The Moonbeam Strategy: Four Lessons In Lean Execution

Moonbeam is the first Parachain on Polkadot to offer a fully EVM compatible platform for smart contracts. It is going live today and it is not going live in stealth.

The launch is unique and worth studying — it doesn’t resemble anything we have seen from a “new L1”, despite being born in the L1 epoch of 2020-21. 

Somehow, Moonbeam skipped the queue. The genesis ecosystem resembles mature peers who have spent years fighting for mindshare. They ducked out of the skirmish for zero-sum traction and built an arguably insurmountable ecosystem before the product went live.

This is how Moonbeam’s L1 strategy is fundamentally different. Most L1s play a sequential game: first build the technology, then attract the ecosystem. Moonbeam parallelized this effort. There are already over 80 projects building on the network before the L1 is live. Some of the most popular DeFi protocols on Ethereum. Cross-chain bridging protocols. Wallets that port millions of users. Staking providers, APIs, oracles. Esteemed degens stand in formation ready to integrate into Moonbeam — projects like Sushi, Frax and Synapse.

They ran a successful crowdloan in 2021 with over $1.1B worth of $DOT staked to the auction. They did a fair launch of a test network called Moonriver on Kusama, a network that has now spawned a life and community of its own.

It’s a tale of guerilla BizDev, illustrating that one does not need a giant war chest or head count to win. What’s even more impressive is the extent to which the team defied the odds.

Moonbeam is a new L1, so it came with all the risk of a new L1. Moonbeam is also one of the first Polkadot Parachains, so it also came with deep Polkadot risk. Moonbeam was not started by crypto-natives; the team faced a steep learning curve.

Not only does it appear that they overcame these risks and got to a successful launch, they may be the first L1 to launch with a mature ecosystem already in place.

In this blogpost, I’d like to explore Moonbeam’s story, firstly congratulating the team on their accomplishment (and thanking them for letting us invest).

Secondly, I believe that Moonbeam will stand out as one of the best examples of lean execution in 2020-21. The Moonbeam Strategy is a handbook for new crypto teams. It contains four important lessons. Each is more important by the day, as we enter a frothy environment that pressures entrepreneurs to view fundraising as the most important part of any new project.

(1) Curiosity as the highest good, how to become a crypto-native

We first met the Moonbeam team in late 2019 at an Algorand event in San Francisco. Their parent company, PureStake, was running Algorand nodes. They were not crypto-native. The main reason they were in crypto at all is because Derek Yoo, the founder of PureStake, had previously co-founded a company with Algorand’s CEO Steve Kokinos in 2006.

There was no Moonbeam at the time. Beyond the narrow infrastructure work they were doing for Algorand, they had very little grasp on crypto. They admitted this frankly. They chased us (and others) down and asked for meeting after meeting — they just wanted to talk about crypto. They asked a thousand questions. Every time we would point them to a new resource, they would come back with more questions.

They had an intense curiosity and a complete lack of arrogance. Derek was an incredibly accomplished Web2 founder. He had raised money from the best VCs, scaled to hundreds of people, sold software to the largest enterprises in the world. He had every reason to feel confident. He still came to crypto tabula rasa. He wasn’t afraid to admit that he knew little about this new space and was willing to spend months wandering the desert with no idea what he was going to build. He was also willing to remain undeterred in this discovery process, shielding himself and the team from the arrows of a cynical fundraising landscape.

This is where most accomplished Web2 teams fail. They come to crypto with too much baggage. They jump right in, thinking they know how to build a business and will likewise succeed in crypto. They apply Web2 mental models without first running discovery. Some of the most successful projects are crypto-native — their lack of background is an advantage. They aren’t blinded by the heuristics of the old world. The Moonbeam formula is a guide on synthesizing both: bring the skills of Web2 company-building, but adapt these skills to the degen playbook.

