, Episode

Mance Harmon on distributed ledger technologies

Interview by
January 20, 2021

In this episode...

Mance Harmon, the chief executive at Hedera Hashgraph, explains how distributed ledger technologies have evolved over time — and what the future might hold.

Mance Harmon

Mance Harmon began his career as a research scientist for the U.S. Air Force, went on to become a program manager for a very large scale software program for the Missile Defense Agency, and then built two very successful startups. Now he is the chief executive officer at Hedera Hashgraph.


INTRO [00:00:04] You're listening to POWER PLAYS, the podcast charting how important decisions about the Internet - its infrastructure and its institutions - have been made. Here's your host, Ayden Férdeline.

Ayden Férdeline [00:00:29] Welcome to POWER PLAYS, I'm Ayden Férdeline. Today on POWER PLAYS, we are joined by Mance Harmon. Mance Harmon is an experienced technology executive and entrepreneur. He began his career as a research scientist for the Air Force, went on to become a program manager for a very large scale software program for the Missile Defense Agency, built two very successful startups, and now he's the chief executive at Hedera Hashgraph. We'll get into the Hedera hashgraph is in our interview.

Ayden Férdeline [00:01:01] Firstly, thank you so much for your time today, Mance, and I wanted to start out our conversation a little bit broad because POWER PLAYS has more of a general audience of people that are interested in technology and especially technology policy, but not necessarily everyone follows the crypto or distributed ledger spaces. They might have heard of Bitcoin or they might have heard of maybe blockchain, but that might be it. Before we get into that, though, I'd love to start with an icebreaker and something that I always ask people on POWER PLAYS is, what is a contrarian thought that you have about business or culture that others might disagree with you on?

Mance Harmon [00:01:43] Oh, OK. Well, so given the industry that we're in, if your listeners don't have a lot of exposure, they might be interested to know that most of the players in our industry sort of take a contrarian view to working with the regulators. You know, Bitcoin grew out of this notion that we want a global financial system that doesn't have any regulation or central authority over it at all. And for that reason, most of the players in our industry, you know, thumb their nose, so to speak, at governments or regulatory bodies that, we've taken exactly the opposite approach. And that is controversial in the industry. We have sort of embraced working with the regulators and building a global platform in the crypto space that is regulatory friendly. We've had conversations from the very beginning and it's shaped the platform and who we are in the market today. And, yeah, some of your listeners might find that interesting or unexpected, but that's controversial. And that's the case. That's the case for us.  

Ayden Férdeline [00:03:16] Well, let's dive into that in a moment when we talk about what the Hedera Hashgraph is. But before we do that, I'm curious about your life before Hedera. What were you doing before cofounding Hedera? And how did you get going on this journey that you're on now?

Mance Harmon [00:03:31] Sure. Well, look, I go way back into deep tech for decades. I started my career doing machine learning research in the military in the US Air Force. I worked for the Air Force senior scientist for machine intelligence. I taught computer science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, managed a massive software program for the Missile Defense Agency here in the US, decided to become an entrepreneur and have done two prior startups in the space of identity and access management. And sold both of those companies. And then my business partner, colleague that I've been working with for almost 30 years since 1993, decided he wanted to solve this really hard math problem that effectively is a better way of doing the equivalent of blockchain. And today we call that hashgraph. He solved that problem in 2015 and that led us to where we are today. We started a company that resulted in the creation of Hedera Hashgraph using the tech that he created. But we both are our deep tech going back for a really long time.

Ayden Férdeline [00:04:43] I guess the basic question is, what is the Hedera Hashgraph? For those in our audience who might not be as versed, perhaps with the idea as well of what a distributed ledger technology is, why does it matter? And what are you building on here?

