The Solana Podcast

By Anatoly Yakovenko

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Welcome to The Solana Podcast hosted by Anatoly Yakovenko. This podcast is a discussion between industry leaders in both blockchain and technology, our team, and community developers. If you are interested in appearing on the podcast please email

Episode Date
Packy McCormick - Founder of Not Boring Ep #49

Anatoly (00:09):

Hey, folks. This is Anatoly and you're listening to The Solana Podcast, and today, I have with me, Packy McCormick, author of Not Boring. Hey, man. Good to have you.

Packy McCormick (17:27):

Good to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Anatoly (00:21):

So, You're an author and you're also an investor. How did you get into crypto?

Packy McCormick (00:26):

Yeah. So, I got into crypto back in 2013. I read Fred Wilson's blog post on investing in Coinbase, bought a bunch of Bitcoin, I think 38 Bitcoin, and then I went on a trip to Oktoberfest, and I felt bad about it, I had just quit my job, so I was like, "You know what, instead of spending money when I'm unemployed, let me just sell this stupid Bitcoin and I will pay for the trip."

So, because of that, because of the pain of selling then, I avoided it until earlier this year, later last year, and really, really got back into it as I was talking to a couple companies that I was thinking about investing in and thinking about the intersection of crypto and the metaverse and how an open economy just fits so much better with that vision, since then, I've just gotten deeper, and deeper, and deeper down the rabbit hole.

Anatoly (01:18):

So, you held Bitcoin because you can sell it? That's just too big of a pain in the ass.

Packy McCormick (01:24):

I felt so bad about selling it and missing out. I think at the peak, it was like a two million dollar plus mistake, and so I was like, "You know what? I'm out of this for a little while."

Anatoly (01:34):

That's funny. What do you guys invest in?

Packy McCormick (01:39):

Yeah. So, I run a small 10 million dollar fund called Not Boring Capital, and we really invest across stages, across geographies, across verticals. For the first, I'd say, half of the fund, it was really traditional investments, I'd say for the second five million in the fund, it's been pushing up against the 20% non qualifying limit. I'm actually investing in my first Solana based project this week, which is yet to be announced, so can't talk about it, but something in the real estate space and something I'm super excited about. But doing as much crypto as I can in there, but I still think some use cases are perfectly well suited to crypto and some are really not. There's plenty of things in Web 2.0 that I'm super excited about as well, so really trying to balance investing across both.

Anatoly (02:27):

So, by traditional businesses, you mean like software internet based ones?

Packy McCormick (02:32):


Anatoly (02:33):

Cool. I mean, I've been in crypto for like the last... I can't remember... it feels like a decade, and I can't imagine what the world is like. So, what are people building?

Packy McCormick (02:48):

It's a good question. So, today, I talked to a company, for example, that is making it a lot easier for a restaurant to order the food that they need. So, right now, if you're a restaurant and you're ordering food, you're getting a bunch of PDFs from suppliers every week that aren't even searchable, and then you're going through the 6,000 items on there and picking something. So, there are still a bunch of these huge unsexy categories that are completely ripe.

There's some security stuff that bridges into crypto, but there's one, again, stealth right now, but is also dealing with some Solana projects on the security side that I'm really, really excited in, but they're also securing Web 2.0 projects. There's some FinTech stuff I wrote about a company called Uni, yesterday. There's definitely a little bit of mental gymnastics that I have to do to be super bullish on FinTech and super bullish on crypto, but I really think adoption cycles are going to be super long and there are some really huge opportunities on that side too. I think everybody is trying to make the existing system that doesn't work, make it work better for people, and so I'm all for things, on either the Web 2.0 Side or in crypto, that make finance better for people.

Anatoly (04:01):

The mental gymnastics are curious about. I always thought that crypto is just part of this general story of software eating the world. Is that your take on it too?

Packy McCormick (04:12):

Totally. I mean, I wrote about Solana and I wrote this in the piece, but then I'm a maximalist-minimalist, and that's cross chain, but that's also I don't think crypto is going to eat everything yet or maybe ever. Just like on the internet, Web 3.0 is really about the dynamic interfaces where you could interact with each other. While there are companies like Facebook and Twitter and all of this social media companies that were more interactive, there were a ton of huge companies built during the Web 2.0 Era that weren't social media, that weren't real-time interactive at all, and I think the same thing will play out. I think you need to pick the best stack for whatever you're building at the time. And so I think we'll see a world where a lot of stuff moves to Web 3.0, And hopefully, even things that don't incorporate crypto become a little bit more liquid, a little bit more decentralized, a little bit better for people, but I don't think that crypto is the answer to every problem that the world has.

Anatoly (05:05):

So, when you look at a company that is building out the basic, "Let's convert PDFs to a searchable interface," that feels like something that should have happened 10 years ago, right, in your mind, at least?

Packy McCormick (05:23):

Totally. I mean, I think there have been attempts in that space actually, and some of them haven't worked. There have been different approaches. People have tried to do marketplaces and different things like that. I think what changed in that particular case is that over the past year, one, restaurants are super cognizant of cutting costs and getting profitability to the best possible spot, and so they're more willing to try new things. These people are taking an interesting approach without actually changing the interface that the restaurants interact with at all, they're just making everything behind it more powerful. So, things have been tried... there's people that are trying new approaches every day. I mean, I'd say 80%, because that is the literal max that I'm allowed to do is 20% crypto out of my fund, so 80% of my investments are non-crypto, and there's a bunch of stuff that's growing fast and is really exciting.

I think the other interesting thing is that there are a bunch of companies that aren't going fully decentralized but are incorporating maybe a DAO in one aspect, where they have members who might be running something and want to vote on what that thing is coming up, or will incorporate NFTs in a particular part of the business where it makes sense. So, I think we'll see that blur a little bit more, but even within companies, they'll be doing some Web 2.0 Stuff and some Web 3.0 Stuff.

Anatoly (06:32):

So, I guess, in a way, you're bullish on non-crypto on the rest of the world as an investor?

Packy McCormick (06:41):

Yeah, my worldview is bullish tech and innovation, and I think if you're talking on the... I have a medical device company in the portfolio and a machine learning company that helps make sense of medical documents, and all that kind of stuff, I don't see a need yet for crypto, and maybe there's better decentralized storage of that information in the future, so it's not a centralized entity. And so over time, I think more, and more, and more of it will potentially become decentralized as the tools catch up, but for right now, that's just stuff that needs to improve.

There's a company called NexHealth that I invested in that has really complex long term plan to first, sell SAAS into doctor's offices, use that to connect the EHRs, use that to build out APIs, use that to build out a platform, to ultimately try to make it easier for people to just hack on medical products, because right now it's such a pain in the ass to do anything in the medical space. I am super bullish on that kind of innovation because if you ask me what doctor I went to two years ago, I'd have no idea, if you asked me what my stats were, I'd have no idea. So, anybody fixing any of those kinds of things, I'm super bullish on.

Anatoly (07:52):

Man, I mean, the internet is basically 30 years old, right, at this point, and it's wild to think that we're still connecting just data...

Packy McCormick (08:00):


Anatoly (08:02):

... data to format.

Packy McCormick (08:03):

It's why I'm going to be bullish on all of this. The internet is still early in terms of penetration, and then crypto is a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of that, so there's just a lot of room for all of this to run.

Anatoly (08:13):

It feels then like everything is happening at the same time, we're still onboarding the world to the internet or now, part of the internet is being on boarded to crypto. Is that something that you first saw? What do you think about that?

Packy McCormick (08:29):

Yeah. I mean, I think most of the world... I think well over 50% nowadays is internet connected. I think it's just more and more things that were not internet connected are being tackled. I think a lot of the big obvious opportunities get taken and then people realize like, "Oh, shoot." I think I've seen, in the past week, a couple of companies that are making it easier for truckers to pay for gas and track those expenses. There's just all these big things that touch the physical world, where primitives needed to be built first, you needed banking as a service type things to make it really easy for companies to issue cards, to build it for specific use cases, so I think it's all just a matter of what primitives have been built and then what you can do on top of that. That's one of the reasons I'm so excited about crypto is because you and other folks in the space are building such interesting things for other people to build on top of.

Anatoly (09:15):

Since you have, I think, a more maybe practical or realistic view, since you're dealing with non-crypto projects that are trying to get revenue, right? That's generally the pitch to an investor.

Packy McCormick (09:33):

Yes. Over a long enough time horizon, some of them need to get revenue.

Anatoly (09:36):

What do you see in crypto itself as promising to use crypto in a way that actually increases revenue for that business? What are those things?

Packy McCormick (09:48):

Yeah. I don't know. One of the fun things about exploring both sides is that I really try, when I look at any crypto project, to understand what business physics laws it's enhancing. Businesses are businesses because people buy things the same way all over the place or people like to make money. People are the same, and I think all of this comes down to people, obviously. Solana comes down to how many developers build on top of it and how many people use that. And so obviously, I think one of the big important things is the ability to build network effects by giving people ownership. And I think the idea of using ownership in crypto to even have negative customer acquisition costs, to be able to essentially make the price of something negative to be able to get adoption, to use crypto tools for retention and network effects I think is one of the big things that excites me.

I think it's also just moving way, way, way faster. I mean, look at Ethereum and Solana, right? Ethereum, strong network effects, people building on top of it, and then Solana comes in and looks like the same chart but faster. And so you can get these network effects, but then somebody else will come in with network effects that are even faster, and I think it's going to be interesting to see how those types of things play out.

Anatoly (11:05):

Negative acquisition cost is a really interesting topic because that's basically yield farming, right, like DeFi? The foundation of DeFi, how I get users is, a lot of these projects give away their coin. Do you think those patterns is something that you're going to start seeing in traditional businesses, like AMC popcorn, if you buy AMC stock is some form of liquidity mining, right?

Packy McCormick (11:39):

I think the challenging part, right, is that people want either money pretty immediately or they want ownership in something, and it's really hard for Web 2.0 Companies to give away ownership, there's a ton of paperwork involved. There are platforms that are trying to make that a little bit easier, but it's still really hard for them to give away ownership the way that, if you're a DeFi protocol, you can give away your token to attract users in the beginning.

So, maybe there will be some things that Web 2.0 Companies steal and bring over from crypto, but I do think that's one of the uniquely beautiful things about it, is that it's this... I mean, we'll see. It's still so early, right? But that it's this beautiful thing where because you're early, you're able to earn more, and then because you were there, you actually support the network and make the network more secure and all that. So, there's actual justification for it, but it's just that shift in who gets the ownership of things, which I think is kind of beautiful.