A discovery process is especially important for “old school” teams because they will likely land on the wrong idea without it. Derek converged on EVM compatibility on Polkadot in Q1 of 2020. At the time, the “multi-chain” narrative did not exist. EVM compatibility season didn’t emerge for another year — when BSC began its DeFi liftoff in January of 2021. The $DOT token didn’t exist. And yet — because of how seriously they took this initial research — Moonbeam landed on an excellent and early idea.

Moonbeam’s original pitch in January 2020, a year before the emergence of BSC DeFi.

Derek was one of the first founders in two emerging spaces: (1) Polkadot and its entrance into the multi-chain landscape, (2) EVM compatibility as a winning strategy. 

(2) Guerrilla BD, adapting enterprise BD to crypto

Having a real BD process is rare in crypto. Most technical founders don’t build a BD pipeline until long after their product is live. Rarely do protocols begin with a hunter at the helm. Rarely is there someone logging the CRM and chasing down flakey leads. The deeper we head into a feverish bull market, the worse this will become. There is increasingly less scrutiny placed on teams with lackluster follow up.

The Moonbeam began building this process very early on. For the first year, there was one dedicated team member leading the entire business development effort — Nate Hamilton. He would soon be joined by Fransisco Agosti. There was no VP of Sales. No Salesforce subscription. Just the one-two of a guerilla BD team and Derek. Recall what they were presenting: a new L1 which didn’t exist, EVM compatibility before multi-chain meant anything, on Polkadot, before the $DOT token was trading — in what felt like years before we’d know anything about Parachains.

And yet within months of their first raise, they saw a flood of traction. Projects signed up. DeFi behemoths like Sushi said yes. How? Why?

Very early on, they embedded themselves into the Polkadot community. They added as much value to Polkadot as they could. Before they were evangelizing Moonbeam, they were evangelizing Polkadot. This helped them win trust and relationships in what was an early Polkadot community. They quickly became “the guys”. Eventually, they were working side by side with the Parity team, collaborating to bring new teams into the Polkadot ecosystem.

The lesson here is: crypto BD does not always begin as a frontal assault. It is about finding leverage – a unique way to take advantage of manpower and branding somebody else has already built. Moonbeam could have started by trying to hammer down every DeFi protocol on Ethereum, but this would have required an army of cold-callers. Instead, they played their cards in Polkadot and the traction poured in as they became synonymous with Parity itself.

Secondly, start early. Some of the best technical teams overlook BD as an afterthought. They sequence technology and BD: first launch and then get people on board. This usually has the right intentions; promise only what we can deliver: The best teams promise early, and they make sure they deliver. 

(3) Stand on the shoulders of a giant or two

This next strategy feeds from the last. Moonbeam is a new L1, but is launching as a Parachain. The Parachains are new L1s, but don’t bootstrap their own security. They create application-specific L1s without building a blockchain from scratch. Polkadot’s Relay Chain is the “layer zero”, allowing each Parachain to share its security. The L1s can focus on their core competencies.

We wrote about this in our paper titled “The League of Parachains: Polkadot”:

“The L1s outsource security to the mothership: each nation receives the benefits of a standing army without needing to raise, maintain and deploy a standing army. The Parachains can thus redeploy resources otherwise spent on L1 security into their chain’s core competency. This shared security unlocks (1) Parachain customizability without sacrificing security and (2) built-in interoperability between different Parachains.”

This was critical to Moonbeam’s success. They reaped the rewards of Polkadot, which has spent over half a decade building its blockchain infrastructure, while honing in on the craft and UX of EVM-compatibility. When they pitched the Moonbeam L1, they were inherently pitching not just their engineering team, but Parity and the Polkadot L0.

Moonbeam’s technical strategy aligned with their business strategy. The reason they could begin building an ecosystem early on was because they weren’t trying to build everything themselves. They took a bet on the Parachain model, evangelizing Parity’s technical prowess as much as their own.

They took this strategy to the extreme: they stood on the shoulders of two giants, playing the delicate role of the diplomat in the middle. They also bet on the EVM. Moonbeam was presenting Polkadot to Ethereum projects and building Ethereum products on Polkadot.  

