In this episode, Dan Albert (Executive Director), Lily Liu (President) and Mable Jiang (Board Member) discuss the role of the Solana Foundation in advancing the Solana protocol and ecosystem with support and initiatives around the world. Austin Federa (Head of Communications, Solana Labs) guest hosts. 0:43 - Intros / Roles 3:13 - The appeal of working at the foundation level 07:48 - Establishing scope for the foundation 12:42 - What’s working in the ecosystem? 20:01 - From the ecosystem to the foundation 21:21 - Growing Solana in new markets 33:50 - Shared Ownership of the network 36:21 - Predictions for 2022 in crypto and web 3.0 DISCLAIMER The information on this podcast is provided for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness, or fitness for any particular purpose. The information contained in or provided from or through this podcast is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice, or any other advice. The information on this podcast is general in nature and is not specific to you, the user or anyone else. You should not make any decision, financial, investment, trading or otherwise, based on any of the information presented on this podcast without undertaking independent due diligence and consultation with a professional broker or financial advisor.
In this episode, Dan Albert (Executive Director), Lily Liu (President) and Mable Jiang (Board Member) discuss the role of the Solana Foundation in advancing the Solana protocol and ecosystem with support and initiatives around the world. Austin Federa (Head of Communications, Solana Labs) guest hosts.
- 0:43 – Intros / Roles
- 3:13 – The appeal of working at the foundation level
- 07:48 – Establishing scope for the foundation
- 12:42 – What’s working in the ecosystem?
- 20:01 – From the ecosystem to the foundation
- 21:21 – Growing Solana in new markets
- 33:50 – Shared Ownership of the network
- 36:21 – Predictions for 2022 in crypto and web 3.0
The information on this podcast is provided for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness, or fitness for any particular purpose.The information contained in or provided from or through this podcast is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice, or any other advice. The information on this podcast is general in nature and is not specific to you, the user or anyone else. You should not make any decision, financial, investment, trading or otherwise, based on any of the information presented on this podcast without undertaking independent due diligence and consultation with a professional broker or financial advisor.
Austin Federa (00:10):
Welcome to the Solana podcast. I’m Austin Federa filling in as guest host today. We spend a lot of time on the show talking to founders and builders in the space, people building on the Solana blockchain or otherwise involved in the Solana ecosystem. But today we’re actually going to be talking about a different component, which is the Solana Foundation. Today with us, we have Dan who’s the executive director of the Solana Foundation. We have Lily, who’s the president of the Solana Foundation and Mabel, who’s one of the board members of the Solana Foundation. Welcome to the Solana podcast, guys.
Thanks for having us.
Great to be here.
Austin Federa (00:42):
All right, Dan, let’s start out with you. Tell me a little bit about what the Solana Foundation’s role is in the ecosystem.
Sure. The foundation is really here to help foster the growth of the Solana network and really the Solana ecosystem kind of in broad strokes at the highest level, what can we do to make sure that the Solana network continues to grow in the most kind of sustainable and decentralized manner as possible? And how can we provide resources and help the community grow to onboard the next or the first billion users to the Solana ecosystem and crypto in general?
Austin Federa (01:24):
Lily, what attracted you to the Solana Foundation? And how did you get involved in it?
Well, I’ve been in the crypto ecosystem for a little bit and I must confess that in 2018, 2019, I actually spent a good bit of time being a Bitcoin maxi. And then I even was part of Little Bitcoin Book and which is not to say, sometimes I feel like people in crypto are a little bit maybe too tribal, which is not to say I don’t love Bitcoin. I still consider Bitcoin to be king. But when I took a little bit of time out of crypto, when I came back to crypto, I started just using a lot of the apps that had sort of emerged out of DeFi Summer and I was totally floored by using Raydium in April. I really could not stop talking about it for just about a month because it was very squarely Web 3.0 but it felt like Web 2.0 and it was just so obvious to me at that moment that this was going to be how the next billion people, if we were going to get a billion people into crypto, anytime soon it was going to be on Solana.
Solana to me is just such a unique combination of being technically so innovative but at the same time, really understanding that to bring people into the ecosystem, it has to be a good experience. And sometimes for your end user, it really just is as simple as saying, “It’s fast and cheap.” And that’s why ethernet is just better than 56K modems. And sometimes it just has to be that simple to the end user if you’re going to appeal to a billion people.
