AMA with CEO Chris McCabe
Oxen CEO Chris McCabe joined the Oxen Community on Session to answer some questions from the community on December 1st 2022.
The questions and answers are transcribed below. Some questions and answers have been lightly edited for clarity and grammar, but original meaning is maintained.
Q: Are there any plans to streamline the onboarding process for Session? I'd love to see @readable_usernames instead of ONS/long strings. Maybe like free trial basis for a month then charge $OXEN
A. We’ve actually already started doing surveys, UI/UX design, and A/B testing for our onboarding. Our team has made a lot of progress and the onboarding will definitely be changing quite a lot. We are rethinking fundamental things like how we describe and teach users about the Session ID (and whether that’s what it should be called), as well as looking into technical stuff like shortened names. That being said I’m a big believer in ONS as well, it will be a big part of Oxen’s future. Especially when you consider secondary markets, and how that can scale for monetisation.
Although this stuff is already being worked on, onboarding is a challenging problem, especially for an app like Session which uses new methods instead of phone numbers for contact discovery. Expect to see these improvements rolled out next year.
Q. Will you become the public figure for speaking at events and conferences in the way that Simon once was?
A. As CEO I will take on some of these responsibilities, although it is important to note that I am a different person with different strengths that will be applied differently. Some of the communication activities will be shared with Josh and Kee depending on the event. We’ve been sending Kee to a lot of conferences recently and he has been doing an awesome job. We get a lot of value from connecting with people at conferences, especially once they realise we have one of the most advanced projects in the space. We are very keen to get back into the conference circuit and attend and participate in events in the future.
Q. How's the funding status and projection of the project? As the new CEO are you going to seek private funding for the project?
A. We have strong funding to continue through the bear market, we also know it’s important to time your raise for maximum benefit rather than waiting until you need it. We have big plans and the more momentum and funding we receive the faster and more aggressively we can grow. For us, the most important goal is to deliver products that users can’t live without, and hopefully raise capital from those who believe in our just cause and mission.
Long term we want to be sustainable based on the success of our products and ecosystem and not trying to swing branch to branch on VC money, we strive to be independent and cash flow positive.
Q. The GitHub issues are full of valuable feedback from actual Session users, but so far they are mostly ignored. Will the team commit to be more present in the GH issues and more open to suggestions?
A. We genuinely love community feedback, and as an open source project we are constantly battling to make sure we are as transparent and community engaging as we can while still staying hyper focused on achieving the coordinated features we have been working on.
Sometimes the community contributions or suggestions, while appreciated, don’t align with our overarching plans. We would like to engage more with the community to maximise the impact of our contributors’ efforts. We’re always open to suggestions, but I think the best way to improve this dialogue will be by improving communication about our plans and strategies so that the community can make more informed suggestions.
Q. Which parts of the project will get deprioritized to focus on increasing the userbase?
A. We will be focusing on projects that will have a ‘snowball’ effect — including adding features that grow users while causing minimal ongoing overhead to the project (i.e. scalable). On the internal processes and marketing side, we will continue focusing on data driven growth, and stop any projects that create friction for us.
As for specific things which will be deprioritised, think small — it’s ‘we won’t spend x months developing this feature’, not ‘we are deprioritising this product’.
Q. What was the primary reason for the change in leadership, and will Simon still have a say in the roadmap/future of Oxen?
A. With Simon in Berlin focusing on Chainflip, it was important to have a CEO on the ground in Melbourne with a singular focus on Oxen and its products. I have more knowledge and understanding of this project than anyone, and I can see a clear path forward (and strategies to get there). We still interact with Simon on a weekly basis and that will continue into the future. He has valuable insights and advice that we take on board.
Q. What do the new changes mean for Lokinet integration into Session? Will it be delayed?
A. I see no delays in Lokinet integrations into Session from any of the recent changes, if anything I will be able to accelerate the implementation. There isn’t a specific date I can give for public release, but it is something we are working on.
Q. There's no place to report issues to some Oxen websites like https://oxensn.com, https://oxendashboard.com, https://optf.ngo/, can we have a GitHub repo as an umbrella to track issues for them?
A. Great idea, we do have a strong community and it is always valuable when we can lean on the community's assistance to keep these sites working optimally. We will need to have some internal discussions and see what is viable here to come to the right balance for the team and the community.
We’re currently in the process of updating the OPTF website completely, so that’s a good opportunity to create a repo for the website.
Q. Why are you having a meeting with Chainflip?
A. Chainflip is a companion project, it got its start in the Oxen Labs and we have a close relationship with their project and team. It’s always beneficial keeping strong relationships with other good projects in the industry, and Chainflip is no different. We meet to discuss all kinds of things, we ran an airdrop with them in the past and we are excited to work with them now and into the future.
Q. Session and Lokinet are integral parts of the Oxen project, but what development is planned for Oxen the cryptocurrency?
A. We are currently working on a wallet overhaul which will vastly improve the user experience of the GUI wallet and introduce a bunch of new functionality. Oxen is the core incentivised layer of the network, so from here it is about streamlining things to allow us to smoothly further integrate features into Session and Lokinet.
We have great relationships with other privacy coins, and there is always the possibility that we engage with them in the future to produce something quite amazing for the cryptocurrency and Oxen community. But that is very under wraps currently. Stay tuned.
Q. Will Session ever gain the option to edit messages or this simply not possible with its underlying protocol?
A. It is possible, but the solution wouldn’t be very neat. You would have to send a ‘new’ message which modified the previous message. There are, however, some issues/edge cases, most notably with time-to-live.
Q. A big showstopper for a lot of potential users (and even current active users) is the <6MB attachment limit. Will this be lifted/unlockable before we see full-fledged monetization options?
A. In the future we will raise the limits of files that can be sent, but there will be some administrative headaches associated with the change, and more overheads and friction created by the increase. The file size increase may even need to be a paid feature, depending on what its cost to the network ends up being.
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