Mance Harmon [00:05:02] Yeah, the basic premise of distributed consensus is that there isn't a single trusted third party that has insight into everything that's going on and therefore has an advantage over the community that is using the product or services managed by that by that one trusted third party. We're dis-intermediating centralized control and distributing that control and transparency, creating transparency across the community of users of an application. So, for example, let's pick on Uber as an example. Uber, of course, runs and manages its service for those that use Uber around the world. Hypothetically, one could imagine the creation of a distributed Uber where there is no central organization that is is profiting from having that position that that gets distributed across a community of consumers and drivers. And that would benefit both parties, both the consumers and the drivers, in terms of fees that get charged. You know, the amount of money that gets charged maybe goes down, the amount of money gets paid to the drivers goes up. And there's you know, there's not a trusted third party. When I say trusted, what I really mean is we're all using the service and we're trusting that that third party isn't going to take advantage of us in some way. If you look at the tech giants today, of course, we see and understand that they have enormous power and insight into our daily lives and our patterns of behavior and just enormous insight into who we are, and we're trusting them not to abuse that, not to sell that information, not to use it against us in some way. The vision for decentralization, but distributed consensus in general is to take that power away and make sure that there isn't a third party that has that kind of control over the community of users of its products and services.

Ayden Férdeline [00:07:35] Thanks. Perhaps get a little more concrete. I think people will have heard of blockchain before, which is one kind of distributed ledger technology and Bitcoin, but from what I understand and please correct me if I am wrong, the idea behind the Hedera Hashgraph is that there are fundamental weaknesses in blockchain that prevent it from changing the world in a way, you think, the Hedera Hashgraph could. Could you explain what those limitations or weaknesses are? And I think it'd be really helpful if you also have a concrete application of where Hedera is being used.

Mance Harmon [00:08:18] Yeah, well, let me just go through a brief description of how blockchain works. I mean, Bitcoin users, your audience probably, of course, has heard of Bitcoin. That was the first use of blockchain. And the notion is pretty simple. There are what they call miners. They're running nodes in the network.

Mance Harmon [00:08:39] And if I have a transaction that I want to submit to the network, say Alice wants to pay Bob a Bitcoin, that transaction gets submitted to the network, meaning that transaction goes to all of the miners in the network. Every miner gets a copy of every transaction in the network. Those miners collect them into a block of transactions, and then the miners compete with each other to solve a hard math problem. And once the the miner that solves that math problem first then has earned the right to take their block of transactions, send that block around to all the other other miners, along with proof that they solve the math problem. That's where the term proof of work comes from. They've proved to the community of other miners that they've actually solved the math problem. They've done the work to solve the math problem. And then all the miners take the block and they put it on top of their local copy of the chain of blocks of transactions. In other words, the blockchain. That by its design, is slow.

Mance Harmon [00:09:50] If it were the case that you have multiple miners solving the math problem at the same time, then you have blocks, multiple blocks go into all the miners and they have to choose which one was first. And, you know, they have to prune, they have to prune the tree, so to speak. And in order to make it work, you have to slow things down. If you have too many blocks coming in at once, then the chain ends up looking like a hydra and there's not time to cut the blocks off as they come in. You have to slow things down so that you can build one block at a time on top of the chain. It's by its design slow. What hashgraph is is the opposite all. There are no miners in this case. We just call them node operators because there is no proof of work. There's no math problem that you have to solve to prove to the others that you've done some work.

Mance Harmon [00:10:50] It's conceptually all the transactions flow in and go to all the node operators at the same time. They get sort of piled up on top of each other and then through some magic of math - I don't mean to gloss over it but to keep it simple - through some magic of math, each node operator can look at this graph of transactions that are flowing in and recognize when all the other miners are in agreement on what the graph looks like. And in other words, they're in consensus on the flow of transactions into the network. And it all operates in parallel. And for that reason, it's far more efficient. And let me just make it concrete. Bitcoin blockchain, for example, on a global basis, can handle seven transactions per second globally. That's it.