Austin Federa (02:48):
Yeah, I completely agree with you. There’s been so many of those moments I’ve sort of heard over the last year of people just trying something on Solana and having this experience of, oh, it just works. It’s fast. It feels like a Web 2.0 application but it’s delivered in a fully decentralized way. Just based on that, what was the decision in your mind to, tons of people have that experience, they go build something, they go work for a company building in the space in terms of a service provider company. What was the sort of appeal of something that’s more at the foundation level?
To me, I think that, I come from a background where I spent a lot of time, I originally started working in more traditional industries. I worked in McKinsey, I worked at KKR and I kind of fell into Bitcoin back in 2013, 2014, which at the time was not a very obvious thing to do. And so for me, I think one of the things that I maybe add to the ecosystem is helping run effective organizations and thinking about sort of how to scale a commercial kind of go to market strategy and having been in the ecosystem for a little bit. And so for me, what’s always attracted to me to crypto and Web 3.0, is these kind of new ultimately end user experiences that you enable for, not just those of us who’ve been kind of nerding out over technical sort of minutia left and right but really making that accessible and available.
Some of the things that I’m really excited about facilitating through the foundation is kind of new markets growth outside of the US, outside of Europe, outside of the parts of East Asia that are already very familiar with cryptocurrency. And to me, it’s so clear that if these types of applications, call it DeFi or sort of more metaverse or social or NFTs are going to take hold, then it’s most likely going to start on Solana first. And so just being a part of that and sort of making that more accessible to a broader rate of people is really what’s exciting to me.
Austin Federa (04:51):
And Mabel, you tell us a little bit about your path to becoming a board member at the Solana Foundation.
I think among all the people here, I probably joined the board the earliest. I joined when the board started, the foundation started. That kind of history just goes back to when I think before the token launch of Solana happened to that Anatoly and Raj, they were in China and in East Asia. And then that was even before my time joining Multicoin. I met them, obviously at that point it was 2019 and then it wasn’t really easy to raise fund for sure. But then we kind of just happened to hang out a lot in Shanghai, in Seoul. I think another places like Beijing and whatever. And then we spent a bunch of time over those three weeks and then talked about, oh, how do I think about or how do we usually think about go to market strategies for public chains? And then how do people really differentiate one smart contract from the other?
When they go back to San Francisco, they ask, “Can you maybe write us some sort of expansion or kind of go to market plan for Solana in East Asia?” And I did that. That was right around the time when they’re forming a board for the foundation. And then, that’s also around the time when I joined Multicoin. They invited, it’s like since you’re part of the ecosystem and then you are pretty unique kind of position compared to some of the other board members, are you interested to kind of help Solana Foundation or raising the Solana awareness in a global sense? I was like, oh, that was really interesting in a differentiated way to contribute to the ecosystem so I said, yes.
Since then, that was start of 2020. Since then over now, I’ve been doing quite a bit of things, always related to those lines, raising the awareness for Solana in China specifically because that’s where I’m sitting. And also in some other places in Asia and also try to just kind of talk to different projects in multiple different ecosystem. And obviously now it’s a multi chain world and then people would have different trade offs, like when to choose different things. But when they learn about Solana and learn about why they’re optimizing certain things in the design, they’re always willing to try it because back in 2020, there aren’t that many people know about it. I think the first step really is just to having people understand how the system works and whatnot. I’ve been doing quite a bit of those. I think that’s kind of my experience involved with Solana Foundation.
Austin Federa (07:31):
And Dan, as you kind of think about your role as the sort of executive director at the Solana Foundation, how do you define scope for an organization like that? What are the sort of things you’re thinking about when you’re thinking about initiatives that the foundation is engaging in or things the foundation is not doing and shouldn’t be doing in your view?
