NEAR Foundation CEO Transition: A Note from Erik Trautman
December 16, 2021 — NEAR Team
I’m proud to say that, earlier today, the NEAR Foundation announced its selection of Marieke Flament as its new CEO starting January 1st, 2022. It’s an exciting time of transition and we’re thrilled to bring Marieke aboard because she brings world class leadership to the NEAR community. Her hiring highlights how this ecosystem is pulling in more and more of the best talent in the world to drive it to the next level.
As we head into the new year with new leadership, I just wanted to send a personal note out to everyone at NEAR with some context for the transition and thoughts for the future.
In the last 3 years, the NEAR project has undertaken an extraordinary evolution. What started as a whiteboard idea to fix the scaling problems of existing chains by using a novel sharding approach quickly grew into a juggernaut that brought in some of the best technical talent in the world. Along the way, we realized that scalability was only half the solution, so we built a flexible contract-based account model to help apps achieve the kind of usability that enables mass adoption.
And today, just a little over a year after launching, NEAR has hundreds of apps, thousands of community members, and over 1.7 million accounts. It’s been an incredible journey to see this ecosystem grow, and especially to join the community in NEARCon Lisbon to announce over $800M in funding to power the ecosystem to the next level.
Growing from 1 to 100
My role from the beginning has always been “do whatever it takes to make this project successful.” In its earliest days, that meant building out the original development company so the technology could surface. For the last 2 years it has meant standing up the NEAR Foundation so the protocol could launch from its genesis block to a fully decentralized community hand-off in 2020. Now, both the NF and the ecosystem around it have changed substantially.
In 2019, the NF was a piece of paper on a long table in a Swiss lawyer’s office. Now it is powered by the efforts of more than 50 people spread around the world who help to advocate for a community that has grown exponentially. As with any startuppy organization, the NF has reinvented itself several times during the intervening years but, at last, I can say that it has officially made it from 0 to 1.
Now, the NF is ready for the even bigger journey from 1 to 100 and it’s ready for the right hands to guide it there.
For the better part of a year, the NFC and I have conducted a careful search to build out the right leadership team. This is a strange-shaped organization in a strange-shaped ecosystem so it takes an unusual leader to carry it forward. With a mandate to support and advocate for the community, this requires someone who has the mentality of a founder, experience scaling global organizations, an intimate understanding of crypto, an unusual community orientation and, of course, world class servant leadership. This led to an extremely narrow list.
Marieke is the perfect fit.
Her experience growing Circle’s European operations and, later, their entire marketing organization, made her deeply familiar with both the power and the unusual nature of this community. She took those skills into the leading edge of the banking world as Mettle’s CEO, but the future of finance is decentralized and we’ve managed to guide her back home to an ecosystem that’s truly breaking out at NEAR.
Marieke has earned the faith and trust of the leadership team and the NFC so I hope you’ll welcome her too 🙂
Marieke will take the lead of the NF on January 1, 2021, where she’ll continue to support the explosive progress of the NEAR community and ecosystem.
As for me… my job description in the next stage will be the same—do whatever it takes to make NEAR successful. So, I’ll be supporting the transition, advising the NF, and engaging areas of the ecosystem where we can do even better, including by creating bridges through product, growth, and community to help NEAR-based applications achieve mass adoption.
This project has been a hell of a ride and it’s still the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone who’s ready to get involved. I’m excited to read its next chapter from a different perspective and to have Marieke at the helm of the NF to help write it.
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