Get to know our new COO, Robert Hirsch.
March 08, 2023 · 9 min read
This is my first formal communication from here inside Divi Labs to the community who I have only known in a social media context. So, I wanted to take some time to discuss what led me here, what I will be doing here, and why I value this project so much.
My background has always been in a risky startup environment. I love it. It’s only in an environment like that where someone can experience the raw adrenaline of creation of things that have never been done before, without very much pressure to check the rules, intellectual property boundaries or to even make sure something is possible within market defined parameters. It’s always been the delivery of a strong vision, and then work like hell to make it come true. It’s the development of something new that is the train, while the engine of creation must get fed by investors and guided properly by marketing and legal. This model of development has been with me since I started working.
For me, this started back in my 20’s when I was making creatures for movies. We would have weeks to put together intricate animatronics (yeah, before the days of CGI), we would expend huge efforts to get stuff done on time and look good. But those items didn’t have to last. (This picture is of a highly articulated buffalo we built for Radio Flyer)
I later started my own company developing a GPS based watch, long before the Apple Watch or any other modern watch that has location features. It was a fitness watch designed to tell distance and calories to people who could not have that information unless they were biking. We spent 2 years developing that, had working prototypes and won business plan competitions and were able to showcase it for large fitness companies, only to have the patent landscape prevent us from finally sealing any deals, because, well, we really couldn’t afford lawyers and I was too cocky to raise investment. Oh to be young again. But man, the adrenaline….
The companies I worked for later were all startups also, fuel cells for mobile devices, hydrogen pumps, x-ray fluoroscopy machines, and data security. Each successful in their own right to varying degrees, each with immense challenges and delays.
But, I have to admit, I burned out. I was about 45 years old when I stopped working for startups and started just doing contract engineering. It was more boring and less stressful.
I heard about Bitcoin in 2010 and thought “That’s stupid”. I revisited it again in 2013, with a little more time, a different worldview, and a more open mind, and got a better understanding of what this really was. As soon as my mind locked into this extreme paradigm shift, I was all in. I started buying right after Mt. Gox imploded, bought from $1200 BTC down to just under $250 dollars and back up to $1000. And like everyone else who got in then, I, of course, wish I bought way more, but it wasn’t in the cards.
The more I learned about it the more I became fascinated with it. The more fascination with it, the more I wanted to do things with it. Then the 2017 hype cycle came and went, I was rich and then broke, a cycle I am getting used to, to this day. But in that time, amidst all the crappy ICOs and other crypto scams filled with the worst humanity has to offer, was a little project called Divi.
I was introduced to this project through an ICO group I was in, but this project was different. Crypto sucked to use (much of it still sucks), Bitcoin was slow (and still is) and the barrier to entry was pretty high in terms of equipment costs (it’s even worse now). And this project was making it easy. I could run the wallet on my old Mac mini and other lightweight computers. The project talked about making it far easier to use. That you could launch masternodes by pressing a button. They were big supporters of self sovereignty and privacy, as well as having a flair to do charitable things with the coin and project.. And there was a truly authentic air of wanting to do better than the typical project in the crypto wasteland.
And what a ride it has been. Ups and downs, challenges, price ecstasy, price depression. The charitable events gave over 100 kids a bike, fed people in Philippines, Venezuela, and South Africa. Masternodes were helping to fund individual charitable efforts, and some people were taking Divi for products and services. I have had incredible interactions with the tech team, helping me to learn Python, helping me to create tools that interact with the CLI wallet, heck they helped me learn Linux too. I have come to love and admire everyone who is working their butt off to move this train forward. Everything about this project and community was hitting high marks for me…
… except the pace of development. Without a doubt, deliverables were eventually made. MOCCI, which really changed the landscape for launching masternodes, were made available after a rocky start. The command line wallet was easy to use (relative to other CLI wallets) from day 1. Vaults came on line, mobile wallet, and now DeFi utility and more are coming.
But while these products and services eventually made it out, no one I have talked to here (and I have talked to everyone that I can), believes that the rollout of any of these things were smooth, on time, or particularly relevant in their release. No one is happy with the results, so the community’s frustration is well founded and understood.
While there are many reasons for these issues and delays, I had started to come to realize that all of them were very familiar to me. I have a long history of working in small companies, and not one of these things are unique to Divi. All companies have vendors that fail them. All startups have partners that can’t make the trip for one reason or another. Promised investments that don’t come through, internal friction between personalities, choices that were made early on that bite you in the ass later…all of these things are normal in a high energy, iterative, startup that has the potential of high payout. The only difference lies in who is noticing the problems. It’s usually experienced investors, who have around 7 utter failures for every windfall they get. But in crypto, it’s anyone and everyone. For some people this is the only project where they await their windfall, so of course it’s hard to watch as price fluctuates to extreme ends. Crypto is a different space on many fronts, but the challenges of a startup with little funding are extremely familiar to me.
That’s not to say that I don’t see many places where efficiency, and organization can’t be improved. But I’ll tell you this, the people who work there, from Nick all the way down, all know already. They have already made lots of changes in the last six months that will provide benefits going forward.
Bike to the Future
When Nick started releasing his blog posts about the Four Pillars, part of it was about getting up and doing something. That’s when I realized I could help, so I sent an email to Nick and asked him if there was enough dismay inside and outside of Divi to implement some change. He agreed…let’s turn this into an opportunity, let’s get these issues resolved.Let’s get the development train running smoother.
Later, I will discuss how change had already begun months ago inside both marketing and tech teams. But what is lacking is some glue between teams. Someone everyone can lean on to lower barriers, and to make sure information is getting shared between teams, and from inside labs and foundation out to the community and public. So, I have four roles:
These set of responsibilities places me to help out everywhere within the organization. The goal is to make sure that Nick is focused on investment and leading the cause, charging the company forward into the space. It makes it so that the technical leads can focus on technical development of the core, the wallets, and the back end. I’m going to be the grease and the glue wherever those analogies are appropriate.
I am not here to single handedly save the day, nor could any one person be that. The tech team has already reorganized and is far more efficient and communicative than it has ever been. The marketing team has been working to deliver items that have been so long delayed. Nick should have more time to get involved in investment circles, getting our project in front of the eyeballs that matter. I’m just going to do my best to help everyone be their best.
There are many ideas of what we want Divi to be in 1, 5 and 10 years. As we have seen this year, (and any bear market), you can’t pump a coin into the stratosphere forever. Eventually ALL web 3.0 projects will have to carve out a space in the global crypto market and provide something for everyone. So, a lot of my work will be to help the company solidify that vision, delineate it, and act on it. This will flow down into long term and short term tasks. But for now there are short term tasks I will do which include:
No, I wont have dates for the completion of these things, because there is groundwork to do that has never really been done for many reasons. They were overlooked and avoided in an effort to get something out there. I am working with everyone inside Divi labs, to implement some process control, to set goals and requirements for everything, so that things will be released with a plan going forward, released in better condition, with better information, and such that timing can be described more accurately. I too, would like ‘soon’ to actually mean soon.
I hope this has been useful to gain insight as to why I am here and why I love this project. In the next post, I will talk about the changes that have happened on the technical side inside Divi labs, and why that immense amount of work can’t be seen from the outside. But more importantly, what benefits and changes it brings.
Stay up to date.
Subscribe to our mailing list to keep up to date with all things Divi including when we are available in your region
March 08, 2023 · 9 min read
May 06, 2021 · 8 min read
March 02, 2021 · 7 min read
March 09, 2021 · 2 min read