R2 Labs Founder on Building a Team and the Importance of Protocol Expertise
RSQ Labs, a research and analysis firm, has formed a team of seasoned blockchain engineers and industry experts to educate businesses on DLT use cases and help them to take the leap into the blockchain. It has been a tall order, considering that it is still early days in the blockchain space and there are few people with the expertise required for the job.
Blockchain researcher Anish Mohammed, who has been heavily involved in the ecosystem since 2013, is founder of RSQ Labs. Mohammed, who has advised companies including blockchain startup Ripple Labs and was involved with Ethereum, talked about building the company’s team of engineers, researchers and analysts, saying there is a “cognitive dissonance” happening in the space.
“The signals that come out and the reality don’t always match,” he noted.
Mohammed went on to emphasise the value of having high-quality, high-integrity teams involved in protocol design, saying,
“There are A.) very few people who actually have the kind of interdisciplinary expertise that is required, and B.) very few very people who actually have shown throughout the last close to a decade of time that their opinion about something wouldn’t be that influenced by the total number of zeros behind it.”
He met some of his team members at a Stanford University event in Paris, including a Google alum who as a data scientist was previously involved with optimising revenue for the tech giant from ads and is now a co-founder of RSQ Labs. Mohammed explained,
“A lot of the problems are similar to what we have in blockchain.”
The RSQ team includes several of Mohammed’s friends who have been able to plug in some of the holes that needed to be filled across communication and interaction with the markets. He also regularly collaborates with others with those he called his “PhD-mates” who have been doing research on cryptography.
“These are people who have deep expertise in doing what needs to be done. So I put together a team that won’t be easily swayed by the economics of the situation. And we literally consider ourselves as valuing integrity over anything else.”
Mohammed explained that the team is focused on the protocol set from start to finish, touting their ability to build, design, and analyse a protocol and do formal verification or ecosystem analysis. The team is trained in the mathematical toolset , hands on experience in finance and cryptography research, which is a rare find in this industry.
“It’s not so often you get a chance to talk to people who were involved with building protocols after protocols. If you look at the top three…two I have in some sense been involved in and have had a ring side seat in the whole process. It is unlikely you will be able to get one of them to come and give you some guidance on the next protocol you want to build.”
Mohammed also emphasised the importance of knowing how the technology works, using the example of the automobile industry. He said when you press the brakes in a vehicle, you assume that they are going to work. If the brakes fail, it is the manufacturer’s fault. To drive, you don’t need to know how the vehicle works because somebody else does the work for you. In the decentralised world, it’s a different ballgame.
“In a blockchain world, in a decentralised world, because of the way the world works, it is up to yourself, because you don’t trust anybody else but yourself, to understand exactly what’s going on. If you have no idea of the things I described previously, you have only yourself to blame if you make massive mistakes.”
Find out more about Anish and his team at rsqlabs.com.