Why new platforms soar or sink, and where Neutron stands

How does a platform succeed?

Working on the Neutron platform, I’ve had to ask myself this question a number of times. As well as look at the other side of the coin, what makes a platform fail? My worst fear is to put all of this effort into building Neutron only for it to fall flat on its face when compared to the otherwise much more mature and resource-laden ecosystem of Ethereum and the EVM. How does a new platform compete against a relatively huge incumbent platform? To try to get a feeling on this, I studied many existing platforms, on blockchain and in the tech space in general. One of the most clear things I’ve learned is that technical advantage does not guarantee a platform will be a success, a hard truth. There’s already many arguably more technically competent smart contract platforms than the EVM. However, none have been able to even get close to replacing it in other non-Ethereum projects, much less Ethereum itself. With more thought and studying though, I believe I have at least an idea of how to answer this question beyond simply saying “well it depends”.

What can help make a development platform succeed

  1. First Mover Advantage

Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin. What can help to make a development platform fail?

  1. Fundamental security problems

Where does Neutron stand?

So where does this leave the purpose of this article, Neutron’s positioning? We need to analyze the which of these categories Neutron falls into.

  • We do not have a massive first party (ie, Qtum/Earl Grey Tech) that we can rely on to “force adoption”. Although we have plenty of resources, we do not have Fortune 500 level resources that could make this possible for the extended amount of time that would be required.
  • Taking a community first approach is difficult, but we will be attempting it. We will soon announce a call for partners with required information to start contributing to the Neutron design and to help shape the early ecosystem. We believe Neutron can only be a success if it is adopted into blockchains and platforms beyond just Qtum. However, doing development fully open is something we’re still going to be learning, so there will be some stumbling blocks here. Regardless, we are looking at radically opening up our development process. This could include making our project management system (Trello currently) publicly viewable, holding development meetings so that anyone can join and listen along, providing transcripts and meeting notes to the community, and having scheduled community calls to take questions and concerns directly from the public. We are going to be trying some of this, and likely a number of other things, but it will take some time and pain as we navigate this new process.
  • Neutron is designed to serve an underserved niche. Specifically blockchains and layer 2 models which simply do not “mesh” with how Ethereum is designed, and thus where integrating the EVM is difficult to reconcile with the blockchain’s underlying model, or would require great complexity to expose the features of the platform to. Neutron is designed as “The smart contract platform for everything that’s not Ethereum based”. In this way we avoid “competing” against Ethereum on its own turf, but rather we want to put Neutron in places where Ethereum technology just doesn’t work or makes little sense.
  • Neutron will not be drop in compatible with the EVM in terms of you won’t be able to write a Neutron smart contract and immediately run it on Ethereum. However, the opposite is planned to become true. Specifically, writing an Ethereum smart contract, compiling it with standard Solidity etc tooling, and then running it directly on a Neutron platform via Neutron-EVM. The exact design of this is still very far in the air due to how many more features Neutron can expose compared to what the EVM is capable of easily expressing, but this is an aspect we will begin looking at more strongly after the core of Neutron is established.
  • Neutron is being designed with a low cost of entry. Specifically, we are aiming the platform to be as simple as possible for blockchains and L2 providers to integrate with. This includes the extensibility to handle decentralized soft-fork and hard-fork options, and semi-centralized no-fork methods. These exact methods will be fully described at a later point
  • Neutron makes as few assumptions as possible for a smart contract platform. At its very minimal core, all Neutron needs from a blockchain/L2 platform is a method of loading smart contract bytecode. It is however designed to be extensive enough to cover the wide variety of features available in these platforms in a logical and consistent manner, with no architectural changes.

Blockchain Engineer, co-founder at Qtum, President of Earl Grey Tech. All in on blockchain tech. Also does some film photography