I would like to start with a disclosure. I’m an investor in SONM, my acquaintances and myself have invested hundreds of thousands dollars in this project. Even though each of us has made his own investment decision separately in a way I’m responsible for bringing others in because they trust my opinion. The main reason I’ve invested is that I fundamentally believe in feasibility of what SONM is doing and more importantly in the ability of the team to execute the plan. I believe that as a person that had spent at least two thirds of his career in IT (you could see the link to my linkedin profile at the bottom of the article) I was able to make proper assessment after reading the whitepaper and meeting with a team.
Since SONM is pretty young company and all the people behind it are also very young they have made few mistakes during the ICO and as result the company received some bad publicity that it doesn’t deserve in my humble opinion. I know everybody personally so I decided to get involved. After few conversations with the team of founders and CTO I received an offer to become an advisor which I accepted without hesitation. After all throughout my life and career I gathered so much experience in business, technology and finance that it would be a crime not to share it. In my early days after graduating from Bar Ilan University in Israel with a diploma in Computer Science I was lucky to write code in few prominent Israeli startups one of which actually created DSL technology. I graduated in 96 and the first and biggest IT boom in history was unfolding right in front of my eyes. Later I’ve spent 12 years in Canada, most of which were dedicated to consulting major banks and corporations. I got to see how the local financial and corporate monsters are functioning from inside, what challenges they face and what are the typical solutions to those challenges. Towards the end of my stay in Canada the silent conversion from IT to finance was happening to me which resulted in my return to Russia with an ambitious goal to take one Russian company public on Moscow Stock Exchange. In parallel I was actively investing and sometimes writing articles on gurufocus.com. My experience in Russian investment banking world deserves a separate book. Life is funny, universe has sense of humor and years later I find myself doing very similar things. Only one letter has changed though, IPO had changed to an ICO. My own company Tetha Crypto is beyond the scope of this article. Right now it’s proof of existence is encrypted somewhere on the blockchain in some merkle tree and the website is still in development but soon you will hear about it.
So I arrived at SONM for my first meeting with Sergey Ponamarev – SONM CEO and Igor Lebedev – SONM CTO. It is needless to talk about Sergey credentials without which he wouldn’t be able to lead this project, but Igor had just joined the company recently. We spoke with Igor about various challenges in distributed computing like getting the most out of miner’s hardware resources, dealing with large amounts of data in ML algorithms, secure storage of data in trustless environment, possible various attacks and discussed in depth technologies used in SONM like Yandex Cocaine (btw for those wondering if yandex programmers sniffed cocaine while developing it, the answer is no, it stands for – Configurable Omnipotent Custom Applications Integrated Network Engine). In the process of our conversation I was really impressed by depth and breadth of Igor’s knowledge both in software, protocols, cryptography and hardware. As a real time systems programmer that started his career programming in assembly and C on the lowest possible level I came across many people that knew well some high level programming languages and possibly few frameworks and dev tools, but lacked the deep understanding of the entire software and protocols stack running on top of hardware that is getting more and more powerful. Creating world supercomputer requires exactly such level of understanding. Igor impressed me so much with his knowledge that I couldn’t stop thinking that SONM couldn’t have found a better person for the job. So I said to the rest of the team that with Igor as CTO I have no doubts that the mission will be accomplished. Then we went through the best practices for SDLC, highlighted all the processes that we have to put in place to quickly move from being a startup to a world class mature enterprise level software development company. In my previous consulting engagements I always placed special attention to proper documentation. Good software starts with well documented requirements, followed by the long list of other documents. There are also various tools to make sure that best practices for design, development, testing and deployment are followed. Igor already had templates for all the key documents and we reviewed them as well. We went through a list of the best QA tools on the market.
I also emphasized the well known but frequently forgotten truth that best companies are built by the best people and we made a plan on how to attract the best of the best. We discussed motivation approaches which by the way are frequently overlooked in Russia. On the technology side the company constantly talks with both potential users of future product (for example companies that need distributed rendering) and miners that are going to provide the infrastructure. On the following day I participated in discussion with another startup planning an ICO that is working on data storage solution that could potentially be used by SONM later on. We also spoke about architecture approaches that would maximize the performance of everything that is going to run on top of SONM.
This blog post is incomplete, development timeline is coming soon