Constellation Update – MOBI Sponsorship, Engineering News, Upcoming Events & More

Dear Constellation Community,

Another busy week! As we wrap up and get ready to head into the weekend, we’d like to give you a quick overview of what’s gone on and what’s to come. Read on for an exciting sponsorship announcement, an overview of our Ambassador program, updates from our Engineering team, an upcoming MeetUp + other events, and much more!

MOBI Sponsorship

Constellation Labs is excited to announce our sponsorship of the renowned mobility ecosystem consortia, MOBI.

Benjamin Diggles, VP of Business Development at Constellation Labs, had this to say about the partnership:

“Partnering with the MOBI consortia is key to our core vision of accelerating possibility in the mobility space. Constellation is building a protocol with the ability to usher in enterprise adoption through real-world use cases.  We are excited about the myriad of potential applications and to contribute to this world-class organization.”

Read the full announcement on the Constellation Blog.

Reddit AMA

The Constellation engineering, marketing and community teams were on hand Thursday and Friday for a live written response AMA on our Reddit page. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to connect directly with the wider community and answer all of your burning questions.

If you weren’t able to attend the AMA in real time, don’t fret! You can still view the thread here.

TC Disrupt Panel + Workshop

The official TechCrunch Disrupt videos of our panel and workshop are now live on our YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure.  

Panel – Beyond the ICO: New approaches to fundraising and enterprise investment in blockchain feat.  Ben Jorgensen (COO of Constellation), Jacob Mullins (Partner, Shasta Ventures), Erika Perez (Global Leader, IBM Blockchain Business Development & Ecosystem Strategy). Jascha Kaykas-Wolff (CMO, Mozilla).

Workshop – Running A Node On A Distributed Ledger: Live Demo with Wyatt Meldman-Floch (CTO) and Ryle Goehausen (VP of Engineering). Stay tuned for an additional video of the workshop, which includes the presentation slides, coming in the next couple of weeks.

We’ve also put together a fun recap video of the team behind the scenes at the event. Check it out and see what it was like to be on the ground at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018!

Shasta Ventures Meetup

We’re hosting a Meetup! Join Constellation COO Ben Jorgensen along with Jacob Mullins (Partner, Shasta Ventures), and Stan Miroshnik (CEO, The Element Group)  on Tuesday, 9/25 in San Francisco for a discussion surrounding funding in the blockchain space. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you there – sign up for tickets here.

Ambassador Program Interview

Following the official launch of our Ambassador Program, we sat down with our VP of Business Development, Benjamin Diggles for an overview of why we started it, how to get involved, what our goals are, and who some of our current ambassadors are.

Head to the Constellation Blog to give the full post a read!

Engineering Update

  • Wrapping up multi tip DAG model.
  • Resolution logic is about to be merged.
  • Addressing edge cases with our updated consensus actor.
  • Wrapping up peer API handling and IP banning.

Press Coverage

Check out Ben’s thoughts on the obstacles currently facing the decentralized gaming space, as they’ve been featured in several publications:

Events

The Constellation team will be at the following upcoming events.  Let us know if you’re going to be there, too!

 

Sincerely,

The Constellation Team

Ambassador Program Overview

For this piece, I sat down with our VP of Business Development, Benjamin Diggles. He provided a thorough overview of Constellation’s recently launched Ambassador Program – from why we started it, how to get involved, the overarching goals of the program, and who some of our notable ambassadors are currently.

While our engineering team is hard at work building out our 3rd generation DLT tech, we recognized a void in the space — namely, a clear understanding of the underlying technology itself, alongside definitions of real-world use-cases are often sparse and misleading. Rather than idly sitting on the sidelines or waiting for the next “bull-run,” or for someone else to carry the proverbial torch, we saw an opportunity to step up and become educational leaders in the space, especially when it comes to bridging the ever-widening gap between existing industries and enterprises that are looking at the blockchain realm with a hefty dose of skepticism and confusion. We feel that many sectors will lean on their advisors and core collectives to guide them through this new paradigm, and we aim to play a vital role in that discussion.

By launching and scaling our Global Ambassador Network, Constellation will be able to extend its reach into core industries to capture the minds of those looking to assimilate blockchain into their solution workflows. Our goal is to position, promote and strengthen the Constellation solution with flagship partners in industries that will accelerate positive net new node growth. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into the interview! Everything that follows in quotations will be the wise words of the sage Benjamin Diggles. 

Benjamin Diggles (right) hosting a Constellation Labs MeetUp in Portland, OR.

First off, what is the Ambassador Program all about?

“So the reason we created the Ambassador Program is that a company of our size cannot currently scale into specific markets. So for us to foster ambassadors within a particular region or market, it gives us the ability to tap into those different regions and market opportunities with an expertise that is outside of our core competency. 

A good example would be: I am not a mobility or automotive specialist by any means, but that’s a robust industry that we want to get into. We have an ambassador based out of Germany (Sebastian Spitzer) that provides us with a lens to get into those types of conversations and be able to help us with our knowledge in addressing those sectors. 