Yeah, that’s an excellent question. Really, I see it as two primary areas of focus with kind of the overarching goal being broad growth of the network and the community itself without an eye towards turning a profit for the foundation. This is a nonprofit organization. We’re not taking any equity investments or really taking the position to be picking winners. There’s plenty of incredible innovation that’s happening on Solana, lots of competing projects, lots of new stuff. And the foundation really wants to position itself to support, really talking how to provide support equally for everyone in the ecosystem. And so one of the primary thrusts, one of our main operational kind of focus points these days is really on growing the network itself from an infrastructure standpoint. That’s really been my personal area of focus for really a long time now is how can we get the most number of high quality validator operators, the most humans running the most number of nodes, be it validators or RPC nodes, which serve as the API endpoints or API gateways for applications using the Solana network?
And to that end, the foundation has rolled out a number of programs, really leveraging kind of the foundation’s holdings of tokens, which are really allocated to grow the community and grow the network. Kind of as I see it, I don’t know, maybe a bit of a personal tangent here. I originally started engaging with Solana in early 2019. I was working on the engineering team at Solana Labs and it was early stage startup. We hadn’t even launched the Testnet yet, just kind of scrappy early days, trying to get everyone to understand and hey, proof of history is a real thing. We’re really going to prove out this tech. And one of the things that was really hard was trying to get people to run validators. A lot of our early stage validators that helped us launch Testnet for the very first time and get Mainnet off the ground were a lot of them came from the Cosmos ecosystem.
And so, we have a lot of these kind of OG longstanding validators who really helped get the Solana network off the ground came from standing on the shoulders of giants. The Cosmos ecosystem brought so much innovation to the proof of stake universe and kind of where this ties back to, in early days, myself and a couple of the early labs employees in true startup fashion, we were actually working out of one of the co-founder’s basements and we hand built some of the first bare metal validators to run on the Solana network. Ordering parts on the internet, showing up in a bunch of boxes and just going forward kind of hacking on the hardware, trying to see how much performance we can squeeze out of these individual machines.
We went and installed them in a data center here in the Colorado area and those nodes are still running today. Some of them are pointed at Mainnet, some of them are Testnet. And that was sort of the, I don’t know, the genesis of, at least for me personally, a lot of my personal investment in seeing the growth of the validator ecosystem on Solana, having kind of physically hooked up and bootstrapped some of the first ones. And now having transitioned earlier this year to take on this role at the foundation, we maintain a program for anyone who wants to run a validator, can engage with tier one data centers all over the world that the foundation has. We’ve really kind of went to bat for our validator community and helped a lot of these infrastructure providers understand that, yeah, it takes a lot of horsepower to run a node on Solana and it can be hard to get your hands on some of these machines.
And so in working with some of these execs at some of these older school, I’ll say more traditional telco or infrastructure oriented companies, helping them to understand the value of what a powerful and secure and distributed Solana infrastructure ecosystem looks like, that’s really been an exciting kind of growth track, I think for the foundation in helping to bring more hardware online and helping more people to learn to run it and get more nodes running and keep the network flying.
Austin Federa (12:16):
Yeah, I love the parallels to the Cosmos ecosystem being a validator ecosystem being early, early supporters of that because of course, Tendermint is also notoriously computationally intensive and runs better on bare metal than cloud so it seems like a very natural validator group to bring over in the early days.
Lily, from your view, as looking over the ecosystem, what are the parts you see that are working really well in the Solana ecosystem? What do you see are areas, be it tooling, Dan talked a little about infrastructure, areas in which the foundation can make a difference in help evolving?
What I think is going quite well right now is a lot of the interest in the energy and kind of the inbound on various stakeholder groups within the community. I think there’s a lot of excitement from a general audience also because it’s very accessible to a general audience. Again, as we were saying earlier, if it costs dollars versus hundreds of dollars to mint an NFT, that’s a very meaningful difference to many people. I think general awareness has been amazing. I think there’s a lot of increased developer interest and accessibility. And if you look at sort of the hackathons that we’ve had, probably every two or three months, three or four months in the ecosystem, the number of sort of people who are new to Web 3.0 that are starting with Solana, I think is really impressive and has grown tremendously in a very short period of time.
We want to continue to extend that in various ways. And we’ve got a number of ideas as to sort of increasing the accessibility to even a retail audience, putting out sort of better documentation, better tooling to continue sort of onboard both maybe existing Web 3.0 developers who might be building in solidity or on sort of an EVM type environment. As well as, increasingly there’s pretty substantial influx of folks coming over from Web 2.0 and thinking about where to get started and are starting off by making choices between essentially now it’s really solidity or Rust and Rust, implicitly sort of Solana. And so I think that we can continue to invest in various ways of sort of helping people start within the Solana ecosystem. And I think that because Solana has grown so quickly in a very short period of time, there are also sort of ecosystem tools that are catching up right now.
