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Why Polygon Co-Founder Mihailo Bjelic Got Started in Web3

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Why Polygon Co-Founder Mihailo Bjelic Got Started in Web3
  • Mihailo Bjelic is the co-founder of Polygon, a popular Ethereum scaling platform.
  • Polygon’s scaling solutions have over $5 billion in assets secured.
  • The 36-year-old executive says the team has grown from 30 to 450 employees in less than two years.

Growing up in the Balkans at a time of extreme financial impermanence and civil unrest, Mihailo Bjelic says he saw the need for an alternative to the traditional monetary system from an early age.

“There was this period of instability,” Bjelic, who grew up in Nova Varos, a mountain town in southwestern Serbia, told Insider. “I have witnessed firsthand and as a very young child how fiat currencies can collapse.”

When he was about 4 years old, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia endured the second longest period of hyperinflation in world economic history, along with lingering tensions due to prolonged geopolitical conflict.

“For all the families, it was very difficult to have a normal, decent life that every human being should have,” he said. “Basically, you were getting your paycheck and then running to convert that fiat currency, which loses value every hour, into something more stable.”

He added that after people received each paycheck, “it was first an effort to race against time to convert that currency into something more stable so that you can basically get to your next paycheck.” .

Bjelic says that experience, along with his lifelong interest in technology and math, “naturally led me to crypto.”

The beginnings of Polygon

After starting out in a startup focused on the automotive industry and branching out into a few other tech-related ventures, Bjelic decided to go full-time into Web3 in 2017. After Ethereum piqued his interest, he noticed that there were barriers to adoption in blockchains such as a lack of basic and scalable infrastructure.

“I fell down the rabbit hole and wanted to dedicate my life to it,” he added.

Initially, he started working on scaling solutions for Ethereum on his own. He then met Polygon co-founders Sandeep Nailwal, Jaynti Kanani, and Anurag Arjunthe where “any geeks interested in scaling blockchain normally hang out”: a discussion forum called ethresear.ch.

Nailwal, Kanani and Arjun were building a “relatively similar” concept to Bjelic’s called the Matic Network, which was launched in 2019. After several discussions and meetings, the four decided to join forces to officially launch Polygon.

“Starting a business together is like a marriage. It’s a very important decision. During the conversations, they really started to tick all the important boxes. They were very committed,” Bjelic said, citing the cash well managed from Matic.

For the uninitiated, Polygon is an Ethereum scaling solution, or sidechain, that allows developers to build decentralized applications, or DApps, on its network. Polygon can be used to build on blockchain games, non-fungible tokens, but continues to expand its use cases. Other layer 2 scaling solutions include xDai Chain, Optimism, Arbitrum, LoopRing and Immutable X.

The suite has hosted more than 37,000 DApps, processed 1.94 billion transactions, registered 154 million unique user addresses and has $5 billion in secure assets, according to Polygon data.

The startup previously announced a $450 million financing round in February, led by Sequoia Capital India. Other investors include Tiger Global, SoftBank and Galaxy Interactive. Since its launch two years ago, the blockchain development platform has also entered into partnerships with payment processor Stripe, Meta, the NFL and others.

“The most reputable companies in the world choose Polygon after doing their due diligence,” said Ryan Wyatt, CEO of Polygon Studios, previously. Initiated.

Co-running a 450-person company at the age of 36

Polygon, like many industry giants, has experienced “explosive growth” in a short time. The 36-year-old executive says the team has grown from 30 to 450 staff in about two years since joining.

“From the beginning, we wanted Polygon to become one of the industry’s leading infrastructure and scale providers,” he added. “That being said, we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. It really feels like it happened almost overnight.”

The co-founder works about 70 hours a week, he says, but every day is different. At the start of Polygon, he used his technical background as a systems engineer, but now his role has shifted to strategy and business development.

“I really have to take care of day-to-day business, strategic activities and making sure all teams have what they need to keep the technology in line with our adoption efforts,” he said.

Despite the company’s explosive growth, Bjelic says his life outside of work hasn’t changed. “There’s very little bandwidth to do anything outside of Polygon,” he said. “My apartment is still the same as I had, maybe on paper I’m richer, but I really find what we’re doing here really exciting and rewarding.”

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