The lesson is here to find a way to create technical alignment between your project and a larger mothership or several motherships. If a new L1 like Moonbeam could do this, most dAPPs can find ways to do the same. In Polkadot, this dynamic is on steroids. It is part of the premise of being a Parachain and sharing security: you give up control over your L1’s security model, but in exchange you inherit immense leverage from the underlying ecosystem.

(4) Think like a bear market founder

We are in the hottest phase of crypto VC — perhaps ever. Growth funds are being raised every week. The floor for seed valuations is soaring. Diligence is loosening. Teams are growing confident in their destiny: certain success.

We have seen this movie before and the reality is that many of the “hot raises” of 2021-22 will fail. Moonbeam is illustrative because they did not raise their initial capital in a hot market. It was the Sahara era, the gruelling market of late 2019 and early 2020. 

The advantage of Moonbeam’s timing is they avoided the distractions of the VC bull market. They sharpened their strategy and did more homework, because they had to. There weren’t any unicorn FDVs floating around in the middle of 2020. Failure felt like destiny, not success. They weren’t showered with investor praise. Nor were they lured into today’s trap of thinking that raising money is the most critical part of a new project.

To date, Moonbeam has raised very little venture capital: $1.4m in the first round, following this up with a $6m raise six months later. Compared to today’s market, they were conservative. Compared to analogous L1s who have historically raised humongous warchests, they were very conservative. 

And yet they have quickly climbed the ranks of organic developer traction, with an ecosystem that stands toe-to-toe with peers even before the main product goes live.

The lesson here is that capital is not king. There are protocols where it makes sense to beef up the balance sheet. However, in most cases, a good strategy is worth way more than fundraising bravado.

Founders should “act as if” they are in a bear market. Despite Moonbeam’s continued success — encapsulated by the $1.1B crowdloan and Moonriver’s organic explosion — not much has changed. They operate the same way they did in early 2020. They ask questions, ask for help; they are quick to do what they promise. Maybe they got lucky — the distinct advantage of starting in a bear market. Born in the dark, moulded by it. 

Artificially replicating this mindset is not easy. But I think it will serve new teams well and increase their probability of success — beyond the inevitable washout of crypto’s new hot money. 

The Next Phase Of Moonbeam

Moonbeam is live. It is Polkadot’s entry into the cross-chain galaxy. It begins with an exploratory landing on the EVM. We are excited to watch the first wave of Ethereum protocols deploy onto Moonbeam. 

Moonbeam TVL will be an important signal for Polkadot traction. We are excited to see what the team has up its sleeve. How will they adapt their guerilla strategy now that the protocol is live?

Moonbeam could not only be a formidable competitor in the race for EVM compatible blockchains, it has the opportunity to expand into a portal for multi-chain applications. As the ecosystem goes live, we are excited to continue backing the Moonbeam team. If you are a developer building an application on top of Moonbeam, we want to meet you.

Dawn Of Algorand DeFi: AlgoFi

Last month, we announced our investment into AlgoFi alongside USV and Pillar. The team has been moving at lightning speed. They launched AlgoFi — a capital markets suite including Algorand’s first money market and algorithmic stablecoin — on December 17th. Today they announced a $3M liquidity mining program alongside the Algorand Foundation. In just a few weeks over the holiday period — with no rewards — AlgoFi has grown to just under $30M TVL. 

The protocol began with a guarded launch. Liquidity caps were quickly reached. Heading into the new year, the team is now preparing to lift the gates and release the protocol into the wild. Representing Algorand’s first capital markets protocol, AlgoFi’s rewards program is ambitious. It is a sizable program for an ecosystem this early. It is also denominated in ALGO (2M) and does not include AlgoFi’s native token rewards.

The team has publicly stated that the latter will go live after governance contracts are deployed to Mainnet. 

This is happening through the Algorand Foundation’s Viridis Fund, a $300M warchest dedicated to DeFi. Viridis was first announced last summer, with the Foundation recently following up with Phase II of the program, Aeneas. Aeneas is focused on bootstrapping the “three pillars” of DeFi: a robust bridge, AMM and capital markets protocol. 

