ICO Spotlight: James Prestwich, CFO and COO of Storj
Hello James, thank you for talking to us here in Coinschedule. Let me start by saying that personally I like the Storj project and I have actually been renting my drive to Storj for some time now, so it’s great to be able to ask you some questions on behalf or our visitors! Storj has been around for a while, right? It’s not a new project trying to raise funds to then start the development. So tell me why are you doing the crowdsale now?
We’re at a really great point right now. We have a working protocol and platform, an amazing technical team, some exciting partnerships and integrations. We’ve spent the last several years developing this, building out the software, making it fast and reliable, and we’re ready to take it to the next level. We have huge plans for the next few years, and the token sale helps us get there.
How does Storj use blockchain? They are not used in the fundamental way you store the data, correct? Can you talk a bit about why you need blockchain?
We use it primarily for payments. We’re building an entirely machine-to-machine marketplace for storage and bandwidth. In Storj, computers autonomously negotiate contracts, including payments. Blockchains are the only way to do that.
In the future, we have some exciting new uses for smart contracts. We’re working on application-specific state channels, micropayments, and a few other things we’re not ready to talk about yet. Look out for more technical details soon.
That’s very interesting. Now talking about blockchain, you started off in one and now you are moving to another one. Explain to us what is happening there?
We started off using the Counterparty protocol. Which, at the time, was state of the art. We wanted to be involved in a community built around this technology, that unfortunately never materialized. We put a lot of time and effort into developing Counterparty micropayment channels, and contributed them back to the community. Unfortunately, it hasn’t grown up the way we hoped it would. Tools have been fairly stagnant, and a few major features (like multi-signature addresses) have broken along the way. We came to the conclusion that it’d never scale the way we needed it to, and started looking around for better options.
Looking forward, there are things that Ethereum offers that Counterparty doesn’t. In terms of technology, we have plans around smart contracts that I alluded to earlier. But we’re also anticipating huge community benefits. Ethereum has a great community of developers, working with shared standards toward common goals. We feel like we can contribute to a larger ecosystem in meaningful ways, and that’s really exciting for us.
I think that you are a proven project, with a proven technology. But for the benefit of all readers, can you tell us more about your team? Who are they, what experience do they bring?
Honestly, I could talk about our team for ages. We’re lucky to have some of the best people in the space, including an amazing co-founder team.
James Prestwich, who wrote the current version of our whitepaper, is an entrepreneur and developer. He handles our operations and finances, and contributes to product development and technical architecture.
John Quinn, a reformed investment banker, handles business development, sales, and marketing, is the only non-technical full time employee. He’s fluent in Russian, and an avid skier.
Shawn Wilkinson has been involved in Bitcoin for far too long. He loves finding elegant solutions to complex problems and interfacing with the community.
Tome Boshevski, our designer, emigrated from Macedonia to work with us. He’s responsible for visual design and user interfaces.
Our technical team is led by:
Gordon Hall, formerly at BitPay and ChangeTip, is our lead engineer. He’s a free software activist who builds distributed systems for fun in his spare time. The core protocol is based on his Kad library.
Philip Hutchins, who came to us from YikYak, handles infrastructure and operations. He’s a former professional stunt driver, and single-handedly manages our entire deployment automation process.
What are the top 3 biggest challenges you believe you have when it comes to making Storj a huge success? Is getting more people to store data with you (so trust Storj in the first place) one of them?
Education. It turns out distributed networks are hard to understand. We’re trying to provide simple interfaces to things, but there’s a fundamental change in the way you have to think about storage to get comfortable with this. This means we need amazing marketing and support teams churning out a ton of content.
Tools. We’re trying to replace a giant object storage industry that has more than 10 years of ecosystem development. We’re incredibly far behind. Fortunately, this gives us a chance to rethink the toolset, and provide a better development experience.
Sales. We have petabytes of capacity on the network sitting empty. Right now, we’re helping to bootstrap that, but we really need more people and organizations purchasing space. The token sale is going to help us go out and reach those people.
James, thanks and I wish you all the best of luck. This is an ICO I will be watching closely. Where can people get more information about it?
You can see more about the sale on our website: storj.io/tokensale. And feel free to hop in our community chat room at community.storj.io, or just shoot an email to [email protected]