Anatoly (12:35):

Do you think that the Web 2.0 properties, or like Facebook, Twitter, that those are at risk for being disintermediated by crypto?

Packy McCormick (12:44):

Yes. On a long enough time horizon, absolutely. I don't know what it looks like, and I think the early attempts to do it have been a bit skeuomorphic, and that's one of the things that interest me here is that BitClout was, I guess, interesting, but it was Twitter with coins, and I don't think that the next social network will look like Twitter with coins, I think it will look like something that is maybe wallet first, or maybe in the 3D world, or something that looks different but then achieves a very similar end. And so I think, yes, 100% they're at risk, but I don't think that they're at risk from something that looks like a clone but adds a token.

Anatoly (13:23):

Man, I love that word, skeuomorphic, because that's how I started thinking about it as I'm talking to a bunch of projects that are trying to shove crypto into what is a Web 2.0 thing, a Web 2.0 product. Do you as an investor see that as a red flag or like, "Okay, maybe this might work and you should try it, but clearly, you're going to have to iterate away from it"?

Packy McCormick (13:46):

I think it comes down to what you're trying to do. I talked to an investor who is way smarter than I am about this the other day, and she was like, "You know what, actually for me, because I invested in the series A and beyond, if one of my portfolio companies came to me and said that they're going to incorporate crypto at this point, that would be a red flag because that means that they don't have product-market fit and they're trying to figure out how to get product-market fit by doing something else shiny." There are other projects, like there was something that I was talking to her that was totally Web 2.0 Based but that asked people for feedback, they were having challenges with retention, they were asking users to submit information, they were thinking about how to reward them, and for something like that, particularly when it's so early, I do think that adding crypto into the project makes a ton of sense.

If you're trying to incentivize contribution and improve retention, crypto is an amazing tool for that for the right type of community. So, I really think it depends on what type of product it is, and some things I think skeuomorphic might work in some cases where you're ripping out an internal reward point and replacing it with crypto, I think that can make sense, but when you're trying to just shove money into something to see if you can attract more users, that's when I feel like there's a bit of a problem.

Anatoly (14:59):

So, Reddit Coins, do you think that's going to work?

Packy McCormick (15:02):

I mean, they're at least early and I feel like they're such an interesting community of people, and the idea of karma has existed in Reddit for a while, so maybe making that a little bit more fungible and exchangeable is interesting. I mean, there's a bunch of behavioral economics on the idea that if you just pay people for stuff, you actually fuck up incentives in a bunch of different ways that are hard to predict, so it could be tough. When you actually assign a dollar value to something, you make people think about it in terms of the dollar value, and they're like, "Wait, I just spent a day moderating the subreddit for $1? Are you kidding me?" So, I think you need to get that part right, right? Where you can give them a million karma points and it doesn't matter, but then it becomes $1 then there's an issue? So, I think people need to be wary of that, but certainly where there are internal scoreboards, giving people a way to actually monetize that I think is interesting.

Anatoly (15:56):

Have you looked into play-to-earn stuff?

Packy McCormick (16:00):


Anatoly (20:39):


Packy McCormick (16 :02):

I wrote a piece on Axie. I think it's so fascinating.

Anatoly (16:05):

I'm terrified of a world where everything we do is like, "You got to do this to get your 20 extra cents on your dollar." Right? It just sounds like a nightmare.

Packy McCormick (16:15):

I know. I mean, I am of the mind that dystopia is probably overstated because people have to opt in at every gate, and so I've had conversations with people where they're like, "Isn't it wild that we'd be spending time in the metaverse? Isn't that dystopian?" And then you think about how we spend a lot of our time right now, we're in a two dimensional screen. Wouldn't it be more fun if there was an immersive environment that we were interacting with here, and would we just continue to choose to do the 2D version until the 3D version got realistic and fun enough that we made the shift? And so there's going to be those gates at all times where people can opt in or not.

A lot of the people playing Axie right now are in the Philippines, were unemployed, thanks in large part due to COVID, and so their options were, "Don't do this and figure out some other way to make money or start playing this game, that you might be playing anyway, and actually make money while doing it." So, that's an incredible option that people have, but you also don't see a ton of people in the West flocking to Axie to make a couple of bucks because the trade-off doesn't make sense for them. And so I think the trade-offs have to make sense for people but everybody has agency, to some extent, and will opt in to the things that make sense for them.

Anatoly (17:29):

When I played Ultima Online, I bought digital items in that game on eBay with a cashier's check. So, I get this idea that you can get really into a game.

Packy McCormick (17:41):

Totally. And then you stop playing Ultima Online and that money is just wasted, right? And so the idea that you could easily transfer that item to the next generation or person that wants to go all in on the game is nice, it means that you're accumulating something while you play. I think, over time, those experiences will fade more and more into the background and it will feel less like play-to-earn and will probably just be play-and-earn, but there's going to be a transition period where you have to just be bold about it and the play-to-earn piece has to be front and center, but I don't know.

We can go to deep down the philosophical rabbit hole on all of this, but there is a point at which, at some point in the future... and I know this is debatable... but at some point in the future, we're not going to have to actually work to eat, to shelter ourselves, to have clothes, all of that, and so what do you do that provides meaning, right? I don't think we're going to evolve into a world where we feel comfortable not having to work for anything, and so people will find new ways to make meaning.

Anatoly (18:47):

We're going to be NPCs in each other's games.

Packy McCormick (18:51):


Anatoly (18:53):

How much do you pay attention to the regulatory side of it? Do you think World of Warcraft is going to have to file W-2s?

Packy McCormick (19:06):

Man, I do not envy the IRS or the SEC trying to keep up with... I do this all day, every day. I'm fascinated by it and I can't keep up with everything. There's going to, obviously, need to be a total paradigm shift in the way that this stuff is tracked and managed, even taxes. I am going to figure out, at the end of the year, whatever the best tax software that I should use to make sense of everything that I've done all across Web 3.0 This year, but if I didn't, the chances that somebody sitting in the IRS for my small potatoes amount of money is actually going to be able to go and figure out what I did is minuscule. So, I don't know how they're going to do it, but there needs to be a common sense way that doesn't end up in just this constant clash.

Anatoly (19:54):

Yeah. All my Degen Ape trades.

Packy McCormick (24:36):

Seriously. I mean, there's a thread that went viral on Twitter a couple weeks ago that was someone being like, "Hey, by the way, did you know essentially that when you buy an NFT, you're also selling your coins at a game and you're going to have to pay taxes on that?" There's going to be a lot of people who get hit pretty hard at the end of the year.

Anatoly (20:15):

Yeah. I'm curious how that's going to play out. That's wild. I mean, like one of the investments should be like, "Here's tax software for all your crypto shit." That seems obvious one.

Packy McCormick (20:28):

Yeah, there are a few people working on that. I mean, the other one that I really want to see... I had mentioned this 20% limit. So, if you're not an RAA, if you're not a registered investment advisor and you manage over X dollars, you can only buy 20% non qualifying, and crypto is included in that. I really want to see someone build RAA in a box, and RAA means that you need a chief compliance officer and you need all this stuff. And so somebody who makes that easier to do and easier to set up crypto funds I think is going to make a killing as well.

Anatoly (20:58):

I mean, that seems like something that the smart contracts should be doing, right? If you're investing purely... Most of that compliance is just transparency, right? It's like, "Am I doing the thing that I said I was going to do?"

Packy McCormick (21:10):

Totally. But some of it is, "Is there a person here looking over what I'm doing?" The rules are written for a world in which it makes sense for a person to look over something instead of computers talking to each other. So, there's going to be a transition period there, but over time, yes, it makes a lot more sense as a smart contract, and I'm interested to see.

Are you familiar with Syndicate protocol?

Anatoly (21:33):

I'm not.

Packy McCormick (21:34):

So, Syndicate protocol is I think mostly on Ethereum at this point, but it makes it easy to set up investment clubs, SPVs, a bunch of other things, and so brings a lot of the group investing activities on chain. Is there anything similar on the Solana side?

Anatoly (21:50):

I don't know yet. The network exploded in terms of people building on it to the point that I can't track.

Packy McCormick (21:57):

That's awesome. That's a milestone.

Anatoly (22:00):

Yeah, that's a milestone. It's just like, "Pooh," so now I'm like, "Okay, go back into the weeds, back into optimizations."

Packy McCormick (22:08):

Yeah. Sorry to turn the mic on you, but I'm very curious. How do you balance your time right now?

Anatoly (22:14):

Poorly, I would say. I think there was an effort to get the word out to as many developers out there that this is how you build stuff and these are the reference implementations, and now that that's moving on its own, I almost feel like me putting energy there is going to have such a small amount of gain. So, I think of it in value against replacement terms, which is a very dumb engineer perspective, or maybe that's a pretty good one. I don't know.

Packy McCormick (22:48):

No. I mean, if you can view yourself from a remove like that. I mean, that's the goal of running a company or an organization or a protocol is, "How can I replace myself in as many different spots as possible?" But are you in the Discords? Are you getting Degen on some of these projects and stuff?

Anatoly (23:07):

I used to be more Discord just telling devs, "This is where the doc started, this is how you unblock that compiler error or whatever." I was in there, and now there's enough people doing that, I'm like, "Okay, I'm useless here." So, in the early days of Metaplex, helping out people set up their Heroku servers or whatever, I spent a little bit of time doing that, but then all of a sudden, our engineers took off with it.

I'm curious how you think about DAOs? Are these truly amorphous blobs where nobody knows anyone else and there's some voting mechanism that you trust, or as normal people actually that do this stuff, it feels to me that they are humans that are all know each other and they're coordinating with software?

Packy McCormick (23:54):

Yeah. There's been a meme going around, I feel like this week, again, on Twitter, where people have been talking about like, "Oh, it's impossible to get fired by a DAO. Why not just get hired by a DAO and then don't do anything because who's going to fire you?" I love the idea, and I love the fact that crypto makes it possible to organize and incentivize huge groups of people across the world and get them to work in the same direction, I also think there's going to be a ton of challenges.

People are very used, for the past at least couple 100 years since the dawn of the corporation, people are very used to working in hierarchical structures where there's somebody making a decision. And so I think there will be a balance that gets struck in a lot of cases, like delegation I think will get more, and more, and more popular. And ideally, there's some projects being worked on that I'm excited about where people's on-chain contribution and activity and resume is almost tracked, and maybe you give more power to the people who've contributed the most and proven expertise in a certain area, and all of that. So, I think a lot of things need to be worked out there.

