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2018 Year in Review

Image Jutta Steiner
Co-Founder & CEO @ Parity Technologies
December 31, 2018 in Company and Culture, Community

In 2015 we founded Parity Technologies to build the fastest and most secure open-source software for Ethereum and the decentralised web. Three years in, we are more dedicated than ever in building the infrastructure for web 3.0 and putting the web back in the hands of its users.

2018 was a particularly significant year of growth and achievement at Parity. We doubled in size in order to tackle our ambitious plans for Polkadot, Substrate, and Parity Ethereum. Our once-spacious new offices were quickly overflowing with some of the brightest Rust and distributed systems engineers, and we appointed our new CTO Fred so that Gav could focus leading development on Substrate and Polkadot.

Here’s a quick recap of some of this year’s accomplishments:

Substrate

We put all of our work—everything we learned—in building Ethereum and Polkadot and gave it to everyone in the form of the open-source, blockchain-building framework Substrate. Substrate grew from concept to 1.0 Beta in half a year and we’re excited to see the new decentralised apps, services, and web3 infrastructure that people create in this new world when building custom blockchains takes minutes or days, not months or years.

Polkadot

Now under development for 13 months, Polkadot has gone through three proof-of-concepts and 68,000 lines of core code (100,000 including key components).

The first testnet, launched in spring, demonstrated our groundbreaking WebAssembly-based state-transition execution engine and live governance logic that enables dynamic on-chain upgradability.

We used that on-chain upgradability to vote and upgrade the first testnet to the second proof-of-concept—the first of such an on-chain upgrade.

This summer, Polkadot cofounder Robert Habermeier became a Thiel fellow. He implemented Alistair Stewart’s newly invented consensus algorithm, GRANDPA, into the third testnet. The GRANDPA algorithm is particularly great because it combines instant-finality under good conditions with eventual finality under adverse conditions in an elegant and adaptive way that other consensus algorithms do not. This lets us have a populous set of validators (1,000 is our target) without sacrificing transaction latency.

Polkadot is on track to be live by the end of 2019—stay tuned. :)

Parity Ethereum

We made Parity Ethereum better and more feature-rich. We created warp-sync and improved transaction queues, among other improvements. We worked with the Energy Web Foundation to create WebAssembly smart contracts, Secret Store, and Private Transactions on Parity Ethereum. And we started building Shasper/Serenity on Substrate:

We helped Ethereum DApps scale without waiting for Serenity by releasing interim-Ethereum scaling solution Parity Bridge.

We focused on security. We enlisted Trail of Bits to do a security review of our code and revamped our smart contract development practices.

We released the 2.0 Beta version of Parity Signer, software for turning your phone into a hardware wallet.

We paved the way for developer adoption of light clients, a more secure and decentralised way to interact with the blockchain when syncing to a full node isn’t an option. We launched light.js, a library for building DApps on light clients, as well as Parity Fether, a decentralised, light client-based wallet.

We helped the UN World Food Programme scale up their blockchain for aid, which they found saved upfront costs as well as the transaction fee of 1.5% to 3% per transaction, enabling them to help more refugees.

Building blockchain tech that’s actually used

Our work continues to be some of the most used software in the blockchain ecosystem. Parity Ethereum is used by 30% of Ethereum nodes and is especially popular with miners. The aforementioned UN World Food Programme’s Blockchain for Zero Hunger will help feed over 500,000 refugees by the end of the year.

Household tech names are using our software, too—Microsoft offers Parity Ethereum PoA on their Azure service; Google uses Parity Ethereum for their public Ethereum dataset. And people are starting to rely on Substrate to quickly build their custom blockchain for their decentralised application. Commonwealth Labs announced that they would be launching their own governable smart-contract Substrate blockchain, Edgeware, based upon some of the early work we did on the concept.

It’s strange to think how much can happen in just one year. Gav’s live coding demos in Toronto at EdCon and Berlin at Web3 Summit, chatting with other builders at the various other events over the years, and watching presentations at our all-company retreat in Tenerife. Getting my own Cryptokitty was pretty neat, too. :)

Thank you

The end of the year is the perfect time to say thanks to everyone who made this year a success. Thank you to our community of contributors and those who are already building apps and services on Substrate and Polkadot. Nearly all of our code is open-source—please feel free to jump in and start contributing. Thank you to the Ethereum Foundation for supporting our work in developing the most advanced Ethereum client, and to the greater Ethereum community for your support. Thank you to the Rust community that is one of the most friendly and inclusive developer communities we’ve seen.

Thank you everyone who attended Web3 Summit, chatted with us at events, and attended our meetups. Thank you to our amazing team who works relentlessly to make this tech a reality. And of course, thank you to everyone who uses and builds on our tech.

2019 is going to be even bigger

Walking around the Parity offices, there’s no clue it’s a freezing  crypto winter. We currently have 60 of the world’s best blockchain and  Rust developers, and in 2019 we are going to grow further (check out our open positions!).  In order to continue tackling the largest issues in blockchain  (scalability, governance, security, and developability) with Substrate  and Polkadot, help build Ethereum 2.0, and create a ZCash implementation, we’re growing our London operations and creating a research center in Cambridge.

Join our mailing list to be informed of important developments and to learn when we’re going to be in a city near you. We hope to see you at a meetup and at Web3 Summit this next fall. 2019 promises to be a particularly happening year, especially for Polkadot. Stay tuned.

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