As we have seen in other ecosystems, these first few programs are critical. They often knock down the dominos that eventually translate into billions in TVL. Sometimes they are a slow burn, other times TVL rockets overnight. As we saw with the launch of Benqi on Avalanche earlier this year, a money market launch is arguably the most important catalyst for a nascent DeFi ecosystem. 

Once there is an efficient market for leverage, new worlds begin to open up. Without borrow power, the degens are tied to a leash. Who are the degens? These are the most important participants in DeFi. The early power users who ultimately define any protocol. They are mercenary and risk-seeking, apes that are always hunting for ways to juice yield. Their strategies are clever but risky. They collateralize coin A to borrow coin B, deploy into the latest farm for outlandish APYs, flip out of the farm once a new (and possibly fleeting) opportunity arises, only to lose it all when a sudden market cascade threatens their collateralization ratios. 

Our thesis is that Algorand is the meeting ground for the “degens” and the suits. Unlike any other L1, Algorand is uniquely positioned for the convergence of DeFi and TradFi – mostly because the technology can genuinely scale without giving up decentralization. 

But make no mistake: the creativity of the speculating masses will come first. The apes are still the unsung heroes of any ecosystem. If they engage, they can aggressively grow Algorand TVL. They will find the bugs. They will stress-test the system. It is their blood and tears that will get Algorand DeFi to a point that it is large enough for old world capital to begin deploying into DeFi. When that rain comes, it will pour; but until then it is the crypto-native piece that will define Algorand’s success.

“Connecting The Farmer & The Suits”: from our Algorand thesis published in July.

The AlgoFi team is leading the charge. They are very aggressive builders — on Twitter Spaces one day and shipping a new feature (or entire product: $STBL) the next. Before crypto, the founders were trading interest rates at Citadel. In some ways, they are the “archetypal” Algorand team: roots in the old world, willing to get their hands dirty in DeFi and a vision in mind bigger than just the farmers or just the suits

DeFi’s Global Account: Announcing Our Investment Into C3

We are excited to announce our investment into C3 Protocol, what we believe to be one of the most exciting projects emerging out of the Algorand ecosystem. We led the round alongside Jump Capital, with other excellent investors participating across ParaFi, Mechanism, GoldenTree, Cumberland, DCG, Blockchain.com, Node and Borderless Capital.

The team behind C3 have proven themselves a powerhouse for development on Algorand. At Rand Labs, they built a 40+ person team with unique Algorand-based expertise, ultimately producing some of the most widely used products in the ecosystem: MyAlgo and the AlgoExplorer and API. 

The team has been developing on Algorand since 2018, thick and thin, and they are now rolling up their sleeves to build a powerful new primitive. 

C3’s vision is to build a layer for cross-margined and cross-chain trading in DeFi. Liquidity today is fractured across many venues, protocols and blockchains. Instead, users should be able to trade from a single global account plugged into other blockchains, managing their positions and collateral from a single hub.

Fragmented trading is capital inefficient and carries unnecessary risk. A position on protocol X is completely siloed from a position on protocol Y: it cannot be used to collateralize new positions. PnL is localized, siloed protocol-by-protocol. C3 wants to instead make PnL global, covering all positions across blockchains and protocols.

Cross-margining was one of the powerful drivers behind FTX’s sudden rise to dominance, and it is simply a given in TradFi. C3 will achieve DeFi cross-margining by rebuilding the entire trading stack on a single layer. This hub for capital markets will plug into other ecosystems using novel interoperability technology unique to Algorand. This technology will enable decentralized and trustless bridges.

If a given bridge is decentralized and the L1 attesting to transactions is also decentralized (Algorand), then C3’s application layer could spawn a cross-chain ecosystem of decentralized trading. Just as C3 aspires to unite the trading experience fractured across different chains, Algorand has a strong vision for interoperability. While we see the project as a bet on the cross-margining problem in DeFi, C3 is also a strong play on the multi-chain landscape, exporting the benefits of Algorand’s L1 to the rest of crypto. If the application takes off, C3 could propel Algorand as the “chain of chains”.