One thing that we hear a lot about is kind of indexing within Solana is something that we can probably improve as a community, data analytics on Solana, given that a lot of the applications are very sort of more consumer retail audience oriented is something that I think is also, actively being worked on. And so those are of the sort of near term things that people are thinking about. Obviously with the pretty tremendous growth of the ecosystem, also making it easier for people to run nodes, have access to baseline infrastructure. That’s also something we’ve invested tremendous resources on through data center partnerships and it’s known that Solana some higher hardware requirements but we’ve invested a lot to try to take down those various barriers. Those are some of the things that we’ve been thinking about.
Yeah. And I would actually just kind of add to that. Some people do like to kind of harp on the interesting hardware requirements or high end hardware requirements for Solana. In the broad scope of things, when kind of the history is written about at these sorts of things, it’s like, this is going to be something that’s in a number of years or maybe even just a couple years, it’s going to run on whatever machine you want to plug in to your home. We do have some validators that are running infrastructure out of their home. Some people choose to run in data centers. Some people do, God bless them, choose to run it in the cloud. But I think to Lily’s point regarding the incredibly rapid growth of the Solana ecosystem, I think one area where we’re really starting to dedicate more resources, particularly me personally and from the foundation side is on helping more people understand what Solana infrastructure really looks like.
We’ve seen Tremendous resources and the developer relations team has put out incredible resources for new developers for Web 3.0 but the kind of tooling and community knowledge base of what does it take to run a good validator? And what does it mean to run a validator? Why should I care? I think it has a little ways to go in sort of advancing that narrative a little bit. In particular to lower the barrier to entry from, oh, you must be a sysadmin or a DevOps expert to, what I’d really love to see is all of these Web 3.0 teams and Web 3.0 app developers who are having a great time enjoying Solana and building on Solana, also participate in running the network that they so appreciate. I’d love to see more community buy in of teams that are vested in their project being built on top of a working Solana to help Solana run.
What we’ve seen, even in just the last couple weeks or so, a number of these sort of NFT based Dow communities that have popped up on Solana over the last six months or so have started really taking this message to heart and are launching their own validator, which is just really cool to see. I know, I think Monkeydow claims the title of first Dow to launch a validator on Solana. I know the Degen Apes and the Degen community have also launched. And so it’s just really cool to see these communities that really organically popped up around people enjoying NFTs and collecting these cool RNFTs that kind of blew up on Solana this summer now really starting to take a stake in the consensus and ownership and management of the network itself. And so I’m really excited to see that to start happen and really something I want to hope that the foundation can foster. And it’s just something I also am excited to see the community really kind of taking it into their own hands more.
Austin Federa (18:39):
Yeah. I kind of love that, that it’s so easy, even a monkey can do it. Is kind of the tagline there.
Austin Federa (18:48):
And the other, the Degen Apes, which are famous for having probably the least technically successful NFT launch to ever have been done by any organization have now their own validator. It’s a good testament to how far we’ve come.
It was incredible. It was such a struggle. There were all sorts of technical issues, like with the Metaplex standard had recently rolled out. They had various challenges with the mints and it was this saga that we all kind of watched unfold on Twitter and on all these channels over a number of days. And I got to give them credit. There were frustration, there was joy, there were tears. And it came out with one of the most unique, strong, enthusiastic communities on Solana having kind of gone through the fire of this rocky birth that was the minting process. More power to them. I just thought it was just so cool.
Austin Federa (19:48):
Yeah. I love how that all gets constructed. Kind of, along those lines, you Dan, you came initially from Solana Labs, you were one of the early engineers in the ecosystem. You’re now working at the foundation. What’s that transition been like? How closely do you still work with people like Raj and Anatoly? What’s that relationship like?
