Sat. May 25th, 2019

Stratis Platform Interview: Jeremy Bokobza – Head of Engineering

In his first Daily Chain appearance Khilone interviews Jeremy Bokobza of Stratis Platform.

Stratis is a company which operates worldwide. Our strong, distributed team of blockchain developers, consultants, and marketing experts combines a solid corporate structure, for best business practices, with the flexibility required for rapid prototyping and deployment. Stratis is headquartered in the U.K. and incorporated as Stratis Group Ltd.

To find out more information on Stratis Platform watch the introductory video below:

Stratis Introductory Video

What is your name, function and role at Stratis?

My name is Jeremy Bokobza, I’m French and I have a beard. I’m Head of Engineering so I help look after the development of our many projects as well as how we do software engineering at Stratis. I’m also an active developer in the team; being hands-on is very important to me.

How did you first learn about Bitcoin and the crypto space?

Around 2011, I was contracting at Microsoft and one of the people there asked me if I’d heard of bitcoin. He said that he was buying things on the Silk Road using bitcoin and then started showing me what this digital money was about. Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to convince me that this was something real or even interesting, 2011! I think the price was just under $1 back then. Then in 2013, Dan (CTO of Stratis) asked me if I’d heard of it. I couldn’t ignore it anymore, and that was the beginning.

Crypto didn’t take me by storm, though. I had bought some altcoins on Cryptsy, where I lost money, but I only got into crypto full-time when I started working at Stratis.

Which aspects of Bitcoin and the crypto space made you choose to explore it more?

Well, first of all, Dan became very passionate about it very quickly, and we’d talk about it every day on the bit of commute we had in common. What attracted me, however, is the movement. The movement of people working to build something better than what we already had and that they were bold enough to think they could create a new type of money.

Did you work at anything crypto related before you joined Stratis?

Not at all. The only crypto development I did was to integrate Coinbase into the payment system of the company I was working for at the time (blinkbox, a long-gone British Netflix). It was part of an internal hackathon we did, and I paired with Dan to deliver our little hack. Obviously, everyone there thought we were crazy and people rolled their eyes every time we mentioned bitcoin. We won the best presentation as our video was quite funny.

How did you learn about the Stratis Platform?

Dan started working there and he was telling me what they wanted to build and how dynamic the community was. The prospect of having a cryptocurrency network based on C#, my language of choice, prompted me to join him a few months later.

When did you join Stratis and why?

At the beginning of 2017, I was working on, an email service that distributes aliases, so you never have to give out your real email address, and I was also creating cybersecurity awareness courses. At the same time, Dan started working for Stratis and he was giving me the daily dose of Stratis this and Stratis that. He was pretty much on his own and Stratis badly needed developers.

I couldn’t miss the opportunity, so I finally decided to join in March 2017 and help build this amazing thing they set out to do. I joined the same day as Pieterjan moved from a community member to a full-time developer. I was instantly amazed by the community. Their warm welcome, the encouragements they gave us while we were working very hard trying to build this thing all contributed to me wanting to work harder and deliver.

How does a typical work day look like for you?

I have a family, so I spend a bit of time with my wife and kids in the morning and I usually get to work at around 9 a.m. During the morning I sometimes have a few calls with the different teams to check the progress of the different streams of work. We check if everything is progressing well, what’s needed to push through, whether they need some help and make sure that everything gets done.

Then during the day, coding…and code reviews. I spent as much time coding as I can, and we have a very strict code review process. Every single change in the source code is audited by one or more developers, and only gets accepted if one of the more senior developers approves it. It’s a bit of a bottleneck, but it’s critical to quality assurance and we’re managing the process very well. Doing code reviews properly is a difficult task and I can spend my day only doing code reviews.

I usually leave work at around 6 p.m, just in time to get home to see my kids before they go to bed, have dinner with my wife and then I work, sometimes until 1 or 2 a.m. Our team is very dedicated to what we’re building, and it’s not uncommon to see devs work at night or on weekends.

What would you consider as the greatest joys in the things you do for Stratis?

I’m loving all the things we’re building as they’re all contributing to making our platform the best there is. The greatest joy, however, is to see the things we build come to life. When we go from a technical discussion, to a design, to breaking it down into manageable chunks, to actually implementing it, to it being part of the code, it’s very satisfying.

This is what being a developer and being able to build things is all about. You create something and then it lives. It doesn’t need you anymore. In fact, you know when you’re done with a piece of work because it tells you when you’re done. It’s not like writing an essay and deciding yourself that it’s done and that it’s good enough to be submitted. With software, it’s when it works that you know you’re done. I find this beautiful.

What’s the moment that made you most proud so far at Stratis?

Too many to count, but I can think of two moments that stick out. The first one is when we delivered the Breeze Wallet. Upon joining Stratis my first task was to create the back-end for the wallet as well as the API that the front-end would use to communicate with it. Pieterjan was doing the front-end, Benoit was doing the design and in that time there were a lot of ideas we bounced off each other. It was an intense period of work and collaboration, so when we finally delivered and gave it to the public, the reception it got was amazing and we were very proud.

