WNSF: Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin with Brian Behlendorf

Many people have heard of bitcoin and might know something about blockchain, the technology system underlying the crypto currency. Yet few people understand how important blockchain technology could be not just for financial tech, but also for almost every other field. Blockchain develops transparent ledgers in distributed databases that can’t be tampered with, thus ensuring complete trust in transactions between strangers. In the near future, blockchain could track parts in a supply chain, or medical records, or votes in a ballot box.

No one understands the vast potential of blockchain better than Brian Behlendorf. In the early days of the web, Brian helped assemble an A team of geeks to develop the Apache web server project, which created the code that soon ran more than half of the world’s web servers, and remains the most popular server software today. Brian became the founding president of the Apache Software Foundation, which oversees open source projects that are constantly being improved upon by many of the world’s best coders. According to Brian, a similar phenomenon is currently underway in the blockchain world.

Brian is now the newly appointed executive director of Hyperledger, an open source blockchain platform started by The Linux Foundation last year. This project is bringing together another A team of coders to establish protocols and standards to improve the performance and reliability of blockchain technology. According to Brian, if the core underpinnings of blockchain are developed correctly now, the usage could explode in a short timeframe. Brian and others envision a wide range of potential usages for blockchain, from dramatically improving public recording of financial transactions to social impact efforts to keep diamonds illegally mined in war zones out of world markets.

Brian has been traveling around the world working with potential end users eager to leverage these new capabilities. He returned to The Foundation’s base in the Bay Area to lead the conversation at our April What’s Now: San Francisco. We had many people with deep blockchain expertise at the gathering, but made the conversation, and the technology, accessible to everyone.