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Meet The Kadena Team - Founder & CEO, Will Martino
6 minutes read

Meet The Kadena Team: Founder & CEO, Will Martino

Learn about his love for audiobooks, the amazing team he has assembled, and the “dark side” of blockchain.

What are your interests outside of the office?

I like tinkering with things and learning about things. I’ve found that pretty much everything ends up being interesting when you dig into it. For about a decade, I was doing fractal geometry research. That led me to programming and computers, but my interest in those became jobs rather quickly. When I took a vacation last year, I dug into civil engineering, specifically dams and concrete. At this point, my main hobby is a lot of Audible books, mostly science fiction and some non-fiction. I just finished listening through the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Nexus Trilogy series by Ramez Naam, both of which I highly recommend.

For active-type hobbies, pretty much anything that involves a board, except skateboarding. I like surfing, snowboarding, and kiteboarding more recently. It’s hard to have active hobbies in NYC, so I rarely get to do them.

Another hobby is cooking! My father is 3rd generation Italian-American so I was helping to cook since before I can remember. I don’t cook that often, though I try to jump in and help whenever I can.

What do you enjoy about the work you do?

What I enjoy most now is seeing Kadena move towards giving the world a set of hybrid blockchain tools they can rely on for truly decentralized applications. There’s been a lot of promise, but little in the way of safe-to-use tools. We’re very much in the *everything must be a nail because all we have is a hammer *era of decentralized applications (dApps). Stuart and I had a vision of building something different and it’s been amazing as we make that a reality — collaborating with the team we’ve assembled, working on hard tech problems, trying to figure out the implications (at a business, technical and societal level) of some of the solutions we’ve found, and meeting amazing people within the broader community.

My experience founding Kadena has been a bit different than I envisioned. The thing that I find most rewarding, software engineering, isn’t my job anymore. I’ve been an engineer for almost a decade, which is what I did for the first year after we founded. For the last year, however, I’ve barely coded and have moved into more of a business and operations role.

“What I enjoy most now is seeing Kadena progress towards giving the world a set of tools that they can rely on for truly decentralized applications. Pact enables safe, clear, verifiable smart contacts. Kadena’s public blockchain operates on a scalable consensus protocol that doesn’t sacrifice decentralization or return us to something that looks like the existing financial system.”

I’ve met and worked with some amazing people who are in crypto because they want to take on moneyed, centralized monopolies by offering a safer, cheaper and more equitable alternative. Building the tools for them and other businesses both large and small is what I find most rewarding.

What are the potential “dark side impacts” of blockchain technologies?

Crypto and cyberpunk are prone to conjuring some pretty dark scenarios so let’s first be clear that the trajectory of the status quo isn’t great. Don’t forget that:

  • Formerly busted monopolies from the 1930s (e.g. Standard Oil) have merged back together.

  • New digital monopolies have formed where their efforts to create “walled gardens” protected by new regulations are openly praised in the media.

  • It’s next to impossible for towns to build municipal fiber and thus make broadband into the utility as it could be. This is not for a lack of funds, interest, or understanding, but because the existing monopolies block the projects.

  • Our digital identities become more valuable AND less secure by the day. Our privacy is now a tradable commodity.

  • Social credit scores are no longer science fiction.

I have a hard time imagining how blockchain technology, even in its most malevolent incarnation, could make the status quo worse.

What is one of your favorite use cases for blockchain?

I really like the original DAO use case (yes the one that got hacked). The problem with the DAO was that its tools failed. The DAO was nonetheless a visionary and radical change in how we construct risk pools and distribute money. Ethereum wasn’t and never will be up to the task of safely representing billions of dollars in a smart contract. The problems with it are fundamental. You don’t sharpen a hammer.

I love the idea that people in startups can pool their equity with others in the same sector, but at different companies, so that they have a position that spans the industry they contribute towards. Right now, you have to be a VC to have that exposure. A well built DAO would democratize that capacity. It’s not a new idea and doesn’t need blockchain, but in my opinion, the idea never took off because it never had the right infrastructure to run on.

If the blockchain really is as revolutionary as the web, what will it mean for everyday consumers in a decade or two?

The hope is that we can have easy to manage, cryptographically secured identities that stand in for us while digital processes are taking place. In effect, our lives become more digitized, our oversight over the digital parts becomes far stronger, but less screen time is required of us. Right now, it’s just a dream, but I’d really love to “do paperwork” from a park bench by pushing a button, signing off on a transaction, and allow interoperating smart contracts to do the rest.