Who Is Charles Hoskinson?
Charles Hoskinson is the CEO of the Hong-Kong-based Input Output Company (IOHK) since 2015. The establishment mainly offers cryptocurrency and blockchain solutions. IOHK runs the Cardano blockchain project, a third-generation cryptocurrency platform.
He co-founded the company with Jeremy Wood, with whom they had a short stint at Ethereum. Charles was among the group of seven professionals that helped Vitalik Buterin establish the Ethereum blockchain in 2014. On top of being the first chairperson of the Bitcoin Foundation education committee, he was involved in the inception of the crypto-related Invictus Innovations.
His pioneer role at the said crypto projects makes his name and view very prominent in the cryptocurrency arena. Let’s dig deeper into his achievements.
And let me be clear, don't mess with my birds pic.twitter.com/ZjHOB7hUBz
— Charles Hoskinson (@IOHK_Charles) February 14, 2021
Charles’ Academic and Career Path
Hoskinson has spent much of his life in Colorado (USA), where he was born in 1987.
He started his career by studying Number Theory and Mathematics at Denver’s Metropolitan State University and the University of Colorado. However, he dropped out before the completion of his doctorate.
In 2013, he channeled his efforts to cryptocurrency by collaborating with Dan Larimer to set up Invictus Innovations Company. Though Larimer was the pioneer of stable currency theory on a decentralized platform, Hoskinson helped fine-tune and implement the idea through a business plan that finally led to its inception.
The duo’s efforts further gave birth to the BitShares crypto exchange, which was unique for its shareholders’ decentralized governance rather than delegating management and control to a few individuals. It’s a platform where users can trade cryptocurrencies, fiat currency like USD and gold.
Furthermore, it can create BitAssets, for instance, BitUSD hosted by the exchange’s blockchain. Notably, it’s a Decentralized Autonomous Corporation (DAC), a term that Charles claims to own.
Later, Charles rolled out the Bitcoin Education virtual program to share his knowledge of cryptocurrency. However, Bitcoin was the only digital currency at this time.
His parents thought he was taking the wrong route, but he assured them that he had everything figured out.
He became the first chairperson of the Bitcoin Foundation education committee that was set up in 2013. Additionally, he set up the non-profit organization Cryptocurrency Research Group in September of the same year.
Short Stint at Ethereum and the Birth of IOHK
Through the online program, he met Vitalik Buterin, who developed the concept of the Ethereum network. Hoskinson’s skills were relevant to the project. He collaborated with Vitalik, among other experts, to bring Ethereum to its feet in 2014.
However, their co-operation didn’t last. Vitalik had the vision of an open-source, decentralized network. At the same time, Hoskinson wanted a profit-making set-up with a clear-cut governance hierarchy. Their ideologies clashed.
Charles left Ethereum in June 2014 but again combined efforts with Jeremy Wood, a former colleague at Ethereum, to establish IOHK. Two years after IOHK was established, there was a split at Ethereum due to conflicting views on its upgrade.
Though Charles was no longer at Ethereum, he took sides with the splinter group that formed the new Ethereum Classic platform. He used the resources and programmers at his disposal at IOHK to stabilize the new network.
However, IOHK is currently sparing no effort to develop its own blockchain Cardano with an underlying mission of competing with Ethereum. Hoskinson has a passion for imparting knowledge on crypto topics, decentralization campaigns, and developing solutions for the cryptocurrency mainstream.
Heading to my midnight alpaca poncho club pic.twitter.com/F7UYgTCHPX
— Charles Hoskinson (@IOHK_Charles) January 26, 2021
Pioneer Role at IOHK
The mission of IOHK was to provide crypto and blockchain set-up services and solutions to corporations, governments, and universities.
Hoskinson admitted during an interview in early 2017 that IOHK had turned out to be a feasible business model. He disclosed that they get contracts to make digital currencies in the exchange of fiat currency like the USD and the Japanese Yen.
The company also assumes ownership of some of the cryptocurrencies they make.
In Hoskinson’s own words, they set up the organization with the goal of making it an “engineering consultancy firm.”
However, the CEO found out that the company was running short of expertise internally. At the same time, blockchain technology was growing fast. He thus started transforming the establishment into a center of cryptocurrency research and development. According to him, forging ahead in the evolving blockchain space without engaging more experts was like “building on quicksand.”
Over time, Charles approached two universities to create labs for the intended research. One of the universities was in the United Kingdom, whereas the other was in Japan.
The labs’ mandate was delving into evolving concepts like smart contracts, cryptography, and improving crypto platforms. Hoskinson assigned some staff from IOHK the responsibility of overseeing the research process at each of the facilities. The IOHK CEO took the research exercise to one more university in the United States in 2020 He, however, wishes to roll out the programs to more universities around the world, starting with Greece.
