From the Pirate Party to Blockchain
In the past year, the Gnosis team has grown to 35 employees! While our team is spread out all over the world, we have a core development hub in Berlin where about 20 of our 35 full-time employees are based. In a series of weekly posts, we’d like to introduce you to all the new (and pretty 💁️) faces of our growing team, and discuss what brought them to work in the blockchain space, what excites them most about Gnosis, and how we can all make Gnosis successful together.
Hello Martin! First of all: How did you get into Blockchain?
When I was a graduate student at the Hasso-Plattner Institute, I was pretty involved in Germany’s Pirate Party. They had an interesting approach to politics: every member was able to vote on every question or delegate his/her voting right to another member. One of the questions open for vote by the party’s members was whether Germany should co-finance the bail-out packages for Greece. Since I was given the right to vote, I have set it as a requirement for myself to really understand the topic. I took my vote seriously and saw a real responsibility in it.
When thoroughly thinking through the topic, I came to realize that money was used quite differently in a macro-economic context than in an individual one. I personally know that I have to earn money in order to spend it, and that I can only spend the money I’ve earned, not more. Looking at the budgets of nation states, however, money is used quite differently: The supply of money in the economy changes as new money is created. Private banks are able to give out loans without even holding the loan amount as a reserve.
That was the moment where I asked myself: What is money and how does money actually work? And that’s when I discovered Bitcoin, which offered not only a completely different approach to money than what I was used to, but also came with a very interesting technology.
My high affinity towards technology aside, I’ve also been very intrigued by game theory applied in blockchain. When I was in high-school, I started to dig deep into the game-theoretical aspects of poker, which I played as a hobby online. After graduating from high-school, I spent two years at the army where I was trained to become a troop commander. Back then, and during the early years of university, I played a lot of poker — which actually also helped me to finance my studies.
Let’s get to Gnosis’ genesis story. How did it all start?
Once I discovered Bitcoin and the technology behind it, I knew I wanted to build something with it. I met Stefan (Gnosis co-founder and CTO) at the Hasso-Plattner Institute where we worked closely together on a couple of projects, as part of our graduate program in Computer Science. In 2012, I convinced him to build something with Bitcoin. We’ve talked about the concept of prediction markets for a while and it suddenly all made sense: We wanted to use Bitcoin and its decentralized network for prediction markets.
In 2014, I gave a presentation at a meetup in New York, explaining how to build a decentralized prediction market with Bitcoin. At that meetup, I met a guy who introduced me to Joe Lubin. In November that year, I met Joe in person, and he told me about ConsenSys (which consisted of two people back then), supporting the development of projects based on Ethereum. Ethereum was still brand new for me, it just went through a token sale that summer. Joe really liked the idea of prediction markets, and encouraged me to join him. It didn’t need much to convince me: We were already getting to the technological limits of Bitcoin, and I was more than happy to learn about Ethereum. I talked to Stefan about the idea (who was traveling the world that year), and managed to convince him to work with me at ConsenSys. And that basically was the genesis of Gnosis.
We started working on Gnosis in January 2015, and brought our first developer on at the beginning of 2016 — Denis Granha. Early 2017, we then went on to become a fully-fledged company in preparation for our token sale.
What do you find most rewarding in your work?
Gnosis is a tremendous leverage for me to work on many ideas that I could never implement myself. It’s great to have such a powerful team to work with on making the world more efficient with prediction markets.
What are your main priorities this year at Gnosis?
At Gnosis, I see myself as the visionary, as the one who sets the direction, who’s keeping track of the big picture. I’m on a mission to turn Gnosis into a more decentralized project than it currently is.
Really successful token projects have managed to create a community that sustains itself independently of the company, through real value creation of which network effects arise.
I hope for our token model to help us in building these network effects which will eventually result in a sustainable, independent, yet supported community.
I’m also excited for Gnosis to set up an incentive structure encouraging developers to build dApps on top of Gnosis this year, and rewarding them with generous GNO prizes.
Any advice for other makers and aspiring entrepreneurs in the blockchain space?
It cannot be said often enough: community building is super important. If you’d like to create a sustainable project on the blockchain, it should continue to exist independently of yourself or your company. And that’s only possible through network effects. On that note, the concept of decentralized governance is very interesting to look at, and the question of how to structure decision making and even budget management through the use of tokens. My advice for other entrepreneurs in the blockchain is:
You need to be able to make yourself redundant, otherwise you won’t make a serious difference.
Gnosis Portraits: Martin Köppelmann, CEO & Co-founder was originally published in Gnosis on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
<div class="infobox"><span class="appendinfo">This article was originally published on: <a href="https://blog.gnosis.pm/" target="_blank">The Gnosis Blog</a> on </span></div>