The point of that is by getting into those types of projects and opportunities; those groups get exposure to what we’re doing as a technology, where otherwise they would likely be ignorant.”

Below is a more detailed list of some of the Program Objectives :

  • Establish world-class positioning and representation through strategic partners in regions and industries aligned with our core vision 
  • Grow and strengthen the value of the Constellation token by building confidence in the market through the quality and focus of our partnership projects
  • Nurture a partner program of consistency that rewards those involved in scaling Constellation’s impact on the market 

What do we aim to accomplish with this program? What are some of the primary industries or sectors that we’re targeting regarding our ambassadors? 

“The real goal is scale. We don’t want to have 5,000 employees across the globe. It just doesn’t make any sense. So our goal is to scale the Constellation solution into the minds and markets around various parts of the world that we currently would not be able to access.

What we’re looking to accomplish is very simple — find people who are really passionate and very excited about what’s happening in distributed ledger technology and the blockchain space and crypto — anything that kind of touches this ecosystem that we’re playing with. Then, to take that excitement and move it over into introductions for either enterprise projects, consortiums or foundations that are looking for that same level of excitement around this space. From there, we can get involved in discussions that will accelerate not only our technology, but will give us visibility into use cases to better help us tune our approach to the market.”

Who would be an ideal ambassador? 

“What’s great about the program is that it’s not just exclusive for those that are highly senior in distributed ledger technology. We can work with people who are rather junior or new to it. I feel that excitement and the ability to have a vision of possibility and some aptitude within blockchain is the perfect type of person we’re looking for. So I have people who are fully on board that are teaching curriculums on distributed ledger technology. Clearly, that’s a very senior and poignant type of ambassador. 

Also, we have others that are maybe just focused on retail distribution in China, for example, so they’re very industry focused with a small understanding of distributed ledger technology, but they have a lot of excitement, and so they’re willing to learn and wanting to promote it.

So those that are looking for a way to get involved in a project early are those that we’re aiming for. Or those that have that calling inside of them saying, “I’m really passionate about what’s happening and curious about blockchain technology, and I think I can contribute and want to get involved.” Those are the types. So naturally, the goal is to identify the strategic type of ambassadors — the ones that become almost core to the team, that we’re communicating with on a weekly basis and having strong initiatives to see through that we can measure.”

Who are some of our notable early Ambassadors?

Sebastian Spitzer

“Our program just launched (check out our site for more info on how to join)so a lot of these were early adopters if you will. Sebastian Spitzer, (whom I mentioned earlier), is based out of Germany and is focused on the automotive and mobility sectors. He already secured us a membership with the MOBI distributed Ledger technology consortium, which also involves the World Economic Forum, Bosch, GM, the Linux Foundation – some of those truly great brands. So having him as a proxy to shepherd us into that consortium is quite powerful.  

List of partners in MOBI consortia
(left) Ray Hatoyama, Ben Jorgenson (right)

Another good example would be Ray Hatoyama, who is based out of Japan. He’s the former CEO of Hello Kitty. To have somebody of that caliber who sees the promise of our vision and raises their hand up and says, “I want to carry the torch, and I’m going to get behind you guys,” is a tremendous validation for us. It shows that somebody with that sort of prowess can see the promise of what we’re doing. He has tons of experience in the cross-section of the I.T and entertainment industry. So he’s going to actively help us with that global corporate governance and innovation aspect. 

Ratul Saha

Ratul Saha is another main ambassador, who is based out of India, and he also covers relationships within Singapore. He has a Ph.D. in computer science from NUS in Singapore and has a full background a distributed system technology. Having somebody like him that is at the tip of the spear of this sort of technology movement, but also has a strong connection to the education system and the education peer review people within Singapore and India is a massive win for us. So it shows that somebody of that caliber is kind of is hard to come by, so we’re really fortunate to have him.

Jacob Mullins
Julian Jung

On the more crypto influence or venture/investment side, we have Julian Jung, who is focusing on being a crypto ambassador for us based out of Boston, as well as Jacob Mullins, who’s based out of San Francisco and is a Partner with Shasta Ventures. So having these guys help us navigate the markets and how we position ourselves from kind of that crypto go-to-market and governance perspective is crucial. 

Then the last one I’ll mention here is Sunil Daluvoy, and he’s a business development ambassador based out San Francisco. He has deep roots with the SaaS industry, and he’s already gotten us partnerships with brands such as Hyperledger.

So I hope this helps paint the picture of how individuals with real excitement who understand this space and see the opportunity are, in a way, helping us pro bono to open up doors because they believe in what we’re doing and they want to be a part of the story.”

Sunil Daluvoy

What does success look like from the Ambassador Program?

