Roger Ver's 3rd BCH anniversary keynote and his position on raising the block time
As part of the 3 year BCH anniversary event "BCH:Scaling the Globe: 2020 Bitcoin Cash Conference & ForkDay Celebration", Roger Ver gave a keynote speech.
It is a 12 hour video and it was very easy to miss the speech within, so I decided to transcribe it and link to the direct timestamps.
In this keynote, Roger addresses the recent idea to raise the block time from 10 minutes to 11 and laid out his thoughts on it.
In summary, Roger is strongly against the block time change since there are no technical or business benefits to it. But I recommend reading or listening to the keynote in full. Below I will add my own interpretation of what was said.
The keynote starts at 7:27:07 , you will find the transcript with the relevant sections highlighted below.
The title was supposed to be [...] the importance of developers, both business and software developers.
I've been in this cryptocurrency space for a while and I've noticed - not so much in the Bitcoin Cash community but mainly from that other Bitcoin community, a bunch of software developers mocking people who aren't software developers. But I think they're not seeing the big picture there.
Software developers are incredibly important. If there is nobody to write the software, the software won't exist and then people won't be able to use it. But the reverse is true as well. If there is nobody wanting to use the software, what was the point of the software?
So you need both business developers AND software developers. Where the business developers are so important is that they have - in broad generalizations - a much better sense and finger on the pulse of what it is that users actually want to be able to use in their daily life.
An example of this that we've seen in Bitcoin for a while is that you see a lot of these software developers say "Oh, it's easy to calculate the fee. Just look at the current state of the mempool, then you see what that is and what the other people are bidding in the mempool and then you see ok, what price do I need to pay in terms of Satoshis per byte and then you calculate, my transaction has 5 inputs so its going to be a little over a kilobyte, so that means I'm going to have to pay this many Satoshi times that many kilobyte and calculate it all out." For software developers, maybe sometimes that's fun or interesting for them. For the normal person that just wants to buy something on purse.io and save 20%, they don't want to have to deal with any of that. So we need the business developers to let the software developers know "Hey, you need to hide all of that complex stuff from the end user and focus on that software of thing".
Or another example of this, and this is all supposed to be our happy celebration today but in the Bitcoin Cash community, we have recently seen some software developers talk about wanting to make up for previous drift in the issuance of Bitcoin Cash, so they want to have the block time changed from 10 minutes to 11 minutes for the next 5.5 years. As a software developer maybe that's fine or interesting or even fun, as a business developer that's a bad user experience you are causing, right? Now, the average block confirmation time is supposed to have been 10 minutes for the last 10+ years of Bitcoin, now suddenly it is going to be targeting 11 minutes. That means people are going to have to wait more than 10% longer for their transactions to be confirmed on average. That's detracting from the user experience. It's not a huge huge detraction but it's a detraction nonetheless and there is no benefit whatsoever I can see as both a user and a holder of Bitcoin Cash myself.
So I think that's an example where the business developer should let the software developer know: "Hey, you're developing something that the users don't care about and don't want and aren't interested in and it won't make a difference. We should be spending that time and effort and resources on developing things that users actually want, things like super fast, super cheap, super reliable confirmations for their transactions."
So I think there needs to be less animosity between the software developers and the business developers because it absolutely takes both. And if you don't have the software developers working and talking closely with the business developers, you're going to have the software developers building a product that the actual end users aren't going to care about or want to use at all.
So that's where I would really like to see more collaboration going on within the Bitcoin Cash community. Let's have the business developers talking with the software developers about what sort of things the users are actually going to want or the businesses are actually going to want or need. So the software developers can focus on those things rather than on intellectual experiments that may be interesting for some software developer but don't make the user experience better for Bitcoin Cash and the people that are actually trying to use it.
So the main things that I see as problems on the Bitcoin Cash network: let's get rid of the 50 unconfirmed transaction chain limit, let's make the unconfirmed transactions as irreversible as we possibly can through whatever consensus method is the most useful for that. Those are the things that I think are holding Bitcoin Cash back the most.
And software developer tools too, as a business developer I want to see as many software developers building on top of Bitcoin Cash as possible, so the mainnet guys [..] (https://mainnet.cash/) are doing a fundraiser ( https://flipstarter.mainnet.cash/ ) for building a bunch of awesome software developer tools to make it even easier for the software developers to build their businesses on top of Bitcoin Cash. So you can go and donate over there, Bitcoin.com already put up 200 Bitcoin Cash to get thing's started towards the goal of 750 Bitcoin Cash. I think it's over 300-something Bitcoin Cash have been committed so far using Flipstarter.
