On October 22, 2022, Gavin Wood made an official announcement via Twitter that his fellow co-founder of Parity, Björn Wagner, will take on the role of CEO of the company. However, Wood will continue as Chief Architect. This decision marks his resignation as the leader of Pokadot. Gavin Wood is a notable figure in the tech industry and the creator of Pokadot. This article provides an in-depth understanding of his background, the inception of Pokadot, and the reasons behind his resignation as CEO of Polkadot.
Who is Gavin Wood?
Gavin Wood, born in 1980 in the United Kingdom, is a computer scientist and programmer. He is recognized as the co-founder and first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Ethereum, the creator of the Polkadot and Kusama platforms.
Gavin Wood before coming to Ethereum
Gavin Wood’s passion for computers and technology was evident from a young age, starting at the age of nine. Thanks to the guidance of a neighbor named Sean and Gavin’s teachers at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, he was able to write his first computer program and inspire him to pursue his passion in the future. Gavin went on to study software engineering and obtain a Master’s degree in Engineering at the University of York in the United Kingdom. He continued his education by pursuing a doctoral degree in human-computer interfacing, with a focus on sound visualization.
After completing his PhD, in 2007 he founded Quid Pro Code, a software shop where he designed and implemented the first C++ workbench
In 2011, while holding the position of Technical Director at Lancaster Logic Response (LLR), he utilized his expertise in sound technology acquired during his doctoral studies to develop a real-time light display system driven by music. In addition, he also created OxLegal, a text editing system for legal contracts, a Noted plug-in which visually interprets sound analysis, and RipInPeace, a CD sound tracking software.
Gavin has a keen interest in economics and game theory, in addition to his programming skills. He has created a strategic board game called Milton Keynes, developed the Fractal Playground tool, and designed a new voting system.
Meeting Vitalik Buterin and contributing to the further development of Ethereum
In the year 2013, Gavin had a chance meeting with Vitalik Buterin through a mutual friend. Upon hearing Vitalik’s thoughts on Ethereum, Gavin found the idea of a programmable blockchain to be fascinating and decided to help Vitalik program Ethereum. In 2014, Gavin traveled to Miami to work with Vitalik and other founders on the development and deployment of the first version of Ethereum (Ethereum PoC 1 or Alpha version). Half a year later, they met again in Switzerland to establish the Ethereum network. Gavin became the first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Ethereum and wrote the “Ethereum Yellow Paper,” which defined the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Over the next two years, Wood focused his efforts on Ethereum development, including the general platform architecture, the Ethereum C++ client, and the initial design of Solidity. With Gavin’s support and technical and technological realization, Ethereum performed as expected.
Departing from Ethereum, the pursuit of Parity and Web3 Foundation’s growth ensues
In 2015, Gavin proposed the concept of Web3.0 with the aim of establishing a decentralized and free web environment. This proposal was made to challenge the monopolistic control of internet giants and to restore user data, privacy, and autonomy. The ultimate goal of Web3.0 is to empower users and foster a more equitable and democratic online landscape.
In 2016, Gavin departed from Ethereum and established Ethcore. As the company gradually obtained over 60 developers from 15 countries, it evolved into Parity Technologies, a firm that created the Ethereum client application Parity using the Rust programming language, which outperformed previous applications. Ethcore also managed to generate its funding and embarked on developing Parity Ethereum, a free open-source software solution that enables individuals to operate a node on the public Ethereum network and mine ETH. The company’s success is evident in the exceptional performance of their software and the significant interest it has garnered from the Ethereum community.
In addition, Gavin has established the Web3 Foundation, a non-profit organization which focuses on infrastructure and internet technology, with its first project being the Polkadot network.
Many individuals believe that Gavin and Vitalik may have had disagreements regarding the developmental path of Ethereum, leading to Gavin’s departure from the platform. Gavin, in several interviews following his departure, mentioned that he disagreed with the management approach of Ethereum, specifically the implementation of a single hard fork and the usage of only ETH for gas fees, which resulted in Ethereum deviating from its intended path as a decentralized platform, competing for freedom.
Founder of Polkadot
As Parity Ethereum is being developed and new Ethereum technologies, including sharding, are awaited, Gavin has begun to contemplate the obstacles that a blockchain will have to confront when implementing sharding. It took him approximately four months to present a vision for a heterogeneous multi-chain framework, known as Polkadot.
In 2017, Polkadot was introduced following the concerted efforts of Parity Technologies and Web3 Foundation. The novel technology of Polkadot effectively addresses two major issues currently faced by existing blockchains, namely:
- Increase transaction processing speed: Polkadot can process up to 1000 transactions per second while this number for Ethereum is only 25.
- Network expansion capabilities: Polkadot has recently facilitated blockchain interconnectivity and enabled independent functioning within their own network. This fundamental advancement sets the foundation for further expansion of blockchain networks through their connection with Polkadot in the future.
Substrate is the next stage of improvement following Polkadot, and it serves as a highly efficient framework that enables developers to effectively construct blockchains for any purpose. In addition, the Kusama test network is also available for experimentation and testing capabilities.
During the month of October in 2017, Polkadot successfully raised approximately $144 million through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), with prominent investors such as Boost VC, Pantera Capital, and Polychain Capital backing the project.
During his appearance at the Web3 Summit 2018, Gavin successfully constructed a novel blockchain within just half an hour. The innovative framework employed for the development of this blockchain was Substrate, which enabled efficient and effective implementation of the technology.
During the development of Polkadot, the Substrate was created by Gavin and the Polkadot development team. They realized that creating a new blockchain from scratch was complex, requiring a significant amount of work. This posed a major obstacle to blockchain development, as programmers often struggled to learn and develop new technologies on their own. To overcome this, Gavin and his colleagues decided to summarize and refine their Polkadot development experience into Substrate.
The Substrate platform allows for the modularization of common components in a basic blockchain, such as consensus, accounts, tokens, governance, and treasury on the chain. Developers only need to select the necessary modules, assemble and modify them as desired to quickly and successfully build a blockchain. A blockchain developed using Substrate can easily connect with Polkadot and become a parachain in the future. This platform provides developers with the flexibility and efficiency in building custom blockchains with various functionalities, paving the way for enhanced blockchain design and adoption.
Besides Substrate, Gavin and his team constantly generate new ideas during the process of creating Polkadot.
During a meeting in Japan in July 2019, Gavin announced the launch of Kusama, a network exclusively designed for developers to test their projects before implementing them on the main Polkadot network. Unlike previous blockchain test networks, Kusama will exist in parallel with Polkadot and offer genuine economic value with its own KSM token.
The above provides basic information about Gavin Wood and his journey from being Ethereum’s Chief Technology Officer to founding Polkadot. While the name Gavin Wood may not be as well-known as Satoshi Nakamoto or Vitalik Buterin among many cryptocurrency investors, he is highly regarded as a genius among many programmers due to his various products and tools created for blockchain technology development such as Solidity programming language and Substrate. As Web 3.0 increasingly gains popularity and Polkadot becomes one of the leading blockchain projects, Gavin Wood’s story of creating Ethereum and Polkadot will gain more recognition and acknowledgement for his significant contributions to the blockchain industry.
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