“I think success would be for us to be revered in the market as a trusted partner that is consistently contributing value to the space. And so that might look like us being an open door for validating use cases, finding out what the market viability of those use cases may be, and attaching you to the right solutions and different partners that want to build on us or others. Ideally, maybe find funding or guidance on their approach. That to me is the success — can we look at projects that have gone from early inception all the way to deployment? If we’re rich in that aspect, then the Ambassador Program is doing well. If we’re just spinning our wheels talking about possibility, then we’re just like everyone else in my opinion.”

What inspired Constellation to create this Ambassador Program and take this more novel approach? 

I don’t think it’s that we wanted to do things our way because things weren’t getting done [in the space as a whole], but we’re just going to do things our way because that’s who we are as a company. We’re actually going to do it the way we think is the right way and what that means is true, real enterprise adoption — that to me is what makes us different. I just think about how do we make this real? That’s it. And I think the Ambassador Program can accelerate us into making this real in the market in a significant way.”

What can people expect to see in the coming months?

“So we just launched our Ambassador Program as far as the intake is concerned, and we’re open for applicants between now and next coming weeks. From there, I’ll start to reach out to those applicants, and I’m working on a certification process which will help them truly understand our technology in the context of the broader marketplace. This will ensure that we feel confident that when they’re going out and spreading our message (or hopefully attaching us to new opportunities), they’ll be in alignment with who we are, and I want them to have pride in that.

So the certification process will be rolling out in the comings months. We’re going to be doing monthly webinar talks, which will feature all of our ambassadors and give us an opportunity to further flesh out our use cases. We’ll also have an in-person ambassador meet up. I want to spend as much time with these people in person as possible because we want to treat them as if they’re our own, and we want to make them rock stars. We highly value our ambassadors, and we want them to feel genuinely valued. It’s all about, how do we collaborate, how do we build trust? And how do we have a cadence that everybody feels like they’re not overwhelmed by, but instead feel fulfilled.”

How can people learn more, and whats the best way to become a strategic piece of the Constellation team?

“The first step is merely going to our website and signing up for the Ambassador Program, staying on top of our Telegram, and generally staying in the loop. 

Outside of that, my main encouragement to people (and this is just general advice outside of even Constellation) is to start to think about where does distributed ledger technology really fit and is it viable? What are the use cases? What’s the possibility? I feel like this market is really focused on high-level stuff — such as, we’re going to “revolutionize autonomous cars” and all this [abstract] stuff that’s years away. The question is, what’s going to be impacted tomorrow, and what does that look like? 

So that to me is something I want to foster within this group. If somebody can get their brain thinking in that process before starting certification or getting involved in the ambassador program, then they’re already going to have a leg up because that’s in the theme of what we’ll be doing on a consistent basis.”

Any last words?

“I guess the only other thing is that I’m a fun guy and I want to have fun. I want to make it fun. I want people to feel like this is a celebration, versus this looming need to scatter and figure stuff out. I want this to be creative and freeing, and I really want to celebrate the people that bring great value to the table. I want to make them rock stars, and kind of allow Constellation to be the hidden giant behind the scene. Let us work on our technology, and let’s make everybody else shine.

Become a Constellation Member

Participate in our Community

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Stay Educated

Constellation Announcement – Constellation Joins Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI)

Hi Constellation Community,

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 1.42.44 PMConstellation Labs is excited to announce its sponsorship of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI). Constellation joins the renowned mobility ecosystem which is accelerating the development of blockchain-enabled vehicle data and mobility services standards. The aim of this is to make mobility more efficient, accessible, greener and safer using blockchain related technologies. As seen in the graphic to the right, some of their current partners include BMW, GM, Ford and Bosch, as well as the recent addition of The World Economic Forum (WEF).

MOBI’s Chairman and CEO Chris Ballinger says that “the community is working hard to create a minimum viable ecosystem that aims to standardize blockchain and related technologies to bring transparency and trust to the industry, consumers, and communities while reducing the risk of fraud, frictions and transaction costs in mobility. With the on-boarding of new members, we are adding diversified expertise that ranges from components and vehicle check to insurance, technology solutions, and rewards, as well as more focus on collaboration between private and public sector.”

Benjamin Diggles, VP of Business Development at Constellation Labs, had this to say about the partnership:

“Partnering with the MOBI consortia is key to our core vision of accelerating possibility in the mobility space. Constellation is building a protocol with the ability to usher in enterprise adoption through real world use cases.  We are excited for the myriad of potential applications and to contribute to this world-class organization.”

You can learn more about MOBI on their website, and check out some of the fellow members of MOBI below, ranging from IBM to VeChain.

 

Sincerely, 

The Constellation Team

Constellation Announcement – Global Ambassador Network Launches

Hello Constellation Community,

We’re excited to announce the launch of our Global Ambassador Network. The program offers the tools and knowledge needed to integrate blockchain into networks eager to embrace blockchain technology around the world. While our early focus is on mobility, IoT, and renewable energy applications, we’re also extending into a multitude of industries, based on ambassador outreach and momentum.