Hoskinson’s Cryptocurrency Research Projects
The Tokyo Institute of Technology became the first tertiary institution on February 15, 2017, to collaborate with IOHK and set up a research laboratory.
A few days later, IOHK sponsored another research center at the University of Edinburgh. The institution is renowned for its top-notch information and computing research. It would serve as IOHK’s headquarter in a network of academic institutions’ partnerships. According to Hoskinson, the center would help IOHK build blockchain-related technologies and create a pool of experts in the UK. However, the value of sponsorship grants awarded to these two initial labs remains undisclosed.
In February 2020, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Wyoming (UW) became the latest to partner with IOHK for advanced blockchain technology research. The university received 0.5M US dollars’ worth of ADA digital currency from IOHK.
While talking about the grant, the CEO expressed his belief that blockchain technology’s actual uses are limitless. He further said that the donation would assist realize and fuel Wyoming State’s growing blockchain revolution. The third lab’s establishment was in line with IOHK’s decision to handle blockchain development through academic research. Wyoming’s state was supportive of his initiative by granting the university a further grant of a similar value.
Off to Slightly Warmer Sunnier Florida. See everyone in Orlando! pic.twitter.com/vAd5MLx3eU
— Charles Hoskinson (@IOHK_Charles) February 5, 2021
The Link between IOHK and the Cardano Foundation
Cardano Foundation is an organization that aims to develop the Cardano blockchain and its native currency, ADA, as a third-generation cryptocurrency. Its dominant vision was changing the traditional blockchain’s consensus method by pioneering a special PoS consensus system.
Hoskinson is the founder of Cardano and IOHK launched the foundation in the third quarter of 2017. It has provided support to the foundation ever since. The giant company’s software engineers bring on innovation to the Cardano platform by designing, setting up, and maintaining the cryptocurrency platform.
The academic research conducted by IOHK on cryptography and the architecture of digital currencies will prove useful in keeping the platform dynamic. Moreover, it updates the blockchain’s codebase and sets up Cardano’s project roadmap.
Hoskinson’s Vision on Cardano
Since its inception, the IOHK CEO has continually provided leadership in the research work, programming, and development of the Cardano network. He believes that Cardano may be the digital currency of the future. Charles is pondering on the prospect of introducing the currency to the unbanked masses in the developing world.
With the inbuilt sustainability of the Cardano network, taking over the developing markets doesn’t seem impossible. Further, he has had the vision of a crypto platform that solves the current crypto challenges like scalability and interoperability. Although Cardano mimics Ethereum on smart contracts and network applications, he wanted its development to follow a concrete empirical and mathematical path.
No wonder he named the project “Cardano” after the legendary Italian mathematician Gerolamo Cardano of the 1500s. Let’s look at the development stages that the Cardano project is set to undergo to achieve its stellar vision.
The Byron phase started in 2017. The platform users could purchase or sell the ADA coin.
The wallets on the chain could only store the ADA currency. IOHK developers designed a special wallet-Daedelius whereas EMURGO had theirs too, going by the name Yoroi. Byron was the foundational phase of creating awareness of the blockchain and building a community of users.
The Shelley era is all about decentralization.
The security of the blockchain increases due to the Cardano community’s growth and the rise in node users. Further, the reward system of ADA stakeholders is implemented at this stage. The developers are currently winding up on this stage and transitioning to Goguen.
In the Goguen era, the programmers will develop the platform to accept smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps).
The fourth phase is all about scaling, where the experts develop the network to accommodate huge volumes of transactions.
At this stage, the platform is also expected to interoperate with other side blockchains and off-load the main chain. Concisely, the Basho era’s success will transform the Cardano blockchain into one of the top-performing blockchains in the crypto ecosystem.
The final phase will bring on self-sustenance to the system. ADA holders will be able to exercise voting rights and thus shape the future evolution of the blockchain. Implementing the treasury system for apportioning some funds for development activities on the blockchain is still set for this last phase.
At the tail end of this era, the network will be fully decentralized and no longer under the control of IOHK.
The ADA Currency
The Cardano blockchain hosts the ADA cryptocurrency. The blockchain raised more than 60 million USD in its 2017 initial coin offering by selling its ADA coin. With a market capitalization of 32 billion USD at the beginning of 2018, it was the fifth-largest crypto coin.
However, it has experienced its fair share of highs and lows but set a new record last month of a 39 billion USD market cap with a value of 1.30 USD per coin and ranked third-largest in February 2021.
Just like Bitcoin, the ADA virtual currency can store value. Users will use it to transfer and receive value.
The coin will be the fundamental currency for the Cardano smart contracts. Further, the parent company uses the ADA coin for sponsoring research and development of the blockchain. Ultimately, it facilitates user involvement in the blockchain’s Governance decisions.
