Dr. Nicolas Kokkalis
Head of Technology
Stanford PhD and instructor of Stanford’s first decentralized applications class; combining distributed systems and human computer interaction to bring cryptocurrency to everyday people.
I have been a technologist all my life, which led me to do a Ph.D. at Stanford University and to continue to become a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Computer Science department there. As part of my postdoc, I introduced and taught CS359B, the Decentralized Applications on Blockchain class, in Stanford’s Computer Science department. That’s where I encountered firsthand the difficulty of getting the technological advances of blockchain into the hands of everyday people. I believe today technology can empower people more than ever.
As a young undergraduate, I designed and built a novel computer motherboard from scratch in the lab. In my early PhD work, I created a framework for writing “smart contracts” on fault tolerant distributed systems, before blockchain and Ethereum came to exist, and published it as my MS thesis. I also created an online games platform, Gameyola, where millions of people entertained themselves for a collective of over 2,000 man years; for my later PhD work, I tried to restore those man years by writing a crowd-powered email assistant that saved people time when processing their emails and tasks. Also, I was the founding CTO at StartX, a non-profit startup accelerator for Stanford students that has helped over 2000 entrepreneurs.
I am a strong and long term believer of the technical, financial and social potential of cryptocurrencies, but frustrated by their current limitations. I am committed to bringing the power of blockchain to more people by improving the current experience and building value for everyone. I’m doing this by employing a user-centric design philosophy that turns the development process of new blockchains upside down: Launch in Beta; invite members to the network; iterate the protocol together with the members; decentralize the resulting design.
The result is currently available as the Pi Network, a new cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer network, which is currently operational in 150+ countries and 32 languages. Pi Network is 100% my professional commitment, while my loving wife and son take up 100% of my personal commitment.