To supplement the bi-weekly email newsletter and give the Threshold Community greater insight into the talented and passionate people creating and supporting this groundbreaking technology, The Threshold Marketing Guild has begun a series of interviews with members of the Keep and NuCypher teams.
Not a member of the Threshold Discord yet? Be sure to head over to discord.gg/threshold and dive in!
We are excited to kick off with a conversation with NuCypher’s CTO, David Nuñez.
Can you give us a short intro to yourself and your background?
Hi, Threshold friends! I'm David, I live in Málaga, Spain, and I'm CTO at NuCypher. My story with NuCypher goes back to 2016. I studied Computer Science in the University of Málaga, and in 2016 I obtained a PhD in Information Security, with a thesis devoted to the study of Proxy Re-Encryption. Roughly at that time, MacLane Wilkison and Michael Egorov founded ZeroDB, and started working on a prototype for an encrypted database. As part of their proof-of-concept, they ended up using an open-source implementation of a Proxy Re-Encryption scheme I coded in 2013 and we started to talk.
One thing led to another and just two weeks later, MacLane and Michael were "casually" visiting Málaga. We had coffee, we drank Málaga sweet wine...and they offered me to work for them. It was extremely interesting, but at that time, I was a post-doc and wanted to be a professor at the University, so I declined the offer (🤦). Instead, I redirected it as a collaboration through the University. We worked together on secure data sharing for Big Data with Apache Hadoop and Apache Kafka for over a year, but around mid-2017 various ideas consolidated into what later would be called the NuCypher Network.
After some months working through the University agreement, I realized I was fed up with the academic life and this time I did take the offer from NuCypher. This turned out to be the best professional decision I ever took (apart from open-sourcing that cryptographic code in 2013 and reaching out to MacLane and Michael through Twitter in 2016!). I started working full-time in 2018, officially as a cryptographer and engineer (although in NuCypher titles don't mean much, as everyone tries to do many different things).
What are your primary responsibilities?
My primary task is coordinating work, especially since we have several parallel efforts ongoing. That being said, NuCypher has a very unique work culture and the team is pretty much autonomous and proactive, but some amount of coordination is required, especially since we now are integrating with an external team, Keep, for everything related to Threshold. On the Threshold side, I've been involved mainly with the smart contract integration, which is the basic core underlying the merger (special thanks here to Vicky Zotova, our rock-star Solidity engineer, who has been doing an enormous amount of work on this side).
What are you most excited about with respect to the Threshold Network, and where do you see it in 5 years?
The Threshold Network is a paradigmatic example of a positive-sum: two major networks providing cryptographic services, together under the same umbrella, with stakers of both sides being able to participate in each other’s technologies. Given the developments on the regulatory scene, I see big pressure towards truly decentralized DeFi building blocks that can resist tighter regulatory environments, so in 5 years I see tBTC as a fundamental piece for DeFi. A similar situation occurs for encryption and privacy-enhancing technologies and the role that NuCypher's secure data sharing will play.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
My typical workday is the constant switching between Discord, Github, and the terminal. Lately, I've been mostly working with Threshold's smart contracts, but before that, I was deeply involved with NuCypher's Python codebase. And every day, calls, calls, and more calls!
Anything else you’d like to share with the community? Fun facts, hobbies, you name it!
Well, nothing particularly exciting, in most aspects I'm a very simple person. I like to spend time with my wife, my 3 kids, and my dog. My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old, so they require a lot of attention and don't care at all about Threshold and NuCypher! I also like to hike, and I play guitar and bass, but sadly I haven't had much time for those lately. Málaga is a great city to live in, the weather is awesome most times of the year, so simple things like going to the beach or to parks, enjoying the weather, and hanging out with friends is more than enough for me.