Uri Klarman is an interdisciplinary networks researcher and PhD at Chicago's Northwestern University and the Co-Founder and CEO at bloXroute Labs. His work encompasses innovative uses of Computer Networks, disruptive blockchain networking schemes, alternative content distribution networks, trustless peer coordination, and security.
1. Tell us about your role in BloXroute labs?
I am bloXroute Labs’ Co-Founder and CEO.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
The idea for bloXroute and how to scale all blockchains started with my PhD dissertation. At the time, my then-advisor and now co-founder, Prof. Kuzmanovic and I have discovered that the only thing standing between blockchains and mass adoption is the bottleneck at the Networking Layer. Given that computer networks is our expertise, we couldn’t resist building a solution to this problem. The result is bloXroute – a provably-neutral scalability solution for practically all blockchains.
3. How do you think technology is changing the finance sector?
I think technology is unbundling the entire financial industry, and the results of this process could not be overestimated. While every aspect by itself is minor, e.g., an online-only bank, app-only car insurance, micro-investments app, etc. there are hundreds, if not thousands, of such startups which offer to unbundle what used to be “banking” or “asset management”.
Cryptocurrencies are taking it further, redefining what “money” is, and how it is being issued, used, and distributed.
4. How has blockchain technology empowered the financial sector?
Blockchain technology offers a unique feature – it allows competing participants to interact, transact, and collaborate in real-time, without requiring them to trust one another.
For example, two different funds might wish to collaborate on a joint venture, but neither is willing to allow its counterparty to run the operation, since they both want visibility, access to the data, and control over the operation. Simply put, whoever runs the operation has all the control, and it can withhold information, access, and control from its counterparty, and solving the matter through legal means is slow, uncertain, and expensive.
Blockchains solve this by allowing multiple parties to control an operation together, with full access, visibility and control, knowing they cannot be “locked out”.
5. How does your platform help in scaling transactions of cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are a lot more simple than people think; all blockchains do is record transactions. Every few seconds (or minutes), a new batch of transactions are added to the record. Such batches are called blocks, and the chain of blocks containing the record of all transactions is the blockchain, which defines which transactions happened. If a transaction is in the blockchain, then it happened, and if it isn’t in the blockchain, then it didn’t happen.
Everytime a new block is created, it must be sent to everyone very quickly, because nobody can add the next batch (block) of transactions before receiving the most recent one. This (quite surprisingly) ends up being the scalability bottleneck – you could create x100 larger blocks, which will include x100 more transactions, but it would also require x100 longer for each block to propagate, so blocks will come x100 less frequently. Eventually, you end up exactly where you started, with x100 larger blocks but x100 less frequently. bloXroute solves this by being a “faster internet for blockchains”, using a Blockchain Distribution Network (BDN – think Akamai for blockchains).
6. What are your views on increasing blockchain applications for cybersecurity?
Blockchains are cool and useful, but people tend to use them as a buzzword. If you have multiple competing parties who wish to collaborate but they do not trust one another (like Nasdaq traders, election voters, and competing gamers) – a blockchain could be useful. This also applies to cybersecurity – it fits in some areas, but it doesn’t solve everything.
7. How do you define the functions of bloXroute labs?
At bloXroute we are simply scalability enablers – we enable all blockchains to scale, so they could create real value for real people in the real world. We completely solve the networking layer for them, so they can focus on their products.
8. What advice would you like to give to other Startups?
Blockchains are an entire new field with numerous opportunities in tech, economics, user experience (UX), consumer experience, and so much more.
Don’t try to solve all the problems across the stack – do just one thing, but do it very very well.
9. What other tech Startups have grabbed your attention?
BRD (formerly Bread Wallet) is also local to Chicago, and I like their recent move to providing B2B crypto solution and building a different side of crypto infrastructure. I’m even considering using their service myself.
10. How are you preparing for a Technology-centric world?
I think the hard part is to disconnect and log out, and we need to learn the discipline to not be constantly attached to our screens when we’re outside, or when we’re spending time with our family, friends, and loved ones. This is of course a lot easier said than done, but I believe we should all be mindful of the matter.
11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
The key attribute of bloXroute is “get stuff done”; “smart” is nice, “easy to work with” is important, but “get stuff done” is what we really pride ourselves in. Our team of 20+ is mostly centered in our Chicago HQ, but we also have a satellite office in Israel. Why? Because we knew some very talented “get stuff done” people there. Having such a talented and dedicated team makes all the difference in the world for me as a CEO. I know that can follow up on our excellent ideas with equally excellent execution.
12. What major developments are you planning recently?
We are currently working with majority of hashpower on the Ethereum network, and we’re hoping to scale it by increasing its gas limit in the very near future. I can’t elaborate too much on this at the moment, but this is going to make some serious waves before the year is out.
13. What books are you reading these days?
Dr. Seuss’s Socks on Fox. Me and my wife have a new baby girl so I’m getting reacquainted with all sorts of classics like Socks on Fox and Good Night Moon.
14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, can you share some pictures?
15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
All the regular apps you would expect to find on a crypto tech guy – I have multiple crypto wallets I played around with (Edge, BRD, Bitcoin.com’s regular app and register app, two of Coinbase’s apps, Crescent Cash, and a few others), Signal, WhatsApp, Slack, Discord and Telegram (why don’t we have just one messaging App?!) and a few others. Honestly, it’s not that interesting.