Parity CEO Discusses the Decentralized Web, Whistleblower Snowden and the Wallet Hack

Parity CEO Jutta Steiner seems to be taking her role as CEO head on. She is overseeing the development of a billion-dollar project in Polkadot. She has also been through some of the platform’s less exciting, but rather darker moments, such several hacks that have ousted the platform of millions of dollars.

In a chat with The Block, she shared,

“My son was five weeks old when that happened,”

she says, recalling cutting short her parental leave.

“I remember I was in a café close to the office and reading news that didn’t seem good…The team starts getting together with everybody else in the community. There’s sort of a war room…just trying to collectively figure out what the issue is.”

She also shared that even after the hack, people stayed with the firm and it even continued to grow. Parity employs around 50 core developers worldwide and has a concentrated presence in Europe.

Further, she maintains her goal of achieving decentralized data storage for the platform. Her ambitions are driven by Germany’s “privacy community” and the

“Snowden revelations.”

She continued:

“That was really a moment where this felt really tangible how screwed up the current situation really is,”

the former consultant says.

“From a developer’s perspective, you do this because you’re convinced that this is relevant work and there is a future.”

Her efforts have also led her to add Gavin Wood. He has been committed to privacy, which is what sets him apart from others. She shared,

“When Ethereum was started by Vitalik, that was sort of a project to make money programmable, like financial contracts on blockchains. But then what Gav [Wood] really brought to the space was that notion of decentralized applications.”

Together, Wood and Steiner have been working to rebuild the internet. Wood founded a non-profit called Web3Foundation. Steiner explained the foundation, stating that it is the

“initial owner, the curator of the popular network, with the idea that it’s better to have [the web] be curated by a sort of more neutral entity than a private company.”

There are critics who have wondered about the leadership of both W3F and Parity, but Steiner shared,

“It’s more – I mean, not from a legal perspective – but [W3F] is more like a spinoff from what we did and then set up as a separate entity… Very similar to what happened in the Ethereum Foundation [and ZCash].”

She also added that she does not have any control of W3F and Wood is a board member who votes independently. However, he does not participate in council meetings involving Parity.

And dissimilar from W3F, Parity is still a for-profit business that is working to promote open-source development. Steiner continued,

“We’re seeing young companies that have found business models on top of open source. They recognize it makes sense to collaborate on the foundational layers that are more infrastructure. And then find your competitive edge on a higher level,”

she said. She also seemed to hint at profiting from an on-chain founder’s reward model similar to that of ZCash.

“[If] you have a protocol that has some payment value mechanism built into it, it should be possible…to build some reward mechanism so that the open source protocol doesn’t suffer.”

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