Building Bridges

I have never enjoyed zero sum thinking.

I am an eternal optimist and my view is that most humans are essentially good people.  Who wants wars, famine and conflict?   Surely it is better to collaborate where that makes sense, and not to sabotage each other where our goals are not aligned?

I have been told that I am too altruistic.  That I need to be a little more selfish.  And perhaps it is true, but that is something which is an effort for me.  It is a stretch from my default position, where I always seek to build a better future for humanity and for my children.

Integrity and transparency are really important to me.  I don’t want to wear a mask.  I don’t want there to be a business Bob and a personal Bob.   You get the same Bob whoever you are and whatever the context.  It is this one, here with my friend and fellow Vancouver blockchainer, Chelsea Palmer (AKA Ms Gnu) at Decentralized Web Summit last week:


Last November I started maintaining a Conflict of Interests Statement on my website, so everyone on the planet can know who I am and what my financial incentives are.  I want there to be no doubt whatsoever about the purity of my intentions.

Somebody asked why would I do this?  Was I running for office or something?  I replied:

Well here we are.  Nine months further on and I am running for office.

I am standing for election to the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee (TSC) because I have unfinished business in building what I see is the most important bridge of all to help blockchain reach its full potential: The bridge to mainstream adoption.

800px-Golden_Gate_Bridge_Golden Gate Bridge in the Evening Sun (Creative Commons Attributed 3.0 Unported)

As I wrote more than two years ago in my Ethereum Everywhere blog post while I was attempting to bridge the Ethereum and Hyperledger communities for the first time:

Corporations will build blockchain technology irrespective of what we do.   It is already happening.

Just as both Intranets and the Internet have a role to play, so do public and private/consortium chains.    Maximalist thinking is not particularly helpful here.

The real world never works in black-and-white, and demonizing people with similar but not identical goals is self-defeating.

And I still love this quote:


So maybe the world was not ready for such a public <-> enterprise blockchain bridge in 2016, but I see a real shift in that thinking in the meantime.  Maximalism of all forms is melting away as more and more people realize that a one-size-fits all solution is very unlikely for blockchain.

There are use-cases where public permissionless chains make sense, where public permissioned chains make sense, where consortium chains make sense, where private chains make sense, where throughput trumps decentralization, where security is paramount over performance.   We need scaling on-chain, off-chain, with sidechains, child-chains, with sharding, with alternative consensus.   We need privacy features.   We need interchain solutions.   We need content-addressable storage solutions with incentive layers.  We need standard libraries, frameworks, debuggers, testing tools, better IDE integration, formal verification, and much more more.

Nobody has all the answers, but many of us are on parallel journeys and would be better served by sharing the road.

R3 are now building a public network and Richard Crook’s Cordite project is building enterprise tokens on Corda:

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance which I helped to bring to life in early 2017 recently published the EEA Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification 1.0.

ConsenSys have announced that they will release a new Enterprise grade Ethereum client this October at DEVCON4:

IBM are experimenting with building a USD stablecoin on Stellar.   Their joint venture with Maersk will undoubtedly require some means of settlement as well. has popped into existence.  We had the latest phase of Project Ubin in Singapore not so long back.   IBM and ConsenSys’s work in Dubai aiming to migrate all government systems to blockchain by 2020 continues.  The owner of the NYSE is partnering with Microsoft and Starbucks on a Bitcoin exchange.

We are starting to make steps towards regulatory clarity.

We are not playing games anymore.  This is seriously impactful stuff.   What might have looked like hard lines between public and private and between different technology bases in 2015/2016 are rapidly blurring.

As John Wolpert said so well in his recent Bring on the Stateful Internet post:Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 10.28.58 PM

There is no conflict here.  His conclusion is spot-on:

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 10.31.17 PM

This is the same perspective which I would bring to my work on the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee.  This is not a zero sum game.  We need to work together across all of these technologies, and to have a neutral forum where we can all collaborate on the open source projects which underpin both commercial and non-commercial efforts.   Same as Linux.  Same as the web.

