Dear @Jaguar0625 @BloodyRookie @gimer,
Thank you for your questions!
Section 1 - Road to Launching Catapult
- Please clarify to the community the number of developers currently on your team and the number that will be hired by your plan prior to July 1st. What percentage of your headcount and budget is allocated to these positions?
Currently, as NEM Europe, we have 3.4 FTE (+1 in on-boarding) developers and testers contributing to crucial parts of Catapult. In total, we have 6.4 FTE technical staff (one is part-time).
Prior to July 1st, we will have 9.4 FTE developers and testers contributing to crucial parts of Catapult as well as 1 CTO steering them. In total, we will have 24.35 FTE staff, of which 15.9 are technical staff. By the end of 2019, we will have 16.4 FTE developers and testers contributing to crucial parts of Catapult, and 22.9 FTE technical staff in total.
- Please share your team’s experiences with managing and hiring developers. How likely is it that you’ll be able to fulfil hiring goals and create a good working environment?
During the creation of our detailed business plan, we were mindful about setting realistic objectives for the hiring plan. Finding the right talent for Q2 (which has the highest forecasted team growth ) will be challenging - as hiring always is - but we are confident it can be achieved. More info about the positions we have foreseen can be found here.
Over the past year, we have learned a lot about recruiting and managing a distributed team. There are still many areas that can be improved and we are currently adapting to the new project management structure through the PMC. We have an experienced Developer Manager advising us in this process.
Based on his input we have provisioned funds for recruitment-related expenses (as part of PERSONNEL AND RELATED EXPENSES category in our budget). This takes into account that some positions will require the involvement of recruiters in order to find and assess suitable candidates. Ideally, the actual expenses will be lower than foreseen but realistically we would be close to what is provisioned in order to meet the hiring goals.
An integral part of our plan is to ensure a good working environment for our team. This means providing people with the (software) tools they need in order to do their job properly. We have also provisioned budget for personal development and team building sessions (combined with strategic group sessions). Personal development is crucial to ensure staff retention, and given the remote setup, it is important to get together with the team once in a while.
- Please describe the main contributions your current team has made to Catapult readiness to date.
- Would you be open to a professionally managed, but independent, team of developers to make the push towards Catapult?
First and foremost, we want to see the technology move forward. Whoever makes that happen is irrelevant. With the technical management of the project through the PMC, multiple stakeholders can jointly make the push towards Catapult. Many successful open source projects are using this setup and we genuinely believe NEM will become another success story.
Our business plan has a clear focus and approach to drive the adoption of Catapult. We are customer demand facing through NEMsp which allows us to gather industry requirements. Being at the forefront of pushing the technology and at the forefront of developing the technology will strengthen the Catapult offering for real-world adoption.
Imperative and vital to seeing our technology widely used is by “touching” the people who can utilise its benefits. This includes showing them NEM is the right choice over other protocols, and this can only be done “facing customers”, and meeting the needs of the masses with NEM technology.
Section 2 - Finances and Oversight
- Please clarify your current financial situation. Is your team in debt, if so how much?
In fact, I just came back from a meeting with our (NEM Europe entity) accountant. Some minor final corrections and additions have to be made to the accounts in order to close the accounting year but we will be able to get that sorted out in the coming days. Since the NEM Europe entity was incorporated late 2017 it will be an extended accounting year that spans from incorporation until the end of 2018.
Although, I cannot state final numbers; the entity will have generated minor revenue.
Over the past couple of months, there were some liquidity issues because of problems with adding new signatories to the Singapore bank. This resulted in a delayed payment from NEM Foundation to NEM Europe. As the entity was not supposed to have a large profit since this would be taxed, it also means that the entity did not have a cash buffer. This resulted in some delayed payments to suppliers (mainly staff). We just received another payment from NEM Foundation to cover for services that were invoiced in Jan and early Feb. This means that we should be able to make up for the delayed payments by the end of this month.
So the short answer is that we do not have any debt.
- What was the headcount of your team in 2018 and how does it compare to current headcount and projected headcount at end of 2019?
Our current headcount is 12.35 FTE (total of 11 full time and 3 part time staff members). Maximum headcount in 2018 was 13 FTE.
Projected headcount for the end of 2019 is just over 33 FTE.
- What will happen if your team does not get all desired funding? Are there variations of your proposal that could work at lower funding levels? Would you consider working with one of the other team(s) who have made a successful proposal?
First of all, I would like to emphasise how we prepared for this proposal. As described in our business plan, the budget that is provided there will be the absolute maximum spent for 2019 - we have taken great care to be cautious. This means that this is the funding that is required in order for us to be confident in achieving our objectives as set forth in the plan. We are actually planning to use fewer funds than what is budgeted for.