“While market interest in blockchain is high, a clear understanding of the technology and real world use-case definitions are sparse and often misleading. By launching and scaling a Global Ambassador Network, Constellation will be able to extend its reach into core industries to capture the minds of those looking to assimilate blockchain into their solution workflows.”

Benjamin Diggles, Constellation’s VP of Business Development and Head of the Global Ambassador Network

The Ambassador Network is a global network of blockchain and crypto enthusiasts focused on creating strong word of mouth networks and growing local communities for blockchain projects that align with Constellation’s core mission — to advance the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology in a way that is truly decentralized and open to all.

“In 5 years, I believe blockchain will become the core technology for innovation, and I believe in Constellation Labs’s vision to bring decentralized technology to the next level. I saw an ambitious dream in Constellation. Constellation will take a big role of upgrading blockchain technology to a universal common language, and thus enhancing global connectivity, such as internet and mobile, that shaped the world to how it is today. I’m happy to be an Ambassador of Constellation Labs, helping to continue to propel innovation, together.”

Constellation Ambassador and former Hello Kitty Managing Director Ray Rehito Hatoyama

In addition to Hatoyama, early Constellation Ambassadors include: Sebastian Spitzer, New Business Specialist at REHAU; Ratul Saha, Founder of GetonChain; Julian Jung, Co-founder and Partner of Game Theory Crypto Group; and Jacob Mullins, Partner at Shasta Ventures.

Pictured: Ray Hatoyama and COO Ben Jorgensen

Links to recent press coverage:

NXTalpha, Constellation’s global ambassadors to spread blockchain gospel

Block Asia, Constellation Labs Launches Global Ambassador Network

Bit-Media, Constellation Labs Launches Global Ambassador Network

PaymentWeek, Constellation Labs Launches Global Ambassador Network

CryptoNinjas, Blockchain for consumer dApps Constellation Labs launches Ambassador Network

Sincerely,

The Constellation Team

 

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Constellation Update – Product & Engineering News, Media Mentions & TechCrunch

Dear Constellation Community,

Our teams have been hard at work this week, and we’re all very excited for our sponsored panel and workshop at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 next week. Read on for more about what’s been going on…

Product Update

This week we found additional end user experience that required enhancements. This is in preparation for our community to earn points and convert those points into DAG.  This week’s enhancements include MetaMask, Orion Portal, and Social account experience.

  • Added front end validation to the transaction approval process which lets transactions run more smoothly and reduces risks that a user inadvertently stakes more than DAG than intended.
  • We added the ability to link Medium accounts to your Orion profile, which will let you participate in bounty rewards related to marketing.
  • Updated transaction processing screens so that they auto-refresh to show transaction updates.
  • Fixed bugs that arose after Metamask released updates.
  • Small changes to copy and UI.

Engineering Update

  • New updates are on dev branch.  Merged V1 batch downloader fixes. Finalized new edge schema for all chain data.
  • New flow uses a schema similar to GraphX but with batch signatures and hashes at raw edge level. Edges at a higher level are polymorphic with 3 type parameters, left vertex, right vertex, and optional edge data.
  • Our basic primitive is that of an Observation Edge which tracks 2 ordered vertex hashes and an edge data hash. This is a requirement for signatures, the actual data is populated after resolving in a polymorphic Edge class which is encapsulated in each specific usage.
  • Example being a transaction which is an Edge between 2 addresses with data corresponding to the amount. Observation edges are captured by Signed Observation.
  • Edges which hold witness signature data of an arbitrary number of participants. Checkpoint edges capture sequences of hashes, and validation edges capture collections of checkpoints.
  • Genesis flow has been updated to incorporate new schema. We’re adding a REST transport layer for more generic node peer communications and simplifying and unifying the network code.
  • Worked on finalizing resolver mechanics which require a notifier DAG for issuing processing updates to new data which has dependencies on other potentially unresolved data.
  • Fixed bug in address formatting. More refactoring around Futures handling to optimize code.
  • Working on on unifying and simplifying the networking code.

Media Mentions

TC Disrupt Reminder

The countdown to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 is on! If you’re attending, be sure to catch our sponsored panel and workshop on Friday, September 7th. Details are below:

Panel: Beyond the ICO: New approaches to fundraising and enterprise investment in blockchain.

Time: Friday September 7th, 1.30 -2.30

Workshop Room 1 (2nd Floor, Moscone West)

Moderator: TBA

Speakers: Ben Jorgensen (COO of Constellation), Jacob Mullins (Shasta Ventures), Erika Perez (Global Leader of IBM Blockchain Strategy & Ecosystem), and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff (CMO of Mozilla)

Constellation has been through an extraordinary period of fundraising and subsequent growth. Ben Jorgensen (COO) and team will share their experiences in this session exploring the complex and ever-changing fundraising models available, and what enterprise leaders look for in potential partners and projects.