I think that we're in the stage now, frankly, where a lot of DAOs will not do as well as a centralized thing would have done, but then some DAOs will just do this crazy emergent stuff that never would have been possible in a normal structure that was a little bit more hierarchical. So, I think we're in the, let 1,000 flowers bloom, phase of DAOs right now where emergence will produce some really interesting stuff, and then emergence will also produce some total failures, and we'll see where it all shakes out.

Anatoly (25:25):

Corporations have politics, right? There's definitely politics in large corpse, and I feel like small DAOs have politics, and that's typically not true of a startup.

Packy McCormick (25:39):

Yeah, I think that's true. Although it can happen faster to startup, but the interesting thing that happens at a startup is, if the CEO allows it to be political, it can get political really quickly. And so it's interesting, in the DAO structure, when you don't have a "CEO," that either the community ethos will be away from politics and you'll get shunned and banned or whatever for politicking, or there's no one to say, "Don't do that," in which case, it can get out of hand really quickly. So, if you have a bad CEO, it's probably better to be a DAO, and if you have a really good CEO, there are advantages to having somebody making the decisions.

I'm also fascinated to see... and I don't know if you've seen anything on this side yet... but can a DAO build products that are as good as something with a little bit more centralized control? Like products are traditionally made by a visionary, and then a team, who has a clear roadmap and all of those types of things, and is it possible to do that in a more decentralized way?

I mean, even Solana itself, one of the things that attracts me about the project, and again, not a decentralization maxi by any stretch of the imagination, is that you were involved, right? And when there were code errors, you were getting in there, you were telling people how to fix them and all of that. And I've talked to a bunch of people, since I read that piece, who were building things on Solana, who site that as one of the reasons that they like building on Solana, is that the team is there to help when there are errors and help direct them towards best practices. So, I don't know. I think something like that model is probably going to succeed.

Anatoly (27:18):

I can only get blamed myself.

Packy McCormick (27:21):


Anatoly (27:23):

At the end of the day, yeah. Balaji had this quote that I've used it a bunch of times, that decentralization is not the absence of leadership but it's the abundance of leadership, and I love it. I also feel like that because of Bitcoin and it's like history. People started assuming that disorganization also was required for decentralization, which I think is bullshit too.

Packy McCormick (27:52):

Yeah. How do you view DAO versus social token, or I guess more just governance versus upside sharing?

Anatoly (27:59):

I think tokens are social networks, almost first, and then anything else later, because any community, it's all contracts. All this open source software is reusable. I can take Uniswap, fork it, and then stick some random token on it, and it's as good as Uniswap. You cannot tell me that it's worse in any way, right? It's the same thing, right?

Packy McCormick (28:27):

Someone should do that.

Anatoly (28:29):

Yeah. And then that community takes it in a different product direction, right, for whatever reason. I think that really fast fail is probably the most important part of decentralization. Anybody can fork you and then just take it in a different direction and form a community around it.

Packy McCormick (28:50):

I agree. Which project was it that Justin Sun tried to take over and then everybody just stopped using it?

Anatoly (28:50):


Packy McCormick (28:55):


Anatoly (28:57):

And that is, I think, part of the beauty of the space, right, is you can only be a benevolent dictator. As soon as you lose the benevolent part, they're like, "Well, everything's open. F off."

Packy McCormick (29:12):

It's amazing.

Anatoly (29:13):

Yeah. Did you follow the SUSHI saga?

Packy McCormick (29:19):

I didn't follow in real-time. I went back and looked at it after the fact, but I would not consider myself a SUSHI expert.

Anatoly (29:26):

Do you think that we're going to see these communities stick around for the long haul, like Uniswap, etc?

Packy McCormick (29:33):

I think that is the billion dollar, trillion dollar, whatever number you want to put on it, question. I mean, I was alluding to it before with these network effects being replaced by things that pick up network effects even faster and faster. I think that's the blessing and the curse that I was talking about. You could remove every single person working on Facebook except for the person who made sure that the servers were up, and people would keep using it for a long, long time. If the people disappeared from Sushiswap or Uniswap or wherever, it just fades away and they move on to the next thing, and that takes off. So, I think virality in crypto has been proven. You can get viral really, really quick. Defensibility over a very long time horizon I think is still TBD.

Anatoly (30:19):

Where does defensibility come from in Facebook, in your mind?

Packy McCormick (30:24):

In Facebook, Facebook has a clear network effects, one where I guess if the people on the network decided to stop using it, it would go away, but there's not a clear place that you would all go when you have... Maybe there's switching costs too because you have your whole network mapped, and they won't actually let it be portable. To your point, you can fork anything... you should be able to fork the relationship graph and all of that over time as people build new mechanics to make that happen, and when you can just bring your whole relationship graph with you across Web3, then maybe you just all go to the next place, or maybe there's not even a place, and it is just that your wallet, at some point, keeps track of all the connections that you have, so maybe the wallet is the central point where a lot of the value accrues and the thing that makes everything portable, but I'm not exactly sure. What do you think?

Anatoly (31:22):

When I first saw Facebook, I thought, "This is a shitty news group. I can run my own mail server and ask my friends." And then you realize that normal people don't want to run their own mail servers or news groups, but you centralize around convenience. Where things centralize around convenience in crypto has, for me, been really tough to pin down. NFTs especially are a really good example of people jumping from one set to another but still maintaining both, right? They're able to be in multiple places at the same time.

Anatoly (36:44):

I can be a Degen Ape and like a Monkey MBS member at the same time.

Packy McCormick (32:12):

Where do you think that ends up? Where do you think people end up centralizing, or do they not?

Anatoly (32:18):

I'm not sure. This is like, again, a trillion dollar question. I feel like if we get to, three, 400 million people self custody with wallets that are doing stuff, we'll start seeing those patterns of like, "Okay, this is like the Facebook, it's a social graph or the... I don't know... the super connected now," something.

Packy McCormick (32:42):

Yeah. I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, I wrote a piece called the Interface Phase, and it was a little bit like a high kid post where I was like, "What are the interfaces going to be?" But just the fact that the first internet needed Netscape and needed a graphical interface, Web 2.0 needed things like Digg and Facebook that were interactive for that kind of capability, the read-write interface to really be there, and I don't think Web3 has gotten there yet. I do think that either a wallet based thing, and I don't know what that looks like, and I'm not smart enough to figure out what that looks like, or the kind of metaverse. And I think it's such an interesting mistake of history or just a coincidence of history that the tech for the metaverse and Web 3.0 Are peaking at the same time, but a world in which...

One of the things I think crypto does well is give physical-ish characteristics to digital things, and so I think a interface that makes that clear will have a lot of value in just making a lot of the stuff that feels a little more ethereal feel more real and tangible, and actually, there will be physical places that people meet up and all that.

Anatoly (38:28):

So, I think what's interesting about crypto is that it's more like Ultima Online. When I was playing the game, I got a mental model of the map and the ownership of those items because it was persistent. I would go to the thing and I would change something and then come back and it was still there, and your brain, I think, just rapidly just plugs it into the rest of the stuff that it interacts with. If you got a lot of humans all doing this together, I think they'll start forgetting that it's nothing more than a bunch of computers.

Packy McCormick (34:23):

Totally. I mean it's interesting. I forget the name of the book, but there's a book about the memory competitions and the world memory championships, and the way that they memorize things is by putting different objects throughout a house and then walking through that house, So, we are, I think, a lot better at memorizing things and grokking things spatially than we are... and maybe this is just me talking as a non technical person, but just picturing computer networks without some physical reference point.

Anatoly (34:54):

I don't have as good of a mental model of space crypto Twitter or like social networks. It's not a map to me in my mind. But with something like experiments like DeFi land and stuff, I think that actually might bridge that because of this ownership thing. And I don't still think it's the fact that I can modify stuff and come back and see it and feel that I'm doing it.

Packy McCormick (35:20):

Totally. Yeah, people like building, and showing progress, and all of that. I'm going to turn the mic again. How do you view Solana at this point in terms of DeFi versus the cultural side of things or the metaverse side of things?

Anatoly (35:37):

We don't. I think, to us, DeFi was always I thought was an important part because you look at any kind of markets, NASDAQ, those are the obvious ones, "Oh, yeah, that's probably going to be on some blockchain," but advertisement, right? It's like Google Search shows you a page, they take your data, sell it on an Ad Exchange, and that to market, that's centralized right now, how do you disintermediate it? Oh, you can do that with cryptography, right? And a replicated censorship resistant database. That's it.

You can break those things down into marketplaces and remove the middleman. And that, I think, is how we think about it, is like, where does that make sense? And culture NFTs are I feel like that non skeuomorphic social networks. It's not somebody that stuck Twitter with coins, these organically sprung up, right? It's like lodges in the whatever, 1700s, like I'm part of this Masonic Lodge or this club or whatever, right? Now, I'm Degen Ape or whatever.

Packy McCormick (36:57):

Totally. And right now, I guess, that often manifests itself in Discord where people are hanging out. I've had this conversation with people before in this debate. Do you think there needs to be a decentralized Discord where this lives or where do you think all of this ends up living?

Anatoly (37:12):

I don't think so. Like a year ago, I thought somebody needs to build a decentralized Twitter, a decentralized Instant Messaging, and the working mechanics of it, being decentralized or on chain, don't change the social impact of it. You're still talking to people. Why does it matter where you talk to them, right? Who cares?

Packy McCormick (37:34):


Anatoly (37:37):

It's like, I think, stuff where you can start making connected modifications of the same state, that mental model of like, "Hey, we're all doing this thing over here." That becomes a place and that's where people actually do things, but here's where they talk about it.

Packy McCormick (37:56):

Yeah. And I don't think you can find a more minimally extractive corporation than Discord, and they make less dollars per user than anybody.

Anatoly (38:06):

Yeah, they're pretty awesome. Also, yeah, the high fidelity audio and stuff like that I think is pretty cool. I think they built it for gamers.

Packy McCormick (38:19):

Yeah. It's so interesting, and I'm probably going to write about Discord at some point here too, but I've written something called The Great Online Game before, which is essentially we're all just playing this big video game across the internet. And so it's really funny that Discord, which was built for gamers, is where all of this activity is... If you're playing a big video game and the chat app designed for video games, it makes sense as the place that people go.

Anatoly (38:43):

Yeah. Crypto and the internet is... at least the internet part of crypto is very much a big video game.

Packy McCormick (38:49):


Anatoly (38:50):

Are you investing mostly in the US, US companies or all over the place?

