Exclusive interview with Charles Adkins, the new Hedera president
The blockchain industry is growing at a rapid rate. In the past few months, we have seen projects like Sui, Sei, Manta, and Celestia go live and attract thousands of users. In this exclusive interview, we are joined by Charles Adkins, the recently appointed President of Hedera, one of the leading players in the industry. He shares his experience and his aspirations of the organisation.
Congratulations on your recent appointment. How is it going so far?
Thank you, so far it has been a wonderful experience. Hedera is a really interesting platform, with its broad and expansive ecosystem of different projects building on the network. Beyond the network itself, there are several key entities that I’m excited to work more closely with:
- The Hedera Council, a group of up to 39 of the world’s leading organizations, who are committed to network innovation, stability, and the continued decentralization of Hedera.
- Swirlds Labs, the team that founded and built out Hedera, which now provides development and support for the network;
- The HBAR Foundation, which acts as an integrated force multiplier to help builders and creators overcome the challenges of bringing ideas to market while supporting their use of the Hedera network;
- The Hashgraph Association, which is an independent non-profit organization focused on building a vibrant, innovative ecosystem for startups, enterprises, and government institutions around the world, utilizing Hedera’s capabilities.
- The DLT Science Foundation, which is a knowledge-sharing collaboration between academia, industry, developers, and government to advance distributed ledger technology in business and society.
Can you briefly tell us about Hedera and how you are finding your new workplace?
Hedera is a fully open source, proof-of-stake, public network and governing body for building and deploying decentralized applications. The network offers developers three primary services: Smart contracts, consensus, and token services. Hedera is unique in that it is incredibly fast, energy-efficient (carbon negative), and secure, all advantages which can be attributed to its underlying hashgraph consensus algorithm.
Hedera’s community and the entities associated with it are filled with talented and dedicated people and leadership who believe in the ever-expanding future of decentralized ledger technology (DLT). Working alongside the likes of Dr. Leemon Baird, Co-founder of Hedera and Co-CEO of Swirlds Labs; Mance Harmon, Co-founder & Co-CEO, Brett McDowell, Chair of Hedera, Andrew Aitken, Chief Open Source Officer, as well as council members from the likes of Dell Technologies, abrdn, Google, IBM and our most recent addition Hitachi, means I am surrounded by the best minds in the industry.
1/ We are excited to announce that @Hitachi_US has joined the #Hedera Council, bringing with it industrial solutions expertise and the aim to begin creating proof-of-concepts for end-to-end #SupplyChain and #sustainability solutions in the next year.https://t.co/0cVAer75ua
— Hedera (@hedera) January 15, 2024
Congratulations on adding Hitachi as a governing council member. How did the partnership happen?
The collaboration with Hitachi is an important one for the network. Through this new partnership, Hitachi will leverage Hedera’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) to create proof-of-concepts for end-to-end supply chain visibility. Hitachi brings crucial expertise in machine learning and generative AI to the Hedera ecosystem, having already employed its technological expertise to develop valuable blockchain technology solutions in payment systems, supply chains, predictive maintenance, and mining.
The diversity of the Hedera Council and the scale of the members involved affirms Hedera as a leader in the sector, expanding DLT on a global scale and acting as the blueprint for the future of decentralized technology. Having said that, Hedera is always looking ahead and we’re eager to get more entities to join the Council and ensure that the network is as impactful as possible. These well-known names, such as Hitachi, lend further credibility and recognizable branding to people all over the world who are still on the fence about DLT. Hopefully, these appointments highlight other ways that DLT can be leveraged and provide additional reassurance to those considering adoption.
How will Hitachi help Hedera’s ecosystem?
Hitachi brings new capabilities to the Council, strengthening the network through its technical and research capabilities. Its leadership in innovation-led industrial use cases makes Hitachi a unique and valuable addition to the Council. Hitachi and its affiliates have already employed their technological expertise to develop valuable blockchain technology solutions in payment systems, supply chains, predictive maintenance, and mining. Hitachi also brings further expertise and innovation in machine learning and generative AI technologies to the Council, increasing the wide-ranging, varied expertise that forms its knowledge base.
Hitachi has a history of developing forward-looking technology for industrial, energy, infrastructure, and mobility solutions and Web3 infrastructure is increasingly attractive to large enterprises, who have never before been able to demonstrate the transparency and accountability of supply chain and other systems that are so urgently needed in today’s times.
Why do you think so many big companies are choosing Hedera vs other blockchains?
Hedera is unique in that it is incredibly fast, energy-efficient (carbon-negative), and secure, in comparison to other networks. All of these advantages can be attributed to its underlying hashgraph consensus algorithm. Hedera stands as a beacon of innovation in digital technology. This platform is not just another blockchain; it’s a new form of DLT. With its unique approach, Hedera is setting new standards for dApps and DLT use cases.
By utilizing a unique consensus algorithm, Hedera provides a more secure, faster, and more efficient platform than traditional blockchains. With its high-speed transactions, unparalleled security, predictability of transaction fees, and fair consensus mechanism, Hedera is a game-changer in DLT and has allowed for significant scalability and growth for entities all over the world acting as a catalyst for decentralized ledger technology. Enterprises like Atma.io, TOKO, and ServiceNow are just some of the success stories drawn to Hedera.