Yeah. I think the working relationship it’s really interesting. There has been obviously, Solana, the whole network was built and originally launched, all the code came out of Solana Labs, where Raj and Toly run the organization. And they’re obviously major players in the Solana ecosystem. This is the vision and the hustle that they’ve really brought to the table has been instrumental in kind of getting the whole community and the whole Solana ecosystem and the tech stack to really where it is today I think. Where we relate from the foundation is as sort of industry peers, I would say, sure, I talk to Raj and Toly, I talk with a lot of the ecosystem teams, I talk with our board and Lily and so many people that have an interest in Solana’s success on the broadest terms and that’s to really what the foundation is here to foster. As we continue to grow and expand and evolve our kind of working relationships with a lot of these organizations, I think just continues to evolve and expand.
Austin Federa (21:22):
And Mabel, looking at, you mentioned a bunch of the work you were doing was helping grow Solana in new markets. Can you talk a little bit about that? And I think, a lot of people, especially who are not working in the region, there’s a lot of information around whether cryptocurrency is going to be banned in India or China, sort of how do you view some of those approaches?
Yeah, definitely. I’ll answer the first part of the questions. I think it’s going to be pretty much the same line as what Lily and Dan just mentioned but I’ll kind of carve out those into details. I’d say, at the beginning you are also, you definitely need to engage a lot of these staking facilities but these people here it’s quite differentiated because many of them are running the mining pools, meaning the proof of work mining pools. I remember back in the days, in 2019, 2020, we were talking to a bunch of those and happened to be that a lot of those are just crashing their wifi in the office. It’s pretty funny. But at the same time, Dom who’s from Solana Labs, we’re trying to age of all of these mining pools and then we’re just giving out some of those GPUs.
But I think that’s in the past. Now a lot more validators are actually starting from East Asia. I think there’s some problem with in the past, with your location being far from the US so that’s it’s harder because Amazon cloud and whatnot but I think basically there’s what Dan mentioned earlier, I think this will be a problem that can be solved in the future. I thought that was a pretty interesting thing to bootstrap at the beginning.
And then the other things like wallets and non-custodial wallets, custodial wallets, because I think for East Asian crypto, you can never kind of ignore the centralized parties and players, especially I think in the past 24 month all the way till the next 12 month or whatever. I think a lot of those custodial wallets, including some of those exchanges, it was a lot of very pivotal work to try to engage them to support Solana, to support STL, USDC, USCT and a lot of the other stablecoins. I think, those steps that we were able to achieve in the past year in order to get a lot of these centralized exchanges to support those, I think that’s also pretty interesting.
I think the other thing is that you just generally need to go to wherever because like back in the days in 2 18, 19 and 20, not that many groups are fully aware of how Solana works or even if it’s like in Rust, I think people here I’d say safely were more familiar with things like Polkadot than Solana back in the days. Talking to some of those developers and just telling them, there’s a few different options and then go to some of the hackathons or just developer meetups or even just the Rust China conferences, and then to promote about it. Justin Stery, he spoke there. A lot of these engagement opportunities definitely helped over the past two years for Solana to really get the writers here.
I think that work still continue. And I think I believe that there will be a lot more application focused developers coming over, given from the history of Web 2.0, you see a lot of your infrastructure was built in the West but then application wise actually quite a few of them came from the East. I think, for Solana, for anything that’s building on top of the smart contract platform, we could probably spec on the same track. You’ll see a lot of people are going to build on top. Now once all of these are available.
I think one interesting thing is that for things like wallet, you have Phantom for browser because I think in the West, people are pretty used to using browser wallet but I think here in the East, you also need something that has really good user experience and people like to go mobile first. And that’s why Slope Finance, which is one of the leading mobile wallet for Solana in China, they were doing really well because they understand the user behavior and all of those to deliver to the specific audience. I thought this is like quite interesting how you will need to focus on specific areas, the same thing for East and West but then you want to make sure that people get to have the best culturally fitting choices for them so that way you can actually get it around.
And then to answer the second part of the questions, so I actually the other day had a tweet about similar lines. There’s a lot of Web 2.0 venture capitals and then some of the other funded funds, they’re trying to deploy money and then we’re asking it’s still East Asia or some of the other places around still relevant because of the policy. The way I read this is that crypto is really global. I understand that there’s certain restriction for developers to issue cryptocurrencies in China or in some of the other countries. However, I think the language circle and then user behavior, what I just mentioned was always going to be something more pivotal than the actual restriction. These people will move to somewhere else in Asia but they will continue to build. And then for people who want to use the kind of user experience for those products who are sitting here.