Workshop: Running a Node on a Distributed Ledger: Live Demo

Time: Friday September 7th, 2.45 – 3.30

Workshop Room 1 (2nd Floor, Moscone West)

Speakers: Wyatt Meldman-Floch, Ryle Goehausen

Wyatt (CTO) and Ryle (VP of Engineering) will demystify the key components of distributed ledger technology, and provide a guide on how to set up a Constellation node. Participants will leave with the basic skills they need to contribute to an emerging 3rd-Gen protocol.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sincerely,

The Constellation Team

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Constellation Update – Company All-Hands, Engineering, Product & TC Disrupt

Our team just got back from a two-day all hands meeting at our headquarters in San Francisco, and we wanted to share some of the highlights from our time together.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 2.08.29 PM

From left to right: Anthony (Content Manager), Sophie (Executive Assistant), Gio (Lead Product Designer), Altif (CCO), Sasha (Front End Engineer), Preston (back facing, Distributed Systems Engineer), Benjamin (VP of Bus. Dev.), Tyler (Distributed Systems Engineer), Brion (VP of Product), James (Web Developer), Ryle (back facing, VP of Engineering), Wyatt (CTO), off camera Ben Jorgensen (COO).

Over the course of the week we established a more organized, efficient and a cross collaboration framework which will be reflected in the output from our Marketing, Product and Engineering teams. It was a two day deep dive that allowed us all to come closer together and collectively refine the mission and values of Constellation.  The overall outcome was concrete three year plan which will be reflected and communicated in our upcoming whitepaper.

Each department head presented their roadmap for the coming months. Our COO Ben Jorgensen kicked things off with an inspiring talk on the highlights of the company’s growth thus far, while outlining some of our future goals (such as increasing our community visibility with Meetups), among many others. Zac Russell (CMO), touched upon all of our marketing initiatives thus far, and highlighted some new deliverables that we’re cooking up.

Brion Hickey and Gio Valdenegro laid out the roadmap from the product side of things, sharing what we can expect as V2 of Orion gets rolled out in the coming months. Altif Brown (CCO) shared all of the incredible growth we’ve had throughout all of our communities, while Ben Diggles, our VP of Business Development, closed out Thursday by outlining all of our exciting partnership opportunities (stay tuned for more info on these!)

Wyatt wrapped up our time together by giving a mind expanding talk on Friday—hashing out the granular technical aspects underlying the grand vision of Constellation to our entire team—who was able to ask questions and gain further clarity on the scope of what we’re building.

Engineering Update

The engineering team has been hard at work this week, as usual! Below is an overview of what they’ve been up to:

  • Our Schema was updated.  We are now using a generic Edge type, similar to the model in popular graph processing libraries like Pregel or GraphX.
  • We’re migrating to more granular edges for building up bundle partitions to eliminate some redundancies. This is based off the schema GraphX uses for Pregel programs. It presents everything as an edge, including transactions as an edge between two addresses, and distinguishes checkpoint edges (introduction of new data to the graph) from validation edges (re-verification and merging of separate partitions).  
  • The team is now working off of dev branch to stage changes properly before merging to master. They’ve also merged the download updates and fixes in preparation of dev testing, and are working on setting up separate testing environments in Kube.

Product Update

Breakdown of recent site and Orion updates:

  • Added front end validation to the transaction approval process which lets transactions run more smoothly and reduces risks that a user inadvertently stakes more than DAG than intended.
  • We added the ability to link Medium accounts to your Orion profile, which will let you participate in bounty rewards related to marketing.
  • Updated transaction processing screens so that they auto-refresh to show transaction updates.
  • Fixed some issues that arose after Metamask released updates.
  • Small changes to copy and UI.

TechCrunch Disrupt Sponsorship

We have a couple of amazing new additions to our TechCrunch Disrupt panel.  Erika Perez, Global Leader of IBM Blockchain Strategy & Ecosystem, and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO of Mozilla will be joining the panel alongside previously announced Jacob Mullins, Partner at Shasta Ventures, and our very own COO Ben Jorgensen. See you on September 7th at 1.30pm PST.

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 1.59.56 PM

Jascha believes in two key principles: Find opportunities where no one else is looking; And, never fail the same way twice. It’s a methodology centered around Agile marketing practices and marketing technology. Coupled with a B.A. in Psychology from Whittier College, it’s one that’s served him well professionally and personally. Prior to joining Mozilla, Jascha most recently served as CMO for BitTorrent, CMO for Mindjet, senior vice president of marketing and customer success at Involver and he previously headed Global Marketing for Webtrends.

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 2.00.52 PM

Erika is responsible for developing and expanding IBM’s Blockchain ecosystem across all industries to accelerate enterprise adoption of Blockchain.  Working with a broad spectrum of Startups, ISV’s, GSI’s, and industry partners, Erika leads a business development team focused on building Blockchain networks based on the IBM Blockchain Platform.  Key to Erika’s charter is to develop and pivot on the business models and commercial vehicles to monetize Blockchain Networks.  Prior to her role in Blockchain, Erika led IBM’s Global charter for FinTech partnering with both Startups and Incumbent firms.  During her tenure at IBM, Erika has had multiple sales and leadership roles including her responsibility over clients such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and PayPal.

