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Anatoly Yakovenko

Anatoly Yakovenko is the CEO and Co-founder of . Prior to Solana, he was the team leader for developing operating systems at Qualcomm, distributed systems at Mesosphere, and compression at Dropbox (service). [1]

Career

Yakovenko was one of the Co-Founders of Alescere, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) startup, where he led the development of SIP and RTP protocol stacks and server components for a VoIP system for small businesses.

Afterward, he started continued his career at Qualcomm in 2003. After working for 12 years, he was given the role of Senior Staff Engineer Manager, a position he held for almost 3 years which ended in July 2016. At Qualcomm, he performed several roles and carried out several tasks, some of which include:

  • Lead Architect on a team of 10 for high-performance Hexagon DSP off-loading software stack on Qualcomm chipsets for next-generation applications.
  • Commercial applications including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 3D Camera processing, 4K video post-processing, and GoogleX’s Project Tango.

From July 2016 to April 2017, he was also a Software engineer at Mesosphere, now known as D2iQ, where built a distributed operating system for the firm.

Before the creation of , he worked as a software engineer at Dropbox from May 2017 to October 2017. While at Dropbox, he focused on distributed systems and compression.

Blockchain

Anatoly initially tried mining when it was first released. However, he later became more interested in and the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) because he saw it as being more innovative than Bitcoin, although he still saw it as similar to JavaScript. In 2017, he and some friends were considering starting a mining startup using graphics processing units (GPUs), where they planned to use the GPUs for deep learning tasks to offset the costs of the startup. While Anatoly was originally more interested in deep learning than cryptocurrency, he eventually became interested in the later topic regarding the question of “How do we solve scalability?”. [14]

I started thinking about how we solve scaling for these kinds of problems at Qualcomm with wireless protocols and that’s what really got me to go deep down the rabbit hole.

Solana

Anatoly Yakovenko founded in 2017. He is also the author of 's original whitepaper. Although the project has gone through outages and hacks, the ecosystem has been steadily growing.[15]

Yakovenko and his team created a new consensus algorithm called Proof of History (PoH) to attain this goal. With the implementation of PoH, the Solana blockchain can handle up to 50,000 transactions per second, making it one of the fastest blockchains globally. [17]

In 2022, during his interview at Messari’s annual conference Mainnet, he expressed how Solana was able to path its way to be one of the major layer 1 protocols: [18]

I’d love to say that it was like brilliant strategy, but it was really I think a function of necessity. We never had a ton of runway. There are always like 20 months or lower. So 12 engineers, a very scrapy team, over two years, we built the bare minimum to prove that a fast blockchain that has parallel execution is possible. That meant no EVM support, no Ethereum-like features.

During the same interview, he talked about Saga, a mobile phone that is the collaboration between Solana Mobile, a subsidiary of Solana Labs, and OSOM, a hardware and software producing company: [18]

Applications are getting more sophisticated and they’re dealing with much more complex media and interactions, and self-custody is still dangerous and sucks. And when you look at your phone, you kind of feel like, ‘why isn’t this my hardware wallet?’ Why are we storing seed phrases inside the application that’s doing all these very complicated things? So that was part one, and part two is [that] decentralisation is enabling true real-world digital assets.

Solana’s roots are linked to Yakovenko’s journey as a computer engineer. Having spent the majority of his career at Qualcomm in San Diego alongside co-founder , Yakovenko’s idea for the platform was inspired by that period of his life. [22]

“Solana comes from Solana Beach. Me and my co-founders lived there, we’d wake up, we’d surf, bike to work, go back home and surf again,” Yakovenko reflects in an interview with Cointelegraph[22]

“We learned how to do awesome systems programming out there and 2017 is when I kind of had the inception idea for Solana.”

Yakovenko was working on a side project where he built hardware for deep learning, deployed graphics processing units, and mined cryptocurrencies to test out the project. This eventually led to the creation of the platform. The idea for this platform was inspired by a concept known as time division multiple access. According to Yakovenko, this technology is related to how cellular towers alternate transmissions based on specific time intervals.

His idea was to build a system based on technology that Stanford University researchers had been working on called a verifiable delay function. Yakovenko jokes that he thought he discovered something truly novel, which prompted him to begin working on a smart contract layer platform:

“The intuition that I had was that once you have a way to track time in a decentralized way on a public permissionless blockchain, you could use similar optimizations that Qualcomm did for cellular networks.” [22]

Yakovenvo aspires Solana to set a standard for all financial data worldwide and eradicate inefficiencies in the market. [19]

This is like my science fiction end goal for Solana is that when news travels around the world, state transitions travel at the same speed as news, by the time that news hits a Bloomberg terminal in New York, the price of whatever that thing was reflecting is already being propagated through Solana. 
So when a trader looks at a market at NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) or Solana it’s the same price. It means there’s no real arbitrage allowed. That will require a lot of work. We joke that if we have to do it, we will build a neutrino-based communication between nodes to cut through the center of the earth to reduce latency.

wikiYakovenko during a fireside chat at Breakpoint in Amsterdam. Source: Solana Foundation

On Solana vs Ethereum

In a post on X in December 2023, Yakovenko suggested that upgrades hold the key to bringing the 2 technologies closer.

