For more than ten years, Yaoqi Jia has immersed himself in endeavors related to scaling blockchains, first as an academic, then as an entrepreneur.
His PhD work focused on peer-to-peer consensus protocols and privacy technologies — work that led him to start his first company in 2017. Zilliqa was the world's first sharded public blockchain platform designed to scale to thousands of transactions per second. Along with his co-founder, Jia says, “we converged a lot of our research papers into these public blockchain protocols. At the time, I was co-founder and CTO and in charge of design and implementation.”
In addition to building an underlying infrastructure for the crypto industry, Jia and his team also created their own programming language called Scilla (Smart Contract Intermediate-Level Language), an intermediate-level language for verified smart contracts.
Shortly after launching Zilliqa, Jia was approached by Polkadot co-founder, Gavin Wood, to help him grow Parity, the blockchain infrastructure company behind the Polkadot ecosystem. It was an attractive offer to Jia, who wanted to transition from an R&D role to general management. “I wanted to change my career a little bit to learn more about the non-technical stuff,” says Jia.
At Parity, Jia ran Web3 bootcamps and accelerators, helping companies grow from scratch. He leveraged his knowledge of technical development and, because he had founded a public blockchain company, he knew how to grow communities and connect with venture capitalists and various exchanges.
“I really learned a lot by working with Gavin and other colleagues,” says Jia. He gained a better understanding of marketing, business development, talent acquisition and team management. While Jia was with Parity, he helped launch ten projects that were ultimately listed on major exchanges such as Binance and Coinbase.
"[Expert Panels] are a very good way for me to express my opinions and to reach thought leaders, the public, and developers in crypto.”
While at Parity, Jia was faced with pandemic-related challenges. Bootcamps that were previously hosted in person went virtual and he had to learn how to coordinate across several different teams in various time zones. “It was quite challenging to coordinate teams and make progress during the pandemic,” he says. “For one call, we had six people from six different time zones.”
In 2021, Jia was ready to take his work on scaling blockchains to the next level. More and more popular applications were bringing an increasing number of users to the blockchains, creating a congested environment. Jia knew that over the next three to five years, this congestion would only intensify, leading to longer and longer downtimes.
His solution to this congestion was to co-found a new company called AltLayer in order to build scalable infrastructure for new applications. “We are trying to build elastic scaling networks for the applications to quickly spin off what we call our layer-two protocols for them to handle more transactions and users,” he says. “It’s sort of like providing the AWS infrastructure for the developers in crypto.” AltLayer’s solution is built on top of an original blockchain, essentially creating an additional virtual traffic lane to accommodate increased traffic, thus increasing speed and decreasing cost as needed.
“Cointelegraph Innovation Circle really helps me a lot,” says Jia. “It’s a very good channel for me to contribute my knowledge.” Expert Panels, he says, give him an efficient way to comment on popular topics in the crypto space and are “a very good way for me to express my opinions and to reach thought leaders, the public, and developers in crypto.” He also values the opportunity to connect with other community members who have similar interests. “We get feedback from them and can further exchange ideas, especially about scaling and the latest solutions in the space.”