Into the Cave

Last Friday, we announced that Nate Maninger will be taking over the role of President at the Sia Foundation. This is the culmination of a gradual transition that has been underway internally for a while now, and I've been very happy with the results. Now that we've made it official, Nate can proceed with full legitimacy. In other words: we deployed Nate to staging, and nothing broke, so now we're deploying him to production.

Of course, I don't want to make light of this change. It marks the first chapter of Sia's history in which the project is not being primarily led by one of its original co-founders. In the startup world, this milestone is seen as an important mark of maturity. That's because the sort of person who excels at starting a company is not necessarily the sort of person who excels at running a company.

Frankly, I do not excel at either of those things. I lack the fiery passion of a good founder, and I lack the assertiveness of a good leader. In fact, I would say my saving grace is my bias for inaction. At Nebulous, I served as ballast for David's wilder ambitions. And as President of the Foundation, I hired conservatively, grew the treasury, and generally kept us out of trouble. In the crypto world, you could do a lot worse!

Sure. But you could also do a lot better. In my defense, I've always been upfront about my discomfort with this role. "I would much rather be down in a cave somewhere writing code" was my standard refrain whenever the subject arose. But deficiencies don't go away just because you own up to them; at some point, you have to actually do something. For me, that meant making a choice: I could try to mold myself into executive material, or I could remain a humble programmer and hand over the reins to someone else.

I am not the first to face this junction. My dad faced it 30 years ago. His dad faced it too, 30 years before that. They both loved programming, and yet they both ended up managing people instead of computers. I asked my dad one time why he did that. "Well… I had you guys to support," he said, smiling a bit sheepishly and looking away, as if he was apologizing.
I understood. Programmers in the 90's weren't making bank like they do now; if you weren't leading a team, you were a disposable code monkey. So he did what he had to do. I wonder whether my grandfather's hand was forced in the same way. I can't ask him anymore.

As for me: I am going back into my cave. I'm going to keep programming, because programming is what I love, and I happen to be pretty good at it, and I live in an era where programmers do make bank, and how crazy would you have to be to not take advantage of the confluence of those things? Thus, the cave. I will continue contributing to Sia in the highest-leverage way I can: writing code. I've been plugging away on v2 for quite a while now, and it's finally coalescing into something really exciting. I honestly believe that Sia is going to have the most beautiful blockchain implementation the world has yet seen. Obviously, I want that beauty to translate into user-facing benefits: better performance, new functionality, etc. But it's the pursuit of beauty that drives me.

Anyway, this isn't a post about beauty. It's a post about the long sighs of relief that I have breathed lately, knowing that we have at last emerged from an inadequate equilibrium. The Sia Foundation is in good hands. And the work continues. See you on the network.