I think crypto liquidity is global but user experience is always regional. And I think, if you’re growing an ecosystem, you can’t ignore that. I’d say I’m still bullish. And I think people are recognizing some a lot of those things are just better built on Solana because it’s higher performance. And then at the end, it’s just about how you make sure that you are compliant to the place that you are at. And then not definitely go with the compliance part but then also not hindering yourself building.
Austin Federa (27:23):
Lily, Dan, do you have anything to add on growth in new markets and that process?
Yeah. On new markets, we started to invest in building out the ecosystem in India, back in June and July. And it’s no secret, there’s extremely large both user bases and also developer communities. I think in the most recent hackathon, after the US, the second largest contributor of developers, developer submissions to the hackathon was from India. And I think Indonesia was in the top four as well. And so I think as we continue to look to Eastern Europe, for example, Latin America, Africa, some of the early narratives as to what applications would be unique and sort of the 10X type of functionality on crypto, have been talked about and written about for years, if not decades. And for example, payment applications Which become supercharged when you take DeFi functionality, global liquidity pools and they make that adjacent to an actual you potentially consumer transaction.
And I think that that to me, it’s very clear that that’s going to happen on Solana first. And so, what I’m particularly excited about is some of those seemingly sort of everyday type of transactions but those actually becoming very unique when you, for example, can take a stablecoin and have a Venmo feeling type of transaction or a WeChat pay feeling type of transaction but it’s actually fully decentralized, fully on chain and also comes with a potentially a suite of financial services that are kind of baked into the ecosystem adjacent to that. I think those are the types of things that are going to resonate hugely in emerging markets, in new markets. And those are some of the things that I’m excited about maybe exploring in new markets.
Austin Federa (29:10):
Yeah. I do love how sort of culturally infectious the crypto mindset is. That to use a network, you also have to be an owner of the network and that the success of the network and the success of you as a user are tied in a way that they’re really not in the setup of a stock corporation or something along those lines. You can sort of think of these things in some ways as giant digital co-ops that are all working towards this goal. It’s really interesting to kind of hear that. And I’m really curious to see in the future, how that starts influencing culture. I think we’re already seeing crypto just barely start to influence culture and that might take off a bit in the future. Be interesting to see.
I think it is. And I think what’s under the surface with crypto but what rapidly rises to the surface is that it’s been talked about, written about philosophically for a very, very long time, this whole idea of a veil of ignorance, that your opportunity set is determined in large part sort of where you’re geographically born today, rather than you know who you are as a person and what’s in your heart and what’s in your mind. And with crypto, you sort of have this radical accessibility. It’s almost sort of radical equality if you will, in a way that we haven’t really observed in a long time. And so I think that’s really upending in so many different ways and that for me is a big part of why I continue to be interested in cryptocurrency. And also why I think Solana is really going to be at the forefront of that because all of those sorts of ideas, the accessibility, the sort of the very concept of why Web 3.0 is important and where people are most likely to get started on that today is the sort of general awareness funnels.
People will hear about Bitcoin. They’ll learn about Bitcoin. They’ll learn about store value and people will resonate with that. Your average person will resonate with that because it sounds so much like digital goals. But then once they start to learn about Bitcoin, they’re like, okay, I’ve bought it, I get it. It’s kind of like gold for the digital age. What’s next? Well can I do DeFi on Bitcoin? Eh, no, not really. Lightning, we’ve been talking about it since 2015. Soon.
And then very quickly from there, people move on to, okay, well here, well that’s really amazing. These sort of new applications. And I have some friends who bought NFTs and then they click a button and it’s a $100 later. Gosh. Oh, that was painful. And I think that’s kind of what a number of people have gone through so far. And so people sort of get onboarded to why this is important, why this is really sort of very exciting and part of the future. And then eventually what I’ve seen is so many people sort of end up with being in the Solana ecosystem. I guess what I’m excited about is accelerating that and maybe making it a little bit less of a circuitous journey.