Packy McCormick (38:54):

I'm investing mostly in the US but have done a few in India, I've done Sweden, I've done Canada, very open to doing anywhere on the world.

Anatoly (39:06):

Do you feel like there's been a shift towards everything becoming Silicon Valley, that it doesn't really matter anymore at this point?

Packy McCormick (39:13):

The internet is Silicon Valley. A more amorphous idea is Silicon Valley at this point, but I'm in New York, I'm probably 30 minutes away. I'm in Park Slope and the crypto hub has become Williamsburg, and I talk to all those people all the time, and I never take the 30 minute trip over to Williamsburg because I have Twitter, and I have Discord, and I'm pretty much right there with them. So, I don't think physical place matters nearly as much. Gathering in physical places is awesome. I think the idea of conferences, and quarterly team meetups, and all of that kind of stuff is absolutely going to explode. There's a really fun thing about only knowing somebody on the internet and then meeting them in person and feeling like you've known each other for a long time, but I don't think the physical place where you all live all the time matters that much.

Anatoly (40:03):

Yeah. I think what's weird is like I have a sneaking suspicion that the remote work worlds, everybody's working remote is actually going to mean more people travel and get together.

Packy McCormick (40:17):

And it's not just going to be like FaceTime and waiting around the office and sitting. When you're together, you're together, and then when you're working, you're heads down working, and I kind of like that.

Anatoly (40:26):

Do you think people are more efficient that way or is that the natural state?

Packy McCormick (40:30):

It depends how many Discords. Before this call, I was supposed to be writing and I've gotten obsessed with the Wanderers NFT projects, so I just bought another Wanderer and then was trying to figure out how to display it in my cyber gallery. So, I think there's not somebody looking over my shoulder, so in that sense, maybe it allows you to get a little bit more distracted. But I also think a lot of things coming together at the same time, more and more people are responsible for themselves, and so if I don't work now, then I'm working all weekend, and I have to get the same stuff done anyway. And so I do think that's, hopefully, the natural state of things, is that people are allowed to get their shit done when they want to.

Anatoly (41:12):

Are NFTs what you're looking at mostly in crypto? Is that the most exciting part?

Packy McCormick (41:16):

NFTs are, I think, very exciting to me. My first internship was on an energy trading desk. I should want to get into DeFi and I feel like I'm going to get wrecked unless I can spend all of my time getting into DeFi, so I've largely steered clear. I do think that NFTs are super interesting for the reasons that you suggested, and I think that they are a little bit like a social network. I think it's going to be really fascinating to see how these things evolve and the worlds that get built around them. And they're the most tangible crypto thing out there, right? You have an item. I like these Wanderers because there's audio, and they're these eight second clips, and so the richer that you can make them, I think the better, and over time, more, and more, and more things will just be ownable digitally, and I think that's very cool.

Anatoly (42:09):

I love the trend of like 2DR first, like really low res, because it's like a forcing function in creativity, right? It's actually hard to make something look good with that low fidelity.

Packy McCormick (42:22):


Anatoly (42:25):

So, I'm a fan of watching the space self, almost evolve, right? This is definitely going to get better, right? You're going to have full scale renders with 3D models and high production stuff in a few years, but it's exciting to see what it is now, right?

Packy McCormick (42:42):

Totally. I have another portfolio company called Arco that's doing... essentially, it's trying to replace the design software that companies use. So, Autodesk has Revit to do 3D modeling, they're doing the Figma version of that, but then could you just take this physical building that somebody's designed for the real world, turn it into an NFT and let somebody bring it into the digital world? I would love to own the Chrysler Building and then bring it into my world.

Anatoly (43:10):


Packy McCormick (43:14):

I thought about that too when I was trying to write about the interfaces, I was like, "Why are we even thinking about buildings and worlds at all? If you don't have to follow the rules of physics, then why do you?" But I do think, through our conversation earlier about maps, reference points are also important, so you need to, one step at a time, go away from things that people are familiar with.

Anatoly (43:34):

Yeah. Cool, man. So, this is a really awesome conversation. Thank you so much for being on the show and really getting into it.

Packy McCormick (43:43):

100%. This was fun. Thank you.

Oct 12, 2021
Jonathan Schemoul - Founder of Ep #48

Anatoly Yakovenko (00:12):

Hey folks, this is Anatoly, and you're listening to The Solana Podcast. And today I have Jonathan Schemoul with me, who's the founder of the project. Really awesome to have you.

Jonathan Schemoul (00:22):

Thank you very much. I'm really happy to be here today.

Anatoly Yakovenko (00:25):

Cool. We usually start these with a simple question, how did you get into crypto? What's your story? What's the origin story?

Jonathan Schemoul (00:36):

Well, into crypto it's a long story. I started way back in time, a bit on Bitcoin then I stopped because it was only money back then. And that wasn't the end game for me. Then I came back into crypto in 2015, 2016, and I started doing a bit of development because I saw that I really wanted to be part of Web 3, to do nice things with it. I started developing as an open-source developer for a few projects. One of these is the newest project which is Chinese blockchain layer one. I'm not really involved with it anymore.

Jonathan Schemoul (01:16):

But working with them as a community open source developer, I saw that there was some missing links somewhere that you couldn't decentralize all the stack with just layer one, it is not the one that they were building back then. So that's how the project is born. For me, besides that, I've been developing for a lot of companies before in the IOT space and also for big banks sometime ago. I've been a developer for a lot of years.

Anatoly Yakovenko (01:48):

That's great. I mean, that's a great background. The thing that you're focusing on with Aleph is this idea that Web 3 is just a small part of the piece, but you still need UI front-ends, business logic and things sitting on top of the blockchain. How does that work?

Jonathan Schemoul (02:09):

The idea is that, okay, now you can have smart contracts on Solana, that's great. You can even do way much more on like just money on smart contracts, that's great. Now, you need to have a front-end. So you need to have storage for that front-end. That's not all because a smart contract, a program doesn't have all the data that you need. So you will need some kind of indexing to get history. You will need a back-end for that.

Jonathan Schemoul (02:37):

Most of the DeFi application that we see have some centralized back-end behind them. They're running on AWS, sometimes on dedicated servers or stuff like that that is still centralized. If a government, and we just saw something about it today, wants to shut down the DeFi protocol that is organized like that, they can. With what we are trying to do is decentralize the last mile, because for that last mile most projects are using AWS, so we need to decentralize AWS.

Jonathan Schemoul (03:11):

So we provide storage, as in file storage for the front-end files, database storage, because most applications are just databases and also an equivalent to Amazon Lambda, where you start small functions that will be launched on a decentralized cloud, where there is place for them and will get you a return value, and these can be written in any language and connects the web and also a PC from blockchains here at Solana obviously.

Anatoly Yakovenko (03:42):

Got it. Super Cool. So this is a storage mechanism. Does it guarantee consistency? How's it decentralized? What happens if you nuke it? Yellowstone flows up, the current set of servers from Aleph get destroyed in the volcano. How do I move, switch, what state do I lose? Those are the hard distributed systems question.

Jonathan Schemoul (04:08):

Yeah. It's a really good question. is not a blockchain at all. We don't have a blockchain. There are enough already. We just accept messages from blockchains. All the supported blockchains are accepted on the network, that means that that message that is signed by a material address is accepted on network, a message that is signed by a certain address is accepted on the network. All our network, hence the name .im, dot instant messaging, the whole system works with messages on the network.

Jonathan Schemoul (04:45):

Those messages are organized by channels, just like you would go on telegram channels and get the history of them. The network keeps track of those messages and when you start a new node, you get the history of messages, not directly from the other nodes, you will connect two blockchains to specific smart contracts on blockchain. Look at past events, for example, on the Ethereum or on Solana. You look at past events for the synchronization of the network and you look, okay, there has been all these events, okay, let me ask the whole network what those messages were. Then you resync, when there are missing parts you leave them apart and then you get a view on the channels on the messages.

Anatoly Yakovenko (05:31):

So you write your software, your Lambda hook as if it's a re-entrant, right? So you're kind of recording your progress potentially on Solana as you're processing it.

Jonathan Schemoul (05:43):

For the Lambda it's a bit different. Here I was explaining how the network works for the messaging on the global state. For the state of pure application, you could either get your state from a blockchain here at Solana. For example, all the indexing effort that we are doing is using Solana as a source of synchronization for these Lambda. But then you can have multiple kind of volumes because since it's Linux Micro VM machine, everything is a volume.

Jonathan Schemoul (06:18):

So we have local storage volume that is local to the running host. And then the Lambda kind of issue messages on a decentralized database of data and project or under storage, and then raising to the local file system and then issue messaging, et cetera. And we are also working on another kind of phase system that is distributed, where any of them that can write in it on the overall receive the changes, which is kind of tricky.

Anatoly Yakovenko (06:48):

Is the database, the Aleph database, distributed database? Is that a Byzantine fault-tolerant database? Is it designed with that in mind?

Jonathan Schemoul (06:58):

Yeah. The idea is that when you send a message on the network, it gets stored by all the over nodes that are interested in your channel. And then there are synchronization node that go and write hashes of the data and signatures inside messages that they push on blockchains. So that when overcome, they can synchronize it and replicate all the data. So that even if one part of the network gets totally disconnected, you can have one part that gets reconnected to the other therefore the peer to peer network for blockchain, for APFS. We have multiple kind of different connectivity solutions so that they can reconnect on resync.

Anatoly Yakovenko (07:42):

So the Aleph database, if it's Byzantine fault tolerant, I mean, doesn't that make it a blockchain? Is there a token? Is crypto economically like fault tolerant?

Jonathan Schemoul (07:56):

Yeah. So we have a token, but the token is living on multiple blockchain, Ethereum, Solana, and a few others, but those are the most used today. We have a token, you need a token for your data to stay there. If you don't have any more your data gets garbage collected. But we don't have a blockchain because we go and write on over layer ones. We are technically a layer two database which is computing pre storage.

Anatoly Yakovenko (08:23):

But the data storage, like the Aleph distributed database, what is that backed by? Or can I pick my own blockchain to use it as a common interface or something like that?

Jonathan Schemoul (08:34):

Well, currently it writes on Ethereum, we're working on making it write on Solana. For this we need our indexer to be super powerful. So we'll get it writing on Solana very soon. Basically you can write on multiple blockchains and use it as a source of proof.

Anatoly Yakovenko (08:53):

Got it. That's pretty interesting. So it really doesn't have its own blockchain and you're just using the fault tolerance of the chains you're connected to.

