Algorand: Origins


If you are actively engaged in crypto twitter you must’ve heard about Algorand in the past month or so. It is one of the most hyped projects (for all the right reasons). In this article I’d like to briefly introduce you to Algorand, and its origins.

About Algorand

Algorand is a permissionless blockchain platform running on Pure Proof of Stake (PPoS) consensus. It is highly scalable and provides immediate transaction finality. Algorand aims to build trusted infrastructure for the borderless economy — an inclusive and transparent system where anyone can build prosperity, no matter where they are.

The Origins

Algorand was founded in 2017 by the Turing Award winner and MIT Professor, Silvio Micali. Silvio has been involved in cryptography since 1980s. It is he who co-invented zero knowledge proofs, verifiable random functions and many other cryptographic technologies that are currently at the heart of modern blockhchain projects like DFINITY, CARDANO, HARMONY, ELROND etc.

Silvio initially started researching blockchain technology in 2015 when he came across Bitcoin. Whilst researching, he noticed some shortcomings in Bitcoin, and thus decided to put forward his own idea of a permissionless blockchain on the web. It was initially met with scepticism from his colleague Nickolai Zeldavich (Head of Distributed Systems) as he found it “too good to be true.” Nickolai proposed to test it in order to verify the technological claims. 

Subsequently, they decided to do an experiment corresponding to the thesis proposed by Silvio. They rented thousands of servers from Amazon, and ran simulations on it with 10 thousand, 20 thousand, 50 thousand, 100 thousand, and eventually up to 500 thousand users. The test yielded satisfactory results, prompting Silvio to open up a company to realize his vision of a Borderless Economy. The company started out with 11 people out of which 8 were from the MIT. Silvio’s home became the workspace for the of Algorand team for the initial three months.

If you want to read more about Silvio’s life story please click here

In February of 2018, Algorand secured $4M in seed funding from Pillar, and Union Square ventures, followed by another $62M round in October from various other investors. In October of 2018, Algorand appointed Steve Kokinos (a serial entrepreneur, founder of two +$700mn companies) as its CEO and Sean Ford (former CMO at LogMeIn ($3.7bn public company)) as its COO. The message of these hirings was clear: Hire people who can scale business.

Algorand was already under closed testnet participation from July of 2018. Testnet was eventually opened for public participation in May of 2019.

With the aim to further strong technical research in blockchain for a borderless economy, the Algorand Foundation initiated the Global University Program in early June of 2019 wherein top universities from USA, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and China were invited to be a part of inaugural university research program. Founding members include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Peking University, Sapienza University of Rome, Stony Brook University, Tel Aviv University, Tsinghua University, University of California, Berkeley University of Salerno, Università della Svizzera Italiana, and University of Waterloo.

With the successful inception of mainnet, the first round of dutch auction of Algorand Tokens was held on 19th of June, 2019. Within a week of the auction, Algorand was listed on all the top-tier exchanges without paying a dime for the listing fees. This was a testament to the fact that even the exchanges believed in legitimacy and long-term value proposition of Algorand.

Algorand has come a long way in the two year of its existence. The level of professionalism with which they have been executing to realize the goal of a truly secured, decentralized, and scalable blockchain has been nothing short of phenomenal. As I conclude this article, both Algorand Inc. and the Algorand Foundation just released their wallet addresses and statements of use in their continued pursuit for full transparency. Massimo Morini, of the Algorand Foundation's Economic Advisory Committee, has also shared a new blog with details on token supply and some clarification on the dynamics in the Algorand economy: 

References and Important Links