The second one was in December 2018 when we delivered the full node, our most central component, all written in C#. This was the result of gargantuan efforts and after so many months, it was great to see this finally go live. I think this is the piece of work we’ll look back upon in years to come and only then realize how awesome what we built was.

In your own words what is Stratis?
Stratis is a platform on which you can build any type of blockchain network you may want, all from the same code base.

We did it in a way that is very modular, where you can easily choose which consensus algorithm you want to use, or which database you want to store the blockchain, which type of wallet you need, whether you want smart contracts to be enabled or not, whether you want a public blockchain or a more permissioned one. You can very easily add or remove those components to suit your needs. I don’t know of any other projects that do that.

Our primary target is businesses that wish to use these tools and want us to help them build more custom solutions around their business requirements.

Stratis is also a network, a community, and sometimes, a family. Anyone following our progress would tell you that our community members are the best supporters anyone could wish for. They make us what we are, always there through the highs, the lows, the successes or anything that we go through. We’re very lucky in that respect.

Stratis is a Microsoft Silver Partner

Do you see any room for improvements in Bitcoin and crypto?

One of the things I love about bitcoin and crypto in general is that this ecosystem is full of builders. People that love to create cool stuff. You have developers creating tools, websites, apps, helping other projects, creating new ways to do things. You have content creators, whether they’re traders, bloggers or shitposters writing articles, books, reviews, making videos. You have educators creating educational videos, compiling useful resources or offering online courses. It seems everyone is fully committed and hard-working.

However, it’s true that we see the occasional coin wars here and there, and the occasional name calling. There are also a lot of trolls around, feeding on the attention people give them. I wish this could stop and people wouldn’t feel they can’t voice an opinion without seeing the hordes attack them.

Do you see any room for improvements in Stratis?

The way I see things, the only way is up and ahead. We took our time to deliver solid tech but now what we have is stable and really flexible. From the development point-of-view, we’ll be able to get creative and add features to our blockchain platform that are cool and that customers and users will love. We’re also looking forward to having more contributors joining our project and submitting cool stuff. Whether it’s smart contracts or dapps, sidechains or independent blockchains, we’re ready for anyone to come and build with us.

We’re also seeing a lot of interest coming from businesses and hopefully that means the business side of Stratis, which has been waiting long enough for us to release our work, will run full steam ahead with the onboarding of clients from all industries and of all sizes.

We’ve been a great team during peacetime, let’s see what we can do during wartime.

What is the thing that drives and motivates you to build a better platform every single day?

The prospect that what we build can be used by a lot of people not only as users but also as builders. I’m looking forward to the day where it’d be obvious that to build a blockchain you just use the Stratis one, because it has so many options, is so modular, has so much third-party software already built on it, and works so well. It’s an ambitious outlook, but I know our team can deliver.

What’s your future vision for Stratis and what is the thing you hope to achieve in the long-term for Stratis?

The way I see things evolving is that on the one hand we’ll see Stratis adopted by a lot of businesses that want to integrate processes relying on blockchain into their ecosystem, and on the other hand we’ll see the open source platform being pushed forward by contributors. Whether the open source project and the business facing entity will always be as they are now or whether they’ll diverge in some way is a question we’re very much investigating at the moment.

When will Stratis have succeeded in your opinion?

Stratis did very well in a couple of aspects. First of all, the premise for the business is great. Developing a blockchain platform for businesses, all written in C#, a language used by millions of developers around the world, is a great idea, and the potential there is huge. Second, Stratis has managed to assemble a great team of developers that are really hard-working and very competent. Last, but definitely not least, the community supporting us is in itself a success story. As devs, we really feel supported and are forever grateful.

And I would like to end with giving an opportunity to say anything you still want to say to the community or in general
We’re all still early in this game, remember that. I think everyone has a duty to learn as much as possible about all the aspects of this technological revolution. If you have the ability to build, then build. People that are only in it for the money are only looking at short term gains. A lot of people have empty pockets, but their head is full. These are the winners of tomorrow.

To conclude, and only to talk for myself here, I want to thank the community for everything they’ve done to support us and promote our work during all these bleak bear market months. We can go through anything together. 2019 is ours, let’s do it.

Thanks a lot, Jeremy for taking the time to answer all of the questions and sharing all of this information. Follow Jeremy on Twitter here.

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About Khilone

Khilone is a highly valued member of the Crypto community due to the amount of detailed and informative content he provides on a regular basis. Khilone releases weekly Crypto market updates as well as articles and interviews with various projects such as Stratis and Beaxy.

As an early community member, Khilone can often be found in the Stratis Chats on Discord and Telegram. He’s also an advisor for the Beaxy Exchange and is active in their Discord.

You can follow him on Twitter here.
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