Jonathan Schemoul (09:04):


Anatoly Yakovenko (09:06):

Awesome. Yeah, that's really cool. So the other challenge I think is like how do you deal with domains and the web? Where do you run these executed nodes? How do you connect all those pieces?

Jonathan Schemoul (09:20):

It's a really good question. To connect all the pieces together, we didn't develop some really fancy stuff like proof of space and time and things like that to verify that the data is really stored. We are using something much more low-tech, which is just a quality control. We have core channel nodes, which are the controllers of the network, which needs to keep some Aleph have stakers on such economics. They are verifying that other core channel nodes are behaving well. And that also the resource nodes are behaving well. Then the resource nodes are really doing the work of storing data, providing computing, et cetera. And they're continuously controlled by the core channel nodes.

Anatoly Yakovenko (10:09):

That's great. So they're basically like a tokenized health check, right?

Jonathan Schemoul (10:14):


Anatoly Yakovenko (10:14):

I can spin this up and they can continuously monitor whether this computation is making progress, right?

Jonathan Schemoul (10:21):


Anatoly Yakovenko (10:21):

Is that verification, is that programmable? Can me as an app developer, can I kind of code up my own apps, specific health checks or an interface or something like that?

Jonathan Schemoul (10:35):

It's a really good question. That's what we are working on exactly right now.

Anatoly Yakovenko (10:40):

I'm leaking all the features. My imagination is going.

Jonathan Schemoul (10:44):

No, no worry. Well, it's really interesting because to understand if an application behaves well on one host, you need to understand what the application is doing. So yes, we will give some kind of health check, which is kind of a unit test of how the app should work. So you will be able to provide unit tests for your app basically.

Anatoly Yakovenko (11:11):

That's really Cool. What about domains? Like actual DNS?

Jonathan Schemoul (11:17):


Anatoly Yakovenko (11:20):

I'm asking all the hard questions.

Jonathan Schemoul (11:22):

Yeah. These questions will be answered if I explain how we handle access to this virtual machine. Because for DNS, for just IPFS, there is already quite a few solution, that's not an issue. But then if you want to make a domain point to one micro VM, you want your micro VM to be able to serve your data. How we do first the load balancing because that's the important question. For load balancing we have two ways, one, which is a regular cloud load balancing, which could be blocked by government, could be censored, because that's what can happen when you have centralized point of control.

Jonathan Schemoul (12:07):

We will run it ourselves and a few of our partners might run some of the cloud load balancers that basically you can just point your domain to the cloud load balancer. And then the cloud load balancer will create certificates and stuff like that. It will work. We will run one instance. Ubisoft will likely run another. And like many of our partners. Well, for Ubisoft it's not sure, just some talks about it. But perhaps over partners could run cloud load balancers that we'd go on point on specific micro VM host to see where your app is running and point it to them, that might work.

Jonathan Schemoul (12:48):

Now What happens if a government says, "This app shouldn't work, this domain shouldn't work." Then you have two solutions, you either put the front-end inside IPFS, use some IPFS gateways, et cetera. And then the back-end is on the VM network. But then what happens if a government blocks the specific DNS inside the micro VM Whatever. Then we have a decentralized load balancing that comes into play.

Jonathan Schemoul (13:24):

The idea of the decentralized load balancing is that your browser will connect to the IPFS network using leap peer to peer, just leap peer to peer, find Pi Aleph nodes running, contact them directly then ask Pi Aleph node, "What micro VM host are running this software?" And then you can contact them directly. We are working on the JavaScript library that will do all this work on the client side so that you can have your front-end in IPFS that will then go and find all the back-end hosts that could answer your request.

Anatoly Yakovenko (13:58):

That's super cool. You guys are working on some really hard problems. I think it should be fairly easy to kind of have basically a resolver that points to ENS in the system, right. That's fairly straightforward. And basically you should be able to use any kind of like name, system, command any blockchain.

Jonathan Schemoul (14:25):

Yeah, clearly.

Anatoly Yakovenko (14:26):

Do you think that this is something that browsers are starting to recognize as standardizable? Is there a future where you think this technology could start percolating to the UI level where the end user can pick like blockchain based DNS resolver that kind of like connects all the pieces, right? From the human to this decentralized one.

Jonathan Schemoul (14:51):

I think that something that could come, I think that those that could really help in this is Mozilla foundation, I think that they would be the one to talk with. We aren't in talk with them because we don't really take that step right now. We have a lot on our plate. But in the future I'm pretty sure it's the way to go. We will connect to any effort in that area and we will recognize it. I know that for IPFS for example, IPFS, IPNS, there are some efforts on some browser extension that you can install to have it, et cetera.

Anatoly Yakovenko (15:29):

How does like certificate chaining play with us? What happens if I need to have a cert on my service and things like that.

Jonathan Schemoul (15:38):

A certificate on your service? Yeah.

Anatoly Yakovenko (15:41):

Like their sign or whatever.

Jonathan Schemoul (15:43):

Well, we use the one that everyone uses, which is-

Anatoly Yakovenko (15:48):

Let's Encrypt. The EFF one.

Jonathan Schemoul (15:49):

Yeah, exactly. We're using this one, we used the discovery with the content, so that we switch to a specific content when Let's Encrypt connects, then we serve this content, then we get a valid certificate, we can serve the good content.

Anatoly Yakovenko (16:07):

Can you unpack that a little bit?

Jonathan Schemoul (16:10):

Yeah. Well, Let's Encrypt has multiple ways to certify that you have a certain domain, for sub domains of and, It's easy, we are using wildcard certificates. For custom domains that you could make point to your content directly, what we do is that you put a key inside your DNS to say, this is the virtual machine that should be mapped to that domain. Then you do a CNAME to our cloud load balancer and then the VM host when they get a request for this one, they go and check the DNS to see what VM they should serve on the generator certificate using Let's Encrypt for that domain and they start serving it.

Anatoly Yakovenko (16:59):

Oh man, this would be really cool. But if we could have like an ENS where in my ENS registry I set my Let's Encrypt domain, and then I run a local DNS server on my home machine where I run my browser and point that as a resolver, you could kind of tie these knots together and get-

Jonathan Schemoul (17:23):

Yeah, it could work.

Anatoly Yakovenko (17:24):

That's really cool. What happens if these instances die, where do you guys get more hardware? How does that process work?

Jonathan Schemoul (17:36):

Well, an instance can just stop, then the load balancing system will find another instance to run your code. Then what happens when an instance get a request for a code that doesn't have for the micro VM network. I mean, it goes on the network, checks, okay, what is the database entry that is in front? It takes the database entries. Has there been any upgrades to it? Okay. I get the upgrades. I subscribe using web socket to the upgrades of this database entry basically because it's a document about database entry.

Jonathan Schemoul (18:14):

And then it looks, okay, so this is the root FS that I should load. Do I have it? I have it, could I use it? If not, I download it from the network. I applied that root FS, where is the code? Okay. What volume does it needs and it builds and retransits and gets you the answer. For a cold start with no root FS or whatever, it can take a few seconds. But in general you use the same root FS as others. So you can get the code start. If you don't have the code, it's less than a second. If you already have the code of the application is like 150 millisecond for a cold start.

Anatoly Yakovenko (18:53):

Got It. And is the coordination to decide where to start this particular instance? Does that occur over the underlying chain, like Solana or Ethereum or whatever?

Jonathan Schemoul (19:08):

Again, that's something that we're working on. At start it's on the cloud load balancer. So the cloud load balancer are semi centralized for that. The idea is that each micro VM running node that starts running one will register a message, which is a database entry with a reference to say, "I am running this one." And then the cloud load balancer looks at the uptimes of the available micro VMs and say, "Okay, this micro VM has it ready." I'm forwarding it to it.

Jonathan Schemoul (19:40):

And then if there is none, then it could just route it to like a random one that has a good uptime. And then this one, the next time kind of like be choosing automatically because it is already serving it. If there is a lot of requests, it will provision multiple ones.

Anatoly Yakovenko (19:59):

Interesting. Got it. And you anticipate that you'll basically be able to move if the underlying chain is cheap and fast enough you should be able to move the coordination and kind of like start this instance, pull this volume. This would be really cool with like Arweave backed storage volumes. Because you could almost then see the lifetime, the life cycle of the application as its business logic is evolving, right? That state is very useful to developers who are being able to go back to a checkpoint effectively at any given time too.

Jonathan Schemoul (20:38):

Well, right now we are using our own storage engine, which is APFS compatible. But in the future we will allow to choose other storage engine and we will also develop gateways with like Arweave, Filecoin and other.

Anatoly Yakovenko (20:53):

Super cool. I used to work at Mesosphere so I don't know if you've heard of them, like D2iQ, this was kind of Kubernetes competitor, trying to build this decentralized operating system using Mesos as the jobs kind of Q-engine. There's a lot of similar challenges there, and this is really cool that you guys are building this in a decentralized web application that's kind of hosted in the real cloud, the mythical cloud.

Jonathan Schemoul (21:28):

Yeah. Well, there's a saying, there is no cloud, it's just other people computers. Here it's really other people computer. So it's pretty good because then you don't trust those computers because you know it's other people computers.

Anatoly Yakovenko (21:44):

How do you guys ensure the integrity of the computation itself? How do I know that the virtual machine, the execution environment that's running isn't malicious.

Jonathan Schemoul (21:54):

It's a really good question. There is multiple questions there. How can I ensure that this computation isn't returning a bad result because it knows who is on the other end. The load balancing system ensures that you don't really see who is in the other end, so you don't know who is making the request. So you don't know if it's a quality control call or if it's a real call. It goes back to your question of the testing of the application. And there is another one there which is the question of the secrets, because you might need secrets. If you want to do push notification based on a smart contract event on Solana, let's say, because that's something that we are working on right now, thinking about it.

Anatoly Yakovenko (22:48):

That's super cool.

Jonathan Schemoul (22:48):

So you would need secrets. You will need to story a secret to being able to go back to this device and send these device and notification. So you either store secrets in the local storage of the instance, but then if the instance dies, you can get it back or you try to get shared secrets between multiple hosts. We are working on it. We don't have a total answer on that. What we are working on is using free shirt cryptography, so that multiple host defined by the developer come under these secrets. And then you go back to a question of trust, which is problematic.

Anatoly Yakovenko (23:30):

By the threshold cryptography, is this like an MPC to compute, or are you guys thinking like BLS or like Schnorr aggregation?

Jonathan Schemoul (23:42):

More like you encrypt something that can be decrypted by multiple private keys.

Anatoly Yakovenko (23:47):

Got it.