Say hello to the Hyperledger Greenhouse:

I have done lots of interviews and conferences in the last year or two and they are all up on my website if you would like to get more of a flavor of where I am coming from.

My door is always open to communication.   Here are all of the ways you can contact me, but I am most active on Twitter.

Have a great day!

Decentralized Web Summit 2018

I am flying back to Vancouver after a fantastic few days at Decentralized Web Summit 2018 in San Francisco. The list of attendees was stellar and the event itself did not disappoint. As has become usual for me, I saw close to zero of the sessions, and instead spent my time on face-to-face conversations with some of the most interesting and brilliant individuals on the planet. It is hard to express how grateful I am to have this opportunity. The life I have led since starting my journey down the blockchain rabbit hole in 2014 has been a delight.

IMG_20180731_160106With my good friend and fellow Vancouverite Chelsea Palmer, AKA Ms GNU.

With Mamie Rheingold, Alison Alexis and Chelsea Palmer.   Mamie is doing lots of the organization for the Ethereum DEVCON4 conference in Prague in Oct/Nov of this year.  Can’t wait for that.  It was lovely to meet her and spend some time together.   Chelsea has been assisting too, and was organizing Lightning Sessions at Decentralized Web Summit.

On the opening night, I got to chat with Alex Voto, Christian Lundkvist, Ron Patiro and Rouven Heck, all former colleagues at ConsenSys, many with degrees of involvement in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) as well, especially Alex.   So that was lovely.   The opening night was at the Internet Archive building, with Cory Doctorow interviewing Mike Judge, amongst other things.

With Tim Berners-Lee.  Such an delight to chat with him.  Legend.

The San Francisco Mint, where the two main days events were held is a beautiful brick and stone building, built in 1869.  Multiple rooms and vaults and a central courtyard.

Sunny Aggarwal on the move!   We had met in Vancouver in June too, for Dogecon.

With the inimitable Karl Floersch of Ethereum Research fame.   Check out his Cryptoeconomics blockchain course.  He makes things so accessible and fun.

I am running for election to the running for election to the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee so it was great to grab some time with Brian Behlendorf (the Executive Director), Marta Piekarska (Director of Ecosystem) and Juan Benet (Protocol Labs, IPFS, FileCoin).   I had last seen Marta and Brian in New York in May for Consensus 2018.    I first met Brian in May 2016 while I was still at the Ethereum Foundation and was working towards relicensing of the cpp-ethereum so that we could have bridged these communities more than two years ago.   Maybe 2018 is when this can finally happen 🙂

Many people in blockchain are probably completely unaware of Anthony Donofrio (“Texture”) who was involved in the Ethereum Project almost from Day 1.   He is a philosopher and an amazing human being.   I love him to bits.

Aya Miyaguchi was appointed as the new Executive Director of the Ethereum Foundation in February of this year, but we had not managed to connect and have any face-to-face time since then.  It was lovely to have some time with her and Albert Ni and to give them a big brain-dump of my years worth of context into the EF and the broader Ethereum ecosystem.   They have a lot of work to do, but I am confident that the EF is in great hands.  Good luck, guys, and please don’t hesitate to call on me!

I first met Jay Carpenter of Desert Blockchain when I was down in Phoenix while working for Sweetbridge late last year and early this year.   We had a lot to catch up on.

On Wednesday night we got to have the long philosophy and psychology discussion with Texture which Alison had been waiting months for, with Chelsea and Michael Zargham also bringing their mighty brains to bear!   Michael is the founder of BlockScience, and our paths first crossed at Sweetbridge.  We got to spend a fair bit of time together in the last few days too, which was great.   I hope that our paths continue to cross.

This is Christopher Wray of Mattereum.  I have known Vinay Gupta from the interwebs for many years, and we worked together for a while on Sweetbridge recently, and I’ve been in contact with Rob Knight and Vinay WRT the EEA and Mattereum on several occasions in the last few months.   Great to meet Christopher too.   I had only seen him on videos until now.

