Welcoming New People to Blockstream

Welcoming New People to Blockstream

Adam Back

Our team page is quite out of date and, to make matters worse, we got behind in our tradition of welcoming new people to the team on this blog. Two weeks ago we announced our acquisition of GreenAddress and its small (but excellent) team joining engineering. However, over the past several months, we’ve been fortunate to welcome a number of talented people to Blockstream.

First, we’re excited to welcome people to several new roles outside of engineering, including Sonya Joseph, Eric Martindale, Ian Petty, Rachel Marotto, and Kat Walsh.

Sonya Joseph, Rachel Marotto, and Ian Petty are among our most recent hires. All three have joined Finance and Operations to take on roles in recruiting, human resources, and finance, respectively. We welcome them and look forward to their assistance in maturing our organization.

Eric Martindale came on at the outset of the year as Developer Evangelist, and he’s been busy with the Elements Project, our community-facing, open source project for sidechains. Eric has a long history with Bitcoin, having worked in a similar role for Bitpay, and he is well regarded in the community as a contributor, speaker, and advocate. It’s great to see him making progress.

Kat Walsh joined in February as Legal Counsel. She has been deftly handling a number of business and product related legal activities, as well as contributing to our work on the Defensive Patent Strategy. Kat was most recently counsel at Creative Commons, where she was a coauthor of version 4.0 of the Creative Commons license suite. She is also currently a board member of the Free Software Foundation, and served on the board of the Wikimedia Foundation for seven years, including a term as its chair.

Since late March, a number of engineers started at Blockstream, including Christian Decker, Jim Dennis, Jon Griffiths, Russell O’Connor, and Andrew Poelstra.

Christian Decker brings a new distinction to the team as the author of the world’s first PhD dissertation about Bitcoin, which was part of his graduate work with the Distributed Computing Group at ETH Zurich. Christian began working on Bitcoin in 2009 and he has created a number of protocols including PeerCensus and Duplex Micropayment Channels. He joined the company to work with Rusty Russell on lightning networks.

Jim Dennis is the first member of our Operations, IT, and Networking team. He’s been using Linux since kernel version 0.95 and started with the primordial MCC Interim and SLS distributions back in 1992. Over the last twenty years, he’s been deep into systems and network administration, operations, and site reliability engineering, with some forays into technical writing, training, QA, and development.

Jon Griffiths also has a long development history with open source and Linux. He has worked in the finance sector for the last fifteen years at Credit Suisse, the London futures exchange, and on the MarkitSERV global affirmation platform. His initial focus at Blockstream is progressing the GreenAddress roadmap and integration of Elements features, and developing a common library for wallet functionality.

Russell O’Connor joined the engineering team a few weeks ago from Google. He’s focusing on improving the scripting capabilities in Bitcoin and the Elements sidechain platform, as well as providing formal verification of software components. He earned his PhD in the field of formal logic and verification of software. Russell was part of the team at the Microsoft Research Inria Joint Centre that completed a computer checked proof of the Feit–Thompson theorem.

Finally, it feels a little strange to mention Andrew Poelstra, as he has been contracting intermittently for Blockstream since he co-authored the sidechains whitepaper, while working on his graduate studies at University of Texas at Austin. However, Andrew only joined Blockstream as a full-time team member in late March. He’s a regular contributor to the libsecp256k1 cryptographic library, and a much-cited author on Bitcoin, cryptography and mathematics. It’s quite appropriate, then, that Andrew’s title here is Mathematician. If only every company had one! Soon, perhaps.

With this new group, we’re now even more distributed as a company with people working from across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. We’ve got a new web site in the works, which will include a complete set of photos and bios for the whole team. And we still have a few open roles in engineering, ops, marketing, and business.

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