerships, but long careers filled with influence and accomplishments. I’m never one to accept things at face value, so I decided to look a little deeper into their backgrounds, starting with the four founders. Their backgrounds are impressive as individuals, but even more impressive collectively. Raullen’s experience in cutting-edge security and infrastructure, Xinxin’s vast knowledge of IoT devices and cryptography, Qevan’s ability to design and build digital consumer products, and Jing’s track record in VC+startups — the depth of this founding team is a recipe for success.
Raullen Chai (University of Waterloo, Oracle, Google, Uber)
Raullen started his research in 2008 with a PhD in Electrical & Computer Engineering at University of Waterloo, most notably for some, the same place where Vitalik Buterin studied Computer Science. After 4 years there he moved into industry and worked for Oracle as a software engineer, utilising his PhD by focusing mainly on privacy and encryption.
From there he went to Google as a Senior Software Engineer and Technical Lead, where he founded the Google Cloud Load Balancer, which is essentially a service which allows very large and demanding networks to handle heavy loads on a large scale. The HTTP/S load balancer which Raullen was a founder of is actually part of the system which allows Pokemon Go to run and handle as many p2p transactions as it does. Raullen posted about this success in 2016, back when he was still working for Google. Not only is the technical experience gained from such a role huge, but clearly the working relationships and networking power will be of great help to IoTeX too, as we have seen recently with the announcement of IoTeX development being powered by Kubernetes, which is a containerisation project that comes from a Google team that Raullen worked with closely.
After Google, Raullen went even further still and became Head of Cryptography R&D at ride-sharing giant Uber. In this role, Raullen led a team of senior cryptographers and engineers to develop tools that are used across Uber’s state-of-the-art tech stack.
The focus on cryptography and privacy at Waterloo, Oracle and Uber, combined with the focus of scalability and load balancing at Google are the perfect combination of technical knowledge required to achieve IoTeX’s goal of building a privacy centric, scalable network for IoT.
Xinxin Fan (University of Waterloo, Bosch)
While Raullen’s research and responsibilities have been primarily rooted in large-scale infrastructure, Xinxin’s expertise is in combining IoT hardware, connectivity, and cryptography to design and implement real-world IoT solutions.. Like Raullen, Xinxin received his PhD from the University of Waterloo, where he managed the 5-year, $1.7M Ontario Research Fund for the development of next-generation security and privacy solutions. He was at the university for over 8 years and in that time completed applied research on Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications and IoT systems ranging from light cryptography to NFC technology.
After leaving the university, Xinxin went to Bosch as a senior research engineer, continuing his work on applied IoT research in the security and privacy group. For those who don’t know, Bosch is a world leading multinational engineering and electronics company headquartered in Germany. They are one of the largest device manufacturers in the world and are heavily pushing the industry forward in IoT innovation. Xinxin’s experience in large-scale IoT implementations, as well as the contacts from his 4 years at Bosch, will be a monumental help in securing working partnerships with enterprises at IoTeX. In addition to his accomplishments in university and industry, Xinxin is an inventor of 7 patents filings in information security through private p2p networks, and he has published 40+ referred papers in top journals, conferences, and workshops, some of which have been based solely on his work for IoTeX.
Qevan Guo (National University of Singapore, Facebook)
Unlike the two founders discussed already Qevan Guo is does not have a research background in privacy and cryptography, but his background is as impressive and relevant nonetheless. Qevan got his PhD in Computer Vision at Singapore’s top university, where he worked at the cutting edge of AI and machine learning. After his PhD, he joined Facebook in 2011 where he worked for 7 years. At Facebook, Qevan led several teams as a Research Scientist and Engineering Lead for their ads platform and various other products. In other words, Qevan knows how to lead a team to build effective consumer-facing products, which is crucial to the success of any blockchain platform. Doing some background research to corroborate we can find a lot of published papers by Qevan in this field of research, with impressive citations. In addition to his papers, he holds a large number of valid patents in his area of expertise, some of which were filed during his time at Facebook.
It’s becoming apparent that the good software development practices of the team are not by coincidence. Never before have I followed a project which sticks to release dates and deadlines so well. The accumulation of different experiences throughout the team at places like Facebook, Cisco and Uber are most certainly part of the reason.
Jing Sun (Sparkland Capital)
Lastly we have Jing Sun. Since 2014 Jing has been the Managing Partner of Sparkland Capital, a venture capital firm investing in frontier technologies with multiple successful exits. Prior to that Jing amassed experiences across industries in her roles as journalist, financial analyst, and strategic planner both in the US and abroad, at firms such as Temasek Holdings and Hanhai Investment. What the other founders may lack in business development experience, Jing provides in excess. She has had a successful career with rich experience in the investment field and knows exactly what is required of a new Silicon Valley startup to grow and prosper. She is a board director for numerous companies and has extensive experience in startup, investments and ecosystem building.
Earlier this year, IoTeX raised their hard cap of $25 million USD in a private token sale to large institutional investment firms, such as Kenetic, HASHED, NEO Global Capital, and Tim Draper’s DraperDragon. If there’s anyone that would know how to pitch to investment firms like this it would be Jing, and having such connections allows a small dynamic start-up like IoTeX to get into rooms and have 1-on-1 meetings with giants like Panasonic, Delta, Siemens and Tata. The importance of these opportunities cannot be understated, and it is where relationships start to form which one day can turn into pilot projects and eventually into full on partnerships. There are too many projects in this space at the moment focusing too much on tech alone, or too much on business and “partnerships” alone, but this mix of founders provides a wonderful balance for IoTeX to get the best of both.
Besides the co-founders, there is also a very strong group of engineers in the tech team who are responsible for the low level implementations of the IoTeX network solutions. Because they are not yet on the official website I won’t include them here, but their backgrounds are just as impressive and they have experience from Yale, MIT, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and more. Look out for an article about them once the new website is up and running with their full profiles available.
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