Mance Harmon [00:11:42] When you consider that, say, the Visa network is doing thousands of transactions per second, seven transactions per second for Bitcoin is woefully slow. And if you look at ethereum today, the number two player in the space, they're doing 15 transactions per second. That's it globally. And of course, ethereum is working hard to try and resolve that problem. What we're doing today with hashgraph, because of the difference in its architecture and approach, what we're able to do today in our beta version of our network, is ten thousand transactions per second, orders of magnitude better. And there's something called finality, meaning that when transactions come in within a few seconds, you know, that those transactions are final. They're not going to change. They're not going to disappear. With bitcoin and ethereum, it can take dozens of minutes, if not hours before you know that those transactions are not going to change. Until you get to some sense of finality. So, you know, those are first generation technologies. And what we represent with hashgraph is I would even call it maybe third generation. And it just fundamentally, as a result, performs better, has much lower cost, because you can you know, we have higher throughput. If you can do more transactions per second on the same hardware or basically the same hardware, then the cost is much lower. And that's reflected in our pricing. So what Hedera is a network of nodes on a global basis that developers can use to build applications, we'd call these distributed applications. The community calls them DAPPS for short, distributed apps, and the text solves the same problem that blockchain solves and therefore addresses the same market.

Mance Harmon [00:13:43] But it's just far more efficient and more secure in some very technical ways. And that's how it plays out. That's what makes it concrete, is in the transactions per second and finality and cost structure significantly better than those first generation technologies.

Ayden Férdeline [00:14:02] That's really striking. Ten thousand transactions per second compared to seven transactions per second.

Mance Harmon [00:14:12] Correct, I know it's shocking. It is, it is.

Ayden Férdeline [00:14:17] Yeah, it's something I feel like I can't even sort of wrap my head around the fact that Bitcoin can only process so few transactions. But be that as it may, when you say lower cost, why is that? Is that because of reduced energy consumption or the other factors that go into it?

Mance Harmon [00:14:35] Well, it's it's two things. It is reduced energy consumption. There is no proof of work. It's also it's also just the fact that if you if you have a demand, if you have demand for transactions and the demand exceeds seven per second, then the price is going to end up reflecting the demand. If you have capacity for 10000, then the price is going to adjust appropriately. And that's what the whole industry is trying to achieve.

Mance Harmon [00:15:15] Right. The cost for transactions today on ethereum especially can be as high as one hundred dollars per transaction. It's just been crazy this year, especially because of the demand that has resulted from DFI, decentralized finance applications that have come really since June of this year. And so it's part of supply and demand and in part the cost structure, the you might call it the cost of goods calculation. What does it actually cost the network to process a transaction? And if you're using proof of work versus what we use something called proof of stake, fundamentally different approach, the cost structure is just very different.

Ayden Férdeline [00:16:07] What are some of the kinds of use cases that require so many transactions, as many as 10,000 transactions a second or potentially even more? What are the applications that are possible with the Hedera Hashgraph that would not have been possible with Bitcoin?

Mance Harmon [00:16:27] Yeah, well, let's just talk about two very quickly. One, we have a customer called AdsDax and AdsDax is in the advertising space, primarily in India and in that region of the world. And what they're doing is with every click from a user that's clicking on an ad, creating an impression, you know, for an ad, then they're recording that fact through our system and by recording all activities associated with the creation and presentation of ads to consumers through Web pages and the click rates and how those consumers are using those advertisements or clicking on those advertisements, they're able to reduce the fraud that's normally associated with the advertising industry.  

Mance Harmon [00:17:24] The concern on the part of the advertisers that the ad platforms are inflating the click rates and what AdsDax is able to do is show an actual audit trail of every click to the advertisers to reduce concerns associated with that type of fraud. Those are, you know, in many cases today, those are measured in ten transactions per second just for the one application. And that's not at scale. We could imagine AdsDax at scale processing hundreds of transactions per second.

Mance Harmon [00:18:07] If you've got to pay even a quarter or a dime for a transaction, then that just becomes cost prohibitive, let alone whether or not you can process that many transactions per second. So we're enabling the mitigation of fraud associated with advertising agencies using this technology. Yes, that's one example. Another example is a company here in the U.S. called the Coupon Bureau. The Coupon Bureau is a clearinghouse. Actually, that's a technical term.

