Meet the Team — Tom Bradshaw
In this article, we will get to know the Chief Architect of the Veil network, Tom Bradshaw (aka @presstab).
Hello Tom! Tell us about yourself prior to getting into crypto. Where were you living? What were you doing? What were your interests?
I was an economics student at the University of Utah right before I learned about crypto. I also worked in commercial real estate finance as a financial analyst through school, as well as up until I went “full-time crypto”. I have always had an interest in technology, programming, macroeconomics, political economy, and business.
Can you tell us the story of how you got into crypto?
In late 2012 I was a college student pursuing a degree in economics. I was told by a friend in the CS department about bitcoin and how it was being used for “off the grid” transacting. Having an interest in monetary policy, I was intrigued right away and did a bank transfer to Mt. Gox a few days later to get my first dozen BTC.
What prompted you to go from becoming someone interested in crypto, to someone contributing to crypto projects?
After using bitcoin for around 5-6 months, I got started GPU mining Litecoin. I enjoyed tweaking the GPU settings and customizing the miners I was operating. I found that PoW mining required more babysitting than I was interested in doing, and so moved on to Proof-of-Stake mining which had more of a ‘set and forget’ feeling to it. At the time most PoS coins were quite small in community and there were lots of areas that I felt I could help the project in order to enlarge the community and use of the coin. One step at a time I got deeper and deeper into the source code and continued learning the protocols.
While I was getting deeper and deeper into blockchain development, I was able to “test-in” to a Master of Computer Science program, because I really wanted to refine my software development approach. I was about a little over half way done when I put it on hold because of the crypto boom in 2017. Fortunately the masters program solidified my interest in computer science and blockchain technology.
What have been the best aspects of building things in crypto?
I really like working on cryptocurrency because there are people that are excited to use the code I write. When I work on projects that are in early stages of development I don’t get the satisfaction of user feedback and have found that it really makes it a lot less exciting.
Another aspect I really enjoy is that with cryptocurrency you really can work on very advanced topics. I feel like I am able to continually expand my knowledge base.
What have been the biggest challenges in building things in crypto?
The biggest challenge for me is the impatience that many users and project members have. It kills creativity and degrades quality. The cryptocurrency community seems to be quite impatient at times, and it is something that I have had to learn how to navigate without upsetting people. Most of the time it seems to be a disconnect with the user and the understanding of development. Fixing a bug or implementing a new feature sometimes is 100 times more difficult than a user realizes.
I understand you operate a blockchain-related business. Can you tell us a bit about that? The story of its founding, what the business does, etc.?
The business is called Consensus Engineering (recently renamed). We currently have a team of eight people and are a boutique development shop that provides custom blockchain related development. We specialize in custom blockchain protocols, but we also work on projects that deal with blockchains (block explorers, trading solutions, etc).
Project yourself a decade into the future. What does the crypto world look like? Is bitcoin still the leading coin? Is privacy added to bitcoin or does it remain transparent?
Ten years from now I think Bitcoin will still be the leading cryptocurrency. I think it will continue to have new scripting functionality soft-forked into it, which may provide a little more privacy, but probably not much.
Still projected 10 years into the future, let’s imagine that Veil has become a top privacy currency. Looking from that point backwards to today, what are the aspects that were core to its success? How did it become a success?
There are quite a few things I really like about Veil. First and foremost, I specifically decided to start from Bitcoin 0.17 as the base and add all features (PoS, Zerocoin, RingCT, etc.) on top of that instead of cloning an older coin such as PIVX (which already has Zerocoin and PoS). The benefit is that the codebase is much more up to date in quite a few spots and much more modularized which makes it easier to work with.
Another thing about Veil that gets me excited is how much potential there is to expand from where we are now. Veil currently is in a sort of bare bones state. It has all of the basic functionality and cryptography systems in place that we need, but it does not have a lot of additional features that will make Veil stand out against the competition.
We have a team and community that are looking forward to improvements being made rather than a team and community that are resistant to change. I personally get a lot of satisfaction when given the opportunity to design, implement, and incorporate new features (rather than borrowing from a different library or cryptocurrency) and I feel like Veil is giving the development team the opportunity to do that.
I think the core of Veil’s success will be mixture of a core technology that is superior to others. Veil offers superior privacy to any competing digital currencies, and offers a variety of features most competitors do not (Proof-of-Stake for example).
But the other item I see as being key to Veil’s success is the hard work that Veil’s team is putting in to make using Veil simple and effective for users. Right now Veil requires a level of figuring out and learning. Behind the scenes we have many people working on improved user experience that will make transacting with Veil very intuitive and easy for the first time user. When thinking about mass adoption, it will never happen if a new user can’t do things quickly, effectively, and without much thought.
What are your non-crypto hobbies and interests?
I have always liked being a DIYer (do it yourself). Currently that means household projects like exposing an old covered up brick wall, creating conduits to run ethernet, fixing leaks, etc.
I have also always been a bit of a gearhead and enjoy modifying cars with a turbo. I currently don’t have garage space for a project car so unfortunately this is one of my hobbies that is on hold for the moment.
What does a typical week in the life of Tom Bradshaw look like?
My typical day is to head into the office around 9-10 AM and leave around 8-10 PM. Then usually still do a little bit more work once home.
Mondays start off with a mandatory company meeting that everyone attends. Every other Monday the meeting is the beginning of a new “sprint” (development period) where the team goes over goals we want to accomplish for each project we are working on and then split the goals up into a list of tasks. If the Monday is mid-sprint (we use two week sprints), then we go over the goals we set the previous week and see what we need to do to stay on track to meet the original goals.
Tuesday through Thursday are ordinary workdays for me. I am able to get through a lot of development tasks during those days, as well as help team members with their development.
Fridays are another mandatory meeting day for us. If the Friday is mid sprint then we review the first week and the tasks that are completed and analyze whether any adjustments need to be made to our plans. If the Friday is at sprint end then we have a sprint “retrospective” meeting where we view the changes and progress we made and compare them to our original sprint goals.
I try to take it easy on Saturday and Sunday, but usually do work 4-5 hours each of those days. If there is a delivery coming up that we are behind on, I will usually not take much of a weekend at all.
Apart from your own projects, which other projects in crypto are you impressed with?
I see cryptocurrency differently than most others do. I am impressed with projects that have an organized development team that consistently deliver unique high quality code. The goal of most projects is to make you think that they have great developers that deliver unique and high quality code, but the sad reality is that there really aren’t all that many out there.
This is not a list of “what to invest in”, “what I have invested in”, or “what has the fairest launch with the best specs”, but is purely looking at project development.
Projects I actively contribute to:
- zDEX – masternode based decentralized exchange.
- Divitia – A social cryptocurrency portfolio tracker that will have its own blockchain (expecting a public beta in the next couple of months).
- PIVX – masternodes, Proof-of-Stake, zerocoin, good devs, good community.
- Crown – PoW Dash clone that will phase out PoW with a new staking masternode protocol my team developed.
Projects I don’t contribute to but seem to have decent development:
- Bitcoin – A collaboration of some of the smartest minds in the industry.
- Dash – I like that Dash has consistent development and have found some of the developers that I have interacted with to be extremely talented.
- Particl – A project with unique development that Veil was able to bootstrap some of its cryptography from.
Closing note — If you’d be interested in joining the Veil development team, either full- or part-time, be sure to visit the Veil Development Bounty page at our website.