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Meet the Boss – Exclusive Interview with Zilliqa CEO Xinshu Dong

Zilliqa Ceo Xinshu Dong Interview

Zilliqa is a new blockchain platform designed to scale in an open, permission-less distributed network securely with record-breaking transaction times.

The core feature that makes Zilliqa scalable is sharding, a process that divides the network into several smaller component networks (called shards) which enables transactions to be processed in parallel. Zilliqa is also the world’s first high-throughput platform, which is a public blockchain enabling thousands of transactions to be verified per second.

We recently sat down with Xinshu Dong, the CEO of Zilliqa to have a chat with him about the project as well as finding out his thoughts and insights.

Hi, Xinshu. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and Zilliqa?

Hello, glad to have this opportunity to share a bit more. I’m CEO at Zilliqa. My background is mainly on cybersecurity for different sorts of systems, including web browsers, web applications, and the control software for large-scale systems, such as smart grid and Internet of Things. Zilliqa is a project building a next-gen high-throughput public blockchain. It’s a secure and distributed platform that will power high-throughput distributed apps with all the transparency and decentralization one would expect from a blockchain.

High throughput means doing stuff very fast

Can you explain what do the terms high-throughput and sharding mean in a way that a 10-year old can understand (for our non-technical readers)?

High throughput means doing stuff very fast. For a 10-year old, that means doing the same set of homework many times faster than your classmates, without making more mistakes! Well, sharding will be a little trickier to explain to him, but it’s all about dividing and conquering. So instead of having one big team working on something altogether, we divide them into smaller groups each working on part of the task in parallel. Eventually, all the parts contributed by each group is put together.

Zilliqa Throughput diagram

Tell us about how you came up with the idea of Zilliqa. Did you face a problem with the industry or do you think there is a gap in the industry for Zilliqa to fill?

I think there is an obvious gap out there in the blockchain space. Existing blockchains are great in many aspects, but in terms of throughput, many applications require much higher processing capability than what blockchains provide today. Think about doing VISA payment on the blockchain, or the recent slowdown of the Ethereum network caused by a popular game.

What do you think is the biggest problem Zilliqa will solve and why is the problem important to solve?

That is scalability. Of course, the real question is how to solve the scalability problem without compromising on other important goals of the blockchain, such as decentralization and security. It’s important because we are already seeing that as a blocking issue for having more great apps on the blockchain.

Tell us about your team and co-founders. How did you meet them and why do you think they’re the perfect fit for the Zilliqa project?

Most of our team members have been working together in the past few years. The “Professor” Prateek Saxena is pivotal in forming the team. Everyone worked with him in one occasion or another, including being his students, interns, colleagues at the National University of Singapore, or being his colleagues at the company Anquan for the past 1-2 years developing the permissioned blockchain. So most of us have a very strong technical background in cybersecurity, distributed systems and networking or cryptography, which are fundamental techniques for blockchain. We have several other team members who are venture creators and financial services veterans with great connections to the industry. So it makes a great team for a blockchain infrastructure project.

The amount of transactions per second that Zilliqa is simply incredible. How does this work and how will this benefit users of the network?

It’s based on several techniques, including sharding which makes transactions processing running in parallel, efficient and secure consensus protocol based on practical Byzantine fault tolerance and multi-signature, and also other optimizations in block structure and data propagation. EpiCenter has a good overview of our technology (Epicenter).

Let’s talk about miners in Zilliqa. Do they work like miners in other blockchains or are there differences in the Zilliqa blockchain?

We are still calling them miners by following the convention. However, they do not really work so “hard” as in PoW blockchains. The reason is that Zilliqa requires some PoW only once in a while, say every 1 or 2 hours. Most of the time, miners in Zilliqa are doing normal verification and computation tasks as well as sending and receiving network packets, in practical byzantine fault tolerance.

zilliqa ico scalability

What has been your happiest moment so far working on Zilliqa? On the flipside, what has been the most painful, or perhaps the most regretful decision you’ve made with Zilliqa?

The happiest moment was really when we almost suddenly got a lot of support from our community. People just started to understand our mission and technology and back us up when the project goes along, and that made me feel that any hard work is worth it bringing up such a project.

Everyone in our community knows that we had a painful decision about the public crowd sale. With all good intentions, we made a decision in terms of our contribution structure, but our community responded with a lot of criticism. So that was really painful, but we listened to our community and made the right decision thereafter.

Zilliqa presentation

Is Zilliqa already working with notable businesses or firms? Are there any future partnerships in the process? If yes, can you explain briefly about it?

So we just recently announced that we are partnering with Mindshare, which is a leading digital advertising firm globally. We have several interesting problems to work on in that space to make digital marketing much more efficient and responsible. We probably will have much more to share as we work on some specific use cases there. In the meanwhile, we are looking for other partners who are interested in developing high-throughput dApps on the blockchain, and we will keep everyone updated as things are finalized.

Tell us more about ZIL. What is it for and how can interested investors acquire ZIL? Any ICO details to mention?

ZILs are the short form for Zillings, which are tokens on Zilliqa. We have a blog to detail our token structure (https://blog.zilliqa.com/more-details-on-zilliqas-token-generation-event-4e1b78e0cf5a). Basically, we got tremendous support from both our early contributors and our community, and we are looking forward to ramping up our research and development for the platform.

Editors Pick: Zilliqa ICO

What do you think is the biggest challenge or obstacle Zilliqa will face? How do you plan to tackle that challenge?

I think it has to do with real use cases and applications. People now are excited about a new fast blockchain, but the challenge is to move on to next steps, and develop concrete applications that will demonstrate to everyone and help them think about what are other use cases that can be created given such a platform. So that’s why we are putting lots of thoughts and efforts into developing something very cool with Mindshare.

zilliqa team blockchain

Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?

It’s very packed and getting more crazy nowadays. Partly also due to very strong interest in the project, so I had to juggle between meetings, calls, and discussions, etc. I also need to find time to think about strategic directions and steps we take in developing the platform. In general, it’s very long hours every day but I’m trying to get some sleep to have a clear mind.

Can you express one personal opinion of yours about the blockchain? It doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive, we just want to hear your thoughts on it.

I think we need more collaboration. I always feel many blockchain projects have their unique strengths, so besides focusing on delivering the milestones, I think it’s beneficial to the community for different blockchain projects to work together on two things. One is really to learn from each other, and two is to tackle the fundamental challenges ahead of everyone. Zilliqa is more than willing to lead such efforts, and hope we can have more to share soon.

Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else in life you want to achieve?

Zilliqa is my focus at the moment, but as a person, I always feel compelled to lead a meaningful life, not just about getting recognized by others, but more about what you would achieve in the innermost of yourself. I feel my own growth with my role at Zilliqa. It’s very challenging but very rewarding to me as a person’s growth. So I think I’m on track!

That concludes our Interview with Xinshu Dong

More Interviews to come

We’ll be scheduling even more exclusive interviews like this in the coming weeks to delve into the minds of what makes a blockchain startup tick as well asking the questions you want to know the most.
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