Diana Stern is lots of fun.  She is a blockchain focused lawyer, now working for Baker and Hostetler, and we’ve been talking a lot over the last few months.   And Rick Dudley is an OG, who was around before Ethereum was “a thing”.   He’s a deep thinker, with real insight into mechanism design, complex systems, security and many other fields.   Check out his “What I don’t like about Ethereum” talk from the Ethereum Community Conference in March.  It is great.   He is the CEO of Vulcanize.

Christopher Allen is another OG, with decades of experience in open source, internet infrastructure, security, identity, decentralization and much much more.   Alison had been looking forward to talking to him for months, and it was indeed a real treat.

Jonathan Levi is the Founder of Hacera, and a member of the Hyperledger TSC.   We have been in contact on-and-off for several months online, and have seen each other IRL once or twice.   I hope that we can work together on Hyperledger soon enough.

Mike Slinn is a recent online acquaintance, and we grabbed an hour or so together to have a walk and talk and some food.   He’s been working with Scala for several years and has been getting to know Ethereum over the last little while.   He has a wealth of experience of previous paradigm shifts.  Great to meet you, Mike!

Aaron Davis (“kumavis”) is a MetaMask monster who I have known for at least 2 years.  What a team.  What a product.  Always great to catch up.

At the closing event we finally got to spend some time with Steven McKie, another renaissance man with brain-power to burn.   Here with Rick Dudley, Alison, myself, and Jamie Pitts of the Ethereum Foundation, who booted up the Ethereum Magicians and who Alison calls the Philosopher in Residence for Ethereum.   He missed out on the meal with Texture.   And Cassandra Shih, of the Ethereum Community Fund, who I met for the first time that night too.

And Chelsea closed out the evening with her fantastic raps, including the seminal “What happens on the Blockchain stays on the Blockchain”

What a blast!   See you all at Decentralized Web Summit 2020 🙂

I am running for election to the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee

My name is Bob Summerwill and I have been working to build bridges in the enterprise blockchain community since 2016. I will be running for election to the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee (TSC) this August and I would truly appreciate your support.

This is the first in a series of posts where I will introduce myself, talk about what I bring to the table for the Hyperledger TSC and explain why I am so passionate about the potential business and social impact of blockchain and other decentralization technologies.

You can read more about me at my website.


I was working at the Ethereum Foundation when the Hyperledger project was first announced, and I was curious to understand exactly what the project was aiming to achieve and how it related to our work on Ethereum. I soon found that we were fellow travellers and I started working to try to bring the communities together.

Vitalik Buterin presented to the Hyperledger TSC in April 2016 on possible options for integrating Ethereum into the Hyperledger codebases. The Hyperledger Burrow EVM was finally integrated with Sawtooth late last year (Seth) and then integrated with Hyperledger Fabric, as demonstrated by IBM on the show floor at Consensus 2018 this May 🙂

First, Buterin suggested that the group of companies and startups could continue to use that fabric’s account model while running the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) as an option for computation.

“Keep the way that you’re doing things exactly the way that you’re doing them right now with regards to the account model,” said Buterin. “Give people multiple ways to enter into agreements.”


In May 2016 I was attending OSCON in Austin. There was no blockchain content at the conference and it was too late to propose any talks, so I organized a FOSS Blockchain Meetup outside the conference. I invited all of the local blockchain-related Meetups, the IBM Blockchain Lab and conference attendees. I was lucky enough that Chris Ferris was able to attend and present about Hyperledger.


Brian Behlendorf was also at the Meetup in stealth mode, before being announced as the Executive Director of Hyperledger the next morning. I met him for lunch on his first day on the job, and we talked about my plans to lead an attempt to relicense cpp-ethereum as Apache 2.0 so that it could be contributed to Hyperledger and we could bridge the communities. That was a process which continued for the next five months, but ultimately failed.