Jonathan Schemoul (23:48):

And then if they want to send a message, it needs to be signed by at least x of y.

Anatoly Yakovenko (23:54):

Right. Got it.

Jonathan Schemoul (23:57):

Because this micro VM I mentioned can also send messages on the network. These messages on the network will be database entries that in the end might end up also on-chain using all records or whatever. Because these micro VM can read from on chain data and the idea is that we are working so that they can also write on chain as well. So then you might need some kind of trust somewhere. So one developer could say, I trust this host this host this host, but they need at least to do that calculation three times, let's say. But it's a bit problematic and we are still working on it. It's not finished yet, so yeah.

Anatoly Yakovenko (24:40):

That's what I mean, that's a really hard problem.

Jonathan Schemoul (24:41):


Anatoly Yakovenko (24:43):

Really cool. Yeah, the secrets thing is really challenging. I guess, what's your vision for this? You guys are tackling on some really hard problems, you get all of them done in the next year.

Jonathan Schemoul (25:01):

I hope so.

Anatoly Yakovenko (25:06):

What happens then? What is the vision for Aleph?

Jonathan Schemoul (25:08):

Well, here we are only speaking about a few crypto issues. We aim at bigger than just the crypto ecosystem. What we really want to do is decentralize the web, so getting bigger, way, way bigger, that's the goal. We are working with a few bigger partners who are part of the Ubisoft entrepreneurial labs, for example. We want to have a lot of hosting partners in the game that start providing resources so that I want it to be as easy as spinning up AWS server or whatever, you would just spin up VMs under the .im network. I want it to be as easy as using Firebase, using Amazon Lambda, et cetera.

Jonathan Schemoul (25:51):

And we have another big project going on, which is the indexing on Solana, where we are indexing data for a few protocols, currently Raydium, we might have another already soon. Well, I can say the name. We are working a lot on Orca, on port finance right now, and a lot of others actually that I can't really talk yet. But the idea is to have all these data available, have all these data feed coming up so that you can have events based on them, also do off-chain computation and things like that.

Jonathan Schemoul (26:29):

I really want DeFi to be totally resilient because until it's totally decentralized, you can stop DeFi. When it's totally decentralized, you can't. And if there is only the smart contracts that are decentralized, you can still stop it.

Anatoly Yakovenko (26:48):

Yeah. That's definitely a fair point. I think the UX issues around building also just like push notifications and all these other things for projects are really hard to overcome if it's a decentralized project, because who's going to host those servers, right, to connect to mobile and everything else. Yeah. You guys have a lot of work set out and it's pretty exciting. What do you think is missing? If you guys had like another, somebody else was building this other piece that you think is missing in the Web 3, what would it be?

Jonathan Schemoul (27:26):

What is missing today in the Web 3 ease of use for all this. We are trying to tackle this, but we have so much on our end. So this is a big issue, ease of use for developers, ease of use for users. Well, Phantom is already doing a great work on that end on Solana. But yeah, this and also I think that there is some kind of breaks between the ... In DeFi, if you want to move money into the real world, it gets hard really fast because there has been some kind of complications that have been put in place by regulators, by banks, by whatever. If we could just get all these parts simpler, it could be great. Some kind of link between FinTech and crypto that would work everywhere in the world, including Europe, USA, et cetera. It would be great. There are a lot of people working on it, but that's something that is missing as well.

Anatoly Yakovenko (28:28):

Yeah. Identity and like having those easy ramps is still hard. What about DNS? Just straight up resolving, do you think that's tackleable from a Web 3 perspective.

Jonathan Schemoul (28:45):

The issue is the way DNS is done. DNS protocol is great, but it implies centralization points, a lot of centralization points, which are problematic. Then you will need another standard on DNS. But if you have another standard on DNS, then you have the issue that the network right now is done, is not done for it and the browser don't understand it, et cetera, and operating system don't understand it. We would need gateways for that. I think it's doable. It's definitely doable, but it's a lot of work. And you would need multiple root servers, even virtual root servers, like what you said, local DNS server that would resolve your request, it could work.

Jonathan Schemoul (29:38):

If Let's Encrypt could understand it in the same way, it would work. Or we could even have something different than the root certificate that we have today, because with blockchain, we already have private keys. We already have signature. So if you sign your content with your private key, then you can verify it on the other end. And you don't really need all these chains of certificates that are here today. So that could also be another solution, but it would need another way, because right now we have roots certificate, children's certificate, et cetera. And it all goes back to central authority. The whole DNS on certificate system today goes with authority. With blockchain we are trained to remove authorities.

Anatoly Yakovenko (30:33):

Yeah. Do you guys see this as becoming developer facing, or maybe someday eventually kind of like client facing and want these decentralized applications running for me, kind of my own instances. Or is this always going to be here I am, team Orca, go to this domain as a user.

Jonathan Schemoul (30:56):

It's a good question as well. It's always the issue between hosted components, locally run components and kind of pragmatic on that. At start I would really like to, everything runs inside my browser, everything works. That's great. In reality, you have mobile phones, you have tablets, you have computers, you have a lot range of devices that can be running all the time. So real peer to peer application can't really work that well, unless you go and say, "Okay. While you are waiting for me, please send it to my friend, that will forward the data for me, et cetera.

Jonathan Schemoul (31:40):

Blockchains are really helping there is that we have a centralized authority, which is the blockchain that you can trust and that can hold data for you and can even encrypt it for you or store it on, whatever, and only you can decrypt it. I think that the mix between the two would be good, like self hosted data and remotely hosted data on the decentralized cloud, a good mix of the two could be good. And the efforts by the leap peer to peer team, with the javascript leap peer to peer. And there are a few of us like that helps, because once you have access to a peer-to-peer network directly from your browser, you can cut middlemen. You can cut central authorities, et cetera, if you're the blockchain that serves as a central authority.

Anatoly Yakovenko (32:28):

What kind of loads have you guys seen or been able to test this out, in terms of like users request per second, kind of WebSocket connections per second.

Jonathan Schemoul (32:39):

It depends because when it's per server, that's not that much of an issue because the micro VM supervisor just forwards the request to the underlying software. If you don't choose local persistent volume, the supervisor can run as many instances of your program as needed, then you can spawn multiple one even inside the same supervised cluster. And then the network, if it sees that this one has issues adding the request load you can load new ones.

Jonathan Schemoul (33:18):

I don't think that there is really a limit on the request per second for that. So it's not really the issue that we have. And then on the database part, same, if you access one API server and you give it 500,000 requests per second, it would go down, because it's a server. If you target multiple API server, you are good. So that's also where the decentralized load balancing helps because if you use a cloud load balancer obviously even this cloud can go down. But if you contact a peer to peer network to know what host can answer, then you can contact multiple host. And all our core channel nodes, we are currently 54 of them are also API servers that users can connect to to get the data, which will be certified by our core channel node.

Anatoly Yakovenko (34:10):

Cool. As a whole, how many, I guess, do you have an idea of how many users per second or humans per second have you guys served in some peak times?

Jonathan Schemoul (34:21):

We don't, because we don't store metrics currently, we should. We don't have it because we didn't want to have any kind of log or whatever on the users, but we should add it, that's actually a good point, we will.

Anatoly Yakovenko (34:37):

Yeah. I mean, I think you got to be really aware of privacy and how that impacts some applications. But really interesting to see how this works. Caching is another one of those things, basically having a distributed cache around the world for often queried data. And this is an issue that I think doesn't have a good solution in Web 3 right now. You do all this work, set up a purely thin client, that's like loads from code, only talks to the chain and then you got to go fetch assets. And if you're using centralized ... Yeah, they can basically inject whatever they want.

Jonathan Schemoul (35:25):

Yeah, that's the main issue. And the good part is that if you also randomize where the request of the users go, if there is one bad actor, it will only inject bad data once in a while you don't even know where. Once there is a quality control it will detect it, so that can also be a solution. It's not a silver bullet either, but it can definitely help. So like for Solana what we are doing right now, for Raydium for example, is that we have an indexer that talks to multiple RPC of Solana then get the transaction history, store it inside the level DB, inside the micro VM, and then index the data.

Jonathan Schemoul (36:09):

Then we can get data on the pool's latest trades and stuff like that. The idea is that if there is too much request on one index, it will start another index or another index or another index, or et cetera, so that when you do a request, it reroutes you randomly to multiple hosts that have the same index.

Anatoly Yakovenko (36:28):

How fast is that?

Jonathan Schemoul (36:31):

Not fast enough currently. Well, it's fast enough for Raydium.

Anatoly Yakovenko (36:35):


Jonathan Schemoul (36:36):

It works really well.

Anatoly Yakovenko (36:40):

Raydium gets a ton of hits. I mean, some of their IDOs have seen half a million requests per second-

Jonathan Schemoul (36:48):

Yeah. So for the Raydium data, it handles it well, like all the trades, whatever, it handles it pretty well. We don't get behind blocks in the indexing, so it works well. For Serum it's a bit more problematic because you need to watch, event cue all the time. I really hope they will have some kind of flux in the future. I think that they are working on it. So that would really help us either to get history even when we aren't watching their event cue.

Anatoly Yakovenko (37:23):

Yeah. So not half a million per second, half a million total, which is quite different, but yeah, they see some really good traffic.

Jonathan Schemoul (37:30):


Anatoly Yakovenko (37:32):

Cool. I mean, that's really cool. I think really hard part I think in designing these systems, one, is the problem is difficult, but then once you build the first version of it and you start hitting real traffic, there's a lot of parts that fit together that break under load. So what is your debugging like? How do you guys actually monitor like debug, like PagerDuty, what do you guys use as a team?

Jonathan Schemoul (38:01):

Right now our team is still small. We are growing a lot. Right now we are like 10 developers. A few months ago we were only three. A year ago I was alone. So we are growing really fast and we are putting all these things into place. Right now everyone monitors and checks what happens and it helps. There is Hugo who is on the micro VM side, Ali was mostly on the indexer side, myself we can get everything. But we are putting really real stuff in place right now to have it, because we are a growing startup so it takes time to get everything in place.

Anatoly Yakovenko (38:43):

Yeah, for sure. Do you envision a PagerDuty team for this?

Jonathan Schemoul (38:48):

Yes. I think that we will need one. Once we have more application that are using it, we will need one. So yes, if you have advices on that day, I'm really happy to get them.

