Neo co-founders, Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang, recently participated in an AMA on Reddit, where the pair fielded questions from the broader Neo community. Questions were collected Sep. 23 through 28, and the founders provided answers 7:00 a.m. (UTC) through 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Sep. 28.
The AMA covered a wide variety of topics, including in-person events, governance and the Neo Council, listing N3 NEO and GAS on new exchanges, marketing initiatives, bringing stablecoins to the Neo platform, the Neoverse NFT initiative, plans to attract more developers, transaction throughput on layer one, collaborating with a global developer community, and much more.
The full transcript can be found below:
Q1: Neo is tracked by things like Robinhood and Coinbase, but they are not listed yet. At what point will we see Neo actively engaged with these markets/exchanges?
Da Hongfei (Neo co-founder): Neo team is in contact with most major exchanges, especially now as we migrated to Neo N3. One of the migration goals is to get Neo N3 tokens listed with all major exchanges.
Q2: Will the Neo team hire a firm to work on marketing instead of doing it internally?
Hongfei: Neo has worked with various external PR agencies in the blockchain space over the years. Additionally, we have initiated a new team focusing on Neo’s product experience, which is primarily concerned with how people think and feel about Neo, both as a technology and a brand. It is working alongside our existing marketing and technical departments.
The team is global and is being led by a former senior marketing manager from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and one of the founders of the original O3 Labs that was bought out by Bitcoin.com.
Q3: With the current governance model, how can a potential Council member ever compete if anyone who votes for that node doesn’t receive any GAS rewards?
Hongfei: We encourage all NEO holders to vote responsibly for the Council members that they feel will do the best job representing them, not just for who will provide the best GAS returns.
The governance model has been designed to incentivize stability while still allowing flexibility. However, the issue you raise is already being discussed on GitHub here: https://github.com/neo-project/neo/issues/2598.
One way to mitigate the issue you raised is to build a delegated/aggregated voting system as a smart contract; thus, no protocol change is needed.
We welcome the community to suggest more ways to improve.
Q4: What plans have you to actively market N3 to become a top blockchain by market cap once again?
Hongfei: The community has asked many good questions about marketing and adoption in this AMA. So let me give you a general answer here.
First and most importantly, we want the community to know that we heard you say you want more marketing from Neo. We realize that we haven’t been as loud as some of our competitors. In many areas, this has been deliberate during the journey to N3. At the same time, we are working hard to improve in other areas, and you will see the outcomes of this work in the coming weeks and months.
Our process to build and prepare N3 for launch took longer than we expected or wanted. During this time, we did not push to onboard new developers onto Neo Legacy. The market for developers is already competitive. Asking them to learn something they may need to unlearn or build something they may need to rebuild did not seem right. We felt that this wait during the journey was the best decision for our current and future community members. But this did slow the growth of some key programs, such as Neo EcoBoost, which couldn’t be as aggressive as we wanted.
We understand that this time has been frustrating to our Neo community and ecosystem. We wanted to do more too. And on reflection, had we known how long N3 would take to complete, we may have done some things differently.
But even though we weren’t loud, we were busy. We directed efforts toward foundational initiatives to provide a platform to build on in the future. One example is the founding of the InterWork Alliance alongside fellow sponsors Microsoft, Accenture, Digital Asset, and SDX. Neo wasn’t positioned to onboard a new army of developers when we initiated the alliance, so we set out to define industry-level standards that N3 can use going forward. There are some projects out there right now that look successful, but will face huge challenges in the future because they have adopted frameworks and taxonomies that will not be adopted by the industry at scale. With N3, we’re playing a long game.
Looking ahead, we are focused on getting the Neo N3 ecosystem up and running: Complete migration, achieve wide exchange support, attract small- to medium-size dApps to build out the ecosystem and provide references for larger projects, and bring up documentation and tutorials to a first-class standard. Much as we’d like to place the Neo logo on the side of a stadium next week, we have further foundational goals to achieve to prepare to market at that scale.