How do the Hedera Governing Council work and what kind of companies are you looking to add in future?
Hedera’s Governing Council works alongside peers to foster and govern a stable, decentralized network designed for real-world applications. Council members run the initial set of nodes on the Hedera network. All members have a three-year maximum term, with up to two consecutive terms and an equal vote on network and platform decisions. Swirlds, the creator of hashgraph, has a permanent seat and an equal vote.
The Hedera Council consists of up to 39 diverse, collusion-resistant organizations and enterprises with a commitment to network innovation and the continued decentralization of the Hedera network. The council already includes diverse industry-leading organizations such as abrdn, Avery Dennison, Boeing, Chainlink Labs, COFRA Holdings, DBS Bank, Dell, Dentons, Deutsche Telekom, DLA Piper, EDF (Électricité de France), eftpos, FIS (WorldPay), Google, Hitachi America. Ltd., IBM, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), LG Electronics, The London School of Economics (LSE), Magalu, Nomura Holdings, ServiceNow, Shinhan Bank, Standard Bank Group, Swirlds, Tata Communications, Ubisoft, University College London (UCL), Wipro, and Zain Group.
Hedera is always looking ahead to the future. The council is eager to get more entities involved to ensure that all alliances are as impactful as possible.
The blockchain industry is becoming highly competitive. What sets you apart from, say Ethereum, Solana, and Avalanche?
Hedera stands out in the landscape through its unique combination of speed, security, and sustainability. Hedera enables high throughput and low, predictable transaction fees. Hedera’s Governing Council ensures decentralization, while its robust security measures make it resistant to common attacks. Furthermore, Hedera’s commitment to sustainability distinguishes it, as it utilizes an energy-efficient proof-of-stake mechanism. Research by University College London (UCL) found Hedera to be the network with the lowest overall energy consumption using more than five million times less energy than other networks. The research also found Hedera to be the most innovative, sustainable public ledger for the decentralized economy, capable of operating on less energy than that used by a regular house.
Lastly, with a focus on achieving mainstream adoption, Hedera’s innovative features and strategic partnerships set it apart, offering a reliable and scalable solution for enterprises seeking a cutting-edge decentralized ledger technology platform.
Hedera launched Stablecoin Studio in September. How is it going so far?
Made available by Hedera, The HBAR Foundation, Swirlds Labs, and ioBuilders, Stablecoin Studio is an open-source SDK that makes it easy for Web3 stablecoin platforms, institutional issuers, enterprises, and payment providers to build stablecoin applications on the Hedera network. Since its launch, the toolkit has been incorporated by many entities, including a publicly-shared pilot program led by Shinhan Bank, engaging multiple other banks in APAC, and is enabling organizations to easily build stablecoin applications.
What is your outlook for 2024? In terms of Hedera and the blockchain industry in general?
With a growing ecosystem and strategic partnerships, Hedera is poised for increased adoption. The industry, at large, is likely to witness heightened integration of blockchain solutions across sectors, with a focus on scalability and sustainability. As decentralized technology matures, Hedera’s commitment to innovation, security, and efficiency positions it favorably. Overall, 2024 holds promise for both Hedera and the broader landscape, expanding mainstream acceptance and the evolution of decentralized technologies.
You have approved a $408 million ecosystem fund. What is your goal with this? Which sectors do you want to fund?
The Hedera Council approved a substantial allocation of 4.86 billion HBAR, currently valued at approximately $408 million for its ecosystem fund. This strategic move is aimed at bolstering the network’s development and enhancing its decentralized governance structure. This fund will be used to develop Hedera’s ecosystem and help startups and enterprise builders operating on Hedera. It will be allocated by the Hedera Board among existing initiatives including The HBAR Foundation, The Hashgraph Association, and The DLT Science Foundation. Coming off of 2023 where the network conducted over 33 billion real-world transactions, this fund allocation signifies the Hedera Council’s dedication to its vision for a future of decentralized digital transactions.
We have seen activity in some popular blockchains wane. How do you aim to help Hedera avoid this fate?
I hope to bring my experience and expertise in financial services, government administration, go-to-market strategy, and Web3 technology to the role. I’ve been involved in these spaces for quite a long time and have plenty of learnings to apply to support Hedera’s continued growth. I do think the network is attractive to many applications and developers, particularly because of its speed, energy efficiency, and security. Hedera has been around for quite a long time already, and more and more projects are utilizing Hedera’s tech.
Where do you want Hedera to be in the next five years?
My hope is that in five years everybody will be using the underlying Hedera network without even knowing it. Ideally, many distributed applications are running on Hedera and providing the accountability and transparency that web 3 offers in a seamless user experience, across everything from financial Services, to healthcare, to AI accountability, to education, to consumer products and services, and more. The goal is not technology for technology’s sake. The goal is for this technology to improve the lives of everyone by delivering lower costs of doing business and greater transparency for all.
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