The approach to creating the budget was to find the best possible compromise between a light and agile approach, being able to make tangible contributions to the development of Catapult, and being realistic about becoming self-sustaining down the line.
We are confident our business plan reflects that absolutely every effort was made, and all measures were taken to ensure our activities benefit the NEM project in as many ways as possible within our scope.
For profit activities are actually not just with the intention to become sustainable. All planned for-profit activities will also help improve Catapult or speed up growing the ecosystem. For this reason, we believe that reducing the budget would likely negatively affect the balance in our setup. If strictly necessary to reduce budget requirements we would rather opt for slower team growth than a reduction in scope.
Dependency on another entity who has made a successful proposal is not the objective of the NEM Labs proposal. Any strong ecosystem consists of many independent purpose driven entities that solve specific problems for the ecosystem. This is what we are proposing: NEM Labs; an independent, global, technology-focused entity. However, we are looking forward to collaboration with other entities (Example: collaboration between NEM Foundation & NEM Labs).
- How much XEM will your proposal require at the current (0.04), 4x below (0.01), 4x above (0.16) XEM prices?
All of our expenses are locked to FIAT rates so the required budget does not change when the price of XEM goes up or down. That being said, if the XEM price went down, we could revise the hiring plan which will ultimately delay objectives. On the other hand, seeing an increased price will not result in higher expenses. The governance structure we have laid out ensures that we can only spend what has been agreed with the community which is linked to the budget in FIAT.
Current rate (0.04$): 81 750 000 XEM
4x below current rate (0.01$): 327 000 000 XEM
4x above current rate (0.16$): 20 437 500 XEM
As mentioned in our business plan, it is more likely for the XEM price to go up rather than down. That is why we have included a budget that extends through the entire year of 2020.
- Please explain details of the independent oversight you will have in place to evaluate your performance.
We will have an independent CLG (Company Limited by Guarantee) consisting of long-standing community members, similar to the structure that was set up for NEM Ventures. This CLG will have budgetary oversight over NEM Labs.
This too is an important part of our proposal. Accountability to the community is important. We are doing this with the benefit of the NEM project in mind. Having a legal structure where NEM Labs is accountable to a group of independent community representatives will provide the community with peace of mind that funds will be used as per the proposal they voted for.
- How are you planning to adapt to changing market conditions and evolving priorities with an annual funding cycle? Would it be beneficial to be more agile and request funding from an independent oversight committee more regularly (e.g. monthly or quarterly)?
We believe shorter cycles are favourable to adapt to changing market conditions. At the same time, long-term stability is required to attract competent staff. This is why we propose 12 months funding with a quarterly budget release by the independent CLG that controls NEM Labs.
Section 3 - Philosophy
- What is your vision for NEM and how do you hope to achieve it?
We believe that blockchain technology:
- empowers people to regain control over their data and digital identity.
- allows companies to simplify complex processes enabling them to build innovative applications that have a positive impact on society.
We focus on three key pillars to make adoption of this great technology happen. In order of importance these are:
- Open Source Contribution to Improve Catapult
- Catapult Framework to Make NEM Accessible
- NEMsp Network to Drive Adoption
- What are your values?
Transparency: We are transparent and accountable towards the NEM community.
Collaboration: We are inclusive and involve the global NEM community.
Integrity: We prioritise the benefit of the NEM project over personal benefit. We have strong principles and we are 100% committed to NEM.
Focus: Focus allows us to translate our plan into achievements.
Gratitude: We show gratitude for the technology, open source code and the NEM community which is the reason for the existence of our team. We view it as our duty to give back through our achievements.
Continuous Improvement: We strive for perfection. We believe there is always room for improvement and are continuously working on making this happen.
Reflection: We listen and reflect before seeking to be understood.
- Where do you see your organization in 2 years? 5 years?
In two years, we will have fully rolled out our three pillars:
Open Source Contribution to Improve Catapult
- 18 NEM Labs PMC committers contributing to Catapult
- Working on crucial parts of Catapult
- Incorporating industry feedback to strengthen the Catapult offering
- Grow the open source developer community through engagement
Catapult Framework to Make NEM Accessible
- Reduce the time of onboarding to less than 10 minutes
- Standard Practices
- Examples & Showcases
- Solutions to Industry Problem Statements
- Clickable Demos
- Prototyping tools
NEMsp Network to Drive Adoption
- NEMsp Academy Portal
- NEMsp Marketplace
- 100 global certified NEMsp
Further, we will have built a passionate team and an organization we can all be proud of.
In five years, we will have made distinct progress towards achieving our vision. This means it will be crucial to achieve our objectives as outlined in our mission. At that point in time, we believe that NEM technology will have empowered people to regain control over their data and digital identity. We will have aligned NEM technology with market needs based on industry experience, resulting in companies building innovative applications that have a positive impact on society.