What is Status, and who uses it?
I joined this
company organization on a few assumptions based on conversations I’ve had, the branding of Status, and my personal desires for what Status could be.
After a few months, many things have come to light, and I’d like to attempt to get them out, as I feel many feel the same level of confusion I do.
Let’s start with how I viewed Status before joining:
Status is an interface to the Ethereum ecosystem.
First and foremost, Status enables people to utilize the decentralized nature of the Ethereum blockchain in a way that hasn’t been done before, especially with resource limited devices such as phones. That means a few things. In order to provide such a service, a user must be able to communicate with other people to coordinate and mingle (chat rooms), they must be able to access the Ethereum blockcahin, it’s contracts, and the dapps built on top of it (transactions), and of course hold and manage the private keys that enable that interaction (wallet).
This alone is a tremendous amount of work.
If done properly, I imagined a future where I had a fantastic organizational tool that enabled me to coordinate with others on various topics, and leverage the Ethereum blockchain to amplify the interaction amongst those various sub-communities.
The application itself aims to be built in such a way as to be able to operate without the parent organization. This mimics the goals of the Ethereum ecosystem, which I appreciate.
The Status organization itself operates in a decentralized manner, builds off solid principles, and attempts to never compromise them.
I was always intrigued that Status never compromised its initial principles to ship a product more quickly. Instead of using a “good enough” message protocol, they worked on whisper.
There is no main central location of Status. You work from wherever you want, enabling anyone in the world with the required skillset to work on such an interesting problem set.
There is no real set heirarchy. People are able to work on what they are interested in within the organization (for the most part).
This makes being productive more difficult, but there needs to be a push to figure out how to do it effectively using the newly available tools to organize and work. Otherwise, nothing changes.
The months of working within this organization has shed light on the previous notes; Specifically in the following ways:
The priorities of “what Status is first” are not hard set.
I was under the assumption that Status was firstly a unified interface to Ethereum which worked on a mobile phone, and was built in such a way as to be unstoppable.
Because of that last part, and the choice to use whisper to make messaging dark (no formal proof of this yet), we were able to offer a communication tool that was also potentially unstoppable and uncensorable. It has become apparent to me now that many within the company may view this as the first priority of Status.
So what are we first, and why can’t we be all? Do we fail if we default to a less dark chat message (but fully encrypted) so we can scale to serve millions of users, but still offer a completely dark mode to those that need it? 99% of world communication doesn’t require completely dark messaging, so why should it carry the scaling burden?
It isn’t clear how much the decentralized organization aspect of Status should hinder the efficiency of building the product.
Here is an interesting question that I think would have many different answers if asked to people within the company:
If the product of Status follows all the principles to a T, how much does it matter if the organization has centralized aspects to it?
In other words, how much to we potentially sacrifice in efficiency of production in order to operate within the principles as well? The problems of governance, decentralized organization, and decision making are not solved yet. This makes it more difficult to come to a unified decision across a large flat orginization.
This is no doubt incredibly important, but how much should it potentially hinder the product timeline? Why are we here? To ship an amazing product, to push the development of building decentralized organizations, or both?
I’m personally on the side of shipping a better product faster, and am ok with using more centralized tools (slack, gsuite, etc) to boost the productivy of creating a product that HAS NO SUCH CENTRALIZATION. If the trade-off isn’t too drastic, I love the idea of experimenting and moving towards less centralized alternatives to organization, but I feel the potential of what Status can be is too important and big to sacrifice substantial time.
What’s more important to our success? People using Status everyday, or people appreciating the work Status does to push the entire ecosystem up, but still waiting to use Status everyday? How much of an actual runway do we have to sustain the latter?
Most importantly, my time at Status has shown me that the people here are what I care about most. My personal views are second to the unified view of this company, and I’m willing to do my best to help make the application, and the people building it, safe.
That being said, I’m not fully aware of what that unified view is, or how to get to it. The principles went a long way in that direction, but the play between the organization and the product, as well as where priorities lie, has added some subtlety.