Mance Harmon [00:18:42] I want to be careful in the use of my terminology here. The Coupon Bureau has a database of coupons that are issued by consumer packaged goods manufacturers like General Mills. You know, they have lots of brands of products that go into grocery stores and big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart and others. And they issue coupons associated with those products. Those coupons go into a database managed by the Coupon Bureau. And it's not just General Mills. It's, you know, a lot of companies like them.

Mance Harmon [00:19:15] And then users or consumers can use an app on their smartphone or real coupons at the point of sale checkout. When those coupons are used, the coupons flow through our network and get time stamped and get marked as this is now a coupon has actually been consumed, it has been used. And then that information goes back to the coupon bureau and they update their central database with the fact that these coupons are now used. The advantage of this is that it becomes possible for General Mills and other coupon issuers to have a copy of that database and get the same flow of transactions and know that this central organization, the Coupon Bureau, is not defrauding them.

Mance Harmon [00:20:07] It's not, you know, creating duplicates of those coupons, which is a big problem for the coupon industry today. There are billions of coupons that get issued on an annual basis. And having each one of those coupons flow through a network again requires dozens or hundreds, potentially thousands of transactions per second in terms of capacity of the network. And again, has to be really low cost. Otherwise, the whole business model doesn't work for the coupon industry. So those are just two examples. What I find fascinating is that for a lot of years, the blockchain industry has looked for use cases that sort of fit the constraints of the technology, you know, Bitcoin at seven transactions per second and Ethereum at 15. They're just not a whole lot of use cases that will work with those constraints. And now that we've relaxed those constraints, the industry as a whole is beginning to figure out what are the other use cases, the high volume use cases that are appropriate for the same technology given the relaxed constraints. And I expect that just to continue, if you look at the computing industry in general, any time we've added CPU cycles or RAM or storage, for decades now, developers have been able to figure out how to consume those resources to advantage. Right. And the same thing is going to be true here in the crypto industry, the distributed ledger industry, as we continue to improve performance and capacity, the range of use cases in the ways in which the technology gets used will just continue to expand. We increase the market size for the technology as a whole.

Ayden Férdeline [00:22:06] It makes a lot of sense. So does that mean that Hedera is some kind of Bitcoin killer or is it going to coexist with Bitcoin and other blockchain applications? I'm just trying to imagine if you have all of these new use cases, high volume use cases, and there are so many constraints on earlier technology, what is going to be the future of these technologies? Are they obsolete? Hedera Hashgraph is the future. What do you think?

Mance Harmon [00:22:37] So I think of Bitcoin as its own special category in some sense, just because Bitcoin has achieved a level of adoption and it's viewed as a store of value in a way that's different than every other platform in the market today. And so Bitcoin special in some sense. Now, I am hopeful that Bitcoin will evolve to not use proof of work and will be improved just because it's good for the planet. It's just the amount of electricity and energy that's used to power bitcoin, if you want to think of it that way, is enormous. It's incredibly wasteful. It's the anti-green of crypto. It's terrible. I'm hopeful that that will change. But Bitcoin is kind of its own thing. Everyone else in the market, all the other platforms that make it possible to, you know, to build distributed applications on top of those platforms, who knows? You know, we are certainly in a competition with each other for market cap and market domination and Ethereum is not standing idly by. They know that they have to change fundamentally their architecture. They are attempting to do so. They have a multi-year plan for how to get there, to reduce their costs, to scale up the number of transactions per second. And they have the largest community, right? They have the largest adoption today. They launched in 2015, well ahead most of the other third generation platforms in the market today. So they certainly have an advantage when it comes to community adoption, but they're in a disadvantage when it comes to their technology and the fact that they have to evolve. And that's hard. So who knows? I think that will be more than one, quote, winner, you know, one platform that is adopted for various reasons. It may be the case that various vertical applications will have platforms that are more tuned for those applications and therefore win in a slice of the market, as opposed to sort of a horizontal platform that addresses the entire market. I can believe that there are specialty platforms that get traction for their verticals. And, you know, I don't think that there will be dozens of winners. I think there will be a handful of winners that take real market share and are consequential in the market. And, you know, Hedera is is going to be one of those and not just for the tech reasons. For a variety of reasons. We focused on the tech at the beginning, but we understood that technology was only half of the equation. And the other half of the equation is the governance model. What is the organization behind the technology that's going to shepherd it over the years to address market needs and make sure that those that adopt the platform can trust the shepherding of or the oversight of the product roadmap, that sort of thing. And we're very different in that regard. Again, to be contrarian, we're very different than the rest of the industry when it comes to our governance model and how we've approached the market with our platform.

