Companies

Dfinity ‘on track’ for Q2 test launch; hiring spree and developer talks planned to offset more delays

Quick Take

  • Blockchain unicorn firm Dfinity is confident it won’t delay the test-launch of its internet computer for a second time, set to meet its June deadline after scrapping plans for a preliminary version last December
  • A spokesperson told The Block Dfinity had boosted hiring efforts and had begun testing demos with a small group of developers to ensure it stick to its new timeline 
  • They also noted that the firm currently sees little direct competition in the blockchain space for its mission
Dfinity, a Swiss-based firm valued at over $2 billion and building the world’s first Internet Computer, is “on track” to launch its test network in late Q2 (June), a company spokesperson has told The Block.
 
A “cut down” version of the internet computer was originally pencilled for the end of Q1 2019, but the plan was scrapped at the end of last year citing a need to concentrate resources.
 
“We decided against launching the cut down version of the internet computer because supporting it would have taken too many resources away from the main launch,” the spokesperson said, echoing Dfinity President Dominic Williams’ claim in December. “The target now is to release a fully functioning [test] version.” It is unclear when the main launch will be.
 
The spokesperson added that a full, open-source launch of its software development kit (SDK) is also set to be ready by late Q2. Williams predicted in December that the SDK would be “reasonably mature by the end of Q1,” but only a small circle of external developers will know for sure, having been privy to a private demo at the Consensus Conference in New York last week.
 
Dfinity raised a total of $190 million for its governance tokens from investors including Polychain Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and Multicoin Capital. Its ‘blockchain computer’ is now one of the most anticipated launches this year. Williams told CNN in April that Dfinity hopes to “revolutionise software, solve security, reduce the cost of IT, and build autonomous software that can fuel a more open internet,” including having an ‘open LinkedIn,’ “which will never revoke its API access to other startups.”
 
To avoid any further delays, the company is investing its bountiful funds in expanding its resources. Last October, it opened a new research centre in Zurich, where Dfinity is hoping to “double” its 20-person engineering and developer-workforce by year end. The Zurich team is led by Jan Camenisch, previously a Principal Research Staff Member at IBM. 
 
The firm has also “rapidly advanced” its hiring efforts in both Switzerland and its HQ in Palo Alto. The engineering team is currently led by Mack McAuley, who joined from Facebook and Microsoft, alongside Timo Hanke.
 
Dfinity’s Internet Computer is hoping to decentralize the internet, including putting data and cloud services on an independent system. The firm says it is therefore hoping to capture demand from major tech players.
 
“Our main competitors are the main cloud players like Google, Amazon, Microsoft,” a spokesperson said. “If this is a decentralised cloud, then the main cloud incumbents are our competition.”
 
They added that while “there is a race to get there…there’s no direct competitor in the Web 3 space,” ruling out its rumoured rivalry with Ethereum and other Web 3.0 teams. “It’s more a case of Web 3 teams working in parallel to us to take on the current internet (Google, Facebook etc)…There wouldn’t be Dfinity without Ethereum.”
 
It seems like we won’t have to wait much longer to find out for sure.
 
“You can expect an announcement about open-source launch in July,” the spokesperson noted.
 
Editor’s note: This post has been update to clarify that the firm is launching its test net in Q2, not fully launching.