As to attracting new developers: NGD has built several soon-to-be-launched new and revamped grant tracks to encourage promising developers to get involved with Neo. Tracks include a general grants program for tools and infrastructure, a research grants program for applied research, and an updated core developer grants program. There is also a new DAO in development (codename “GrantShares”) to help sponsored communities and NEO holders collaborate to fund ecosystem initiatives without having to go through NGD or NF. All this is in addition to the EcoBoost, EcoFund, and Early Adoption programs that are all open now. You can find more information soon at https://neo.org/eco.
As to marketing resources: We’ve also initiated a new team dedicated to improving Neo’s overall product experience. Team leaders include a former senior marketing manager from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and one of the founders of the original O3 Labs that was bought out by Bitcoin.com. This team is working alongside NGD at the intersection of what Neo can do as a technology and how people think and feel about it. Their mantra is, “Developers made Neo easy to use. We will make it easy to choose.” This PXT initiative is new and the team is still growing, but you may have already noticed subtle improvements in Neo’s brand identity. We look for the initiative to yield growing results in the coming months.
Finally, I want to call out that even in these early days of N3, developer reviews have been fantastic. We know we have much more to do to get loud now that N3 is here. But there is no substitute for a satisfied user turned evangelist, and their ranks are growing. We are confident that as more and more developers see what N3 can do and use the fantastic tools built by NGD Enterprise, COZ, NEXT, NeoSPCC, Neow3j, and others, the developer world (not just blockchain) will take notice.
Q5: Is the Chinese market still a focus for Neo token holders or are we shifting towards a more global focus?
Hongfei: Neo has a large global community. We will have various campaign strategies across different regions, in order to represent the best interest of different communities while adhering to local policies and regulations.
Regarding the new policy of China, we will follow them in Chinese areas. Neo is one of the oldest platforms in the blockchain industry and has solved lots of challenges. I think not only China, but most countries will launch new policies and regulations regarding blockchain, and we have strong confidence that Neo can follow them.
Q6: Are you planning to work on any other projects or games in the future?
Erik Zhang (Neo co-founder): I will mainly focus on NEO and Galaxz in the next five years.
Q7: What are the “VIP privileges” within the Neo Ecosystem that come with holding the Neoverse NFTs?
Hongfei: The VIP rights will come from use cases on N3. More details will be announced while we move forward with the N3 migration. Examples may include exclusive mining pools, fee reductions, privilege for on-chain whitelists, etc.
Nothing is finalized, though. These are just some personal suggestions.
Q8: The “N” series was so beautiful I would LOVE to frame them on my wall (as i’m sure many others will). Is it possible to get the original JPG files?
Hongfei: For every NFT, you can download the original file by clicking the download link when you view your Neoverse NFT on the official website: neoverse.neo.org.
Q9: What is the purpose of InterWork Alliance, and how can the IWA help Neo become one of the most used blockchain platforms in the industry?
Hongfei: To be specific, NGD Enterprise is a founding member of IWA. IWA aims to encourage mainstream adoption at the business level by developing and promoting tokenization standards to bring together various blockchain networks.
As a leading blockchain with deep expertise in digital assets, Neo will leverage its strengths while working alongside launch members across a variety of industries, including Microsoft, Accenture, IBM, Nasdaq, and UBS, to realize its vision of the “Next-gen Internet” (NGI) by empowering large-scale, commercially viable blockchain applications and solutions.
Q10: What are the steps following N3, and what are the plans for improving N3? Is there a chance that there could be an N4 in the future?
Hongfei: There are several next steps for N3. We want to get all the foundational pieces of the ecosystem up and running and then focus on bringing new developers and dApps to the platform.
Q11: Will stablecoins like USDT, USDC, and PAX deploy on the N3 network?
Hongfei: A good stablecoin is really important for the Neo ecosystem. The good news is that the DeFi winner in the Neo Frontier Launchpad was a stablecoin project named Lyrebird. The NGD group is keeping in touch with the team and has offered to help them.