“I am certain that eventually danksharding will have enough bandwidth for all of Solana’s data,” - he said

He denounced the 'ETH killer' narrative as  “lame.” Stating that he doesn’t anticipate a future in which Solana thrives while Ethereum dies, Yakovenko pointed to technology upgrades that could enhance interoperability between the 2 platforms instead.

"Don’t bring back last cycle “eth killer” bs. It’s lame. Pareto efficient technologies can have overlapping features and will compete, but that’s all ok. I don’t see a future where solana thrives and somehow eth dies. I am such a techno optimist that I am certain that eventually danksharding will have enough bandwidth for all of solana’s data" - Yakovenko tweeted[20]

From to , Ethereum has proven to be a reliable and enduring platform. Therefore, embracing Ethereum interoperability can benefit platforms like Solana and help them establish themselves in the crypto space. [21]

Crypto & Lawmakers

On cryptocurrency and the government, Anatoly Yakovenko in an interview with Fortune, urges the government to be at the forefront of investing in research and development. [23]

"Some of the most meaningful technologies on earth–GPS, rockets, and even the internet–were initially incubated by the U.S. government. European and Asian governments are already investing in blockchain. The European Commission even runs a digital ledger sandbox to identify potential private-public partnerships. We should do the same."[23]

He encourages policymakers to experiment with the technology themselves stating that ethics rules prohibit most government officials who regulate digital assets from using them which makes it difficult to craft good policy:

"Imagine trying to regulate social media without having ever opened Facebook!"

Anatoly further listed creative solutions that give policymakers access to the technology:

"For example, the government could take advantage of crypto’s speed and cost-effectiveness to send humanitarian relief funds and launch decentralized communications networks in low-connectivity areas."[23]

Education & Personal Life

Yakovenko was born in Ukraine and later immigrated to the United States, where he obtained his degree in Computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 2003.

While growing up, he enjoyed making bows and arrows, and when he was a teenager, he liked building computers and programming on early versions of Linux. His biggest influences included Kafka, Burroughs, and Godel.[16]

He was involved in a project building Voice Over Internet Protocols (VOIPs) in South Central Illinois as a college student. Due to this experience, he received a job interview with Qualcomm, a company that was working on similar technology, and then moved to San Diego.

Trivia

He considers himself obsessed with making programs faster and optimizing complex problems, as most success comes from the time invested instead of how smart someone is. His controversial opinion about the blockchain space is that "sharding is not going to succeed commercially". Yakovenko enjoys physical activities such as running, cycling, surfing, and underwater hockey. [16]

He admires the ecosystem, as he views it as a project where significant efforts in developing a decentralized network are done. He also considers that Rust's community is inclusive and doing a good job in growing it. The social media platforms that he likes the most are Twitter, Telegram, and the Solana Discord channel. [16]

Something like 20% of the worlds GDP or over 25 trillion dollars a year is spent on moving numbers around the world.  Trust minimizing computers are just the latest iteration of software eating the world. If we succeed there we can all work 4 days a week instead of 5 for the same standard of living.

Yakovenko is married to Laura Skelton, and they have at least one kid together.[15]

Articles

Anatoly has written several articles on his blog on Medium, some of which include:

  • A Blockchain Dilemma: Chain Forks, Catastrophic Re-orgs, and Insurance[2]

  • Sealevel — Parallel Processing Thousands of Smart Contracts[3]

  • Solana Now Supports Libra’s Move VM[4]

  • How Solana’s Proof of History is a Huge Advancement for Block Time[5]

  • Social MediaCloudbreak — Solana’s Horizontally Scaled State Architecture[6]

  • Cloudbreak — Solana’s Horizontally Scaled State Architecture[7]

  • Archivers — Solana’s Solution to Petabytes of Blockchain Data Storage[8]

  • Tower BFT: Solana’s High-Performance Implementation of PBFT[10]

  • Turbine — Solana’s Block Propagation Protocol Solves the Scalability Trilemma[11]

  • Gulf Stream: Solana’s Mempool-less Transaction Forwarding Protocol [12]

  • Solana’s Network Architecture[13]

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Anatoly Yakovenko

Commit Info

Edited By

Edited On

December 8, 2023

Reason for edit:

updates with news/interviews

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