The Big Interview

Former Microsoft MD John deVadoss wants to make NEO the world’s best developer platform

In an interview with former Microsoft MD John deVadoss, he reveals what drew him to NEO and how he will work on making it the number one developer platform

NEO prides itself on being the blockchain for the smart economy. Its founders even project that NEO (currently lagging in 17th place on CoinMarketCap) will be the number one blockchain by 2020. However, even the ultra-optimistic Da Hongfei rather sheepishly admits that date is awfully close. So, how will the ‘Chinese Ethereum’ reach this lofty goal and where does John deVadoss come in?

I met up with deVadoss at NEO DevCon in Seattle last month to find out what lured an ex-Microsoft MD to the world of blockchain tech. I also wanted to know his reasons behind heading up NEO’s latest NGD branch in the Pacific Northwest, and why he believes that NEO, not Ethereum, is the right platform to work on.

John deVadoss will focus on the developer experience

John deVadoss is no stranger to the damp and chilly Seattle climate. In fact, he first came out to this corner of the world to work for Microsoft in 1999. He says, “I spent about 16 years there in a variety of roles. Most recently, I built Microsoft Digital from zero to half a billion dollars of business worldwide”.

Rather than pause for shock value or await applause, deVadoss bursts out laughing. “It was a lot of fun building it up and working with Fortune 100 customers across the world”, he admits. However, what he’s most proud of from his time working for the world’s number one software company is his involvement with Microsoft.NET.

“Previously”, he explains, “I was GM on Microsoft.NET, the developer platform. I was working on the architecture and the developer engagement. We built V1 of the platform with the focus on developer reach, adoption, and making sure the platform was as easy to use for developers across the world as possible”.

And that’s exactly what deVadoss will be doing for NEO from the Seattle branch. He will be working on the developer experience alongside co-lead and also ex-Microsoft employee Peng Huang. They will focus on being connected to the developer community, listening to their feedback, and improving NEO.

“I am a platform guy. I like platforms, I enjoy building platforms, and evangelizing platforms”, he states.

Why NEO over Ethereum?

NEO may have some traction in the developer space with the City of Zion developer community and around 100 dApps on its platform, but that pales into insignificance against Ethereum’s 1,300+ dApps and significantly larger developer community. So, what made John choose NEO?

He crumples his face. “They make you learn a whole new language [Solidity]. Why would you put such a barrier to an already complicated system?”

John loves NEO for various reasons, but mainly because developers don’t have to learn new languages since NEO is compatible with the key ones including JavaScript and C++.

He explains, “I love the NEO architecture. I think the algorithm for consensus is unique. We are also polyglot. You pick the language you want to use and you can really go to town”.

He continues, “As a developer, you look for a few things. Platforms that are productive, that are fun, that you enjoy working on, that have a community you can rely on and a use case so you can create real business value”.

So, among his goals over the coming months is to work on making NEO more attractive to developers globally.

“We want to build on the framework and make it appealing in terms of time to market and enabling the global community”.

He then confesses, “Actually, one of the things that lead me to NEO was the global community, its presence in the Americas, in Asia, all around the world… We can raise the bar in terms of what is a developer platform”.

How will NEO appeal to more developers?

With Da Hongfei announcing on stage that NEO will be number one by 2020, let’s zero in a little on what he means.

He asked: “What is the number one blockchain? It’s not the most expensive or biggest, it’s to become the most favourable platform by providing best performance, diversified ecosystem, and compliant solutions”.

He then went on to add, “I want to emphasise one word: platform. NEO for developers is a platform. We need developers”.

It’s no coincidence that NEO chose to branch out to the city that’s the home of developer talent in spades. Both Microsoft and Amazon are headquartered in Seattle.

Hongfei said, “Probably nobody knows better how to win a platform competition better than Microsoft”.

So, deVadoss will be working day in, day out on enhancing the developer experience and attracting more developers to NEO. He says, “There are probably 20 million+ developers across the world…

“Success is increasing the reach of the of the NEO platform to these 20 million+ developers… If we can get double digits reach, that would be a good first step. That’s how we measure the success of the platform, and we have the foundation to be the number one”.

He finishes by adding that we should not underestimate the importance of blockchain nor how far it will go. The smart economy may still be in the “analogue phase”, but just look at cloud technology a little over a decade ago.

“This is like the cloud in 2006 or 2007. What’s happened in 12 years? The world has changed. Who’s not using the cloud?”

Whether the NEO team with Microsoft talent on its side will lure more developers to its fold remains to be seen. But after speaking to deVadoss, I get the distinct sense that it won’t be for lack of trying.

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