We would also love to see stablecoins such as USDT, USDC, or PAX on Neo. We’ll actively bring them onto Neo.
Q12: China’s crackdown on crypto transactions impacted the broader blockchain industry and projects that originated in China. Are there any plans to change Neo’s identity as a Chinese crypto?
Hongfei: Neo’s developers and communities are very global. We are also working with sponsored communities in the US, Europe, etc, via various programs to recalibrate Neo’s image.
Q13: Hongfei, why haven’t you conduct more English interviews?
Hongfei: The reason that I’m not doing a lot of English interviews/events is mainly because of the travel difficulties during the pandemic. Online events are far less good as face to face events.
Q14: Will institutions run consensus nodes, or will Neo Global Development pitch the idea to institutions? How come it mainly was community nodes?
Hongfei: The most important quality of Neo Council members is that they are actively engaged in and knowledgeable about the Neo ecosystem. Being a council member is not a set-and-forget commitment, and so it made sense to elect the groups that contribute to Neo the most on a daily basis.
Q15: You once said that the governance mechanism is the most important and sophisticated update of N3. How do you feel about Neo’s governance now?
Hongfei: I feel confident in N3’s governance mechanism. The 21 council members are already having regular meetings to set optimized parameters. Once the token migration is complete, campaigns will be held to encourage NEO holders to participate in the voting process selecting council members.
Q16: Are there any short to medium-term plans to gain consumers to use the tools and dApps developers have built?
Hongfei: There are several things to attract developers. Not only do we have best-in-class tooling and the best overall development experience in the industry, but we are launching several new grant tracks to provide new pathways for developers and projects.
We are also working on improving the overall product experience and brand strength.
Q17: Have you ever thought of moving out of Shanghai to some more crypto-friendly country/city? Singapore, Toronto, perhaps?
Hongfei: I understand it is a common way for crypto entrepreneurs, not just from China but also other places, to relocate to a crypto-friendly jurisdiction. Relocating to a new country is a comprehensive and yet personal decision. I’d rather not discuss it in public.
Q18: How confident are you guys in getting developers to build on N3? What are you doing differently to attract developers that you couldn’t have been doing in the past few years leading up to N3?
Hongfei: Very confident. Neo N3 is a huge upgrade to Neo Legacy. The main thing that we are doing differently is taking a much more powerful and easier to use product to market than we’ve ever had before.
Q19: A few years back, you had the ambitious goal of 100,000 TPS in N3 without sharding. Where do we stand now, and do you still think 100,000 TPS is achievable with N3?
Hongfei: In a lab environment, a single Neo N3 node can now provide about 30k TPS using the NeoGo implementation, and 8.8k is no longer a big problem in a networked scenario. While these raw numbers are measured in a somewhat sterile environment, they are still important to understand where the limits are and what can be expected of a real network.
The Neo N3 protocol has a lot of potential and we’re ready to deliver this potential to our users. I’m confident N3 will have sufficient throughput capacity to compete with other leading blockchains at the Layer 1 level.
Meanwhile, we’ll work out one or several Layer 2/side-chain solutions before we hit the Layer 1 bottleneck. It is still too early to say which technical approach will win out in the end, be it rollup, sharding, side-chain, or state channels. We are keeping a close eye on new developments in the ayer 2/side-chain sector.
Q20: You’re somewhat famously quoted as trying to make Neo the #1 blockchain by 2020. Now that N3 is finally here, are you willing to reaffirm this goal?
Hongfei: It’s always our goal to make Neo the optimal platform to build smart contracts onto. We’ll keep moving towards our goal.
Q21: The Neo Blockchain Toolkit and compiler aims to be more friendly for non-blockchain developers, as they can code in the coding language they are proficient in don’t need to learn a new language. Are there any plans in attracting non-blockchain talents onto developing on Neo?
Hongfei: There are approximately 20 million developers in the world, and only a small handful are blockchain developers. We have strategically positioned ourselves to be attractive to the majority and not just the minority.