In October 2016, following the failure of that re-licensing attempt I joined ConsenSys to work on an alternative approach towards similar enterprise goals, where I was a key participant in the creation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). I worked on that project for a year, through its inception, launch and early operational stages. I was co-presenter on the Technical Roadmap at the launch event, spoke again at the EEA event at Consensus 2017, was Secretary of the Technical Working Group and then Vice-Chair of the Technical Steering Committee.


I first started programming in 1984, when I was 10 years old. I was first paid for my code when I was 16, for a “Quarry Game” I built while on work experience at a slate quarry. I have worked as a professional software engineer since 1996, with 18 years of AAA videogames (mainly EA Sports, including my appointment as the first Chair of the Architecture Council and Software Architect for EA Sports, plus TD Securities) followed by 4 years of blockchain (mainly Ethereum).

I am now Co-Founder and CTO at Varro Technologies, Blockchain Lead at Quantfury, a community leader for the Ethereum Project and Community Ambassador for CryptoChicks.

I was also involved in the recent reboot of the Vancouver Hyperledger Meetup, where I spoke on “What is Hyperledger?”





I was delighted to catch up with Brian and Chris again in person recently at Consensus 2018 in New York, and to see that many of my dreams of 2016 are coming to fruition. I also met with Ron Resnick, the Executive Director of the EEA, and with Richard Gendal Brown of R3. We all have so many common goals.

Stay tuned for my next Hyperledger TSC blog post.


Bijou Lee and BGL Legal Consulting

“My lawyer is awesome” – I bet that isn’t something which too many people can say!

I have been self-employed for the last four years, working either as a consultant or contractor to DeNA, SCEA San Diego, TD Securities, Prizorgo, Ethereum Foundation, ConsenSys and Sweetbridge.  That after 18 years as a full-time employee to Sony Psygnosis and EA.

By late 2015 I was feeling the pain of the lack of basic technical competence amongst lawyers and accountants as I was running my small business.  I needed more, so I asked the Ethereum community for help on Reddit as the New Year approached:

Have you met blockchain savvy accountants and lawyers in Canada?

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 9.52.05 AM

Do have a read of the responses to that thread.  This was my favorite:
Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 9.54.55 AM

So I didn’t actually make any change at that point, due to mixture of lack of options and also getting busy with other things, but as the 2018 financial year approached I left it was time to revisit this question, so I asked Reddit again and this time I got a great answer:

Deja Vu – Have you met blockchain savvy accountants and lawyers in Canada?  2017 edition


Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 9.59.12 AM

The way in which Bijou was introduced to me immediately gave me a great feeling.   Her contact options included PGP encrypted email and Signal.  Excellent – some opsec – this is going to be good!  I was not wrong.


So I retained Bijou in January of this year and have been working with her since as I have worked through working out what I want to do with myself.   The first thing which I asked her to do was to look at options for single-individual non-profit organizations in Canada, both federally and provincially.   The Summerwill Foundation or whatever.  That is not something which I will be pursuing right now, but I wanted to look into that option.

So she did some legal research for me on that, which I am happy to share with the world, subject to this disclaimer:

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 10.14.11 AM

Canadian Non-Profit Options – BGL

This document was produced by B.G.L. Legal Consulting. The opinions expressed in this document are current as of January 25, 2018, and are subject to change. This document has been prepared solely for information purposes and for the use of the reader. Nothing in this material constitutes legal, accounting or tax advice, or a personal recommendation to the reader. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader.

This document may not be reproduced either in whole, or in part, without the written permission of the authors and B.G.L. Legal Consulting.


More recently, Bijou has been helping me with legal work around Varro Technologies, the new company which I have co-founded with Alison Alexis, who has a background as an accountant – hurrah!

So, if you are looking for a digital native who can actually help you as a partner with your blockchain needs, I would recommend that you get in touch with Bijou.   Finally I have a legal professional who I consider as a partner, not as a liability.

She tells me that she is dealing with clients in Canada, the USA and Hong Kong so far.

Bijou Lee on LinkedIn, Twitter (@crypto_lawyers) and Website (


Why I am speaking at ETC Summit

So I am delighted to announce that I will be speaking at ETC Summit in Seoul this September.

