Polkadot, a blockchain network protocol led by the co-founder and former CTO of Ethereum Gavin Wood, has gained a lot of spotlight around the world among the developer and blockchain communities, especially in China.
Web3 Foundation, a company also started by Wood that commissioned the teams to build Polkadot, recently closed on a private sale of tokens to fund the development of the project. The project aims to build a platform that allows other blockchains to interact and interoperate. The new capital bumped Polkadot’s valuation to a whopping $1.2 billion, although Web3 Foundation did not reveal the full list of the companies that participated in the latest round of funding, Wood said the project has received “fairly substantial” backing from Chinese funds.
The enthusiasm is reciprocated. In an interview with TechNode, Wood said China is one of the most important markets for his new ambitious blockchain project.
Wood and his team at Web3 Foundation is on a four-city tour in China to promote the much-anticipated project. They made their first stop in Beijing last week. The meetup attracted developers and blockchain aficionados who filled the venue.
Polkadot network is based on proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus and it that creates an environment that allows data structures—not just blockchains—to connect to the network. It aims to tackles some of the core issues with blockchain networks including scalability, security, and interoperability. Simply put, what it intends to accomplish is to build a secure blockchain network for different types of blockchains to collaborate and benefit from each other’s core competencies—a chain for chains, so to speak.
Although some media reports suggested that the Polkadot’s fundraising efforts hit a bumpy road, Wood confirmed to TechNode that around 5% of the total supply of their tokens were sold as it initially targeted.
The hyped up project isn’t controversy-free. It received a lot of pushback from the Ethereum community, because Parity Technologies, Wood’s other company, powers large chunks of Ethereum and handles some $50 billion worth of its assets. The similarities between Polkadot and Ethereum’s Serenity (also known as Ethereum 2.0) raise questions about conflict of interest.
Wood said what Polkadot intends to be is an “innovation platform,” which was also he’s vision for Ethereum in the first place. But to him, the two projects have different ways of approaching the same vision.
Innovation is what will drive users and use cases said Wood, and Polkadot aims to do so via its Substrate, which can be thought of as the tool kit for developers to build new blockchain projects.
The platform that Polkadot provides allows new projects to connect with existing blockchain projects as well as other new ones. And it allows flexibility such as in determining whether developers want to provide their own security or they want to co-op the security that Polkadot provides.
For Polkadot, it’s less about trying to build a platform for interoperability for pre-existing projects, although that is not to say that pre-existing projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum are not valuable to build bridges to, in fact, that is something that Polkadot will probably do in the near future.
Wood revealed that Polkadot’s main net will be ready for launch as early as this November. But before then, the team will focus on the Kusama, which is an experimental version of Polkadot, a “canary-network” as he calls it, which refers to canaries in the coal mine that serve as a warning of dangers and risks.
China is perfectly fitted for blockchain
The project was able to attract Chinese capital not only because of his association with Ethereum, Wood said, but Chinese investors have seen a lot of interest and activity in the local blockchain and developer community. Wood has high hopes for participation from Chinese developers.
China’s rapidly shifting regulatory environment can be difficult to navigate especially for those foreign to the market, but regulatory challenges are not something that Wood is most concerned about.
“If I wanted to launch a new payment system or a new token, that will become a problem [in China], but that is not really what Polkadot is trying to do,” he said. “This technology for me is not about cryptocurrency, it is really about trust freedom and the ability to construct new businesses without having to have a business at all… Although tokenization plays a role in this, it’s not the critical thing nor is it necessary for all of it to work.” Moreover, Wood believes that the China market’s potential is the entrepreneurial spirit that is common observance in the community.
Wood noticed over the past years dealing with China and parts of Europe is that there are awfully a lot more information-hungry and opportunity-seeking individuals, the kind of vibe that he compared with the early days of capitalism. It is why he believes that China is perfectly fitted for blockchain development.
“Blockchain is really all about having people to create open-ended deals and other people that accept the deals,” and in China, there are notably more people willing and eager to engage in that activity.
At the meetup in Beijing, Liu Yi, partner at crypto asset management firm Random Capital, teased the Cdot Network which will provide relay services specifically for Polkadot’s parachains (parallelizable chains) in China. The aim is to lower the threshold to create new blockchain projects in the ecosystem. It will also work with Web3 Foundation to help provide local developers the training about Polkadot’s Substrate as well as incubate new blockchain projects.