Exclusive interview with TON Labs: FreeTon, working with Durov, blockchain | Hacker Noon

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@sergey-baloyanSergey Baloyan

Entrepreneur, X10.Agency Founder | STO/IEO/DeFi marketing and launch | Worked with 40+ projects

In May it became clear that Pavel Durov would not launch his grand blockbuster project TON due to problems with the SEC. 

But literally at the same moment, the flag was picked up by the TON Labs team and FreeTON was launched – something like their own version of the project.

I was wondering – what happened, moreover, there were a lot of rumors around the release (from the rumors that it was a scam to the rumors that Durov himself is secretly behind the release).
We agreed to record an interview with the TON Labs team and had an interesting call with the CEO of the company, Alexander Filatov and the CTO, Mitya Goroshevsky.

The end result is an interview with TON Labs about what FreeTON is and how it differs from the original Telegram’s TON, how the guys met with Pavel Durov, what they think about the situation with the SEC and a little bit of philosophy about the future of block technology.

The full video of our conversation you can find here:

What is FreeTon? 

Mitya Goroshevsky: Actually, it was not us who launched the FreeTon, it’s the community, who launched it. We were part of this community – validators, developers who joined the FreeTon launch. FreeTon is a decentralized blockchain platform in general, built on TON technology. We are trying to attract as many participants as possible to the platform and, of course, relieve the software from the restrictions that we know have affected the platform over the last six months. We prove that software cannot be limited, it is free.

Alexander Filatov: I would like to add a few words about the background of the Telegram network project itself. I think that all readers are familiar with the Telegram Open Network project, which was created by the Telegram team, and in particular Nikolai Durov. On March 24th, a federal court in New York put a permanent injunction on Telegram team from developing this project. That means they could no longer develop it and attract investors. Therefore, a group of independent validators joined TON Labs and launched the platform in a decentralized manner. All team work is transparent, we broadcast our internal meetings on Youtube.

Basics about TON Blockchain 

Mitya Goroshevsky: On the technical side, FreeTon is the fastest blockchain at the moment with the highest performance and lowest latency. We are talking about speed because speed is the main criterion. For users, speed is the main parameter – how many transactions you can make in a second. There are now several blockchain networks that we compete with on these criteria. I don’t know if the word “compete” is correct, because this is not our goal. But FreeTon is the first blockchain with Dynamic Mapping (automatic data refresh). Essentially, we have created the main blockchain network. We measured performance over the past three months and reached the range from 40 to 60 thousand operations per second and this шы even without optimizing the settings.

Alexander Philatov: Let’s add something about functionality like Virtual Machine and Apps internal smart contract as well?

Mitya Goroshevsky: Yes of course! Virtual machine, created by Nikolai Durov, is integrated there. For example, we use programming languages ​​that were developed at FreeTon labs. You can use a modified version of Solidity to write smart contracts or C ++ or C, there are also languages ​​that Nikolai developed. I don’t want to go deeper, there are free access docs that you can look at. Long story short – it is a smart contract platform. It is the main focus. Whereas Bitcoin or Etherium only needs an address, and thus a smart contract becomes a completely separate thing. In TON everything is based on smart contracts. All this makes TON special.

Alexander Filatov: I will add a few words that makes TON even more unique, this is the fact that we have invested our recources not only in the development of the platform, but also in the TON operating system, we will talk about it later, but in short, this is an operating system that connects developers with users. It has an advanced Front End, contains many development tools to optimize development itself – faster, cheaper and easier.

Main feedback about FreeTon from crypto community

Alexander Filatov: We see strong interest, as many hoped that Telegram would launch TON. We feel the hype, if talking about the numbers – then there are already 3,000 validators who took part in the competition in just a few days, there are already 10,000 members in the community, not counting local communities – Spain, France, Italy, China and Korea, and, of course, Russia. And we expect Israel, Indonesia and many more to join soon.

Is there any connection between Telegram’s TON and FreeTON besides technology?

