Farewell Portis, Hello Account Abstraction

Tom Teman
3 min readJan 16, 2023

Almost three years ago, I was thrilled to announce that ShapeShift had acquired Portis.

Joining ShapeShift has been an amazing experience. The company is full of wonderful people, both personally and professionally, who together create a terrific culture that promotes friendliness, security, and a “get stuff done” attitude. Truly, BUIDL heaven.

However, ultimately ShapeShift decided to go all in on decentralization. First by offering liquidity to its users solely through DEX platforms like Uniswap and THORChain, and finally by dissolving its legal entity and becoming a DAO. Our original shared vision for how Portis will play a part within ShapeShift never came to light. Nonetheless, I am thankful I was there for the ride and I am confident they will continue to do great things.

As we did not fit into the path ShapeShift was on, it was decided that the Portis product and team move on to join a different exchange in the ecosystem — Kraken. Unfortunately, shortly after we joined, Kraken downsized 30% of its workforce, including the Portis team.

As the dust settled, one thing was 100% clear to me: I’m staying in blockchain.

Ever since I entered this ecosystem in 2013, my passion for it has only grown. It’s a joy and a privilege to operate in an environment where you interact with so many remarkable people, build products that will reshape our society, and constantly challenge yourself with cutting-edge technology and concepts.

So… what now?

🎉 I have joined the Ethereum Foundation!

The opportunity to work with the brilliant minds behind Ethereum is truly an honor. I am thrilled to contribute my skills and knowledge to the development and advancement of Ethereum and its ecosystem.

Image source: https://ethereum.org/en/assets/

In the foreseeable future, I will be specifically focusing on ERC-4337. If you’re not familiar with ERC-4337, AKA Account Abstraction, now is a great chance.

I’m super excited about Account Abstraction, and so should you!

In a nutshell, Account Abstraction aims to solve a major usability issue that has plagued Ethereum from its inception: EOAs (i.e. your private-public keypair), which is what your wallet most likely uses to control your funds, are unforgiving and insecure. A singular, non-recoverable, immutable key that controls everything.

With Account Abstraction, an on-chain layer is added between your identity and your assets (via a smart contract), allowing you to easily manage multiple keys of varying permissions, cycle your keys, add recovery methods, multisig, and more.

Account Abstraction will also enable gas relays (i.e. another wallet can pay your transaction fees), transaction batching, and more.

Spearheading ERC-4337 is the same team that built the Gas Station Network, which Portis was the first wallet to integrate. Portis and OpenGSN are just two players in a very long list of projects that aim to solve different challenges that stand in the way of Ethereum attaining mainstream adoption (Portis: key management, OpenGSN: transaction fees). I believe that Account Abstraction will allow Ethereum to finally bridge that critical gap and eventually bring us to one billion users. It doesn’t do anyone any good to come up with the “killer dapp” (like email was for the internet) if only a bunch of tech-savvy people can actually use it.

I was never one to care about titles (and neither does the Ethereum Foundation), but I can say that I will act as PM & developer relations lead for ERC-4337. In reality, that is almost like saying the same thing. With developer-centric projects like ERC-4337, the line between product and DevRel is very blurred.

Just like with Portis, which was also a developer-centric project, I’m going to work together with the BUIDLers in the space who want to build on top of Account Abstraction (or contribute directly to the ERC itself) and I consider myself lucky to be in that role.

I’m excited to begin this new journey! Hopefully, I might finally accomplish what I set out back in 2018 when I founded Portis — to help Ethereum demonstrate its true power through mass adoption.

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Tom Teman

#BUIDLing @ Ethereum Foundation, Account Abstraction (ERC 4337). Previously CEO and founder of Portis (acquired by ShapeShift)