IOHK May Pivot Mantis Ethereum Classic Team in 2019

IOHK May Pivot Mantis Ethereum Classic Team in 2019

During his 2018 year-end update for the Cardano community, IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson noted his company’s support for the Mantis Ethereum Classic client may be nearing its conclusion. Hoskinson qualified the client would likely live on for Ethereum via the Hyperledger umbrella project.

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Mantis Support on the Chopping Block, Says Hoskinson

During a livestreamed December update to the Cardano community, IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson announced that IOHK’s Grothendieck team may be shifted from Mantis to other projects in 2019.

Mantis, a Scala-based command line client for Ethereum Classic, saw its beta release in August 2017 and was later integrated with IOHK’s Daedalus wallet this past February.

The announcement of the possible transition caps a choppy 2018 for Ethereum Classic.

ETC enjoyed a Coinbase listing this fall, but stakeholders in the coin’s ecosystem have since been wracked by a contentious GitHub power struggle. The dispute has been characterized by concerned developers as a “hostile takeover.”

As for IOHK, the departure of the Grothendieck team from Mantis would, if finalized, likely represent the beginning of the end of IOHK’s direct involvement in Ethereum Classic going forward.

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‘We Felt It Was Absolutely Necessary to Give People a Choice,’ Says Hoskinson

In his year-end update, Hoskinson explained how he had come to participate in Ethereum Classic as context for why Mantis ended up being created in the first place:

“This one has been a pretty difficult topic for me personally because, you know, Ethereum Classic was the unintended product, the unintended project. There was no plan to create Ethereum Classic. It came as a result of an event.

Back when I joined the community, it was unclear if the community was going to go anywhere, the project was going to go anywhere. It wasn’t clear if Ethereum Classic was going to survive. But it was mostly a protest coin.

We said we don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what’s going to happen. But we feel that this issue with the DAO hack has been very poorly handled and that many people invested in, who got involved in Ethereum, [were] leaving that ‘code is law.’

[…] Alot of people cared a lot about basically preserving the original intent, as they saw it, of the Ethereum blockchain, which had then been violated by this hard fork. So as a consequence, we felt it was absolutely necessary to give people a choice.”

Whatever Happens, Mantis Will Apparently Live On Via Hyperledger

Hoskinson then touched upon the building of the Mantis client and noted that, regardless of what happens to IOHK’s work with ETC, the software was likely to live on in the Hyperledger ecosystem:

“I put my money where my mouth was, opened up my wallet, and spent my own money to build a client from scratch. Now a lot’s happened since that event. We’ve seen Mantis grow from a concept to an actual production system that now works both with Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.

Members of the Ethereum Foundation have even reached out to us asking us to find a way to change the software license, which we will do from MIT to Apache, and try to make it a Hyperledger project so that people in the Ethereum ecosystem can use our codebase for their products and projects, and it can be under good governance.”

Before shifting toward the specific future of the Mantis team, Hoskinson highlighted how the work surrounding the client had provided his company with invaluable experience:

“Building that client trained our developers to understand how the Ethereum ecosystem worked. They literally started from nothing, just from yellow paper and from the documentation and wrote 100 percent new code in Scala.

So that exercise was incredibly valuable in creating a knowledge transfer and bridging the skill gap so that we understood where Ethereum sat and all the things it could do and all the things it couldn’t do.”

In the Absence of a Funding Solution, IOHK Looks to Transition Mantis Team in 2019

Hoskinson noted the Ethereum Classic community had avoided implementing a Treasury mechanism and argued that such a mechanism’s absence had proven increasingly problematic in recent times.

The IOHK CEO said the Grothendieck team had numerous roadmap updates that could be implemented in ETC, but doing so would take time, money, and effort and thus would be currently unsustainable as the ecosystem stands.

“The challenge for me is I’m spending my own money building this, and we’ve never gotten a revenue source for the construction of this client,” Hoskinson said.

“So at the moment we’ve made nothing for participating in ETC. And at some point as a CEO of a company, I do have to make a decision of when and where do we stop spending money, when and where do we stop contributing resources for something that doesn’t contribute back,” he added.

Hoskinson said IOHK would “talk to existing members” of the community to hash out a possible subsidy for the company’s continued work on ETC, but barring a deal, their support for Mantis would be pivoted elsewhere.

“If we can’t come to that arrangement, what we’re going to do is retire the Mantis client for Ethereum Classic,” Hoskinson said.

“We’ll continue to support the Hyperledger version if we can get it into the Hyperledger group for Ethereum support because there’s commercial value in that. And we’ll move that team to other projects.”

Indeed, Hoskinson’s proven willing to adapt IOHK as needed. The CEO confirmed in November that IOHK was becoming a U.S. company in moving to crypto-friendly Wyoming, where the state’s increasingly welcoming environment for cryptoeconomy enterprises is generating interest.

What’s your take? What would the departure of IOHK support from the Mantis Ethereum Classic client represent for the ETC ecosystem? Aught or naught? Sound off in the comments below. 


Images via Pixabay

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