The Neo Blockchain Toolkit is built for Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code – the most popular development environment in the world, with over 50% usage among developers, according to Stack Overflow. We also support all the major programming languages. If blockchain is going to go mainstream, we need to go where the developers are, and that’s what Neo is doing.
Q22: What do you feel is the biggest obstacle N3 and all other blockchains will face before moving away from this giant speculative asset class and into the actual uses in day-to-day business?
Hongfei: It is very important for the blockchain industry to adhere to the local regulations and policies all around the world. That is an unavoidable stepping stone to day-to-day business. NGD Enterprise is a sponsor member of the IWA. Together with other members such as Microsoft, Accenture, IBM, Nasdaq, and UBS, Neo is contributing to the frameworks needed for businesses to create standardized token definitions and contracts in non-technical, business terms, and then turn them over to developers for coding on any platform of choice.
Q23: Is the Neo N3 infrastructure ready for mass adoption? What do you think the Neo ecosystem lacks at this point?
Hongfei: Enter N3, the most significant upgrade to the Neo blockchain to date. At the protocol level, all users and applications will naturally benefit from its vastly improved architecture – better performance, simplicity and ease-of-use, improved economics, and the introduction of on-chain governance to ensure the platform’s longevity in a decentralized manner.
Despite the lofty achievements of Neo’s core developers in optimizing its base layer, the real beauty of N3 lies in its diverse set of essential components for applications. Decentralized storage, identity tools, data oracles, interoperability, and domain name service; all integrated for a seamless UX/DX that will stand the test of time.
As blockchain-based applications become increasingly sophisticated, the need for these critical functions will only continue to increase. With its out-of-the-box functionality, available to all developers regardless of their language preferences, Neo provides value to developers that simply cannot be matched by other platforms today. Yet at the same time, Neo developers are never boxed in, always able to choose the right tools for their needs.
Neo N3 is a wakeup call to blockchain developers who demand a better platform for their applications. But perhaps most importantly, it substantially lowers the barrier to entry for blockchain development.
Rather than simply compete over existing developers in a niche industry, it opens the floodgates to the millions of traditional developers who are ready to take their first step into this brave new world. And once you’ve tried Neo, you’ll never settle for less.
Q24: Now that N3 has launched, what is the role of the developers that worked on it? Are they working on dApps on Neo, or do they have another role in the N3 ecosystem? Could you tell us what we should expect?
Hongfei: There are many different roles developers can take on. Technology never stops evolving, so there will always be improvements and enhancements to work on – both at the core protocol level and tooling level. Developers can also improve documentation, write tutorials, write sample code, or launch dApps of their own.
Q25: What are Neo’s next big focus area(s) after migration? Any roadmap in the making?
Hongfei: In the near term, Neo will focus on bringing more projects to the ecosystem.
We had the Neo Frontier Launchpad from May to July, which generated lots of excellent projects. From that, TOTHEMOON, and Humswap have joined the Early Adoption Program, with more still to be announced. We plan on holding a follow up hackathon in the near future.
We also have several new grant tracks launching soon to provide pathways for developers and projects at many different levels.
Q26: With the growing hype around DeFi, are there plans to develop more protocols/projects related to DeFi other than Flamingo?
Hongfei: Neo is a global community-driven platform, so we will focus on helping the projects from the community flourish on Neo N3. The next step of Neo is to help the projects on Neo Legacy migrate to the Neo N3 platform. In the meantime, we will focus on the early adoption program, which is essential for the Neo ecosystem.
Q29: What is your personal goal for Neo N3 in one sentence?
Hongfei: To be an open network for the Smart Economy.
Q30: You both are involved in multiple projects outside of Neo. How do you balance these projects, and after the migration is complete, would you like to focus more or less on these other projects?
Hongfei: Neo is the most important project that I’m working on. I spent most of my time working on Neo-related projects and will continue to do so.
Erik: I will focus on Neo and Galaxz in the next 5 years.
