Nick White is currently serving as the COO of the groundbreaking modular network, Celestia. Prior to his career in the blockchain industry, he studied electrical engineering at Standford University, and worked as an AI specialist at, an AI startup accelerator.

Career Beginnings

White obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University, where he focused on signal processing, optimization, and control research. As a graduate teaching assistant at Stanford, he researched artificial intelligence and applied mathematics with professor Bernard Widrow. White has served as the AI specialist at Zeroth.AI, an Hong Kong based AI accelerator, and coached over 20 teams worldwide in various industries ranging from finance to agriculture to blockchain.

Advancing Scalability: Harmony Protocol

In 2018, White co-founded Harmony Protocol, a blockchain network that combines Proof of Stake and Sharding, to achieve unprecedented scalability and user experience. As Harmony matured, White was instrumental in seeking innovative avenues to set the platform apart. During an interview, White underscored his crucial role in forging and integrating strategic partnerships after Harmony's mainnet launch. He highlighted the successful incorporation of Binance Stablecoin (BUSD) into Harmony's blockchain as a testament to the platform's growing credibility and allure.

The Power of a Strong Community: Celestia

Since joining Celestia as COO in 2021, he has been at the forefront of building the Celestia ecosystem, often touted as a data availability layer for modular blockchain networks. Unlike modular blockchains, monolithic blockchains handle functions such as execution, settlement, consensus, and data availability in a single place. While monolithic blockchains offer the advantage of not relying on other modules in the network, they face challenges such as slowing processing times and increasing costs due to negative network effects as users and applications grow. On the other hand, a modular chain distributes the four mentioned functions among multiple modules, enabling scalability, increased block size, and improved performance through positive network effects.

23.06.09 Celestia Ecosystem(source= Celestia official twitter)

Moreover, during his appearance on the 0xResearch Podcast, White stressed the importance of cultivating a strong ecosystem over solely focusing on data availability network security. He envisioned a future where anyone could connect to a verifiable network using just a smartphone and utilize various functions such as payments, highlighting the potential of modular chains. Currently, Celestia is operating an incentive testnet and focusing on building a strong ecosystem by conducting a community challenge to make it easy for ordinary users to operate testnet light nodes.

As part of this ecosystem-building effort, Celestia is collaborating with the Optimism Foundation to drive the utilization of Celestia as a Data Availability (DA) layer for building the Optimism Layer 2 toolkit, known as the OP stack. By utilizing Celestia as a DA layer, it is expected to reduce gas fees and enhance its scalability for both users and developers. 

The structure of OP stack and Celestia + OP Stack (source: Celestia official blog)

White has also stressed the critical role of the developer experience and overall utility. With the goal of easing the development process, Celestia is making strides to ensure that developers can navigate its systems effortlessly—envisioning a future where activating the chain is as straightforward as clicking a button. The team at Celestia understands that the success of modular blockchain solutions largely depends on creating an exceptional experience for developers. As such, they are making plans to focus on these critical aspects in their future strategies. While the notion of modular blockchain remains in its development stages, the vision for the future involves multiple solutions coexisting, grounded in power law distribution and network effects. This perspective suggests that a small portion of chains (around 20%) will draw the majority of users, applications, and resources (roughly 80%). And it's in this scenario where the value of the modular approach shines, serving as a catalyst for these positive network effects.

Writer: Chris Park, Research Contributor at DeSpread

Reviewed by Jeehyun Ham, PR Lead at DeSpread

#Celestia Labs #Nick White

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August 16, 2023 — Korea Blockchain Week