The Aurora team is made up of exceptional individuals that left a mark in the industries they have been part of by innovating and building cutting edge technology. These top-tier professionals have unique stories to share about their journeys that deserve to be talked about as they can provide inspiration and guidance to new builders joining this ecosystem. With this series we aim to do just that by highlighting the work and experiences of a generation of pioneers in the Web3 world paying tribute to their valuable contributions and achievements.
Jonathan Logan is the head of infrastructure at Aurora Labs. He has over twenty years of experience in software engineering and systems management and has contributed to dozens of projects across different industries. Jonathan, however, is not your typical software engineer. His curriculum is rich with life experiences in a variety of domains that span from music, consulting, privacy enhancing tech, digital cash, and professional driving.
A Cypherpunk in the Making–Jonathan’s Early Days of Software Engineering
Jonathan Logan was born in Germany, where he obtained his degree in software engineering, software architecture, and systems management. In the first years of his career Jonathan worked as an E-cash provider and consultant in the field of software architecture and cybersecurity. In addition to that, he was involved in the development of eCache and Scrit, two chaumian bank systems.
Since he was a young adult, Jonathan had a strong passion for privacy enhancing technology and a soft spot for the cypherpunk culture. In 2007, this passion translated into a business venture, when together with a friend he started running one of the first international VPN providers. From running a complex infrastructure relying on a small team, Jonathan acquired key experience that he later employed in his position as head of infrastructure at Aurora.
An Unusual Onboarding Story
After ten years of running a VPN service Jonathan decided to close the company and begin a new chapter in his life. It was at this time that some of his old time friends, Arto Bendiken and Frank Braun, one Aurora’s current CTO and the other the former head of security, asked Jonathan to join the Aurora team. Jonathan, however, promptly declined their offer due to the negative opinion he held about the blockchain field. As he recalls,
“I didn’t like the majority of companies I observed in the blockchain space. I didn’t like what they were working on and I didn’t like their ethos. A lot of them are just burning money in marketing and events but they are not solving real problems.”
Jonathan was very adamant about not working in the blockchain field and any attempt to convince him otherwise was unsuccessful. But due to his friendship with Arto and Frank, Jonathan was repeatedly exposed to Aurora.
In the spring of 2021, Jonathan was invited at a party where many Aurora team members were invited to. On this occasion, an exchange of jokes ended up landing him an unusual gig,
“I was invited to a party for Arto’s son, and a lot of people from the company were there. And afterwards, they all had to go to Paris for a conference and I was joking around with them saying that if they wanted to hire me they could hire me as a driver, as I previously worked as a professional driver. My joke was actually taken seriously. They hired me as a driver to drive people around Paris, that was my first job at Aurora.”
Jonathan was very determined to not work on a blockchain project but had no issues working as a driver for a blockchain company, little did he know that this gave the Aurora team an opportunity to finally change his mind. After spending a lot of time with the Aurora team Jonathan began to realize that there was something different about Aurora– its people. Spending time with the different team members at Aurora allowed Jonathan to have conversations on Aurora’s tech that ended up catching his interest:
“We talked a lot about the ways the Aurora team was trying to pioneer different ways of interacting with blockchain systems. One of the things was extending the notion of protocol level meta transactions, so being able to have your transactions executed without gas on the RPC level and not on the contract level. This is something really interesting and quite difficult to accomplish. Being able to combine things to create a secure, fast, scalable and flexible system– it’s an appealing technological challenge.”
Through in-depth technological discussions, the Aurora team had finally managed to present Jonathan with a challenge that was just too tempting for him; by September 2021 he had joined the team — first as systems administrator and shortly after as head of infrastructure,
“Our focus is to provide a working, scalable, and fast environment but also to improve the RPC infrastructure. Some of the questions we are dealing with, for instance, is how to create a rule engine that allows businesses to have free transactions on their dApps and makes users pay for the rest and vice versa. Another important question is how to reduce the time required until you know whether a transaction will work on chain.”
Since Jonathan joined Aurora as head of infrastructure he has led the team to build a better and more scalable RPC for Aurora and find satisfaction in having to solve interesting technical problems.
Jonathan’s take on the Future of Aurora
Once Jonathan was able to dive deep into Aurora’s technology, he was quick to recognize its potential. The Rainbow Bridge’s architecture is something that struck Jonathan as an unparalleled piece of technology and ‘best of its kind’. Its design shows a deep understanding of blockchain technology and a great accomplishment for the field. When thinking of Aurora’s development, Jonathan is keen on what is to come:
“Since it was created, Aurora has accomplished a ton of things in the blockchain industry. But of course, there is more that we can accomplish now that the key infrastructure is coming together. One of these things is, for instance, the streaming of cross-contract call data to the bridge.”
According to Jonathan, Aurora is evolving from simple EVM contract to something more elaborate, with the necessary features to truly be usable, as he puts it: “After a year and a half of development we are finally reaching a point of culmination, in my opinion, Aurora is one of the very few real world usable chains.”
Aurora is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) based on the layer 1 proof-of-stake blockchain NEAR Protocol. Aurora provides a solution for developers to deploy their apps on an Ethereum-compatible, high-speed, scalable, and future-proof platform with low transaction costs for their users.