Blockchains could be converging on a hybrid approach between L1 and L2 scalability — from the rise of Lightning on Bitcoin to rollups and sidechains on Ethereum. In this vein, C3 is taking a hybrid approach to protocol design. The orderbook will host trading on an off-chain L2, leveraging CeFi-type performance, but transactions will ultimately settle on the Algorand main chain at each block. C3 leverages the decentralization and security guarantees of Algorand’s L1, with 4 second settlement times allowing for a quick migration between L2 to L1.

C3 gives life to an idea from our Algorand thesis earlier this year: the role of the Algorand L1 in a cross-chain universe.

C3 is a very ambitious idea: one single global account and PnL universe for DeFi. It ultimately captures our thesis that Algorand will bridge DeFi and TradFi in the long term. In this case, the C3 team is taking the best of CeFi and TradFi trading experiences and bringing these learnings to a fractured and capital inefficient DeFi.

We are excited to back the C3 team on this journey and look forward to their major technical milestones and launch in 2022. 

Medium: https://medium.com/c3protocol/announcing-c3-protocol-5c5e998d4c73

Coindesk: https://www.coindesk.com/business/2021/11/22/algorand-project-raises-36m-to-make-cross-chain-defi-friendly-for-big-investors/

Yahoo Finance: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/c3-protocol-raises-3-6m-183600390.html

Algorand’s Upcoming Ballot Box: Why We Are Voting for Option A

We have decided to vote for Option A in Governance Period 1, Algorand’s first and ongoing governance vote. Voting will conclude on November 14.

We thought it might be useful to publish why we are voting this way and hope to contribute to what is already an extremely vibrant community discussion. 

Governance Period 1: What Is At Stake?

Starting in October this year, Algorand began transitioning toward decentralized governance. To participate in voting decisions, Governors lock up their ALGO for three month windows and then vote on proposed changes. They earn rewards by participating in governance. If they withdraw these ALGOs at any point, they lose the accrued rewards. 

This describes the status quo (Option A). 

Under Option B, not only will anyone who withdraws from governance lose the accrued rewards, they will also be slashed. Option B provides higher staking returns than Option A, designed to incentivize more community participation. 

“Option B: Higher rewards and slashing. The Governance rewards amount for 2022 will be 362M Algos (90.5M per quarter) with a slashing mechanism: the rewards are distributed among the governors who vote and maintain the committed Algos in their wallet for the entire quarterly period. In case of failing to do so, Governors will be subject to an 8% slashing of their committed amount, on top of losing their rewards. The penalties that non-compliant governors pay will be returned to the global rewards pool in the AERP, to be used for future rewards.”

Option B Is At Odds With PPoS

We think that the introduction of slashing to Algorand governance could undermine some of the principles behind Pure Proof-of-Stake (PPoS). From the very beginning, Silvio Micali focused on PPoS as a protocol without incentives. The whole point is that unlike bonded PoS, there is no need to “punish bad behaviour”. 

We believe that Algorand could become the most decentralized Layer 1 because of PPoS’ core properties. Cryptographic sortition is open to anyone. Every ALGO token has the same probability of being selected for the lottery. There are no major hardware requirements. Participants can buy more tokens, but they can’t privilege one ALGO against another.

Unlike bonded PoS, Algorand doesn’t need to punish bad behavior. Proposal B breaks from this “no slashing” ethos, introducing an explicit penalty for non-compliant Governors.

PPoS was designed to escape the drawbacks of conventional PoS. Consensus on Algorand is easy to achieve and difficult to subvert, so easy that it doesn’t need to introduce complex incentives to motivate behavior. In practice, this helps Algorand avoid the wealth inequality and increased centralization that plagues other PoS systems. 

To some extent, we think that option B diverges from these core principles. 

Incentives Are A Slippery Slope

Option B does not explicitly undermine PPoS. The vote is about the treatment of Governors, not consensus on transactions.