I have a story to share related to what we were talking about here. I think, I now all of these protocols are starting to talk about Shopify type of experience, which is you have an underlying protocol and then you just have different ends. You just host a different way. It’s actually not just for the cultural purpose. One story was shared by Roneil who’s the co-founder of Audius, last week with me. He was saying that he realized because Audius is actually not, I think the main front end was not allowed in China at some point but then somebody actually set up a separate front end that’s actually and filter out and then based on whatever the local compliance should be let a whole thing run. That front end actually works.
He was exactly kind of explaining to me how he was amazed by Audius should be the underlying protocol and then it should be determined by the front end itself on the ground, what to feature versus not. And everybody can have their own choices. That’s a freedom choice. Nobody’s going to question that. I thought that was like really amazing. It’s definitely beat beyond just kind of I think this is really relevant to what we were talking about earlier because I think for Solana, it’s the same thing, a lot of the things. It may not be compliant for a certain reason in the region but I think at the end it’s about the front end. It’s not about the protocol. The protocol should be permissionless. Anyone else can just do whatever they want but for the ones that you want to make it work for a certain region, you can just do that. I thought that was really, really amazing and very unique about crypto.
Austin Federa (33:30):
Yeah. I love that, that sort of view that because of the financial incentives with crypto, you can decouple the application layer from the protocol layer, that those two things can be separate. This is in some ways, this is the dream of Twitter. We had this glorious few years where there were all these Twitter clients and then it all got, because the app engine was introduced, it all got consolidated down to twitter.com and the Twitter mobile apps. And RIP all of our favorite Twitter clients from back in the day. I love that, that the way this technology is built, it allows you to really separate those two things at origin, as opposed to having to think about the business models that support that over the long term.
I would actually add, I think there’s interesting things happening, both in the decoupling of that, like you said, the application and the protocol there but also an interesting sort of coupling there kind of to Lily’s point about this shared ownership of the success of the project. And that’s really this kind of shared ownership of the network is really the kind of core underpinning, this core idea that underpins this idea of staking on a proof of steak network. Which is your success is tied to the success and this really the security of the network. And what we’re starting to see now are applications and DeFi applications, particularly stake pools that have recently launched on Solana that really bring the ability to participate in the shared security and shared ownership of the network to the application layer.
There have been a bunch of community launched stake pools. There’s some private stake pools. The foundation is in the process of transitioning its entire treasury over to stake pools, which are really this, I think we did a whole podcast episode on this recently so I won’t belabor the technical details here but basically it gives people an easy way to enter and exit from a liquid position, which is actively helping to secure the network via staking to various validators in the underlying smart contract. But what I think is really interesting about this is we’re starting to see these public stake pools that pop up, Marinade Finance, JPool, Socient, Lido and a few others that are really bringing the application experience, that really slick, fast, fast and cheap promise of what does it feel like to just use a useful service built on top of Solana and oh, how cool that a normal user can transact in these stake pool tokens rather than unstaked SOL.
And I think we recently saw the first, there was an NFT sale or an NFT mint that was accepting stake pool tokens, a staked SOL positions, rather unstaked SOL. So we’re starting to see this adoption of people who are not only just developing apps and playing around on the application layer but also recognizing that there’s tremendous value in sort of moving the denominator of how we transact value on Solana to be pegged to the participation of securing the network itself.
Austin Federa (36:40):
Yeah, that’s a really great point. Looking forwards, Looking into this year of 2022, what are the things that you see in Web 3.0 and crypto that have potential that could become trends that are going to advance and increase? I’ll kind of start out. One of my big ones that I think is we’re going to see a lot of the sort of tech-ish companies adopting decentralized Web 3.0 technologies as a competitive advantage to compete with a lot of vertically integrated companies. I think you’re going to see a lot in payroll. You’re going to see a lot in merchant payments, concert tickets. These companies that don’t have platform scale are going to look to Web 3.0 as a competitive advantage. And you might see that role into the rest of the ecosystem. Dan, I’m curious kind of what your thoughts are. And we’ll just go around the room here.
Yeah, I think your spot on there, Austin. And I think one of the things that’s really going to help unlock that is these sort of higher levels of abstraction of developer tooling and more sort of almost enterprise API access, if you will, to provide a more Web 2.0 like interface experience that someone could just plug in and it’s Solana as a service. There’s your SaaS for 2022 and it’s instant settlement in stablecoins on Solana but no one needs to worry about the fact that it’s a stablecoin on Solana. It’s they integrate this API and the money transfers or the token transfers from merchant to customer or vendor to seller, whoever, immediately. I think that starting to see people using crypto and using blockchain without realizing that they’re using a blockchain technology.
