AMA with Brian Bondy

On August 16th, the BAT Community successfully kicked off an AMA (Ask Me Anything!) series with CEO and co-founder Brendan Eich. The series, scheduled to run from August 2018 through January 2019, features several different guests from the Brave team every month and is being held on the BATProject subreddit.  

This week’s AMA featured Brian Bondy, Brave’s co-founder and CTO. Being the CTO of a multi-platform software startup with an integrated utility token doesn’t leave much time for public appearances; this AMA provided a rare opportunity for Brian to share valuable technical insight, his near and long term vision, and to have some fun engaging directly with the community.

Over the course of the AMA, Brian answered a combination of pre-submitted and live questions from Redditors. Highlights can be found below, with a link to the full AMA at the bottom of this post.

The next AMA will take place on Wednesday, September 5th, and will feature Dr. Johnny Ryan, Brave’s Chief Policy & Industry Relations Officer. Johnny is responsible for policy and privacy matters, as well as relationships with industry partners and regulators.

For a full list of upcoming BAT Community AMAs through January 2019, see below.

u/cokechan: Can you introduce yourself and tell us what do you do at Brave?

Yes, sure! I’m a coffee drinking Canadian living in Ontario and working remotely as Brave's CTO.

In 2015 I co-founded Brave with Brendan Eich.

Work life:

I’ve worked for a bunch of great companies and learnt a lot from them, the companies include: Khan Academy, Mozilla, Evernote, Army Simulation Centre, Corel, and dozens more that I’ve done contracting for.

In 2004 I ran a small software company for nearly a decade which I eventually sold to a bigger company in Toronto.

I’ve been a hobbyist programmer since early high school, in the early days I coded a lot of network protocols, file formats, and compression algorithms by reading file formats and standards.

Personal life:

I grew up on a gardening farm, where I learnt the meaning of hard work.

I currently have a family of 5 (or 7 if you count my 2 dogs), 3 boys, 2 of which are twins.

I took Meibukan Goju Ryu karate for over a decade until the dojo closed.

In my spare time I like to run, last year I did my first 50 mile ultra, I haven’t been "brave" enough to try a 100k yet but I'll get there

What I do at Brave:

At Brave I do a little (or maybe a lot) of everything. In no particular order: payroll, management, product management, project management, planning, lots of coding and more.

Over time I’m shedding some of my old startup duties like payroll to focus on CTO things.

Close to a year ago we started re-writing Brave from the ground up, a lot of my recent energy has gone into that.

u/marvindanig: I have a developer question for you. We figured from a stackoverflow question that it isn't possible to detect Brave browser using Javascript to reduce fingerprinting. Anonymity is great but some applications, for example, not showing a banner of Brave to our users who are already on Brave, require developers to be able to test the browser they're on. I mean feature detection is a thing but vendor sniffing is used quite a lot out there. How would Brave solve this?

Our next release on Android will have a Brave token in the User-Agent HTTP header. We want to make sure that we have enough scale so that the entropy gained from fingerprinting the browser UA is low. I think once we get onto the Brave Core desktop rewrite in October adoption will come fast and we can add that token there as well. iOS rewrite won't be far behind either and adoption there will be higher too.

u/cokechan: What are the main projects that Brave developers are working on now?

Beyond just developers, here are some things that come to mind. I'm sure this list is not exhaustive.

  • We have a big team working on Brave Core, the re-write of the desktop browser.
  • We have another team working on maintaining and enhancing the currently released desktop browser.
  • We're working on a native ledger library and we're re-using that code in mobile and desktop, this will become the BAT SDK eventually.
  • We're working on a new browser rewrite for iOS based on WKWebView, our iOS browser which is currently based on UIWebView. This will help fix a long tail of crashes, and give us better web compat and is generally more performant.
  • Our QA team is working on ensuring we deliver quality products and services
  • Our design team is working on improving existing things and adding new features.
  • Our research department is working on various projects including a new way to do reader mode, intelligent tracking protection, better ad blocking and ad detection systems, machine learning and more.
  • We're working on user model machine learning libraries for use with our opt-in ads.
  • We're working on settlement fraud detection.
  • We're working on the next version of how contributions work, as well as the ability to do "tips" to websites and posts that you like.
  • We're working on 2-way wallet support.
  • We're working on new UIs and UX.
  • We're working on stats and growth projections.
  • We're working on our ads interface both advertiser facing and back-end facing.
  • We're building out our publishers site, both publisher facing and back-end facing.
  • We're working on BAT features in our mobile browsers.
  • We're starting to work on IPFS and Dat integration.
  • We're working on offering even better user support.
  • We're working on finishing cross-device user encrypted sync.
  • New features for referral promotions.
  • We're working on a native Ethereum wallet and dapp support.

u/WhaleFactory: If you had to describe the visual redesign of Brave 1.0 in 3 words - what would they be?