Even if Option B passes, PPoS maintains its advantages over traditional bonded PoS when it comes to consensus. Cryptographic sortition stays the same. 

However, it could set a bad precedent more generally. We argue that incentives can become a slippery slope. Algorand’s goal should be to encourage network participation without needing to resort to carrots or sticks. This might take longer, but it’s better for the protocol in the long run. Once you start “centrally planning” incentives, it’s hard to go back to the “pure” environment originally envisioned by Algorand’s inventors. We run the risk of ending up where we started — slowly conceding to the ideas that underlie bonded PoS. 

Short Term Incentives Vs. Long Term Incentives

Participating in consensus on Algorand is like running a Full Node on Bitcoin. Nobody pays you to run one: you do it because you believe in the network, and ultimately want to protect your holdings. Taken to its logical conclusion, this is a powerful dynamic, one that most PoS protocols struggle to replicate. In Bitcoin, we frequently have moments where Full Nodes exercise sovereignty and override powerful economic entities like miners — despite the fact that they aren’t receiving any portion of the block subsidy. 

They are motivated by long term incentives. Similarly, we think that governance on Algorand should be encouraged through long term economic alignment, not something paid for with short term rewards. Being a Governor should be part of the culture of the network, it shouldn’t be a political subsidy. 

In the short run, we would make more money if we voted for Option B. It likely incentivizes greater participation over the upcoming three month window.

In the long run, it’s not clear to us that this is a sustainable way to bootstrap governance. PPoS should have a similar political ethos to the Full Nodes: you do it because you want the network to be thriving in ten years, not because you’re being paid more over the next three months. 

Algorand should motivate a self-driven culture of governance. The political process should be contested and contentious, but it shouldn’t need a handout. Slashing is analogous to mandatory voting. Do democracies which force their citizens to vote (or risk being slashed by a fine) end up with a more engaged civil society? We are skeptical of this idea.

In addition, rewards will eventually run out. If some participants are voting for yield, will they stick around when yield dries up? We think the status quo (Option A) will make Algorand governance more robust and sustainable, something that doesn’t need to rely on short term economic incentives, attracting Governors with a longer time horizon. 

Conclusion

The Algorand Foundation has done an incredible job at rolling out decentralized governance. When we initially published our Algorand thesis in June, we loosely compared Algorand’s approach toward self-government with the American experiment. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how engaged the community has been. Regardless of the outcome, the Governors have been out in full swing, mostly on Reddit. 

In Algorand’s spirit of “built-in evolvability”, we believe that participation at the Governance layer should remain open to all members of the network and align with the ethos of PPoS: governance should be easy to achieve but difficult to subvert. 

Option B may serve the opposite function: it may result in Governance that is more difficult to achieve and easier to subvert. 

We argue that introducing an explicit cost to non-compliant Governors (Option B) may unintentionally undermine PPoS. 

PPoS is a very simple and elegant idea. It guarantees decentralization through self-selection, not complex incentives. Option B breaks from this simplicity and overlays a new, economically-motivated governance layer. 

We hope this post was helpful and look forward to community feedback.

Announcing The Arrington Anchor Yield Fund

We have been strong supporters of Terra/Luna since 2018. We’ve watched the product grow and multiply, and today the ecosystem includes a synthetic asset platform called Mirror, the borrow lend protocol Anchor, and a flourishing ecosystem of nascent products and primitives.

The Anchor Protocol is designed to offer savers a fixed income yield initially targeted at 20%. Anchor generates yield from staking returns from multiple proof of stake blockchains that borrowers use to collateralize their loans.

We have participated in many aspects of the Anchor ecosystem — as investors in the initial token issuance, as a borrower and as a lender.

Until now, though, lenders had some exposure. There are two primary types of risk to lenders. First, smart contracts can have vulnerabilities and can be hacked. Second, the UST stablecoin, like most stablecoins, has a “depegging” risk where the value diverges from the target asset price (in this case U.S. dollars).