And Flipstarter is another really cool tool that I am a fan of, if you haven't clicked around and looked how Flipstarter works, it is really amazing. Basically you can have people fundraise together but you don't have to give the money until you know that the target of the fundraising amount is going to be reached, otherwise you don't have to give anything at all. So that's a really cool way to fund public goods or public works projects, so I'm a big fan of that as well.
I think I have summed up most of what I wanted to say in about 5 minutes there, long story short, let's make sure that the business developers and the software developers are working together and not against each other. Because that's how we can move the whole ecosystem forward because we need both business developers and software developers and if you only have one without the other you're going to be dead in the water. You need to have both and you need to have both of them working together as a team, not fighting with each other, not attacking each other. They need to be working together to build the products that the world wants to use.
If people have questions or if George wants to elaborate on that as well from what he's seen being in the crypto space for a long, long time as well, I'd be happy to hear other people's thoughts as well or what other want to see in the space. What are the missing tools that people don't have yet, that they want to see built by both the business and the software developers.
George Donelley of Bitcoin ABC was moderating the event and gave the following comment after the keynote:
[...] I definitely think that overall in the crypto space the software guys rule the roost. You know, as a business guy it can be quite hard to get through to the guys who are actually making the software. I have seen a lot of projects where it's just a software guy sitting in his basement or something, just coding stuff up, not even a point of contact with the outside world to see if it's needed or if the UX is on, or any kind of systematic approach.
Following the keynote was a Q&A session where Roger gives away some BCH, talks about adoption, suggests Darknet markets to make an IPI with SLP tokens and explains what he would want to see happen in the next year.
Then, this question from the audience came up:
"What do you think of building DeFi on Bitcoin Cash?"
In his response, Roger further explained his position towards the block time change proposal:
Yes, yes and more yes. Go and take a look at the general protocols guys, they are working on exactly that. I think that's another really big deal that people don't fully appreciate, that all of this is coming to Bitcoin Cash as well. So check out generalprotocols.com. They are working on exactly that for Bitcoin Cash and I am really really excited about that. Actually the other site that you may be already familiar with, George, is anyhedge.com and that's their product as well. Can't wait for those guys to launch.
Although they reached out to me recently "Please don't change the targeted block time from something other than 10 minutes." Because that screws up all sorts of the stuff that apparently these guys are working on. There's no advantage that I can see any business being in favor of, making the block time go from 10 minutes on average to targeting 11 minutes on average. And there's lots of minor inconveniences that I'm aware of and maybe some major inconveniences to people that are trying to build. So please don't change that.
From one business developer a request to the software developers: there should be a really strong business or technical reason to change it from 10 to 11 minutes. I am not aware of one, I haven't heard one. I have watched all the videos about it with the discussions recently. Please don't change the targeted Bitcoin block time from 10 minutes to 11 minutes. It certainly shouldn't be a longer than 10 minutes block time. If you want to change it from 10 minutes to something shorter, I think that's a discussion very well worth having. I can't see any benefit to making it longer, there isn't one that I am aware of or that I can see.
Here is the timestamp in the video:
I want to close this article with my thoughts on the keynote and the interaction.
First I want to applaud Bitcoin ABC for inviting Roger and allowing him to give a keynote that is strongly critical of their developer's recent actions. This openess gives me hope that their mindset is changing, at least on the business side of things.
I find it remarkable how Roger phrased his criticism and tried to make it constructive: he calmly and with strong arguments explained to his business development counterpart George, that the actions taken by the software developers at Bitcoin ABC need to get a strong reality check from the business developers (both inside Bitcoin ABC and outside of it). My personal hope is that George reflects on these words and tries to convice Amaury that raising the block time is bad for the user experience and bad for the public perception of the coin.
However the response by George is a bit concerning. If he really feels like the software developers (read: Amaury) are the ones in charge of the decision making, that would be de facto capitulation in his role of business developer for Bitcoin ABC. [Update: George has reached out to me in the comments so I want to quote him here: "Try not to read too much into what I said. When I made those comments, I was thinking primarily, tho not exclusively, of my experience with Dash. It is important tho to not simply permit software guys to rule business guys. There has to be some parity there, with both points of view harmonized."/Update]
From my personal experience in having worked a lot in this dynamic between software developers and business developers, I learned that the reality checks Roger mentions are very healthy and required to be successful as a team. If only the coders dictate what gets coded, chances are that they lose sight of what the users and the business needs. If a business developer cannot influence the direction into which the business develops, why is he still in that business?
Since I want nothing more than BCH to succeed, I hope that George will listen to Roger's advice and collaborate more strongly with Amaury regarding what users and businesses need. He is in a unique position that could help us unite the Bitcoin Cash community as a voice of cooler heads within Bitcoin ABC.