In the coming weeks, we will introduce different people involved in TangleCon 2023 here. Christian Wendler, CEO and founder of byte5, will be the first today. In the interview, he talks about the motivation behind TangleCon and how he became interested in IOTA.
Tell us about your background?
I founded byte5 in 2004 and focused on open source technologies from the very beginning. The reasons for this were and still are actually quite pragmatic: on the one hand, our projects require that the software used can be extensively adapted to customer needs - not vice versa. The open source projects we have chosen give us this freedom. On the other hand, we have had good experiences when the number and intensity of dependencies on software and system providers remain as limited as possible. There is also usually a large community whose support and updates can be relied on.
Today - almost 20 years later - we are a team of experts in precisely these technologies that we have chosen, and we have also been following IOTA for several years. In 2021, we officially added IOTA to our tech stack as a DLT. Before that, I was myself deeply interested in this project and the crypto industry in general for a long time.
How did you get interested in IOTA?
I became aware of IOTA back in 2017. Even back then, there were some special features that caught my eye and that I was very interested in, which is why I started to take a closer look at the project.
On the one hand, IOTA's claim from the very beginning was to overcome the limitations of classic blockchains. But also conceptually, it opened up completely different possibilities because no transaction fees were planned from the beginning. This just enables totally different use cases.
It has always been a part of our philosophy to actively support the open source technologies that we use at byte5. We select these technologies very carefully and the community is also a very important aspect.
Why is byte5 involved in the IOTA community?
It has always been a part of our philosophy to actively support the open source technologies that we use at byte5. We select these technologies very carefully and the community is also a very important aspect. When we ultimately decide on a technology, this always means for us to get involved in the community and to support the ecosystem with our resources. One of the ways we do that is through meetups, events or conferences, for example.
Now that the COVID phase is coming to an end, we want to focus more on events again. That's why we founded byte5 live as a subsidiary to organise events and have set ourselves the goal of hosting the first major IOTA community event, TangleCon.
What makes TangleCon different from other events in the IOTA universe?
There is currently a lively local regulars' table culture in the community, and IOTA is also represented at crypto or blockchain conferences through the Foundation or IOTA-based projects. But there is actually no big IOTA conference yet. With the support of the IOTA Foundation, we would like to change that.
The format of TangleCon differs from that of the regulars' tables alone in that it is intended to bring the entire community and official representatives of the Foundation together once a year in one place - still virtually in 2023. There will be exciting panel discussions, in-depth tech talks and hands-on workshops where experts from the industry will teach how to actually work and develop with IOTA.
The focus will not be on investment strategies, price development or similar, but on the technology itself, its application and the resulting opportunities.
What is the biggest topic for you in the IOTA community right now?
There are a few candidates for the correct answer, one is without question an evergreen: Coordicide. That is, the part of IOTA that is currently still centralised and has therefore been the subject of the most criticism for years. For me, this is the point that everyone is really looking forward to.
What is the biggest challenge in the industry at the moment?
From my perspective, the biggest challenge is for the industry not to focus on itself, but to create convincing solutions for other industries and to talk about them on a wide scale. Of course, there are already DLT-based solutions out there, but let's make a comparison with ChatGPT: we've been talking about AI for even longer than DLTs and blockchains. Until then, most people outside the tech industry still had no concrete idea of the unlocked potential of AI and what role it could play in personal everyday life. A lot of hot air, AI was often just a marketing buzzword. I think that with ChatGPT, there was a moment when AI very tangibly arrived in the mainstream, in the masses. Now the penny is dropping and it's beginning to become clear what's to come. If we are not talking about virtual money like Bitcoin but more generally about the potential of DLTs that goes far beyond that, this breakthrough is still missing. The ChatGPT moment for Web3 is missing.
From my perspective, the biggest challenge is for the industry not to focus on itself, but to create convincing solutions for other industries and to talk about them on a wide scale.
What are your hopes for IOTA in the future?
My wish is that when that moment comes, IOTA will have its share and, in retrospect, the long, difficult road full of doubts and setbacks will turn out to be the right one for the community and the Foundation.
Dear Christian, thank you very much for your time and the exciting insights into the ideas behind TangleCon!