Austin Federa (38:22):
Lily, what are your 2022 predictions?
I think industry wide I’m with you that Web 3.0 is going to become the starting point rather than sort of the periphery. I think that we’re well on our way where Web 3.0 is going to sort of foment this decentralized center. And I think that there’s a few things that are sort of going to happen alongside, in my perspective. One is this kind of movement towards multichain slash interchain future is just accelerating. I think that there’s a few sort of different consolations within the ecosystem. There’s clearly sort of the EVM world which we’re going to have a connection to through Neon EVM. There’s a lot of sort of obviously energy within Solana. There’s some other, IBC, we talked about Cosmos a little a bit is probably another sort of approach within that and then connectors within these.
And so I think there’s various foci that are going to emerge there and increasingly there is going to be sort of those sort of layer ones are actually, I think, going to be abstracted away over time as they probably should be when you talk about sort of appeal to your average person. I think that another theme that I see emerging is as more institutions want to get into this and compliance with existing regulatory frameworks, institutional KYC and tooling to allow institutions to participate in decentralized liquidity pools, which I think is going to be pretty exciting. And so that’s where the existing world is actually going to start getting onboarded in earnest into Web 3.0. That’s going to be quite interesting.
I think with that, there’s a big theme around a sort of identity and privacy and on chain identity and having a little bit more control over your data on chain is another big thing, the theme that’s going to evolve. And then, certainly in a consumer area, I think that NFTs went from being a very analog sort of digital representation of physical art and have now morphed into basically being the entry point into sort of Web 3.0 communities and metaverse and these kind of almost new communities, dare I say civilizations that are starting to sprout online. And so those are some of the from the more institutional to the more consumer, I think there’s just so much happening out there. That’s all really just going to continue to develop at a rapid pace in 2022.
Austin Federa (40:49):
And Mabel, what do you see for 2022?
Yeah. I’d like to maybe talk a little bit more about the application as in the middleware layer. Especially the crypto native ones. We’ve seen a lot of DeFi activities, 2020, 2021 for on Solana specifically because people like how fast transactions are like. But I think what’s more excited, also something that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about and then exploring is that the actual kind of Web 3.0 application experience, what does that mean? People have been talking about metaverse so to speak for a long time but the things people can do beyond finance is never really happening before but I think there are, we’ve seen from a lot of the recent hackathons that you’ll have address to address IM protocols, you have some of the Web 3.0 social graph where you can just basically have the relationship you with another person.
And then another, some of the other things open C collections or some of the other things that you did. And then you also have things like on chain credentialing protocols. All of these, we are seeing them happening on Solana. And then with all of these composable, with each other, you can actually see that you have relationship between people in a game, for example. Or when you bootstrap a new application with the social graph, you can you customize the front page that you push to the users based on the social graph because like you have all those data. Obviously what Lily said about privacy preservation was very, very important. You don’t want to share everything, which kind of it’s kind of against the purpose but I think the idea is that for Web 3.0, you own the data.
You are the one who approves the blockchain or whoever else to access your data of all eth and you control whether you approve someone to be your public connected contact. And then things like on chain credentials, you can prove, what are some of your achievements based on the contribution off chain. At this court discussion or things like whatever you’ve provided liquidity in the past for certain period of time or you just basically voted every single time in the community snapshot. All of these become your kind of on chain resumes or on chain badges that can later on help whatever you prioritize into a community. It’s the such thing we call gated community. I think all of these are coming together. We’re going to see actual consumer experience available on Solana. I thought that was extremely exciting because I think with all of these enabled, people will have no difference of experience compared to some of the other Web 2.0 application experience. I thought that’s going to be very huge.
Austin Federa (43:35):
Well, thank you all for joining us today. It’s fun to talk about some of these things that are not quite as pressing, as user facing that developers aren’t picking up and doing but are nonetheless integral to the network and it’s growth and its future. And I think it’s really fun to talk with the names and some of the people behind the Solana Foundation. Thanks for joining us today.
Thanks for having us, Austin.
Great to be here. Thanks a lot.