I spend a lot of time with devs – whether it's chatting with them, watching threads explode in Discord with their input, or checking out their contributions to Stellar. And it's inevitable that when you spend enough time in a community, you come across really cool people building really cool things. That's why I wanted to shine the Developer Spotlight on these inspiring individuals in an ongoing series – read on for our first spotlight!
If you’ve spent any time perusing the Sorobanathon: First Light submissions or Stellar Developer Discord, you’ve probably seen the name tdep, the handle of Tommaso De Ponti. Tommaso has been a significant Stellar community member since mid-2020, but his developer journey began long before that when he was just eleven years old.
Several years ago, Tommaso was gifted something precious: his first computer. His older brother had recently learned Stencyl in school, and they decided to design and build a game together. Tommaso learned two important things from this experience: one, he loved programming, and two, he did not like game-building.
Tommaso has always excelled at self-teaching and found many ways to put his coding skills to use. One such endeavor was solving bug bounties through HackerOne, and he soon started earning rewards for his efforts. One day, he noticed that you could receive payment in bitcoin through Coinbase rather than a typical bank payment. Curious, Tommaso decided to try it out. After exploring Coinbase a bit, he discovered that they offer incentives for people to learn about crypto, giving rewards for taking classes about various networks and applications. He took a few classes, including a Stellar course, earning him a small amount of XLM.
This sparked Tommaso’s interest in blockchain and Stellar specifically. What drew him to Stellar over other chains was the connection to the real world and accessibility that anchors and on-chain assets offer. He’s incredibly excited to see what the introduction of Soroban, Stellar’s smart contracts platform, will do to further the network’s contributions to DeFi.
Which brings us to Tommaso’s present favorite language: Rust. He started dabbling in Rust during Soroban’s early release and admits that it is pretty difficult to grasp. However, once you get over the steep learning curve, he’s found it to be an efficient and well-structured language. He’s enjoyed the challenge and actually learned a lot from examining the code that the SDF’s Soroban team is developing. Tommaso is an early-stage adopter of Soroban and has submitted several projects to Sorobanathon: First Light. Check them out here!
Many years after their first foray into programming together, Tommaso and his brother still frequently collaborate. His brother is now studying economics and management at university, which ties in nicely with the DeFi projects they work on. His brother’s high-level understanding of economics and Tommaso’s programming skills make them a great team — they recently built a proof-of-concept coin mixer that is built to experiment with zero-knowledge proofs. Check out the repo here!
When Tommaso is not furiously coding or building awesome projects, you can find him training or watching football (or soccer, depending on where you’re reading this) with his friends. He plans to continue working with blockchain and Stellar for some time. He believes there is so much potential in both and wants to be there to not only see that potential happen but to contribute to it. We are happy to have Tommaso as part of our community and can’t wait to see what he builds next!
You can also become an early Soroban adopter like Tommaso, by participating in Hacka-Soroban-Athon! It is a 10 day hackathon that allows you to tinker with Soroban while earning exclusive Soroban swag.