Our TC Disrupt ticket giveaway remains open through the 27th, so if you haven’t already done so, fill out your details on Orion for a chance to win one of five GA tickets to the event.

We’re extremely excited to interact with our community on site and look forward to seeing you all there!

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TechCrunch Disrupt Announcement & Ticket Giveaway

We’re sponsoring a panel and workshop at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018! On September 7th 2018, Constellation will host a panel aimed at demystifying recent developments in crypto fundraising and a workshop on how to run a node on Constellation’s Testnet. We’ll also be on the ground over the course of the three days meeting the community and interviewing some of Crypto’s leading figures.  For a chance to win one of five GA tickets, fill out your details on Orion. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Read on for further details…

Panel: Beyond the ICO: New approaches to fundraising and enterprise investment in blockchain.

Time: Friday September 7th, 1.30 -2.30

Moderator: TBA

Speakers: Ben Jorgensen (COO of Constellation), Jacob Mullins (Shasta Ventures), Erika Perez (Global Leader of IBM Blockchain Strategy & Ecosystem), and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff (CMO of Mozilla) 

Constellation has been through an extraordinary period of fundraising and subsequent growth. Ben Jorgensen (COO) and team will share their experiences in this session exploring the complex and ever-changing fundraising models available, and what enterprise leaders look for in potential partners and projects.

Workshop: Running a Node on a Distributed Ledger: Live Demo

Time: Friday September 7th, 2.45 – 3.30

Speakers: Wyatt Meldman-Floch, Ryle Goehausen

Wyatt (CTO) and Ryle (VP of Engineering) will demystify the key components of distributed ledger technology, and provide a guide on how to set up a Constellation node. Participants will leave with the basic skills they need to contribute to an emerging 3rd-Gen protocol.

As mentioned, there will be more announced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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How Constellation Is Utilizing Distributed Technology

 

In this piece, we’re going to explore the world of distributed tech—breaking down what it is, how it’s currently being used in the tech landscape at large, why the blockchain space as a whole isn’t utilizing certain proven distributed tech frameworks, and how we intend on using them. We’re also going to break down what inspired Constellation’s approach to “Consensus as a service.” I sat down with several key members of our engineering team to discuss all of this in depth, so without further ado, let’s dive in.

From a higher level perspective, what does a distributed system entail? To put it simply, it’s the idea of splitting up computation and data across computers to solve scalability issues. Cloud computing can be seen as an example of distributed technology, where data and applications are served to millions of users over the internet. In terms of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and cryptos approached distributed systems in a different way, as they weren’t focused on solving data processing problems or really trying to improve anything. As our CTO Wyatt Meldman-Floch puts it, “They were trying to add some notion of cryptographic security by mixing in economics. It all started with scalability, and crypto sort of became this other thing.”

What The Heck Is Distributed Tech?

To take a more macro-level view on what some of the most popular distributed tech platforms are, let’s turn it over to our VP of Engineering, Ryle Goehausen: “I would say really the basis for most of our involvement comes from Apache’s Spark, which is the big data distribution platform.” To put it another way, Spark is essentially a general-purpose data processing engine, which can rapidly analyze data at scale.

Ryle also mentioned the Scala programming language ecosystem as being a big influence within Constellation. Scala, which stands for “scalable language”, is already used by major companies such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Ryle also mentioned several other major distributed tech influences, in Akka, Algebird, and Hadoop. Akka is a toolkit for building highly distributed applications on Java, while Algebird provides abstractions for algebra within the Scala programming language. Apache’s Hadoop is a software library that allows for the distributed processing of large amounts of data and is used by the likes of Twitter, Spotify, and Facebook to store and process mass quantities of data in real time. At the heart of Hadoop lies MapReduce, which is a programming paradigm that allows for this massive amount of scalability to occur! For a quick laymen’s term breakdown of how that works, check this out. If you’re wondering how all of this ties into what we’re doing at Constellation and the blockchain space in general, hang in there, we’ll get there.

In terms of how all of the aforementioned distributed tech paradigms influence Constellation, here’s what Ryle had to say: “We’re primarily trying to use a lot of the techniques and the same libraries that other distributed systems are built with, and that’s all sort of oriented around Scala, Akka, Algebird and some of the other like standard tooling.”

What We Learned From Twitter

To take this a step further and explore how these tools are being used in the greater tech landscape at large, let’s take a look at how Twitter leverages MapReduce and Hadoop. In terms of processing massive quantities of data, Twitter relies on MapReduce to “literally do reputation calculations on individual tweets to figure out whether or not this show on your newsfeed.” Essentially, what Twitter does is leverage MapReduce and other streaming libraries and “mix these two tools in order to aggregate data and serve it very quickly and in such a way that is horizontally scalable. That’s how Twitter can strain billions of data points per second,” according to Wyatt.