For anybody who isn’t familiar with my personal history, I started following Ethereum in February 2014, meeting Vitalik for the first time in July of that year. I became an active part of the Ethereum community in 2015, initially working on cross builds for Linux mobile and wearables.

I joined the Ethereum Foundation in February 2016 to work on cpp-ethereum and Solidity, so I was “on the inside” at the time of the DAO Fork. I had a front-row seat for all of the drama that summer:

Later that year I presented on Ethereum for Resource Constrained Devices at DEVCON2 in Shanghai. Shortly after that I joined ConsenSys to help create the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), where I was the Vice-Chair of the Technical Steering Committee.

So why am I attending ETC Summit? Because the tribalism we see throughout blockchain as a whole is self-defeating nonsense and we need to knock it on the head. As I said there in 2016, we all have an awful lot more in common than we have differences, and we need to start working together on common goals if we want blockchain to succeed. We are brothers-and-sisters in crypto. If you must have an enemy, look at the status quo, not at each other!

Who benefits from the current divide-and-conquer? Not us, that is for sure.


I had a long tweet-storm on this topic in January which I turned into A Call for an End to Tribalism in Ethereum blog post, which was then the basis for my keynote talk at the Ethereum Community Conference in Paris this March:


So, I have been working on multiple peace-missions to try to bring the various factions of the Ethereum community together, and across the whole of blockchain for months on end now, and it is time for us to look to the future, which has many chains.

We need interchain technology. We need sidechains. We need state channels. We need off-chain. We need permissioned chains. We need permissionless chains. We need everything. There is no one-size-fits-all-solution.

Let’s work together and build the decentralized future which we all want to see.


Blockchain @ EA

On 12th April 2018 I made a long awaited return to Electronic Arts Vancouver (formerly called EAC – EA Canada), my employer from 1999-2014.   I worked at this particular office in Burnaby for 11 years.

Here are my slides

I was back for the first time in four years to do a presentation and AMA on potential applications for blockchain in the games industry and for EA specifically.   It was so much fun.  I spent over five hours there in total, with the presentation and AMA running well over time because we were enjoying it so much, and then some people hanging around even after that.

My thanks go out to David Bowen, a blockchain enthusiast who I have been talking to since last summer when he first reached out to me and we met for coffee and blockchain chat in Kitsilano.  He made all the arrangements for this session, and I am truly grateful to him for the opportunity to come back.

For anybody who was there, please do stay in touch!

I am a sociable kind of fellow, and would love to keep the conversation going, on Linked, on Twitter, via email –, or through any of my other means of contact.

Or check out the projects I am associated with at Ethereum, Sweetbridge and Varro Technologies.

I had to go and say hi to Erik Torstensson, a lovely former colleague at EATech.

David Bowen, my host, who arranged this event.  Thank you, David!

Big Picture, the second largest of the dedicated meeting rooms on campus.

Which had been reconfigured a lot since I was last there.  Very casual!

Swanky new coffee shop just inside the reception area.

The company store.


With the entry gates moved forward, this space is now usable.

Lovely big screen, fireplace and new tables and chairs for informal meetings.





Jason Garvock

Kristan Stewart

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-8,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YBert Sandie

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-8,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YGreg Salter

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-8,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YArnie Misfeldt

Adam Bell

Andy Younger and Daniel Brown

Scott Wardle

About to get started.  Standing room only along the edge there.

And people craning to look in at the back there.

Same on the other side.  David counted over 100 people there.

David Bowen about to kick things off.

image1Always the first question, right?  Courtesy of David Bowen.

image2Arty shot.  Courtesy of David Bowen.

image3Talking about the pride of Vancouver blockchain gaming – Cryptokitties.

image4Talk a little about the generations of blockchain technology.

Richard Petrie

Dee Doherty

Kenny Wu

Jason Garvock and Alex van der Star

Fantastic wooden carvings of characters from Plants vs Zombies.

Mat Thomas