Mitya Goroshevsky: It is always important to remember  that TON Labs has been working on the project for several years. And we hope to release the Validator code soon. If necessary or for some reason arisen, FreeTon can work independently of Telegram. Hope it doesn’t come to that! But, of course, it largely relies on Telegram and on the code developed by Nikolai and the Telegram team, I hope that they will continue to support their code, as well, but this does not depend on us anymore.

Alexander Filatov: Sergey, we forgot to clarify something. TON OS has a very massive open source code – about  several million lines, so the adaptation itself is also a serious work.

About FreeTON tokens and can anyone buy FreeTON tokens

Alexander Filatov: Full name of the token is TON Crystal. No, it is not possible to buy it from us now.

Mitya Goroshevsky: Let’s be clear right away that neither the community nor ourselves are planning to sell anything. We are not planning to do any ICO or anything like that. The sale of the token was never intended. It is important to clarify this. We want to distribute tokens in a meritocratic way. We want to reward with tokens those who are actively involved in the development of the project. We have not yet decided on all the mechanisms for distributing tokens. Part of the Contest is just to define the mechanisms for distributing the token. We’re just asking the community for feedback on distribution mechanisms. And now the forum has a very active and lively discussion on this topic, there are many different options. And I must admit that I am impressed with the quality of the feedback from the community. Very thoughtful. The community understands what tasks, what difficulties can be faced. And if we continue in the same way, then we will find all the solutions. And one of the few purposes of using the token itself is to manage the system. And we also involve developers in writing governance algorithms such as voting contracts to give token holders the right to vote. When most of the tokens are distributed, a free market will form, as Alexander mentioned. 

Alexander Filatov: This should happen organically as soon as we achieve full decentralization. The mechanics are as follows: 85% will go to those who expand the base, 10% – to developers, validators, 5% – to community managers, administrators. The goal is to reach 1 billion users organically. This is the distinctive feature that due to its scalability and sophistication, it will be a blockchain system with a real attraction of hundreds of millions of users supporting billions of transactions. 

About meeting with Pavel and Niklai Durov

Alexander Filatov: We met them a couple of times, because we were completely immersed in the development of the system. Of course, there were meetings where technical issues were discussed. Nothing special to say here.

How TON Labs met them the first time

Alexander Filatov: If to be honest, I don’t even remember, it was a couple of years ago. Moreover, it is not so difficult, Pavel and Nikolai are in the Telegram, you can always write to them. I guess I was lucky because I was eager and friendly. Again, this was related to technical aspects.

What’s behind the idea of TON Labs

Alexander Filatov: Looking back, the Ton Labs co-founders launched a foundation called Industry 4.0. The goal of the fund was to invest in emerging technologies – AI, blockchain, virtual reality. Blockchain was our favorite back in 2016, even before the 2017 ICO boom. We saw that blockchain had no proper application from either the developer or the user side. The Durov brothers solved two fundamental problems – 1) creating a scalable and thoughtful blockchain for the masses. 2) Enable the use of blockchain by the current millions of users, because the use of blockchain is not available to a large number of users. And we decided to complement these two problems with the other three. And these are 1) The blockchain did not have a developed set of tools and this is Ton OS. 2) Creating a browser and directory. The idea is to make Blockchain more accessible, for example, like Internet 2.0 – with social networks, AppleStore and GooglePlay, 3) UI and UX. Ton Labs has a very detailed and rich library of visual content. That is, we wanted to make this environment more familiar to the average user, to make the blockchain space more accessible and similar to the traditional IT environment.

About the issues of TON and Gram with SEC 

Alexander Filatov: We have nothing to do with this. But my opinion is this: regulators all over the world, and in the USA in particular, are concerned and seriously involved in the process of cryptocurrency spread. It’s no secret that banks are trying to maintain control over the issue. And this is understandable that the regulators are trying to maintain control. And Facebook with Libra, Telegram with TON want to create an uncontrolled circulation of “something valuable”. And regulators queue up to regulate. And the judge demanded proof that it was security token, not utility. I will not comment on the judge’s decision, but our community prepared a description of the community’s vision for the court, but this did not convince the judge and, as a result, a ban was imposed. And the way FreeTON is being launched now is the consequences of this decision.