Anatoly Yakovenko (39:00):

I mean, it's just part of life. It's not complicated. It's just work. This is I think that like response team I think is a difficult thing to set up in a decentralized community. If you guys are building a decentralized network with providers that are supplying hardware and all this other stuff, those are the folks that we found to be really responsive and have a lot of stake in growing this. How do the economics work for all the people actually supplying the hardware and bandwidth, et cetera?

Jonathan Schemoul (39:36):

Again, the research and economics aren't live yet. We are working on them. The core channel nodes economics is already there for like a year, now it works well. For the core channel node you need to have 200,000 Aleph to start a node and 500,000 Aleph, staked on a node, so that it can start to run. And then all the node operator get a share of a global envelope daily for all the nodes. All the stakers get a part of the envelope for stakers. The more nodes active, the bigger the envelope for staker is. But then for each node, they will earn a bit less if there are more nodes because it's a global envelope. So it helps stakers grow the number of nodes that are active, so that's for the core channel nodes.

Jonathan Schemoul (40:25):

For the resource nodes, to get storage or computing on network, there is two ways to get it. One that is already live, which is hold X amount of Aleph and get that amount of storage, hold X amount of Aleph and have the ability to start one VM with X megabyte of RAM, X virtual CPU, et cetera. And then the multiplier, and all that gives you the total count of micro VM I mentioned that can be running on your network based on your balance. The good part with that is that partner project could use a lending protocol to borrow Aleph where depositing their own token to get service. They would get the service for free just paying interest in their token, inside the borrowing protocol.

Anatoly Yakovenko (41:14):

Got it.

Jonathan Schemoul (41:15):

So that's a way for protocols to get it, but it's quite expensive because they don't directly pay for it. So for this way of using it, network is paying for them from the incentive pool, which right now it's one fifth of the supply, and we are changing it in the next few months, we'll change a bit of economics. It will be nearly half of the supply that would be dedicated to pay for that. Because since you lock a part of the supply, then you can release a bit inside circulating because of this new use. So that's for the hold X Aleph tokens.

Jonathan Schemoul (41:51):

And then there is another way that isn't developed yet that we will likely use Solana for, because it's fast enough for micro-payments in that area. It's like pay per action, pay X Aleph per gigabyte per month. You as a provider, you can say, "I am okay to be paid at least that much." And then users will say, "I want my data to be replicated at least four time. And I'm okay to pay at most that much for this." Then you get divided by those who provide service and the payment is done as micro payments. And same for the micro VM you pay per CPU per hour, et cetera.

Anatoly Yakovenko (42:32):

Got it. That's really cool. Well, this has been awesome to have you on the show. I mean, we got into I think the really deep, deep tells of how Aleph works, so I had a blast because it really reminds me of the spending, working on the stuff for centralized systems. It's really cool to see this kind of built ground up for decentralized ones as well. So appreciate the work you're doing. Thank you, Jonathan.

Jonathan Schemoul (43:00):

Thank you very much for having that call. It was really great talking with you.

Anatoly Yakovenko (43:04):

Awesome. And good luck to you guys. I mean, startups are blood, sweat and tears, so just keep working on the vision. You'll get there.

Jonathan Schemoul (43:11):

Thank you very much.

Anatoly Yakovenko (43:13):

Cool. Take care.

Oct 05, 2021
Jeff "Jiho" Zirlin - Co-Founder of Axie Infinity Ep #47
Jeff "Jiho" Zirlin is the Co-Founder of Axie Infinity, an NFT-based play-to-earn online video game. 00:23 – How it started through CryptoKitties? 02:41 – What is Axie Infinity? 04:13 – Game design and constant iteration 05:52 – What is a blockchain game? A mix of social network, gaming and the start of a new economy 13:15 – Why is crypto important to Axie? 17:24 – Building and relying on your community 20:47 – Is the future of gaming the metaverse and user-owned assets? 22:22 – The feasibility of crossover between games with NFT ownership 27:35 – Where are Axies user from and what kind of players are they? 30:45 – What's Axie's endgame? 37:16 – Thoughts on competitors 41:18 – Generative art and creating an Axie
Jul 29, 2021
Yutaro Mori & Grace Kwan - Co-Founders of Orca Ep #46
Yutaro Mori & Grace Kwan are the Co-Founders of Orca, a user-friendly cryptocurrency exchange built on Solana. 01:15 – About Orca and its vision 09:48 – What’s the future of DeFi? 20:48 – A little bit about Orca’s roadmap 25:50 – What does Orca’s team look like? 32:11 – The internet hasn’t changed much, people grew into it. How will crypto grow more present in our life? 36:22 – Solana and zero knowledge proof 40:02 – Orca’s next features planned for Q2 and Q3 43:46 – How does Orca plan on growing their worldwide community?
Jun 25, 2021
George Harrap - Co-founder of Step Finance Ep #45
George Harrap is the co-founder of Step Finance, a platform for Solana DeFi users to track their portfolio performance. Before Step, George was the CEO of Bitspark. 00:29 About George Harrap and mining 05:03 From Bitcoin to DeFi, how can crypto solve currency issues in the world 18:27 STEP Finance’s vision for the next five years 21:20 Censorship resistance and layer 1s 27:11 Hackathon: what would you like to see created? 30:30 Thoughts on Rust and why it was the better choice for Solana 38:08 Why you can’t innovate in the traditional financial system
Jun 07, 2021
Kevin Rose - Partner at True Ventures Ep #44
Kevin Rose is a partner at True and a serial entrepreneur best known for founding Digg and Revision3. Most recently, he founded Oak, a guided meditation app, and Zero, an app for tracking intermittent fasting. 00:08 – Introduction of Kevin Rose, Modern Finance and the story of Reddit vs. DIGG 06:04 – From DOS to Windows, where are we in the evolution of crypto 07:50 – Crypto is here to stay. Could we see countries getting into it in the future? 14:47 – The NFT craze 19:58 – NFT: dynamic art and encrypting mystery over time 23:08 – Blockchain is persistent and permanent; how will this impact NFTs in art and games? 32:49 – From investing into educating people on crypto 39:35 – Discussing the repercussion of Christie’s endorsement of NFTs 43:22 – Kevin Rose’s investing philosophy 49:34 – Kevin’s advice: test features
May 10, 2021
Jason Choi - General Partner at Spartan Capital Ep #43
Jason Choi is a General Partner at Spartan Capital, one of Asia’s first crypto funds. As Spartan Capital’s first employee, Jason helped scale the fund from $9M to $200M within 3 years, and supported the launch of Spartan’s $50M DeFi-only venture fund to back world-class teams shaping the future of finance. 00:23 – Getting into crypto and about Spartan Capital 04:33 – How does Spartan Capital invests? 11:47 – Next wave: building for current users vs future adopters? 19:47 – DeFi and the yield farming phenomenon 30:36 – From CeFi to DeFi for the mainstream adopters 43:33 – The NFT craze and where it could lead us 51:37 – Thoughts on the next wave? DAOs? Social Networking?
May 03, 2021
Dan Gunsberg - Co-Founder of Hxro Ep #41
We are excited to have Dan Gunsberg, Co-Founder of Hxro, sitting down with us for Episode 41. During this discussion, Dan talks about his history in traditional finance, how this experience guided him to building out Hxro, the importance of community, and the powerful disruptions he believes are going to happen over the next few years. 00:25 – Dan’s crypto story and what’s Hxro? 05:38 – Centralized crypto exchanges vs legacy exchanges 15:07 – Community capitalism 24:11 – Community building around projects 35:23 – Closing thoughts and what’s next for Hxro
Apr 19, 2021
AlphaRay - Founder of Raydium Ep #40
In this episode, AlphaRay discusses the origin of Raydium, working with Solana and FTX, fusion Pools, the importance of communities, and the future of decentralized governance. 00:25 - The story behind Alpha and Raydium 10:26 - What are Fusion Pools? 15:07 - Teaming up with FTX/Serum and being among the first to build on the Solana blockchain 19:29 - Solana communities 25:52 - Thoughts on future governance features 29:57 - Closing thoughts, what’s next?
Apr 12, 2021
Santiago Santos - Partner at ParaFi Capital Ep #39
Apr 05, 2021
Michael Wagner - CEO & Co-Founder of Star Atlas Ep #38
Michael Wagner and Anatoly Yakovenko sit down to talk all things Star Atlas. Star Atlas is a grand strategy game of space exploration, territorial conquest, and political domination being built on Solana. 00:48: Who is Michael Wagner and What is Star Atlas? 18:34: ATLAS and POLIS: Development of game economy 23:12: Developer ecosystem 25:40: Roadmap 34:19: Metaverse and VR 38:11: Decentralization of Star Atlas 43:29: Future Concerns
Mar 29, 2021
Dankrad Feist - Researcher at Ethereum Foundation Ep #37
00:56 Eth 1 vs Eth 2 15:22 Trust and sharding 30:53 Data Availability Sampling 45:26 Eth2: where would a new machine start on the chain? 56:31 Closing thoughts
Feb 19, 2021
Roneil Rumburg - CEO and Co-Founder of Audius Ep #36
Audius is a music streaming and sharing platform that puts the power back into the hands of content creators. In this episode, Roneil talks about the creation of Audius, the need for empowering artists, how blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can completely disrupt the music industry, and more. -
Feb 12, 2021
Paolo Ardoino - CTO of Bitfinex & CTO Tether Ep #35
Feb 03, 2021
Eli-Shaoul Khedouri - CEO of Intuition Machines & Advisor to HUMAN Protocol Ep #34
For this exciting and technical episode we welcome, Eli-Shaoul Khedouri, CEO of Intuition Machines and designer of HUMAN Protocol. HUMAN Protocol specializes in providing the infrastructure for launching decentralized work pools that allow humans to contribute to data labeling and training ML/AI algorithms. hCaptcha is a user of the HUMAN Protocol and currently covers over 14% of the internet. In this episode, Eli and Anatoly talk about what Intuition Machines does, why the company embraced blockchain technology, how hCaptcha managed to capture such a large market share of the internet, what the future looks like for HUMAN Protocol, and much more.
Jan 19, 2021
Sergey Nazarov - Co-Founder of Chainlink Ep #33

A cryptographically enforced system of contracts will take both our daily lives and the world’s emerging markets into a new age of economic fairness, transparency and efficiency—one driven less by vague brand promises and more by the real value created by individuals and institutions. Learn more about Chainlink

Sergey Nazarov began his career building peer-to-peer marketplaces, going on to the investment team at FirstMark Capital. He joined the cryptocurrency revolution in 2011, and believes it has the ability to change the way societies distribute wealth, enforce contracts, and share critical information with their citizens.