Fast native UI.

1.0 is more about full extension support, creating a long term no-risk maintainable code base that can easily keep up to date with new Chromium versions, better security and a more performant UI. We'll have our own look and we'll be doing UI work beyond our initial release.

u/cokechan: Where do you envision Brave in 6 months from now? And u/Scoobytwo: What do you envision BRAVE/BAT to look like 5 years from now?

I won't limit the possibilities to what I can come up with myself. So generally, whatever our team and community make it to be, we're hiring by the way: /jobs/

In 5 years I can personally imagine having a visible stake of browser market share.

  • I see us causing other browser companies to step up their game.
  • I see us influencing privacy on the Internet at large.
  • I see BAT used in many products and services.
  • I see us working at standardizing BAT.
  • I see user private ads understood and widely adopted.
  • I see us branching out into various different products and services.

During this time we'll develop more of the ads infrastructure and launch it, we'll get on Brave Core, we'll get on WKWebView and more.

Some specific dates:

  • Start of September - Dev channel builds for brave-core released
  • End of September - Beta channel builds for brave-core released
  • 2/3 through October - Release channel builds for brave-core released

Shortly after this, we'll get to our 1.0 release.

u/SleepShadow: Can you describe what your average day/week looks like at Brave? What kind of questions do you need to answer? What kind of decisions do you need to make on a daily basis? What was the latest decision you had to make?

Around half of our work force is remote, and I'm one of those remote workers. We regroup around Sack.

I get pinged a lot for questions ranging from basic HR things to very technical implementation details.

I like to lead through example, so I'm very hands on. It's not atypical for me to have 10-20 different code commits in a given day or to review people's code. I'm lucky to be supported by a team much smarter and better in various ways than I am. So I'm learning from them over time.

Latest decision? Whether to delay the release of the new desktop browser rewrite Brave Core for 1.0, or whether to release with something that is better than what we have.

We decided not to wait for 1.0 and to release with Brave Core's 0.55.x version which is expected to be released 2/3 through October.

1.0 will come soon after that. New releases after 0.55.x will come every 3 weeks and will follow a time based train schedule.

u/Scoobytwo: Will the mobile Browser / BAT wallet also integrate a general ETH / DAPP wallet? I am aware that the beta UX has been designed for desktop, but is this also on the roadmap for the mobile browsers?

We were going to ship an ETH wallet on the current desktop product but we decided we wanted it to have a higher quality bar. Initially we were running geth in the background. We took a step back and we're planning something much better. The new design and architecture will apply to mobile and will appear on brave-core as well, the desktop only initiative for an integrated ETH / DAP wallet was transformed to be cross platform including mobile.

u/IholdBat: Why isn't more time focused on mobile? I'm super excited for 1.0 rewrite, however, I feel as mobile is still getting left behind. Brendan alluded to BAT coming to iOS in September, but why not start with mobile then move to desktop? Esp. when 75% users are mobile?

We’re refocusing a lot of effort into mobile. I think you probably heard September for Android and not iOS, it'll come to Android before iOS.

Most features we deliver in the future will be cross platform. Sometimes iOS has limitations, so sometimes it will be later than Android and desktop platforms.

Mobile isn’t being left behind, there’s significant work being done for BAT support today.

Getting something from 0 to 1 is hard enough on its own, so desktop is probably the easiest way for us to try things. 1 to many is the next step, and other products and services is the step after that. We've learnt a lot from the ledger in desktop as well as from our ad trials program.

u/marvindanig: I have Brave on all three devices that I own: iPad, iPhone and Mac and use it occasionally, but I haven't still been able to break myself free from Google Chrome. How/what do you think will Brave have to do to help users like me to clearly steer away from anything else that they're currently used to?

With Brave Core you'll go from feeling like you should use Brave, but you still want to use Chrome to wanting to use Brave no matter what.

Read the full AMA here.  

Read Brendan’s AMA from August 16th, 2018 here.  

Follow the BAT Community’s Updates here:

Upcoming BAT Community AMAs:

September 2018
Johnny Ryan, Chief Policy Officer (Sept. 5th)
Joel Reis and Sergey Zhukovsky, Brave iOS and Android

October 2018
David Temkin, Chief Product Officer
Yan Zhu, Chief Information Security Officer

November 2018
Jonathan Sampson, Developer Relations Specialist
Alex Wykoff, User Research and Testing

December 2018
Ryan Watson and Kamil Jozwiak, DevOps and QA
CBO Brian Brown, Luke Mulks, Jan Piotrowski and Brad Florsa from the Business Development team

January 2019
Tom Lowenthal, Security and Privacy Coordinator

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