Ayden Férdeline [00:26:22] And that's an excellent segway for what I wanted to ask you about next, which was, how is Hedera governed and why should people have trust in the foundational technologies that you're developing? From what I understand, you have a council of 39, or up to 39 members, who come from different industries and different parts of the world. But what was less clear to me was how were people appointed to the council? What are the responsibilities of the council members? And just perhaps you could expand upon the governance structure in general and how Hedera is trying to be held accountable or could be held accountable through its council?

Mance Harmon [00:27:10] Yeah, no, I'm happy to do so. From the beginning, we knew that we had this cryptocurrency or we would have a cryptocurrency. And in order for people to use the cryptocurrency with the platform, they have to trust that the cryptocurrency is going to be managed well and that there's not going to be fraud associated with crypto. You know, if somebody buys - our cryptocurrency is called Hbar. If somebody buys the Hbar so that they can use it with our platform, they want to know that the value of that Hbar is protected in the sense that people aren't going to steal their their money, their Hbar. And you have a bootstrap problem. What we had to do was create an organization that does have management control and oversight of Treasury, but more than Treasury has management control and oversight of the product roadmap, of our legal and regulatory position and affairs, every part of the business. And we decided that we would create a council. It was actually frankly, it was based on the original Visa model. So there is a book called One from Many that was written by the founder of Visa.

Mance Harmon [00:28:43] His name is Dee Hock. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dee Hock last summer. He's he's still with us. He's, you know, I don't know, in his 80s or 90s now, but back in the '60s, he was instrumental in creating Visa. He wrote a book about it and he described the governance model for Visa that made Visa successful. And I took that book.

Mance Harmon [00:29:07] I literally marked it up with highlighter. And then we started there and then we adopted it, or adapted it, excuse me, for our peculiar circumstances. And that looks like, ultimately, 39 members of a council, each member has one vote and they're on par with all the other members. The members are chosen initially by us. The first 39 are chosen by us. They're chosen to be geo-distributed. So they're not a bunch of members in the United States or in Europe or whatever, but geo-distribution of the membership distributed across industries. So it's not heavy on finance or banking or whatever. And then finally, distributed through time. The members can't stay members forever. They're term limited. They can serve up to two, three year terms. And they're the biggest companies in the world. And, you know, users may say, well, why? Why the biggest companies in the world? Why not go with individuals or small companies? The issue is that, if you are a multinational and you're part of Hedera, and you're providing this oversight and you have control of Treasury, it's not very likely that you're going to collude with the other multinationals in this organization to steal somebody's Hbar. You just don't care. It's just not consequential to you and your bottom line as an organization. You know, whatever the value of Hbar is, it's not worth risking your brand over. So we address the trust issue of, is this organization, if it were if it were 39 individuals in the value of Hbar goes way up, do you really trust those 39 individuals not to change the ledger and steal your money? Maybe not. But you do trust 39 multinational or global organizations not to steal your money when it comes to the ledger. So that was one motivation for the governance structure. And the other motivation was that we are an enterprise platform. We're wanting to make it possible for mass enterprise adoption of this technology category. And when you're looking at a global organization that's considering building on your platform, the fact that they are building on a platform that's governed by peers, by organizations that they know and trust and know how to interact with, that makes a big difference. And so when we talk about the 39, what they literally do is they govern the organization. We have a board of managers and there are members to the board of managers that I meet with every two weeks to talk about what's going on within the organization and they help me deal with the issues that arise. There are committees that provide oversight of every part of the organization, legal and regulatory, finance, what we call CoinCom, Treasury marketing, et cetera, et cetera. And then we have special interest groups on top of that that are focused on vertical use cases that include not just council members, but industry experts that provide insight and help us guide the ship, so to speak. And so that is different. It's a different form of governance than the other platforms have. When you look at a Bitcoin, let's go back to Bitcoin and Ethereum for a moment. When you look at those platforms, the product roadmap is primarily going to be dictated by a handful of core developers. Sure, the community will make recommendations. Ultimately, a set of core developers decides what goes into the product roadmap. And that's OK. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that approach. But again, if you are a giant company considering building on top of one of these platforms, you want to know that there is a maybe a better governance process that's not going to result in changes to the platform that you disagree with or are going to be damaged by in the coming years, for example. So it's just it's a different approach.

