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John deVadoss, Head of Development of NEO Interview

Interviewing John deVadoss, Head of Development of NEO to answer some questions about NEO, his experience, and other additional thoughts.

Neo Global Development’s Seattle office head, John deVadoss, answers some of the most pressing questions about NEO, the future and some bits and pieces of developer knowledge.

John deVadoss is a former Microsoft employee that conquered the software giant from Architect, .NET to engineering manager in the .NET team and general manager at Microsoft Digital.

NEO is China’s first ever original and open source public chain project and it serves as a smart assets platform. Smart assets are the combination of smart contract of blockchain and digital assets. The company implements a smarter way of assets registration, issuance, and circulation.

You are the Head of Neo Global Development (NGD) in Seattle. What is unique about this project and how does it differ from the others?

NGD Seattle is different in that it is focused exclusively on the developer experience.

The NEO blockchain pioneered the notion of a polyglot developer platform, with Hongfei Da’s goal of making NEO the most developer friendly blockchain. While other blockchains were working on custom languages and frameworks, NEO focused on developers first and foremost.

With this heritage, it was clear to us that establishing NGD Seattle in the ‘platform city’ was a logical next step as we invest on making the Smart Economy vision mainstream and taking NEO to the 20M+ mainstream developers.

Seattle is the platform city – it is where platforms such as Azure, AWS and others are being built. And for us, to hire from the best, and to build a team that obsesses on the developer experience is what NGD Seattle is all about.

With the upcoming launch of the NEO Toolkit for .NET, we are seeing the fruits of this investment – from raising the bar on the debugging experience for Smart Contracts to having a privatenet that is fully symmetric with the mainnet, through to a seamless and friction-free end to end SDLC experience for mainstream developers.

NEO became the first Blockchain member of the .NET Foundation. What’s next?

We are very happy to be the first blockchain platform member in the .NET Foundation. From my work on the very first version of .NET at Microsoft, I have tremendous respect for the people that have and that continue to build out the .NET platform, both inside and outside of Microsoft. We work very closely with the builders and are singularly focused on providing the best-in-class experience for .NET developers to build on the NEO blockchain platform.

Further, we continue to build and extend our partnerships with the teams, spanning engineering and business development to realize the shared vision and ambition of the .NET Foundation and the NEO Foundation. You will see us announce more in the near-term as we get closer to the launch of NEO3.

What is your long-term goal for NEO? From your professional perspective, how do you see the open source platform?

Thank you for asking this.

I think there is the question of WHY? Why do we do what we do?

Why are we working on the NEO blockchain platform?

Because blockchain capabilities enable social, economic and institutional transformation at scale. We have a unique opportunity to reshape both our economic activities and our social organizations; and in doing so to redesign the world that we live in, hopefully for the betterment of all of us.

Hongfei Da’s vision of the Smart Economy, to digitize assets, is the key bridge to enable this long-term shift, and I see us growing in leaps and bounds with the upcoming launch of NEO Toolkit for .NET and NEO3, along with the associated capabilities (NeoFS, NeoID et al) to take this mainstream.

NEO’s roots lie in the open source community, right from when project was open-sourced on Github four+ years ago. Our core developers, our core communities and our entire ecosystem is built on the principles of open-source and shared community development. We build on the shoulders of giants and in turn we give back what we build so that other developers can scale new heights.

Neo Mainnet has been launched 3 years ago. How do you and your team feel about this milestone?

We are very proud. Very happy at the outcomes and the impact created by the global NEO ecosystem world-wide. NEO is a global community, and we look forward to doing more as a community with the upcoming launch of NEO3 as we realize Hongfei Da’s vision of the Smart Economy.

You have had some solid management experience with the .NET Framework before going over to NEO. Can you share your most prominent professional takeaway learnt over the course of your work at Microsoft?

In fact I wrote a book on this a few years – it was called ‘The Adventures of a Manager’ and it is on Amazon.

If there is one key takeaway it is that people matter. It might appear somewhat trite. However, this is what I have learned from my close to two decades at Microsoft. With the right people in your team you can make magic happen. A concomitant second takeaway is that the people in the team need a crisp vision and precise goals. You need to show them team which hills we are climbing and why – and with the right people no hill is too high to climb!

What is the most valuable word of advice you can give to the young developers nowadays?

Great question. And very relevant at this time.

Two things. First, like anything in this world, the more that you practice the art and science of coding, the better it is that you get at it. Second, learn from proven leaders in your area of interest – spend your time on Github – obsess over developers and projects that you respect and try to understand why they did what they did. Try to understand the trade-offs that they have made and ask yourself if you would make the same decisions (and why or why not)

The skills that you develop early in your career as a developer will be the ones that stay with you for a long time. A solid grounding in proven software development practices along with a foundation based on proven architectural design patterns is what a young developer needs to focus on early in their career.

Is there something else you’d like to share your thoughts about we haven’t asked for?

Yes, certainly.

Two things – first, much of the industry is focused on trying win away from each other their developers. This is a flawed strategy and reflects the early stage nature of the players. For blockchain capabilities to realize their potential at scale, we need to take them mainstream. We need to enable the 20M+ mainstream developers out there to understand and to exploit blockchain technologies. We need to enable mainstream users to create and capture value from their interaction applications and institutions built using blockchain capabilities.

Second, there is an extraordinary amount of time and energy spent by many of the blockchain platforms on aspects such as scale for instance. They go to extraordinary lengths to tweak their stacks. In doing so, they are missing the point. What is the point of sharding (ala Ethereum) if it means that you break all your existing Smart Contracts? And when new developers have to go through extraordinary contortions to now build applications that deal with these complexities? We as an industry need to be obsessed about the developer experience. This is paramount. And, this is what is driving us at NEO.

In summary – it is imperative that we take blockchain capabilities mainstream, and to do so the developer experience is paramount.

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