Visionary Technologist & Entrepreneur
“I like to see people make use of what I build,” says Eric Lombrozo, in about as succinct a one-sentence self-description as you’ll ever hear from a corporate CEO.
Lombrozo was introduced to computers at an early age and didn’t take long to begin programming them. He was seven years old. “About a year later, when the original Mac was released, my dad brought one home. He showed me how to use it and gave me a programming manual. I was instantly captivated by these amazing machines. I’ve been passionate about computer technology ever since.”
Fast forward to 2015. Lombrozo is now the co-founder, co-CEO, and chief technology officer of Ciphrex Corporation, a company that builds premier infrastructure products for Bitcoin and other decentralized consensus networks. He teamed up with his father, Enrique Lombrozo, an MIT graduate with extensive business experience, to co-found Ciphrex in 2013.
“The cryptocurrency movement is at the confluence of computer science, cryptography and cybersecurity,” says Eric. “I’ve spent a good part of my work life acquiring and developing knowledge in those three fields, and we have positioned Ciphrex to take advantage of that.”
Ciphrex completed the sale of its Series A stock offering in January, raising $500,000 in a fully subscribed initial round. These funds will allow the company to further advance, promote and expand its product line. A friend at a party introduced Lombrozo to Bitcoin in 2011. Intrigued by what he heard, he went home and over the next weeks applied the considerable repertoire of his nearly 15 years as a prominent software engineer to hack away at the protocol and determine why it ultimately would not work. What he confronted instead was “a breakthrough that started an entire movement,” he says. “Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin’s pseudonymous inventor) deserves serious respect for having solved a major problem with computer networks—namely, how to use decentralized consensus to create a trustless peer-to-peer money transfer system. It is very admirable that he was able to implement the idea and prove it out. That has assured him a place in history.”
Lombrozo has been a longtime member of the Bitcoin core development group and an active participant in the open source effort behind the Bitcoin reference implementation—the software comprising the backbone of the Bitcoin network. “I really enjoy my time with the core developer group,” he says. “Fun people working on a great cause.”
As remarkable as he believes Nakamoto’s invention is, Lombrozo respectfully critiques the original protocol’s shortcomings and uses that critique to craft improvements that have directly fed into Ciphrex.
“There are some flaws in the design of the Bitcoin architecture that make it tedious, slow or risky to make the big changes you sometimes need or would like,” he says. “Our focus at Ciphrex is to push the state of the art in decentralized consensus and blockchain technology and build the infrastructure that will ultimately make these technologies practical and accessible to everyone.”
Among the most immediate needs are tools giving people easier and better control over their bitcoins. One such tool is mSIGNA, a next-generation multisignature wallet available for download at Ciphrex’s website (https://ciphrex.com). For individuals, mSIGNA offers an easy-to-use Bitcoin wallet. For businesses, it provides an enterprise-grade foundation for Bitcoin application development.
Lombrozo is quick to point out that strictly speaking, the term “wallet” is a misnomer. “Bitcoin wallets don’t actually store bitcoins. The blockchain stores bitcoins. Bitcoin wallets are really tools to help you manage cryptographic keys and view your balances and transaction history.” Ciphrex’s multi-sig platform allows users to develop comprehensive security policies, and it automatically manages the low-level cryptomechanisms enforcing them.
“Do you want five different levels of authentication in five different computers in five different cities?” Lombrozo asks. “Ciphrex’s platform easily supports this. You can configure security policies that are like the Pentagon, so that even if the first lines of defense are breached, the others will hold. Our platform allows for multiple checks and balances at the institutional level so single points of failure can be avoided.”
Lombrozo is also a contributor to the Ripple and Ethereum open source projects. (Ripple and Ethereum are other payment networks that use and extend many of the ideas that Bitcoin pioneered.) Moreover, Ciphrex’s wallet mSIGNA was selected by the Ethereum project for its crowdfunding campaign, being the only wallet that met the strict security and usability requirements. The campaign raised over 30,000 bitcoins, worth more than $7 million at the time of this writing. The Ethereum project continues to use Ciphrex’s software to protect and manage these funds.
“The way we see it, the Bitcoin of today is like the Wright brothers’ early aircraft—it’s a proof-of-concept. It took several design iterations before we were able to transport hundreds of passengers across the ocean at once…or fly supersonic. Eventually, decentralized consensus protocols will enable anyone anywhere in the world to contribute resources online, from computing power to storage, connectivity, content, code, contracts on property, goods and services. And these resources will be instantly traded peer-to-peer, without middlemen, using this technology we’re creating today.”