Ayden Férdeline [00:33:38] It's a different approach. In speaking of different approaches, I'm curious about why Hedera Hashgraph and the foundational technologies behind it, are patented? One train of thought is that the success to date of blockchain and cryptocurrency is that a community came together to innovate, not to tie one another up in patents and litigation. But I am sure there is a logic behind the decision to patent your technology, can you speak about that decision, please?

Mance Harmon [00:34:11] So let me describe our technology stack and what's patented and what's not, or what's open source and what's not. When we look at the tech stack, at the very bottom layer, there is the hashgraph layer that we've talked about and how it differs from blockchain. And then on top of the hash graph layer, there are a series of services that developers will use when building their daps. There's cryptocurrency as a service. There is smart, there are smart contracts, there's file storage. There is something called the Hedera Consensus Service, which is just transaction ordering everything on top of the consensus layer. The hash graph layer is fully open source. It's Apache 2.0, open source. The hashgraph layer itself is fully published. So anybody who wants to go look at the code and, you know, try to identify bugs, I mean, that's part of the primary motivation for the open source industry is to get eyeballs on the code to look for bugs. Of course, we are doing that right. It's anybody who wants to go download it today, can go download the code base today. However, there are some differences between normal open source and open source that is being used as a service. When people talk about open source, Linux is a great example, right? It's a fantastic success story for the open source community. If I want to use Linux, I can download a copy of it. I can put it on my computer, I can manage it. I can decide when I want to update Linux or upgrade Linux with the latest patches and when I don't. And I don't have to worry about somebody forcibly coming in and changing that implementation of Linux when I have product built on top of it. In the world of blockchain public networks, it's exactly the opposite. They're open source platforms like Ethereum, for example, and others. But if you're building on top of that platform, you do have to worry that half of the community is going to become disgruntled and forcibly fork this service, you know, fork the network and what that means for you.

Mance Harmon [00:36:43] Let's let's make it more concrete because it seems abstract. Let's say that you're using, right? You have your database of account information in Salesforce. And all of a sudden some employees are Salesforce are disgruntled and they say, well, we're going to fork Salesforce now. They're going to be two Salesforce companies out there. And by the way, all of your data, it's now in both of them. And the client software that you're using when it connects, you don't know which one it's going to connect to. It's going to connect to either Salesforce A or B, and it's going to make updates to that database. It's chaos, right.

Mance Harmon [00:37:24] And that's what you have to worry about if you're a developer building an application on a pure open source public service. And, you know, that's a hindrance to adoption by by real enterprise organizations. So we addressed it. We just said we're going to guarantee the market that the bottom layer of the stack, the hashgraph layer is always going to be just the hashgraph layer. There's only going to be one of those. And you don't have to worry. You can see the code, you can check it for bugs, but you don't have to have any concern that it's going to be forcibly fought and you're going to have the chaos that results from that.