Q31: Will there be an easy-to-follow Udemy course to learn the basics and more soon?
Hongfei: There are no plans to create a Udemy course at this moment. However, if someone is interested in creating this resource, Neo would be interested in speaking with them.
In the meantime, NGD and PXT are working on additional online resources to give new developers practical experience developing on the Neo blockchain.
Q32: What aspect of the Neo blockchain are you most proud of?
Hongfei: All in one, all in Neo. Enter Neo N3. We are proud of building such a comprehensive and performant platform. Features like NeoFS, NeoID, Oracles, and interoperability, which will help developers build dApps with better performance, simplicity, ease-of-use, and improved economics.
Personally, I’m proud that Neo built its own unique consensus, governance, and unique smart contract system, providing an alternative other than EVM.
Q33: People think the situation in China is stifling Neo. What’s your response to this, and what is the mitigation plan?
Hongfei: Given Neo’s governance structure, I believe Neo can work within the regulatory guidelines of any jurisdiction. Neo has had a focus on compliance since day one.
Q34: Does Neo leadership intend to communicate with the Neo community more frequently moving forward?
Hongfei: Our shortcomings have been addressed in other answers, but Neo takes nobody for granted. Neo has a global development community that we work with daily to advance the project, and we have supported them for many years. In regards to non-developers, we value these community members very much too. We have started various initiatives to increase our engagement recently, including creative content competitions, Neo Trivia, Neo Live, and the Neoverse NFT collection campaign. We will continue to work on better ways to engage with the community.
Q35: Erik Zhang recently promoted a new project, Galaxz. How could this particular project help the Neo ecosystem grow, and is gaming something Neo aims for in the future?
Hongfei: Who is better to build a new project on Neo N3 than Erik? Neo is Erik’s life’s work and putting himself firmly in the dApp developer’s shoes is a great way for him to find new ways to improve Neo.
Galaxz is one of the attempts for Neo in the metaverse direction which can definitely enhance the Neo ecosystem in many ways. More details about the Galaxz will be published in the near future, so please stay tuned to Neo’s official announcement.
Q36: Do you think the world will accept the N3 blockchain as the official platform on which many applications and projects will be run? Can we expect the official support of some of the major countries in the world?
Hongfei: Blockchain technology is only 13 years old, with Satoshi first proposing Bitcoin in 2008. So it is quite young and every country around the world is learning how to work with it. Therefore, regulations and policies will continue to evolve to help blockchain develop on the right path.
I believe a blockchain like Neo can flourish by adhering to the policies and regulations of different countries.
Q37: What is your opinion on Gaming Finance? How can it benefit Neo or bring Neo users into the ecosystem?
Hongfei: GameFi can make it relatively easy for most users to step into blockchain, so we’d love to see more of it on Neo. At the same time, all other kinds of dApps are also valuable to the Neo ecosystem.
Q38: Why do you think Neo had a difficult time attracting more developers before N3?
Hongfei: Neo attracted quite a lot of developers early on. I think once it started to become clear that N3 would require a new chain, it was a hard proposition for developers to start building something on Legacy that they would have to rebuild, retest, and redeploy.
Q39: Now that N3 is out, what courses of action will Neo take to attract more developers and communities?
Hongfei: This has been answered elsewhere, but in short, new grants tracks for developers of all types, improved product experience, and more aggressive marketing.
Q40: When will Neo N3 bridges with other blockchains like Binance Smart Chain, Ethereum, Huobi ECO Chain, and others?
Hongfei: O3 Swap has already announced they will integrate Neo N3 in the near future.
Q41: So N3 is a new blockchain, rather than an upgrade from the existing Legacy chain as other blockchains have been doing (i.e., Cardano, Ethereum). Should N3 encounter any bugs or require upgrades, how would they come about? Or would a new chain (like N4?) be in the future works? Additional nodes/increase in hardware requirements?