How the release date of FreeTON was chosen 

Mitya Goroshevsky: We realized, that nothing is happening and nothing won’t happen, so what are we waiting for? 

Alexander Filatov: On March 24, the court imposed a ban and it is 99.9% likely that Telegam would not have launched the platform. The community waited until April 30th for a settlement with investors, as this was the deadline for issuing tokens. And they even waited a little more – for seven days to give more time. Well, after that they started. Because technology shouldn’t die, it should be available to people. Well, that’s what I had in mind, by the way by the 7th of May we had already found top validators, that was a trigger. 

How Durov brothers reacted on the release of FreeTON 

Alexander Filatov: To be honest, I don’t even know. We saw their announcement about TON project  shutting down. They also warned that there could be scammers hiding behind TON names. But we have issued a community statement that we respect and accept the open source license and technology, and will only continue to improve and make it available to the world. But in his statement, I saw the last paragraph that they are closed, but that they hope that the community will pick up the technology and continue to develop it. This is what we are doing. In his statement, he talked about people not trusting any projects that ask for personal data or money. But FreeTon will never do that. We will not sell tokens, we will not conduct an ICO.

I want to add that if Telegram returns to the game, we will only be glad. And if other blockchains implement our developments, then we also welcome this. I repeat: our task is to create a convenient ecosystem. And not to become rich and famous, not for this we work 16 hours a day.

What is TON OS and TON Surf

Mitya Goroshevsky: We wrote extensively on why we call it an operating system, and why it might be called that. It works like a processor with clear instructions. But if you have a processor, how can you use it, control it? You need an OS. The operating system manages hardware resources and brings it to the UI. That is, all this is a complete stack, which goes from hardware to the end user. With all intermediate tools like SDK, debuggers. And if we want to name this vertical somehow? What’s the best name? Operating system! We didn’t find anything else. We have created an end-to-end system where an ordinary user can easily manage it, and a developer can use mid-level tools to interact with the system.

There is a Node, which is like a processor, Databases, which are like a file system, but in fact they are more than just a file system. You can host them on your computer or on a network of computers or even in the cloud. SDK – to connect to Node, of course the User Interface, and development tools, compilers, for example, so that a developer can write programs for this system. Of course, on top of this there are also interfaces to protect the decentralization of this system. Ton Surf is User interface. We even compare it a bit to Linux to some extent. You can, of course, write your own, the main thing is that it preserves the principles of decentralization, but in general Ton Surf is a user interface.

Alexander Filatov: Ton Surf implements a wallet, a browser, a messenger and other features that are often used by a regular man on his phone.

When do they plan to launch fully  

Mitya Goroshevsky: We do not want to rush. We need to collect community feedback, solve all the issues, improve and release gradually. 

Alexander Filatov: As we mentioned earlier, tokens are in possession of validators only, that’s why there is no rush. We test it. 

Personal motivation behind creating TON Labs 

Alexander Filatov: I started doing this 5 years ago when I graduated from Singularity University. It worries me that modern technology has reached a dead end. Data management, identity management. The Internet became more and more centralized, I remember it back in 1994. Yes, there were no such services as navigators, but it was as decentralized as possible. Internet 2.0 is no longer the same. And many are worried about this. We share this concern and therefore are developing FreeTon as a decentralized user to user ecosystem on a friendly basis.

Mitya Goroshevsky: I’ve been doing this for 25 years. The first company I worked for was one of the first IP providers. And even when we started it was a very regulated environment. I even negotiated with the Israeli Minister of Communications and asked if we could launch IP over voice for international calls. And he answered: no, of course not. You need to get a license. The only country where this can be done is the United States, but a license is also required there. And I had only one way out: to close the project or, as they say, give up on them. And so Alexander and I are working on our project, because we feel that we are losing freedom in this world.

Final words for the FreeTON community

Alexander Filatov: We are thankful to all who are interested and involved. And do not miss a chance to join us, it will be fun. The platform we create will bring benefits to all. 

If you have any questions or if you need help with your startup/crypto project — you can write me in Telegram (@baloyan) or LinkedIn .

To get more thoughts and insides about crypto industry you can follow my 

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