Most of us follow blockchain personalities and have some knowledge of what it is they actually do in this space, but seldom do we get the backstory of how they got into this industry. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Syed Jafri, one of blockchain’s most prominent developers. He’s most popular within the EOSIO community where he is widely recognized as the CEO of EOS Cafe Block, as well as the mastermind behind the widely used bloks.io block explorer.
With also a background on big data processing of healthcare data, I was curious on how he went from healthcare data processing to creating leading products that aim to bring blockchain to the masses. So before I could ask him about scoring a $200k payday from completing a challenge that was set by Block.one, one of the biggest companies in the industry, I had to ask Syed of where his blockchain prominence began.
Can you share with us your journey as a coder/developer and how you got into blockchain?
My first venture into coding started with running an automotive and computer parts dropshipping business back in high school, where I was coding up simple sites for promoting e-commerce listings. With a gentle introduction to coding, I found myself at University of Calgary for a degree in Bioinformatics and Computer science. I focused primarily on synthetic biology, bone analysis and other healthcare analytics. At U of C, I developed normative.ca, a tool for researchers to share healthcare data and statistics from bone scans with their patients.
I was introduced to Bitcoin back in 2014 while playing the game League of Legends. A player after one of my games sent me $10 of bitcoin through Circle as a tip. While I didn’t think of it much, it was worth 30X more eventually. In 2017, I started researching into Ethereum and the interesting idea of decentralized state machines. Soon after, I got involved in the development of a few small gaming projects on Ethereum. Coming out of that experience, I realized that real-time interactions, which consumers expect from most applications in existence was simply not a possibility on Ethereum. This realization led me to the discovery of EOS, and the rest is history.
What led you to developing and creating innovative blockchain solutions specifically on EOS(IO)?
EOS is quite simply the highest performance production blockchain network in existence. With the 0.5s block times and up to 10,000 TPS, you can build nearly any application you can think of. EOS was also an early adopter of WASM, which many chains are just now implementing or starting to implement. These core design specification make EOS and EOSIO a great choice to develop on.
As a developer do you still interact with these other chains, and if not, why?
I do not interact with any non-EOSIO blockchains anymore. The few times I have had to make a BTC transfer or interact with an Ethereum dapp, the slow block times really kill the experience.
Unfortunately, some people didn’t stick around long enough to see the launch of an actual better technology in EOSIO. After the market crashed in late 2017 to early 2018, a large part of the cryptocurrency market cap disappeared, along with its users. However, today there’s a new tide on the rise and this time around the promise of a better technology dwells in EOSIO. True to form, Syed has continued on his goal to bring blockchain to the masses.
Recently, he became the first person to complete Block.one’s most ambitious #EOSIOChallenge to date, which was to create a solution that promotes scalability and connectivity – shaping the future of blockchain as a result. Many people from different backgrounds around the world partook in the challenge, hoping to claim that $200k prize money as well as the respect of their peers. In the end only one person could claim it, and I asked him how he managed to pull this one off.
With your knowledge of other blockchain systems as well, what would you say led to such a speedy resolution of Block.one’s challenge? I mean, you made your first submission in less than a month of it going live – well ahead of the Feb 2021 deadline. Or are you just that good?!
Yes, my first submission was 3 weeks after the challenge was announced. I was working 18 hours a day for nearly a month straight on the project, so the solution did require quite a bit of time. The speedy resolution was aided by the years of fantastic open-source work by developers in the Ethereum ecosystem. There were numerous challenges along the way with execution and optimization for running an EVM inside the EOS virtual machine, and I am proud to have overcome them all.
The solution you provided (eosio.evm), is it specific to Ethereum smart contracts or can it be relayed across other blockchains as well?
eosio.evm is specific to Ethereum smart contracts. It would be compatible with any EVM-compatible chain, as most of those contracts are written in Solidity.
Can you explain how this application works and how it benefits Ethereum developers?
Essentially, eosio.evm gives you a fully featured Ethereum virtual machine on EOS. As a developer, you can write your code in Solidity, compile it and deploy it directly on the eosio.evm contract. I like to think of it like the program Wine, which allows applications coded for Windows to run on MacOS and Linux. eosio.evm takes programs written for Ethereum and runs them with enchanced TPS on EOS.
Following up on the previous question. How do you see this benefitting the EOSIO ecosystem, if not the blockchain ecosystem as a whole, in the short to mid-term?
The primary use-case I see is for companies and developers that are looking to upgrade from the Ethereum blockchain to overcome limitations with gas fees, block times and other roadblocks. They can take their solidity code that they have spent considerable time and money developing, and deploy it on EOS with 0 modifications. In the mid-term, it may also open up opportunities for IBC between apps that want to run a unified system across multiple blockchains, EOS included.
Theoretically, can eosio.evm run the entire Ethereum chain transactions inside EOSIO?
Yes eosio.evm can run the entire Ethereum chain transactions inside EOSIO, barring payments to miners as EOS does not have gas fees!
Lastly, I know everyone is probably wondering, or maybe it’s just me, but are you currently planning a trip to Vegas with the $200k?
No trip to Vegas here. Planning to save up and perhaps purchase my first house in the future.
I may have missed some things that the developer community would especially appreciate. Is there anything you’d like to touch on that I should’ve asked?
eosio.evm is really a 0-risk way for Ethereum developers to dabble in the EOSIO ecosystem, and leverage their existing codebases. I am excited to see more adoption for it and developers giving it a whirl!
Thanks to Syed for taking time away from his busy schedule to have this interview, it is greatly appreciated! He’s not only managed to create a solution to help developers overcome limitations on the Ethereum blockchain, but doing so in a manner that bears zero risks, and demands no further modifications to their already existing Ethereum code. It’s like taking a favorite dApp from the Ethereum blockchain and simply just porting it to an EOSIO blockchain as if you were copying and pasting it, so to speak.
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