Ryle backed this up by sharing some further details on how Twitter uses Hadoop and Spark:

Twitter primarily lies on Hadoop, and they’re migrating Spark in a lot of places. They have separate things that are done for real-time aggregation, but a lot of it is unified under a common language. That’s why they’re developing so much Scala code—because it integrates with older code. They don’t need to rewrite a bunch of things. They can use a lot of the same code for both real-time, batch processing and analytics, so they’ll have batch jobs that run every night, but also have real-time system stuff.”

Using Hadoop basically allows them to store and process billions of tweets, log files, and other forms of data across thousands of nodes.

Right about now, you might be thinking, “Great! There are all of these proven existing frameworks for scaling distributed tech—this sounds like a perfect, seamless integration for the blockchain and crypto space!” 

Well, not quite.

The main hold up is that the existing code stacks are not very friendly to a crypto stack, or in the case of Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Dash’s stack— “it would not plug in very nicely and it wouldn’t have a lot of code reusability,” said Ryle. To extrapolate this point further, we can take a look at Ethereum, whose own messaging strongly plays up MapReduce (have a look at their Plasma whitepaper), but isn’t using any of the language libraries or common practices associated with MapReduce itself. Seems a bit backward, right? I asked Ryle why this is, and his response was quite illuminating:

The obvious answer is because they already have code and dependencies that are already written specifically for Ethereum, and they’re a slow moving boat. It would be difficult for them to adapt and change all of their existing stuff over [to MapReduce], so they’re viewing it as basically tacking it on to their system. There are other people trying to migrate MapReduce—except our strategy for the migration of MapReduce is to use libraries that are other actually used for developing MapReduce, instead of trying to develop MapReduce inside of crypto libraries.

In short, there are already existing standards for proven distributed tech frameworks such as MapReduce, and we want to reuse as much of that code as we can and forge the right path from the start. Ethereum is essentially ignoring the long-standing reasons for why people chose design patterns oriented around MapReduce in the first place, and are trying to recreate something that already works, but within their own sandbox. The same can be said of their approach with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Ryle shared his take on this in the following quote:

“If you look at all the work that was done on EVM, it’s going to be scrapped because they went down a path that is now worthless because they chose to go against the standard. It’s better to go with common standards and to use tools that are already there. There’s no reason to try and reinvent the wheel for everything.”

Another example can be seen with IOTA, who are currently experiencing a crisis on their main network due to spammers creating a Side Tangle parasite chain, resulting in transactions not being confirmed. Wyatt shared his take on this by saying “this is the price of trying to customize too early.” IOTA has essentially tried to reinvent cryptography, which violates the underlying tenets of cryptography itself.

This isn’t meant to bash either Ethereum or IOTA—we’re merely trying to illustrate the importance of leveraging the existing proven tech and forging the proper path the first time, rather than trying to retroactively fit a lot of these tools in down the line.

Ryle sums it up quite succinctly:

If we go down the wrong path of attempting to prop up something that isn’t necessarily going to become the standard in the future, it’s a lot of wasted effort. And we’d like not to do that. These other tools have billions of dollars of aggregate industry value, and to ignore them is silly.

Forging the Right Path

With Constellation, we want to forge the right path from the outset. We want to develop libraries that bridge the gap between crypto and existing distributed tech, and that’s not really easy to do right now. While other projects are wasting their time trying to port existing distributed tech over into crypto, we want to leverage what already works, and focus on building the future.

“There are projects that are trying to adopt Bitcoin and Ethereum to Scala and Java, and they’re sort of in a weird state where they don’t really work all the way, and they don’t fully integrate. So we’re trying to focus on using languages and tools that make that problem go away,” shared Ryle.

While this is a difficult task, we aren’t the only ones in this space that are pursuing a similar path. As Ryle said, “Rchain are using a lot of the same functions same crypto code that we’re using. Waves is another example. When you look at a project like Rchain, they’ve essentially proven that it’s possible to do crypto on the Scala ecosystem.” But again, what distinguishes us from Rchain is we’re not trying to approach this as a language problem. While they’ve created Rholang, which is a new language for writing smart contracts that run on the RChain virtual machine, we’re more heavily focused on leveraging Scala for big data processing. Ryle went on to share how the success of Rchain has “proven that there is a demand for using the tooling of Scala and these other distributed systems within the crypto space.”

When I asked the team if it’d be fair to consider Constellation as one of the first blockchain companies intentionally building a bridge for mainstream developers to port over into the blockchain space, Ryle made it clear that Constellation isn’t unprecedented in the aspect of what toolkits we are trying to use, but rather, “we are unprecedented in the sense that we’re trying to solve a very narrowly scoped problem. We’re focusing heavily on the MapReduce aspect and using monads and other functional programming in Scala Concepts.”