Hoskinson Embraces Proof of Stake Validation System
Hoskinson admits that Ethereum 2.0 leads the pack of the pioneers of the proof of stake (PoS) consensus system. His very own Cardano uses the PoS mechanism.
Although the industry leader, Bitcoin, uses proof of work, he believes that the proof of stake is the best way to go. He lauds the latter due to its scalability, secure voting and supports a wider variety of incentive programs.
However, he predicts that the proof of stake will come with tax and regulatory compliance issues never experienced in the older system.
Cardano’s Ouroboros Proof of Stake Protocol
Unlike other PoS platforms, Cardano uses the Ouroboros proof-of-stake consensus mechanism to add new blocks to its network. The Ouroboros protocol has a special design, allowing for smooth transfer and receipt of ADA and securing the smart contracts on the blockchain.
Ouroboros assigns rewards to ADA stakeholders who commit their funds to the network for the consensus process. The Cardano founder’s wish was to develop a provably secure blockchain, a scalable consensus program, and a trustworthy polling system for the stakeholders.
The mathematical system used by Ouroboros ensures that all the token holders trying to get a chance to validate transactions on the blockchain get a fair chance of being selected. Impressively, unlike other platforms, the randomness of the selection is verifiable.
We have already established that Hoskinson had the vision of a cryptocurrency platform built through academic research. Ouroboros emerged as the first protocol whose design was shaped by the findings of peer-reviewed research, independent audit, and verification. Its combination of special technology, mathematically authenticated programs, and cryptography make its security and integrity very sustainable.
The introduction of the Shelley update on the Ouroboros protocol made the platform energy-efficient. Consensus and governance became democratic, and thus, low power consumption.
Cardano’s Partnership with EMURGO
To realize its blockchain evolution goals, the foundation secured a solid partnership with EMURGO. EMURGO is an international fintech company that provides solutions for blockchains. It was involved in the initial development of the Cardano protocol.
Since the blockchain needs to connect with other businesses, EMURGO comes in handy to provide enterprise solutions for integration purposes. Further, the corporation helps the Cardano foundation in the digital marketing of its platform through commercial ventures. It targets corporations, governments, and universities to urge them to join the network, thus broaden its function and increase the number of transactions processed.
The Cardano blockchain is expected to handle functions like document verification, anti-counterfeit checks, inventory tracking, and decentralized finance (DeFi).
Cardano’s Partnership with the Ethiopian Government
Hoskinson believes that the whole of Africa has room for growth. He believes that trading and wealth storage problems plague developing nations and, if addressed, could play a key role in bridging the gap in global wealth.
Hoskinson led the Cardano Foundation in 2018 to tour some African nations like Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tunisia as part of the efforts to woo Africa to adopt the blockchain and its currency. The enterprise framework meant to assist the developing countries would provide solutions for key government tasks like polling, property registration, and supply chain control.
In 2019, the Cardano co-founder further disclosed that Cardano had signed several MoUs with the Ethiopian government. However, the major one involved building a virtual utility currency for its capital city.
The system is expected to transition more than five million Ethiopians from settling electricity utility payments with fiat currency to cryptocurrency. The end game would be to merge the system with the citizens’ ID cards.
The enterprise blockchain framework would bear the name “Atala.” Its distinct feature is that it incorporates the ADA cryptocurrency while performing other tasks. According to IOHK director John O’ Connor, the system is in the last stages of development.
Cardano’s Collaboration with PwC
While addressing the Cardano community, a year ago, the IOHK CEO disclosed that Cardano would collaborate with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to come up with a fresh commercial plan.
The commercialization strategy would involve merging the information from the Cardano Foundation, the blockchain, and IOHK.
The new plan would mark the departure from the engineering to the commercial phase, with PwC playing a moderator’s role.
Hoskinson’s Attitude towards Bitcoin
Charles was one of the earliest supporters of the first digital currency, Bitcoin (BTC). He started a virtual Bitcoin awareness program in 2013.
To him, the static supply of BTC made it a very feasible store of value to become the digital gold. However, he was skeptical of its proof of work (PoW) mining inefficiency due to high power consumption.
Additionally, he considers its supporting technology weaker as compared to the current industry standards. Despite that, he still considers it the industry’s “gold standard” and predicts that it will remain at the forefront for quite a while.
Hoskinson’s Vision for Cryptocurrency in 2021 and Beyond
Hoskinson considers Janet Yellen, the United States Treasury Secretary in the Biden administration, a pivotal figure in the cryptocurrency industry’s growth. He admits that the Bitcoin critic will shape the industry depending on the policies she introduces. Hoskinson further believes that it’s a time when we would see a migration from proof of work to proof of stake-powered decentralized platforms.
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