Top cryptocurrency companies have quietly begun outsourcing their infrastructure issues to a small, invisible startup, Alchemy, a San Francisco-based enterprise-level distributed ledger blockchain company that is now beginning to step behind the scenes and publicly disclose its technology Infrastructure to help developers eventually build killer use cases on top of Bitcoin or Ethereum.
If the advent of operating systems connects computers and software, and browsers connect HTTP to web applications, Alchemy hopes to be a bridge supporting the blockchain ecosystem. And it is this middle layer that has long been the most valuable company in the world such as Microsoft, Apple and Google.
How does Alchemy work? It replaces the nodes that enterprises use to read and write the blockchain with a fast and scalable distributed architecture. It also provides analysis, monitoring, alerting, logging and debugging tools for cryptocurrency connection software. This two-year-old startup has provided infrastructure for hundreds of businesses and serves one million customers in 200 countries every week, including well-known companies such as Augur, 0x, Cryptokitties, Kyber, and Opera Browser.
"People are currently trying to build skyscrapers with picks and shovel. And we are going to give them construction equipment," Alchemy co-founder and CEO Nikil Viswanathan told me. "These are blockchains that currently do not exist."
For Alchemy, investors are lining up to send money for them. Alchemy has now announced that it has received $ 15 million in seed rounds and a Series A round of financing currently led by Pantera Capital. Other investors include Stanford University, Coinbase, Samsung, SignalFire, and Charles Schwab, Yahoo founder Yang Zhiyuan, LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman, angel investor such as Google Chairman John Hennessy.
Yang Zhiyuan, the founder of Yahoo, who has rarely been interviewed, said,
"For any new technology, developer infrastructure and tools are needed to enable broader application development and adoption. We have seen this happen in previous waves of technology, such as PCs and networks. Alchemy is trying to do it on the blockchain The field is doing the same thing. They have the opportunity to accelerate the development of the entire blockchain industry in a meaningful way. "
From Down to Lunch to Decentralized Applications (Dapp)
Despite the strong momentum, Alchemy doesn't want to make another unrealizable, overblown blockchain promise. Viswanathan claims:
"There are two vanity indicators in the Silicon Valley circle: 1. How much money you have raised; 2. How many people are on the team. In fact, you want to keep both of them to a minimum while achieving great success."
Earlier in the year, Viswanathan, and co-founder and chief technology officer Joe Lau were already well-known in the startup A league. In a short period of time, they developed a simple social application (used by emoji to find out if friends can go out to play) called Down to Lunch, and it ranked first in the application rankings, which quickly attracted VCs. They visited. Suddenly, it was rumored that their app was used by captors to commit criminal activities, which quickly hit Stanford computer science graduates, even though they called it a purposeful smear.
Alchemy co-founders: Nikil Viswanathan (left) and Joe Lau (right)
However, the two were resilient and used Viswanathan's product management time under the direction of Google, Microsoft and Facebook executives. He has worked next to Mark Zuckerberg, led former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to campus, and worked with Google founders Larry and Shell Sergey had a meeting together. His gist is: "You can make a huge impact on the world. If they can do it, we can do it."
Therefore, when the cryptocurrency ushered in a new era in 2017, they began to plan to create a successor for "Down to Lunch" and go one step ahead. By decentralizing nodes to build everything decentralized, they discovered the opportunity to create something that has more potential than social applications for college students. They saw an opportunity to seize the bridge layer of the next computing platform-the blockchain.
One of the strategies these two borrowed from Down to Lunch was to allow any Alchemy customer to contact them directly. They actually put the phone number in the DTL so that they could hear the questions from users at all times, but soon they received about 10,000 text messages from millions of users of the app every day, which made Viswanathan's iMessage impossible use.
Now, most of the Alchemy team (including the founders) can openly provide instant help to customers through Telegram. "It's not just good customer support," Viswanathan said. "Even with new cash from investors, including Stanford's StartX, Mayfield, Kenetic, Dreamers, and former Thompson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, etc. The investor's new cash, he also does not want to change this situation.
Viswanathan and Lau are widely known in the entrepreneurial circle for embracing a thrifty entrepreneurial life. Lau worked in the office for six consecutive days to ensure that everything went well after the "Down to Lunch" boom. Their boat is still very shabby, and employees sit on cardboard boxes while they work, until new chairs are delivered to their new office.
This is not magic, but Alchemy
"1972. Who is using computers? Only computer companies. By 2019, computers are used all over the world. In 1992, who is using networks? Only Internet companies. By 2019, the world is using them. Then the question comes In 2019, who is using blockchain? "Viswanathan explained.
