Interview with Kickstarter COO: An attempt to answer blockchain questions

Kickstarter COO Sean Leow talks with a reporter from The Beat about Kickstarter's controversial blockchain strategy, which is alarming many creators, including game creators.

The reporter asks some pretty technical questions about the efficiency and reversibility concerns around blockchain. And the COO attempts to answer! For instance:

THE BEAT: Could you give a little bit more details on that? Right now, blockchain is remarkably slow – it can take up to four hours to complete a single transaction on the Etherium network (which powers NFTs). Meanwhile, we have open-source systems like OAuth authentication, which is used between countless services. We have systems like Swagger that make it easy to build on APIs that transfer data between systems. Given that, if the goal is interoperability and data transfer, why not use something that already exists and is extensively used? Or, to put it another way, what is the killer feature of blockchain that could not be achieved through existing technology?

LEOW:
I’ll admit that I’m not the technical expert on this. And there’s a lot to explore here. But we think that, based on some of the more technical investigations into this that the data can be structured and moved more efficiently on blockchain.

 

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éxypnos

Explorer
Kickstarter COO Sean Leow talks with a reporter from The Beat about Kickstarter's controversial blockchain strategy, which is alarming many creators, including game creators.

The reporter asks some pretty technical questions about the efficiency and reversibility concerns around blockchain. And the COO attempts to answer! For instance:



Umm, no. blockchain isn't designed for speed. It was designed for anonymity. There is no reason (well, no logical reason) for KS to use blockchain.
 


Smackpixi

Adventurer
Two takeaways, he identifies two challenges for Kickstarter at the start, doesn’t say how blockchain addresses either. Also, COO is “not the technical expert on this”. Gonna choose to pivot the entire functionality of your platform to a thing, might spend some time becoming that.

Blockchain so often seems like a solution in search of a problem.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Also, COO is “not the technical expert on this”. Gonna choose to pivot the entire functionality of your platform to a thing, might spend some time becoming that.

In a company the size of Kickstarter, they darned well ought to have a CTO to be the technical expert on anything. I mean "Technical" is in the job description of "Chief Technical Officer", right?

Now, why they didn't have the CTO answering technical questions, I couldn't say.
 
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Smackpixi

Adventurer
In a company the size of Kickstarter, they darned well ought to have a CTO to be the technical expert on anything. I mean "Technical" is in the job description of "Chief Technical Officer", right?

Now, why they didn't have the CTO answering technical questions, I couldn't say.
They’re smaller than you think. Less than 100 EEs. Near as I can tell, only have former CTOs.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
They’re smaller than you think. Less than 100 EEs. Near as I can tell, only have former CTOs.

The size isn't about the number of employees, but about the volume (and money) the platform handles.

I've worked in places with fewer than 40 FTE, that had a CTO, because, get this - for a company that exists due to its technology, technology is important, and someone ought to be shepherding that stuff.
 
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Ulfgeir

Hero
Hmm, one thought that started bubbling in my brain, if it is implemented, is that this might cause a GDPR-nightmare if user-data is spread on the blockchain.
 

éxypnos

Explorer
Hmm, one thought that started bubbling in my brain, if it is implemented, is that this might cause a GDPR-nightmare if user-data is spread on the blockchain.
Best defence for that is to not put your P.I. where you don't want it viewed by others. Or at least only where absolutely requied for critical life functions like where you bank. Any place can be hacked regardless of Gov regs so they won't prevent your info from spreading.
 

I know! I had 3 clients in the last year, all IT Security start ups, trying to figure out how to work "blockchain" into their offerings. Unbelievable.

Without going into to too much detail, I'm currently professionally dealing with a company who did that and succeeded in selling it. My experiences with them have ... not made me more enthusiastic about the blockchain industry ecosystem, I'm just sayin'.

This interview sounds like a guy who is either way out of his depth, or who either let some blockchain tech evangelicals at KS talk him into making the big announcement without being fully across the detail, got taken by surprise by the backlash, and is now trying to gently walk things back without alienating the blockchain bloc inside KS to whom he has already, and probably ill-advisedly, handed the keys to the kingdom.

I'm no guru, but I've been working in the financial software sector for over a decade. Everything he talks about as a potential advantage of blockchain is a robustly solved problem using conventional databases, financial protocols etc without requiring blockchain at all. I'm just not seeing an upside here at all, much less one of a sufficient magnitude to justify the downside.

Still, it doesn't matter what i can or can't see, it's convincing this guy that'll be the problem. I suspect what will happen is that Kickstarter will set fire to a whole lot of money and neglect their core platform while their tech people chase fairies at the bottom of the blockchain garden, maybe produce a proof of concept which will be limited, buggy, and widely ignored or despised, and then eventually quietly shelve the whole idea.
 
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éxypnos

Explorer
I suspect what will happen is that Kickstarter will set fire to a whole lot of money and neglect their core platform while their tech people chase fairies at the bottom of the blockchain garden, maybe produce a proof of concept which will be limited, buggy, and widely ignored or despised, and then eventually quietly shelve the whole idea.
This!
 

I used to work in computer game development (MMORPGs) and I can't see one good thing NFTs or blockchain could do in that area either.

This guy I once worked with had a video talking about it:

 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Umm, no. blockchain isn't designed for speed. It was designed for anonymity. There is no reason (well, no logical reason) for KS to use blockchain.
It's not even designed for anonymity - the transaction log is fully public and any anonymity it provides is due to how the token owner on the chain sets up their own access. it's very easy to create a blockchain identity that reveals everything you purchase to the entire world and points directly back to you.

Blockchain is designed to track transactions in an environment where there is no central authority that can be trusted to verify the transactions. The use cases for blockchain are so narrow that I'm always skeptical of a blockchain announcement. I generally assume that they're throwing out buzzwords to get investors mollified/hyped until proven otherwise.

BTW - that interview with the COO of Kickstarter is embarassing. I walked away from it wondering if he knew anything but buzzwords about the tech he was talking about.
 

éxypnos

Explorer
It's not even designed for anonymity - the transaction log is fully public and any anonymity it provides is due to how the token
It is DESIGNED to NOT require personally identifying information to OPERATE. Same thing at the end of the day I am juxtapositioning versus TRADITIONAL FUND TRANSFER methods.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I suspect what will happen is that Kickstarter will set fire to a whole lot of money and neglect their core platform while their tech people chase fairies at the bottom of the blockchain garden, maybe produce a proof of concept which will be limited, buggy, and widely ignored or despised, and then eventually quietly shelve the whole idea.
I hope it happens sooner rather than later. I used to back a lot of Kickstarter projects; I'd like to continue doing so again someday.
 


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