J.R. Willett

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J.R. Willett is a Software Developer and Blockchain Enthusiast based in Seattle ​. [2] ​ He is the Inventor of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) ​ and led the first ICO for Mastercoin ​. [2] [3]

Early Life and Education

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A picture of J.R. Willett

Willett grew up in the Pacific Northwest ​ and graduated from North Clackamas Christian School ​ in 1998. [2] ​ During he school, he competed in various math and programming competitions and was Valedictorian ​ of his class, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. [2] ​ Willett would go on to attend Seattle Pacific University ​ where he created several projects that received acclaim. [2] ​ Willett wrote web application "SPU Blind Date Service" that had hundreds of users and was featured in the Seattle Times ​. [5] [2] ​ In addition, he co-founded an underground student newspaper that parodied official campus publications. [2] ​ Willett would go on to graduate Summa cum laude ​ with a 3.9 GPA in 2002. [2]

Career

In the first part of his career, Willett spent over 10 years as a Software Engineer for Dynon Avionics. [2] ​ He was one of the company's earliest hires and would create several products for the company such as flight planning software for drones, digital oscilloscope and logic analyzer software, automated sensor calibration software, and a custom scripting language. [2] ​ In 2012, he became the Software Developer Lead at Cozi and worked on Android and iPhone apps for families. [2] ​ He took a year off in between his tenure at the company to pursue his blockchain project Omni, but returned soon after. He left in 2017 to start Uptoken. [2]

Blockchain and ICOs

Willett first became interested in Bitcoin ​ in 2010. At first he paid different people to mine Bitcoin. [3] ​ He would try to imagine different scenarios on the future development of cryptocurrencies and envisioned contracts on top of Bitcoin. [3] ​ In January 2012 on the Bitcoin Talk forum, Willett published a white paper titled "The Second Bitcoin White Paper" where he proposed currency layers to be built on top of the existing Bitcoin network that would be used as a protocol layer. [3] ​ Seventeen months after the release of the white paper, no one tried Willett's fundraising idea, which motiviated him to have the first ICO to prove the concept would work. [3] ​ The ICO would be for Mastercoin, which in 2013 would raise a half a million dollars in Bitcoin. [3] ​ Mastercoin would create two successful projects within its ecosystem, MaidSafeCoin and Tether. [3]

In 2017, Willett would join the Coinme with the goal of bringing crypto to a wider audience through cryptocurrency ATM machines. [3] ​ Willett was tapped to design Uptoken, a cryptocurrency at the ATM that could be used as reward points. [2] [3]

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