Constellation – Consensus as a Service

During the interview, Wyatt shared the approach they took when dreaming up Constellation Labs, and how they leveraged their prior experience in creating scalable tech. “The approach we had was—we already build systems for the scalability side. We are also heavily into crypto, and we wanted to sort of take these things over and apply the stuff we learned for solving scalability problems and also use them for making scalable cryptocurrencies.” Wyatt went on to say that, “our approach to scalability was also a solution to that splitting protocols problem. That’s what we do. What we did was create this protocol for communicating across protocols.” By solving that, it allowed us to do MapReduce, and its like they were the same problem – one and the same. Tyler Prete, one of our Distributed Systems Engineers, added that by leveraging Java and Scala, “we can more easily integrate with these existing tools like Spark or Hadoop, because we can kind of be the connection point where blockchain needs MapReduce.”

At this point in the conversation, Ryle brought up the notion of focusing on Constellation as consensus as a service—“of trying to be that networking protocol layer between decentralized applications.” He went on to draw comparisons between us and Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service. “The same way that Amazon created S3 as its own service oriented around storage, we’re a service oriented around consensus network organization and reputation.”

To reiterate an earlier point, we’re not trying to focus on the contract language, because the contract language can be considered plug-and-play on top of a consensus layer. As Ryle succinctly put it, “Our competitive edge is just focusing on consensus and reputation and big data at scale.”

The team made it clear throughout the interview that Constellation wants to integrate with as many other libraries as we can, and that they want it to be possible for code to be reused. “You should be able to run the same kind of code that does transaction processing in Spark, in Storm and even in Hadoop, and connect it to nodes also running off phones—that’s a very reasonable objective, but we can’t just do this in a vacuum,” said Ryle. By that, he means there are already standard ways of accomplishing this, and Constellation is trying to properly integrate with them.

While at the moment, you can’t really run Spark on a phone, Ryle admitted that “you can run a lot of the same libraries and code and have it very easy to connect to services that run Spark or Storm, or any of these other Hadoop-like services.” In closing, Ryle shared how the underlying problem that Constellation is tackling is very well stated:

We want these nodes running everywhere. We will also want them running on data centers. We want batch analytics to be possible on the data. We want to be able to run models to reputation and do analytics— all of that, the industry already has techniques for that, but they’re not being used.

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Constellation Update – Engineering, Airdrop 2 & Deep Dive into Testnet

Engineering Update

 

  1. Updated the Github readme with new instructions for building and running a constellation node. Going forward we’ll be supporting docker containers as our recommended way of running a node.
  2. Engineering spent several days planning roadmap for the next 6 months, and breaking down initiatives into sprint-sized tasks.

FAQ on upcoming Airdrop 2

 

Over 450,000 DAG were distributed in the last week of July during the first Orion Airdrop. If you registered for the KYC process, you’ve got tokens ready and waiting for you! Our next AirDrop is right around the corner. Registrants will receive an email on the 14th of August and will need to complete KYC by the 19th of August. In addition to the AirDrop 2 KYC email, we will be informing everyone of which AirDrop round they have been allocated.

To access your tokens, you’ll need to use the email address and wallet address you used to sign up for the Airdrop and KYC process.

If you’ve already got an Orion account registered with that email address, just log into Orion with that email address. You’ll see a new “Airdrop” tab in the sidebar where you can access your tokens.

If you’ve already got an Orion account but it’s registered with a different email than the one you used for the airdrop, you can still access your tokens. Just go to the “Settings” screen and change your email address to the one used in the Airdrop, and verify the email.

If you don’t have an Orion account, just sign up for a new account using that email address here. You’ll see the “Airdrop” tab appear at left.

Below, we’ve answered some common questions around the AirDrop process.

When will I see the new DAG appear in my wallet?

The tokens are currently in a six-month lockup period. At the end of the lockup period in early February, these tokens can be withdrawn to your wallet directly by going to the “Airdrop” tab in Orion and clicking the “withdraw DAG” button.

Can I use my airdropped DAG during the lockup period?

Yes! You can stake the airdropped tokens to register for an Orion account. Just go to the “Airdrop” tab and follow the instructions there to stake the airdropped DAG.

I already have a Developer or Community account, but I want to use my Airdropped DAG to register instead. How can I do this?

It’s easy. Just go to the “Settings” screen to downgrade your account to the free tier. Your originally-staked DAG will be returned to your original wallet. Now, go to the Airdrop tab and follow your instructions to stake your airdropped tokens.

Can I withdraw Airdropped tokens later, even if I use them to upgrade to a Developer account now?

Yes. Once the lockup period is complete, you can unstake the tokens and withdraw them.

Do I have to use the same wallet address I used when going through the KYC process?

Yes. Tokens have been airdropped against a specific wallet address

Testnet Overview

 

It’s been a week since we launched our code and Testnet. We recently sat down with the engineering team for a deeper dive into our code and visualization. Read the full story in our latest blog post, and watch the interview below:

Sincerely,

The Constellation Team

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