Ayden Férdeline [00:38:11] Thanks. That's really fascinating. And I wanted to just ask a few more questions about the council itself. So it seems to be very transparent. I could find the minutes online myself to read through about some recent decisions that were made or conversations that were happening. I find it really interesting that you mentioned that, the governance structure originated from that which Visa uses. I was wondering if there were any other governance structures that you did consider or was this just the right fit from the moment you discovered it in One from Many?

Mance Harmon [00:38:45] It was a combination of technical requirements. And I mentioned, really mentioned, the fundamental problem there is how do you bootstrap a cryptocurrency in a trustworthy way? Along with the desire to build an enterprise grade, enterprise focused platform, it was the combination of those two elements that really drove us to the decision that we had. When you have proof of work for technical reasons, you don't have to worry about bootstrapping the value of the cryptocurrency and the trust that's involved in the cryptocurrency. If you're not using proof of work, if you're using proof of stake in the way that we do, then there are technical issues that you have to overcome in the way you bootstrap that cryptocurrency. And let me just, I'll try to be brief, but I'll explain it. The math works out that when you're voting on the order of transactions, rather than it being one computer, one vote on the order of transactions, it's one coin, one vote. And as long as at least two thirds of the coins, those that hold Treasury, there are 50 billion tokens in our Treasury or that we minted, 50 billion Hbar, as long as honest actors are voting the weight of two thirds of those 50 billion, then you're safe. The coins can't be stolen from you to put it in those terms.  

Mance Harmon [00:40:47] And so given that, what we needed was to ensure that honest actors were going to for a long time have control of, and vote the weight of, at least two thirds of the Treasury. We've released coins into the market, but we haven't released a third of the coins into the market. And we won't know until the value of the coin is sufficiently high and broadly distributed enough that it becomes practically impossible for a bad actor to buy up a third of the coins, because if a bad actor can buy up a third of the coins, then they can prevent the network from coming to consensus. In other words, they can they can break the network. And so if you again, if you started with 100 people or small companies that control two-thirds of the coins and the value of the coin starts to go up, do you trust those 100 parties not to steal the money? And maybe the answer is no. And so the question we had to deal with was, well, who would who would the market trust not to steal the money as long as they're controlling two-thirds of the coins. And that led us to the model that we have. You can't do it with individuals. You have to somehow have trust that the money is not going to be stolen and you have to have trustworthy parties controlling two-thirds for a long time until the value of the coins really high and broadly distributed enough that a bad actor or even a state actor can't come in and buy up a third of your Treasury and create problems.

Ayden Férdeline [00:42:35] That's really interesting. And thank you for sharing the thought process behind that, around how you can prevent it from being captured by any one actor. And it kind of answers the question that I had before, which was that when I think about the composition, why is it only primarily enterprises? There isn't sort of a set proportion of seats for state actors or for civil society actors, for example, who might not have a financial interest in the outcome, but could perhaps offer a level of trust or perceptions of trust?

Mance Harmon [00:43:15] Yeah, well, so just to comment briefly on that, we we did start with a focus on enterprises. We did change that to allow universities. And we have University College London, for example, today. I'm sure there'll be other universities that join as well. And even most recently, we have opened up the opportunity for NGOs. And I am expecting that there will be those kinds of non-profits that participate. We have made a decision not to allow state actors, governments participate. We have eliminated potential companies that are more than 50 percent state owned for example. We don't want governments to bring the, you know, their weight and influence to the organization. But we do want trust. It's all about trust. Right? We do want the market when they view the mix of of governors, if you want to call them that, those that are managing the platform, the mix as a whole has to be trustworthy. And that's been our goal.

Ayden Férdeline [00:44:36] This has been super fascinating, thank you for being so generous with your time today, Mance Harmon. Thanks.

Mance Harmon [00:44:43] Thank you for having me.

OUTRO [00:44:45] This has been POWER PLAYS, the podcast that takes you inside the rooms and into the minds of the decision makers responsible for some of the most instrumental decisions that help shape the Internet, which we all use today. If you'd like to help us spread the word, please give us a five-star review and tell your friends to subscribe. We're available on every major listening app as well as at POWERPLAYS.XYZ.

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