If crypto enthusiasts are right, the next decade will see billions of people start using applications built on distributed, user-owned blockchains. The new paradigm is called Web 3. However, if Web 3 is to replace the digital world as we know it, it still has some major challenges to overcome.
For example, blockchain networks will need an efficient way to detect and resolve performance issues. Current analytics tools are built for companies to monitor their websites and applications. Such a service only needs to be designed for one user. However, in the decentralized world of blockchain, users are the owners, upending the traditional model of maintenance and bug fixes.
Metrika, a company founded by MIT alumni, has developed a suite of tools to help distributed communities in the blockchain world monitor and improve their networks. The company allows users to create alerts, access reports and view real-time community dashboards that visualize network performance, issues and trends over time.
“Metrika is a community-based monitoring and collaboration platform,” said founder and CEO Nikos Andrikogiannopoulos SM ’06, MBA ’11. “We are making [blockchain network] Telemetry is a public good for everyone. These apps have billions of dollars in assets, so it’s impossible to imagine us without service guarantees and a deep understanding of what’s going on in real time. “
Metrika is currently serving popular blockchain protocols including Ethereum, Algorand, Flow and Solana. As other webs become more popular, the company plans to expand the list in anticipation of the much-hyped shift to Web 3.
“Our vision at Metrika is to be a key layer in the Web 3 world,” Andrikogiannopoulos said. “Ten years from now, kids will be interacting with assets on their phones. The idea of a bank account will be foreign to them. There will be no corner banks. The whole idea of finance will not go through brick-and-mortar stores and bank accounts – you will Own an asset on every application you use. In a world where everything happens on the blockchain, how can Metrika help provide the observability, reliability, and visibility of a blockchain network?”
Take inspiration from MIT
Andrikogiannopoulos, who first came to MIT in 2004 as a graduate student, likes to say he never really left. Today, he lives in Cambridge with his wife, who works at MIT, and returns to campus frequently.
After earning his second degree from MIT, an MBA from the Sloan School of Management, Andrikogiannopoulos began working in telecommunications consulting. During his lunch break, he returns to MIT to work with the Entrepreneurship Mentoring Service (VMS), where entrepreneurs in the MIT community can connect with mentors and get advice. While discussing telecom startup ideas, a VMS mentor connected him with internet entrepreneur Rubin Gruber, who suggested he explore the blockchain space instead.
It was the middle of 2018 – many remember the “crypto winter” of the lull of blockchain hype and the corresponding collapse in crypto prices. But Andrikogiannopoulos began researching the industry and connecting with people in the blockchain space, including MIT alumni working at blockchain company Algorand, founded by MIT Ford Foundation engineering professor Silvio Micali.
A few months after their initial conversation, Andrikogiannopoulos returned to Gruber’s office, telling him that the blockchain lacked surveillance and operational intelligence.
The problem stems from the decentralized structure of the blockchain. Each user creates, receives and moves data through their server, operating as a node in the system. When users encounter problems, they need to figure out whether the problem is within their node or involves the entire network.
“They might ask other users on Twitter and Discord what they’re going through,” Andrikogiannopoulos said. “They’re trying to triangulate the problem, and it’s going to take them hours to identify the problem, coordinate a response, and fix it.”
To build Metrika, Andrikogiannopoulos built open-source nodes around the world, pulled data from nodes and networks, and then aggregated that data into easy-to-understand reports and other tools.
“We act as a common infrastructure, so users get visibility through dashboards, alerts and reports, and then we add collaboration tools on top of that,” explains Andrikogiannopoulos.
By 2019, Metrika had started to detect issues such as node performance, strikes, network latency, and errors (such as not producing blocks at the correct rate). Andrikogiannopoulos showed his progress to Algorand employees who had expressed interest, so he continued to build out Metrika’s suite of tools.
“You can see the idea of Metrika bounce around the entire MIT ecosystem,” Andrikogiannopoulos said, “When you start a company, it’s critical to have an insightful and resource-rich environment like MIT where you can iterate your ideas and find team members to join you.”
Enable Web 3
Blockchain is no longer a niche technology. All over the world, financial and logistics companies, as well as gamers and other creatives, are adopting the technology.
“The blockchain world has been a big experiment so far,” Andrikogiannopoulos said. “A lot of this infrastructure hasn’t been built yet. But Bitcoin is proving that this can work outside the world of traditional finance, and Ethereum is taking it to the next level with applications, smart contracts, and essentially creating a decentralized smart computer To another level. We think about realizing that world we see.”
As Metrika continues to build solutions for monitoring blockchains, it also hopes to serve the many applications built on top of this infrastructure.
“In the future, if a blockchain deal doesn’t go through and you’re Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan, you need to know why the deal didn’t go through and what happened,” Andrikogiannopoulos said. “Or, if you’re an app that’s playing games or buying assets and transactions are lagging, you need to understand why the user experience is impacted. In Web 3, those things are all very important because of the scale and value stream we’re talking about. “
For Nikos, improving blockchain performance is more than just optimizing the network. It also helps usher in the world of open finance and open applications that Web 3 promises.
“In some cases, our blockchain network was down for 17 hours, but what matters to me is not the outage itself, but the infrastructure needed to avoid those outages as the industry continues to mature,” Nikos Say. “These issues can damage trust as we bring users into the Web 3 world. Metrika’s mission is to create a compelling Web 3 ecosystem.”