Spotlight Quest, Polygon Validators: Bountyblok

Polygon Labs
October 16, 2023
Image source: Dribbble

This is the second installment of Spotlight Quest, Polygon Validators, a new series featuring interviews with Polygon PoS validators. Learn what it takes to be a validator, deep-dive into coordination, and better get to know Polygon PoS. Then, for every interview, find the secret passphrase to unlock a mintable NFT on Galxe, with 1000 available to mint. 

The first trait, The Mage, has already been unlocked. As you read through the interview with bountyblok, keep your eye out for a secret password that will make you eligible to mint the next trait: Miner. Then head over to the Galxe campaign and mint today!

Bare metal servers are the crème de la crème of running blockchain infrastructure.

For bountyblok, a software development company and validator for Polygon proof-of-stake (PoS) network, bare metal is also the obvious choice for running validator nodes. As physical servers that aren’t shared with other tenants, bare metal gives developers complete control over infra, for the best performance possible.  

They are perfect, in other words, for upkeep of a public, decentralized network. 

Developers at bountyblok know this. As technical gurus with a deep engineering background, they are obsessed with protocol maintenance and client upgrades. Consistent engagement with deep technical questions on protocol governance calls make them leaders in the validator ecosystem. There’s a reason why, in the last month, they signed 100% of checkpoints, 100% of Heimdall blocks, and produced nearly 100% of Bor blocks. 

In this Q&A with co-founders Dimitri Nikolaros and Jan Bui, they talk about their origin story, what it looks like to make a living in Web3, and how decentralized consensus is technical.

On the origins of bountyblok and the decision to become a validator

Dimitri: Before we founded bountyblok, Jan and I worked in Web2 building large scale enterprise software. In 2018, a potential client asked us to develop patent protection software, which took us down some pretty far-flung software rabbit holes. But as we evaluated different options, we realized blockchain actually would be a perfect fit. And that was the starting point. 

With this background, we could kind of see all these gaps in Web3 tooling that we believed the space needed. So we set out to build what we wanted to use. For instance we partnered with Biconomy to make a smart tool for NFT distribution that can happen in just a few clicks, with account abstraction. 

Jan: As we were building, we began to think more and more about distributed systems and consensus and what goes into keeping these public networks running. And our team is really strong on the tech side, we’re developers and infrastructure engineers. So when the opportunity came to be a validator for the launch of Polygon mainnet (it was called the Matic network back then), we absolutely seized on it, because we wanted to do as much for the community as possible, to participate and help drive adoption and play a part in the success of the space.

On validator infra and upkeep

Dimitri: To be a validator for the Polygon network requires leveraging the best infrastructure to serve the network, from a validator node to sentry nodes to neighboring servers that process chain data and transactions. Not to get too technical, but we actually only have multiple bare metal servers, not cloud servers, but like actual physical servers, at data centers across Europe and Canada. What this means is these servers aren’t shared with any other applications, but devoted entirely to network upkeep.

The reasons for this are quite simple. The requirements of being a validator need to be understood from a decentralized point of view, both technical and geographical. If one server goes down, the validator continues to function. And we have a monitoring system plus at least one person on 24/7, with regular verifications and checks to make sure that things are running well, that the servers are not running low on disk space, and so on. So it’s not only monitoring, but also the old school way of doing things with a regular routine of checking in order to prevent any disasters.  

On the free marketing tools developed by bountyblok

Dimitri: Right now, we have developed several marketing tools that have unique Web3-native characteristics.

First, there’s the Smart Distribution Tool that makes it super easy to mint and distribute NFTs on demand, based on targeted criteria. So projects can target followers who have reposted on X or completed a typeform or target wallets that hold a specific NFT–there are a lot of features–and then with this tool, it’s easy to distribute NFTs to these targeted customers in just a few clicks. You can imagine a game where all players who defeat some boss, it’ll be easy for them to receive an NFT.

Second, in partnership with Biconomy, we’ve also developed a contest and quest platform that makes it super simple to create contests where everybody who completes specific tasks gets a reward. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and as developers who worked in web2, our thinking was to abstract away as much friction as possible so that it would be familiar to projects coming in from web2. It’s easy to create a contest with certain parameters and define what users need to do–follow a project on X, whatever–and then they’re eligible to mint an NFT. There’s a combination of social and web3 tasks that can help companies grow. 

On making a living long term in Web3 

Jan: In addition to operating as a validator for the public Polygon network, we are also a software dev house with non-blockchain clients. Even though our passion is in the industry, we are a diversified company with a number of avenues of revenue. 

Web3 is a nascent industry, and we want to participate to help drive adoption and play a part in its success. Our thinking really is long term. Even as we develop these free Web3 marketing tools, there might be a case for premium models down the road, as the technology grows and more industries begin to adopt these kinds of communication. 

But mostly it's our job to help out other projects in Web3, to help them grow, and they can do that with the tools we have right now. What we get in return is really useful feedback and iterative building. 

On the extreme technical side of decentralized protocol governance 

Before we jump into Dimitri’s answer: Congratulations! You’ve read this far. The p-a-s-s- w-o-r-d for the next trait is: baremetal

Dimitri: So in my mind, what it means to participate in decentralized governance for the Polygon network means understanding or consistently drawing from highly technical information. Governance is like a layer on top that helps the immense technical processes of coordinating a decentralized network, but one that requires asking probing questions about client upgrades and focusing on all that’s going on inside the Polygon protocol itself.

Like I’ve said before, our background is extremely technical, so when we are on governance calls or browsing the forums, we ask questions and give suggestions based on what it’s like, from the point of view of a validator, to be stewards of the network. It’s the deeper technical discussions during governance calls where the protocol is ultimately driven forward. I’m happy to say that we feel like we can actually help start conversations not only with core developers and researchers who work on protocol maintenance, but also create a dialogue with other validators who have become more interested in helping to contribute to the inner-workings of the protocol, too. 

Be sure to follow bountyblok on X! Many thanks to the team for setting aside time to talk.

Tune into the blog and our social channels to keep up with updates about the Polygon ecosystem.

Together, we can build an equitable future for all through the mass adoption of Web3!

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