This means that transactions entangled with code will adopt blockchain everywhere, and blockchain will become so common that we even talk about blockchain in different ways. No one said 'I'm using an Internet application,' "Viswanathan said with a smile.
Alchemy's goal is to achieve the same goal of the blockchain. Usually just to get started, companies must spend tens of thousands of dollars to build and operate nodes that can interpret and write to the blockchain. This is not only slow and costly, but also consumes a lot of engineering resources. To make matters worse, the node architecture may not gracefully support large-scale expansion. When nodes incorrectly out of sync block numbers, load balancing across servers (as in the traditional case of web applications) crashes. Blockchain applications run slowly with errors, or crash completely. The programmer kept fighting around the fire all night long.
Lau says Alchemy uses a completely different decentralized architecture. This allows different types of data to be separated into special data stores for faster and more reliable access. The result is that it is easier to build applications on Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other coins with less engineering resources. In this sense, it is like a blockchain version of Amazon AWS.
But Alchemy is also inspired by Microsoft and offers a range of tools for managing decentralized applications. These features include analytics for tracking usage, monitoring performance and availability, alerting teams when problems occur, logging to track down errors, and debugging to get applications up and running again. On the traditional network, this will be the work of multiple startups, but because the blockchain standardizes the database and how it is accessed, Alchemy can do it all and is already building more tools.
"Since using Alchemy, our team has been able to reinvest time in building new product features for Augur that we couldn't do," said Tom Kysar, director of operations at Augur. "We used to spend a lot of time on infrastructure issues, and now we don't have to worry about it at all." The predictive market startup writes that Alchemy solves 98% reliability issues and improves user application load times by 3 Times.
Cryptocurrency exchange AirSwap dropped its node system that it has built and open-sourced to use Alchemy. Another customer said it had reduced engineering staff by 25%. When I look at Infura's biggest competitor in infrastructure, backed by Ethereum's founder, most of the customers it lists on its website are now actually working with Alchemy.
"Alchemy has quietly and quickly grown into a leading infrastructure provider. We are excited to see how Alchemy will advance the crypto ecosystem." Said Emilie Choi, Chief Operating Officer of Coinbase.
Another exciting sign? Alchemy has given up its acquisition interest. "For us, selling for $ 100 million or $ 1 billion was not successful," Viswanathan said. They wanted to empower a generation of developers.
Hennessy, former president of Stanford University, said: "I have been closely involved with companies that shaped the early Internet like Google. What Alchemy does in the blockchain has similar potential for change, and Nikil and Joe have deep Technical background and proven track record of mature entrepreneurs to achieve this. "Hennessy has witnessed the rise of computers. It's great that someone has seen something we didn't see. "
At the dining table in the San Francisco mission area, Viswanathan underlined a grid to map the history of the developer platform.
In the initial era, IBM underestimated the personal computer (PC) market, allowing Microsoft to bring Windows into the market and open PCs to third-party software developers. In the second era, browsers, then mobile operating systems, allowed Apple and Google to conquer the middle ground between HTTP and our favorite applications. Alchemy believes that this is a profitable place in Viswanathan's view of the third era equipped with blockchain. When talking about the infrastructure layer, he said, "That's why the innovation cycle spins and speeds development."
However, the real issue is timing. Viswanathan acknowledges: "The biggest threat is how crypto assets will quickly become a huge market." He said Alchemy has made a lot of money, and the tools and service packs they offer start at tens of thousands of dollars. However, it may need its technology to promote the development of flywheels for blockchain developers, in order to power the breakthrough success of serving mainstream consumers, and then attract more creators to enter the industry.
Convincing developers, especially established companies, to outsource key parts of the infrastructure to Alchemy can be difficult for engineering-focused startups. Alchemy also just hired its first salesperson last week to help promote large banks and business giants interested in blockchain efficiency. Crypto enthusiasts may also be reluctant to run their decentralized applications through a central platform. Fortunately, because Alchemy supports all functions from exchanges, games to finance to integrating distributed ledgers into traditional businesses, you only need to win on the blockchain.
Many startups are already waiting to die. Why is Alchemy persistent? The founder said fulfilling promises was a sense of responsibility. "I'm just lucky to live in 2019, and our time has technology, computers, and the Internet. In human history, it's impossible for you to create anything that has appeared in the past 20 years, and it has the potential to improve everyone on this planet. Life, "Viswanathan said.
"These technological changes happen every 20 to 30 years. If this is a large-scale technological change, then we have the opportunity to build a real basic company in this field. It has nothing to do with money." He concluded with a smile Road.