Hongfei: N3 required a new chain because it included such substantial upgrades it was impossible to preserve backwards compatibility. Moving forward, we do not envision needing to migrate to a new chain for future updates. Most regular users won’t even notice upgrades at the protocol level. However, technology evolves fast, and it’s impossible to know what the future will bring for future major versions.
Q42: What does the Neo Foundation have planned for N3 following migration?
Hongfei: A concerted effort to bring more developers to the Neo blockchain.
Q43: What are your thoughts about strategically moving your HQ out of Shanghai and perhaps be somewhere Neo can get more visibility and interest?
Hongfei: Questions regarding China and marketing have been addressed elsewhere. However, on the topic of Neo Frontier Launchpad, this hackathon achieved exactly what it was supposed to achieve. It was called “Frontier” for a reason. The developers who participated in this event were the very first developers to use N3 and the various tooling created by our global communities.
There was a heavy emphasis on close and personal support to participants that just would not have been possible at the scale you are describing. At the end of the day, it was an exercise in finding out where our tooling and documentation needed to improve, and seeding some early dApps for N3. It did exactly that.
Q44: Is it possible for your team to choose an official wallet Neo will always support as the first preference for any Neo activities?
Hongfei: I’m sorry for your frustration. I believe the scenario you are describing is a symptom of the migration from Legacy to N3, rather than being indicative of an asymptomatic problem in the ecosystem. There are varying factors beyond any one individual’s control that caused support to be staggered.
Of course, different wallets provide different features, and different dApps will have different preferences. It is highly unlikely that Neo will ever have one wallet to rule them all, and in fact, that would be detrimental to our goals of decentralization.
Q45: What will happen with the Neo Legacy tokens that won’t or can’t migrate to Neo N3 within the allowed time?
Hongfei: The Neo Legacy platform will remain running for at least one year. That should give everyone plenty of time to migrate. Please note that the GAS generation has stopped.
If you are referring to NEP-5 project tokens, they are the responsibility of individual project owners. NGD is happy to support them with token migration if they choose to reach out.
Q46: Do you think Neo can provide use cases for larger companies or only for smaller community projects in the future?
Hongfei: Neo can provide for projects of all sizes.
Q47: With the Neo consisting of so many autonomous contributors (I.e., NGD, Neo Foundation, core developers, NNT, Neo SPCC, and more), how do you all make sure you strive for a common goal and a shared vision?
Hongfei: The Neo Foundation has regular calls with individual sponsored community groups every two to four weeks to offer assistance, discuss projects, and talk about priorities. We also hold group calls every two to three months where all communities come together for sharing and alignment.
We also held the Neo Community Assembly in September 2019, where everyone came to Shanghai for one week. We hope to do this again when it is practical to do so.
Q48: What makes Neo unique as a crypto project? And what is Neo’s vision moving forward (short and long term)?
Hongfei: There are many things. It pioneered the dBFT consensus mechanism. It was the first chain to use a dual token model. It has native support for decentralized storage and oracles. It is still the only project to return all raised funds to its token sale participants. Our philosophy of “pragmatic idealism” has helped the project solve many challenges. Neo is a project that has always forged its own path.
Short term Neo’s vision is to bring more developers to the ecosystem. Long term it is to become the platform for the Smart Economy.
Q49: Now that N3 is complete, are there any plans to host a DevCon again in the future? Neo DevCon 2022?
Hongfei: We know that our community and devs loved the first two DevCons and it was a shame we couldn’t host it last year due to the pandemic. We are definitely eager to meet everyone again once the situation allows. In the meantime, we will channel more energy into the online space.
Note: Some edits have been made for formatting and readability.
The full AMA can be found at the link below:
About The Author: Dylan Grabowski
Dylan is a reformed urban planner with a passion for covering the Neo ecosystem. His objective as a writer for Neo News Today is to report news in an objective, fact-based, non-sensational manner. When not behind a computer screen, he can be found in the mountains rock climbing. Find Dylan on Twitter (@GrabowskiDylan).
More posts by Dylan Grabowski