What is Status, and who uses it?

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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:

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

Let’s discuss.

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Great thoughts and I definitely will need to let them simmer before I can verbalize my personal view on the points you address.

My first thoughts though, go back to why would we build ANY product. In my mind, we add to the clutter of applications out there because we want to make some kind of difference and believe decentralization is a means to provoke change in individuals’ lives and opportunities.

I would be a strong proponent of finding a community where we can put our theoretical change to practice. This means findings a collaboration with a small community in the Gaza region as @kohola has suggested or tuning in to communities in Iran or Egypt of which we know they struggle with private communication as well as payment.

This is one of the reasons why we selected 2 specific profiles for the Design project working groups and I strongly believe it’s the best way forward to help us define Status.

What Status is shouldn’t result from our imagination, but from what is required to deliver a dedicated community secure, censorship resistant communication and equitable exchange of services.

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I would be very interested in having this idea detailed, as a game of thoughts. To get a sense of what outcomes we would expect from this.

How do you see us to iterate from that type of feedback? My experience in participating / watching UXR sessions is that they are quite good to pinpoint what is wrong with our current state of the app but not much more. Doesn’t it ineluctably lead to a simplified/stripped down version of what we currently have?

shouldn’t result from our imagination

Can’t it be a healthy mix of both? Especially in our field that is still in its infancy?

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I totally agree that the UXR sessions (usability testing) we organize now are not the right tool to understand underlying needs and requirements of a specific group. On the scale of validation studies these are in the realm of Solution-Product fit. They are great to help us understand whether we are building our thing right, not to understand if we are building the right thing. They still give some insight into the problem space, are relatively cheap and fast to organize, engaging, and make sure we keep moving forward.

To validate the problem and what Status solution would provide a good Problem-Solution fit, we typically use a different style of UXR studies; Diary studies, Home visits, Focus groups, Contextual inquiry.

So far we’ve been relying on surveys, which are a great start to see where it makes sense to organize these more time-intensive activities.

As an example of what this might look like, you could take a look at this excellent proposal @patrick wrote to better understand the needs of our audience in South Korea: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kbqYWutFBaPlt5QAaV9Fc-iwJZg6vPlkTwKJ_ci_bww/edit?usp=sharing

Yes, it should be. Apologies if I came across a bit too polarizing. A healthy balance to me means we validate our imagination with a target audience that has the problem we are trying to solve. If you have some spare time, the man in this video is a genious and has provided the best explanation of this balance I know of: (start at 43’ https://vimeo.com/26468477)

To be honest I think we will have to rely on our imagination if just because of the time needed to walk through this process of identifying problems, problem-solution, and solution-product fit.

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Thanks @hester for clarifying! Very insightful.

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Adding a deck that marketing worked on but never shared- this was an exploration of who status is and how we articulate this to devs / users. The value in this doc is not the paid message testing- which needs to be redone - but the strategic exploration and importance of weaving our values- who we are- into messaging. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1UVe5XiWIGS_pwOnVUL6dmfqqaYGtMxG6sSNfU68eyXw/edit?usp=sharing

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This is a great question, I’ve spent alot of time thinking about this and I spent most of yesterday typing up a very very long response. To answer it we need to all get on the same page on some fundamentals before we get into the details.

This will be the major topic of our offsite, in reformulating our mission statement, understanding the technology and the future, to me, it needs to be a bottom up, open discussion when we have everyone’s attention.

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I very much look forward to this conversation, I have a lot of myself to put into it.

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We are beginning to build a brand from a product, the more we grow, the more we come to understand about ourselves by asking the hard questions.

People will use products for many reasons but what makes us different?

Can people see and/or feel that difference?

Ultimately, we want to choose a ‘brand’ whose values align with our own. At the moment, I also don’t feel this in our ‘brand’ – What we look like is not aligning to how we think yet. (imo)

Why? (Jarrad and Kim also mentioned this)

In order to have great storytelling or brand narratives, we need to clearly articulate the purpose, core values and mission. Then you can offer the audience more than a product but an experience or alternative way of thinking.

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