Jan 01, 2021
Michael Shaulov - CEO & Co-founder of Fireblocks Ep #32
Dec 04, 2020
RAC - Grammy Award Winning Recording Artist Ep #31
André Allen Anjos, better known by his stage name RAC, is a Portland-based Portuguese-American musician and record producer. RAC has created more than 200 remixes in the rock, electronica, and dance music genres for various musical artists, with his work featured in ads from Citigroup and Hulu, among others. RAC is an active member of the crypto community and a vocal advocate of Audius, a decentralized music streaming platform.
Nov 23, 2020
A Deep Dive Into DeFi With FTX, Aave, Balancer, Curve, Gauntlet, and Solana Ep #30
This is a special episode of The Solana Podcast - we took a recent panel for the Solana Wormhole Hackathon and converted into audio format for you! Enjoy this deep dive into all things DeFi with industry leaders. Sam Bankman-Fried Sam Bankman-Fried is the CEO of crypto derivatives exchange FTX and Alameda Research. He majored in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated in 2014. Stani Kulechov Stani is the founder and CEO of Aave and ETHLend. He is a seasoned entrepreneur with extensive experience developing technology in the crypto, blockchain, and fintech space. Michael Egorov Michael is the CEO of Curve and a physicist and scientist from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Anatoly Yakovenko Anatoly is the creator of Proof of History and co-founder of Solana. He led development of operating systems at Qualcomm, distributed systems at Mesosphere, and compression at Dropbox. Jeremy Musighi Head of Growth at Balaner Tarun Chitra Founder and CEO of Gauntlet Networks, a research company aiming to make crypto networks and their governance interpretable and statistically sound
Nov 06, 2020
Aaron Henshaw - Founder & CTO of Bison Trails Ep #29

Aaron Henshaw is the CTO of Bison Trails. 

Bison Trails is the easiest way to run secure node infrastructure on multiple blockchains. Their fully-managed platform powers critical infrastructure for the world’s leading digital asset exchanges, custodians, funds, and applications with industry-leading availability, security, and a 99.9% platform uptime guarantee.

Oct 14, 2020
Balaji Srinivasan - Angel Investor/Entrepreneur, Formerly the CTO of Coinbase and General Partner at a16z Ep #28

This is a special episode of The Solana Podcast. Things take a different route - Balaji and Anatoly cover Covid-19, the current state of the world, smart contracts and the future of decentralization, computation diligence, blockchain-based elections, Yale Law being replaced by code, math vs. science, Snow Crash, and location-independent work. 

Balaji S. Srinivasan is an angel investor and entrepreneur. Formerly the CTO of Coinbase and General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, he was also the cofounder of (acquired by Coinbase), Counsyl (acquired by Myriad), Teleport (acquired by Topia), and Coin Center.

He was named to the MIT TR35, won a Wall Street Journal Innovation Award and holds a BS/MS/PhD in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Chemical Engineering, all from Stanford University. Dr. Srinivasan also teaches the occasional class at Stanford, including an online MOOC in 2013 which reached 250,000+ students worldwide.


Sep 23, 2020
Clint Ehrlich - CEO of KRNC / NSF Funded Computer Scientist Ep #27

KRNC is a new blockchain protocol. Like Bitcoin, it uses cryptography to create a form of scarce "digital gold." The difference is what that digital gold is used for.

Clint Ehrlich

Sep 18, 2020
Kain Warwick - Synthetix Founder Ep #26

Kain is the founder of Synthetix and the CEO of blueshyft. Synthetix is a synthetic asset platform, and blueshyft is a crypto on-ramp in Australia.

Synthetix is the backbone for derivatives trading in DeFi, allowing anyone, anywhere to gain on-chain exposure to a vast range of assets.


Sep 03, 2020
Justin Drake - Ethereum 2.0 Researcher Ep #25

Justin studied mathematics at Cambridge University. He was a Bitcoin entrepreneur from 2014 to 2017 and is now an Ethereum 2.0 researcher.

Aug 18, 2020
Sam Bankman-Fried - CEO of FTX, Co-founder of Serum Ep #24
  • FTX is a cryptocurrency exchange built by traders, for traders. FTX offers innovative products including industry-first derivatives, options, volatility products, and leveraged tokens.
  • Serum is the world's first completely decentralized derivatives exchange with trustless cross-chain trading brought to you by Project Serum, in collaboration with a consortium of crypto trading and DeFi experts. Built on Solana.


Aug 03, 2020
Dieter Shirley - CTO of Dapper Labs, Lead Architect of Flow Ep #23

Dapper Labs is the team that brought you Crypto Kitties, Cheese Wizards, Flow, and NBA Top Shot.

Flow provides the infrastructure for open, comparable, and permissionless apps.

Jul 24, 2020
Rodolfo Gonzalez - Partner at Foundation Capital Ep #22

Foundation Capital:
Follow Rodolfo on Twitter:


Jul 09, 2020
Tarun Chitra - Founder of Gauntlet Ep #21

Gauntlet is a simulation platform for building financial models of blockchain protocols and applications.

Learn more about Gauntlet:


Jun 01, 2020
Zaki Manian - Co-founder of iqlusion Ep #20

Learn more about iqlusion -

Iqlusion provides infrastructure for next-generation cryptocurrency technologies which are designed and built to scale to real-world demands.

Sign up for Game of Zones -

Apr 24, 2020
Viktor Radchenko - Founder of Trust Wallet Ep #19
Solana is excited to announce that $SOL is now fully integrated with Trust Wallet. To celebrate this announcement we are releasing a special podcast episode featuring the founder of Trust Wallet, Viktor Radchenko. Viktor talks about his early experience in crypto and his incredible journey of developing Trust Wallet.
Apr 09, 2020
Kyle Samani - Managing Partner at Multicoin Capital Ep #18
In this episode, Kyle and Anatoly talk about the effects of COVID-19 on the cryptocurrency market, Black Thursday, and how they each see the next few months playing out in both the crypto and traditional markets.
Mar 27, 2020
Amir Haleem - CEO of Helium Ep #17
For this episode, Anatoly sits down with the CEO of Helium, Amir Haleem. Helium was founded in 2013 by Shawn Fanning, Amir Haleem, and Sean Carey, with a mission to make it easier to build connected devices. Helium is creating a decentralized internet network through its product the Helium Hotspot. With a Helium Hotspot, anyone can earn cryptocurrency by building a wireless network in their city and creating a more connected future.
Mar 18, 2020
Coinlist Auction & Staker Price Guarantee ft. Coinlist President Andy Bromberg

For this special episode of The Solana Podcast, we answer all your questions around our Coinlist auction that is happening right now! Pre-bidding starts on March 17th at 12pm PT and and the auction happens at 10pm PT on March 24th.

- Anatoly breaks down how our 90% buy back guarantee works

- Andy & Anatoly talk about how a dutch auction works

Mar 17, 2020
Vinny Lingham - CEO of Civic / General Partner at Multicoin Capital Ep #16

Sign up for the Civic Wallet waitlist:

Mar 03, 2020
Jill Carlson - Partner at Slow Ventures / Co-Founder Of The Open Money Initiative Ep #15
Feb 19, 2020
Meher Roy & Reisen - Co-Founders of Chorus One Ep #14
Feb 05, 2020
Sunny Aggarwal - Core Developer at Tendermint / Cosmos. Founder of Sikka Tech & Blockchain at Berkley Ep #13
This episode is all about Validators. Are you interested in learning more about how to run a node and become a validator? Sunny and Anatoly go deep into the current models and how validation within the blockchain ecosystem is evolving.
Jan 20, 2020
Brendan Eich - Co-founder / CEO Brave Software and Attention Token. Co-founder Mozilla & Firefox. Created JavaScript Ep #12

This is a special episode. Brendan Eich stopped by our recording studio in San Francisco a few weeks ago. During his visit, he and Anatoly sat down for over an hour to cover a broad range of topics. We start off the recording with a highlight of Brendans many accolades and achievements - creator of Javascript, co-founder of Mozilla/Firefox and most recent the CEO of Brave Software. 

Through Brave, Brendan and team are working to reinvent the way online advertising is handled. Opting to gave the power to the everyday user, you, instead of the advertisers.  

Episode timestamps coming soon*

Jan 06, 2020
Evan Shapiro - CEO and Co-founder of o1 Labs, building Coda Protocol Ep #11
Evan and Anatoly go into a deep discussion around the future of SNARKs and real-life use cases. Are SNARKs still a research problem or have they evolved into an engineering problem?
Dec 23, 2019
Emin Gün Sirer - Cornell Professor & Founder of AVA Labs Ep #10
In this episode, Gün discusses how he originally got into operating systems and the importance of figuring out this tech before moving on to other aspects of the stack. This episode is great for anyone looking to get an interesting and unique perspective of how operating systems and blockchain are intertwined.
Nov 25, 2019
Jack O'Holleran - SKALE CEO and Co-Founder (Live Podcast Recording) Ep #9
Nov 11, 2019
Brad Kam - Unstoppable Domains Founder Ep #8
About Solana: We are a lightning-fast distributed ledger technology for mission-critical decentralized apps. This podcast is a discussion between our staff, community developers, and industry leaders. You can follow us on Twitter @solana or GitHub @solana-labs. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or the direct rss feed.
Oct 25, 2019
Alexander Skidanov - NEAR Protocol Founder & CEO Ep #7


Oct 25, 2019
Andy Bromberg - Coinlist Co-founder & President Ep #6
Episode 6: No Sharding: The Solana Podcast.
Aug 16, 2019
Fundamentals of Blockchain Law with Ryón Nixon Ep #5
We are back with Episode 5 of Sharding, The Solana Podcast. We are joined this wee by Ryón Nixon who is the head council for Solana. He discusses what makes a good lawyer in the crypto space. No Sharding is the Solana Podcast. About Solana: We are a lightning-fast blockchain technology for mission-critical decentralized apps. This podcast is a discussion between our team, community developers, and industry leaders. You can follow us on Twitter or GitHub
Aug 16, 2019
How To Get Involved in Decentralized Open Source with Dominic Tsang Ep #4
Dominic Tsang chats with Andrew Hyde on how he got involved in open-source projects.
Aug 08, 2019
Tour de SOL Primer with Eric Williams Ep #3
Aug 02, 2019
How Solana Works with Anatoly Yakovenko Ep #2

In this episode, Andrew interviews the CEO of Solana, Anatoly Yakovenko.

Jul 26, 2019
Solana Overview with Greg Fitzgerald Ep #1
Jul 19, 2019