For Sovrin to become a global, public utility that helps everyone create and manage self-sovereign identities, it must be independent and self-sustaining. This post outlines four idependence milestones for Sovrin Foundation.
The Sovrin Foundation began life about a year ago. We launched the Sovrin Network just last month. For Sovrin to achieve its goal of providing self-sovereign identity for all, the Foundation and the Network have to be independent and self-sustaining.
The idea for Sovrin-style identity and the technology behind it was developed by Evernym. To their credit, Evernym’s founders, Jason Law and Timothy Ruff, recognized that for their dream of a global identity system to become reality, they’d have to make Sovrin independent of Evernym. At present, Evernym continues to make huge contributions to Sovrin in time, code, money, and people. Our goal is to reduce these contributions, at least as a percentage of the total, over time.
Achieving complete independence and becoming self-sustaining can be measured with four milestones. We have achieved the first and are working on the second which would lead to the resources necessary to achieve the third and fourth.
- Legal independence—Sovrin Foundation is legally separate from Evernym. Furthermore, I and the majority of people involved with the foundation governance have no relationship to Evernym. No one on the board represents an organization. They are on the board as people and recruited because of their support for self-sovereign identity. My belief is that the Board of Trustees should represent the people with identities on the network, not specific organizations.
- Financial independence—This is harder to achieve. I don’t believe that Sovrin can provide self-sovereign identity for people as an “industry association” where big companies come together to determine how Sovrin works. So, I’ve resisted fund-raising that would require that Sovrin trade influence for dollars. We are working on some alternative methods and hope to make some announcements about this soon.
- Technical independence—This will follow from financial independence as we hire people to take over some of the management roles in the foundation that are now staffed by Evernym and other volunteers. We will also begin to drive many technical developments and coordinate our open source projects from within the foundation.
- Ecosystem independence—This will be achieved when there are multiple competitors to Evernym on the Sovrin platform. As the network becomes more capable, we will begin to recruit more companies to use Sovrin. Evernym will be just one of many companies that use Sovrin. Our goal is to build a platform that is universal and owned by nobody. Further we don’t want the platform to be dominated by any one company. Our vision is for Sovrin to become an Internet for identity with all that that term implies.
Beyond these four milestones, the ultimate goal for Sovrin Foundation and the network is self-sustainability. Sovrin must be in a position where it is self-sustaining so that it can remain free from outside influences that might rob it of its independence. We are fortunate to have a network model that can return value to the foundation for its role in developing the code and governing the stewards who operate nodes on the network. This model will support a vibrant, growing ecosystem of applications with positive network effects. Watch for upcoming announcements about Sovrin and self-sustainability in the near future.
Thanks to Timothy Ruff for suggesting the four milestones of independence.
Photo Credit: travel-fly-balloon-sky-sunset from Gellinger (CC0)