The ICON Foundation’s Min Kim recently sat down in San Francisco for an interview with the Korean language blockchain news website Blockinpress.
It’s a long interview, but here are the highlights:
- Yes, ICON is a homegrown Korean blockchain solution. But the ICON Foundation was incorporated in Switzerland, the company has offices in Korea and Silicon Valley with staff also in Taiwan and Japan, and there are folk running validator nodes in 60 countries.
- Blockchain trends differ between Korea and the United States. In Korea, you see a lot of DApps emerging, with game companies focusing on commercialization. In the United States, there is more a focus on technology. Silicon Valley looks at blockchain and says there’s still much to figure out in terms of the basic technology; DApps and use cases can wait. In Korea and elsewhere in Asia, however, people are more focused on business models that generate profits. Indeed, teams in the United States can think a bit more long-term and focus on development because the VCs understand. That’s not the case in Korea.
- ICON has developers at both its Korean and U.S. offices. They produce results at about the same speed. The U.S. developers are a bit stronger in coming up with new ideas, however.
- He also notes differences in the startup cultures. In Silicon Valley, there are a ton of startups. Employees have a ton of experience working at these startups and are pretty good at managing themselves. When they work, they work hard. When they rest, they rest. In Korea, however, you scout a lot of talent away from major corporations, and it takes a while for such people to adjust to the startup culture. You also have a lot of young employees for whom it’s their first job.
- Though ICON has outstanding developers, English is a problem. This is something that might be hurting ICON compete overseas. Min wishes to spread the word that ICON has lots of outstanding developers.
- Americans involved in the cryptocurrency industry can proudly talk about what they do. Koreans can’t, which is too bad because regulations aside, the investment situation is pretty good. There are a lot of good companies, you’ve got good systems in place including education for blockchain developers, and the investor community is terrific, too. Korea has more blockchain investors than elsewhere — nine out of 10 Koreans are familiar with cryptocurrency. In this regard, Korea has an opportunity to lead the world, and ICON is in a good position to take advantage of that .
- ICON’s efforts in interchain technology has helped the company become one of Korea’s leading blockchain platforms. The ICON team has also spent the last two years actually building things, and it was founded by people who have worked together at the same company doing the same thing with the same dream. This has enabled the company to survive.
- Min likes the potential for interchain to trade between individual countries. He doesn’t know when we’ll see the interchain, just as we couldn’t have predicted how quickly it would take for the internet to develop. He does think we’ll see some interesting interchain projects emerging around next year.
- He looks favorably upon Facebook’s Libra project. He thinks we need projects like this — i.e., ones run by companies with a lot of brand power and resources to burn — to promote popular interest in the technology. He does have questions about how well Libra’s governance will work, though. It won’t be easy to get the heavy hitters that make up Libra’s governing alliance to work together.
- Min sees cryptocurrency exchanges taking on the role of banks. They are where you keep your cryptocurrency if you don’t trust keeping it home under your bed (i.e., on a hard wallet). And with staking, exchanges could earn depositors’ interest.
- ICON got through the 2018 cryptocurrency crash by focusing on development, and using it as an opportunity to get products out there. In fact, the company grew from 30 employees to 150 last year.
- This year, the goal is to complete the project’s schedule according to its roadmap. Afterwards, the dream is to work together with DAOs and other decentralized companies. ICON plans to research and develop systems that would allow people spread out across many countries to create an environment to work together in a decentralized world. ICON wants to create an IT system that would allow even technically disinclined people to create companies and divide shares in the ICON world with just a few clicks of a button.This would let anyone make a company and create ideas, leading to an explosion of startups. Many walls would come down.