Today Terra announced a solution to both of these risks. Their native insurance protocol, Ozone, has now been merged into a third party insurance product called Risk Harbor.

They also announced a Bitcoin liquidity pool to mitigate depegging risk. If depegging occurs, this pool will be used to stabilize the price of UST.

With these new risk mitigation products, we feel comfortable launching our newest fund: The Arrington Anchor Yield Fund.

Crypto natives can already use Anchor and will soon be able to add Risk Harbor based insurance. But there are non-crypto native investors who also want exposure to Anchor yield. We are launching this new fund to serve these investors.

The fund is anchored by Arrington Capital partners and capital from Terraform Labs itself. We are initially limiting the fund size to $100 million and qualified investors.

Into The World Of SIPHΞRIA‌: Announcing Our Investment Into SIPHΞR

We are proud to announce our investment into SIPHΞR, a play-to-earn (P2E) game establishing the lore of SIPHΞRIA‌, a new crypto-native metaverse. Partnering with Hashed & Konvoy Ventures, we’re excited to co-lead the $6.8M seed round. The rapid growth of the SIPHΞR community is a sight to behold, which will only expand as the launch draws near, with an initial release expected in the first half of 2022.

Today, we are witnessing the transition to expressive digital landscapes: metaverses that users enter to socialize, play, work and create. This trend is only accelerating, as macro drivers like the COVID19 pandemic hurry the digitization of experience.

Gamers play an important role in this transition. As of 2020, the global number of video game players is approximately 2.8 billion; more than a third of the entire global population. The pertinent question is then: which path will they choose? 

1) Traditional games, characterized by addictive behaviors and micro-transactions, maximising economic rent for gaming studios, while offering users immersive gameplay?

2) Or, crypto-native games leveraging digital assets to enable fair value capture and ownership for users, but often criticised for a lack of variability, complexity and ultimately, “fun”?

We believe the future of gaming is crypto-native, and that this dichotomy need not exist. In our opinion, the universe of SIPHΞRIA‌ is one of the most exemplary expressions of this thesis. The SIPHΞR team, led by Tin Nguyen, is building a crypto-native metaverse with an intricate backstory and unique gaming experience. SIPHΞR combines captivating cypherpunk ideals, crypto-native culture — such as the beloved Shiba Inu — and a comic-book art style in the crafting of its characters and virtual environments. SIPHΞRIA‌ constructs a complex and rich lore around the factions and various species: the Inus, Nekos, Burus, Toris and more.

The World of SIPHΞRIA‌ comes in two different game modes. The first game mode is a cooperative adventure mode, where players explore dungeons in parties of three, exploring never before seen worlds and stories, completing challenging quests and competing with others to unveil the secrets of the world, climb the ranks and earn rewards. The second game mode is the player vs. player mode: a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) style game, where teams of skilled players challenge one another for rewards and prestige.

The significance of a player-owned virtual economy with real-world value cannot be understated. SIPHΞR has designed an intricate gameplay and economic flywheel with a dual token economy to ensure sustainable growth and player adoption. This is especially important when its residents rely on the virtual economy to support their lives in “meatspace”, as we are seeing in other popular games like Axie Infinity. Many challenges lie ahead as the team refines the game, universe and economy as SIPHΞRIA‌ is inhabited by more players across the world.

We have confidence that the team, under the leadership of Tin, will deliver on their comprehensive blueprint and continue to meet the needs of their vibrant and rapidly developing community. 

Into the world of SIPHΞRIA‌!

Medium: https://medium.com/sipherxyz/sipher-secures-6-8m-in-seed-round-d73cbaf1ab13

Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/youngjoseph/2021/10/26/sipher-raises-68-million-from-top-vcs-to-develop-blockbuster-crypto-game/?sh=49baffa57e98

Coindesk: https://www.coindesk.com/business/2021/10/26/play-to-earn-game-firm-sipher-raises-68m-in-seed-round-co-led-by-arrington-capital/

e27: https://e27.co/sipher-closes-us6-8m-seed-round-to-develop-metaverse-game-world-of-sipheria-20211026/

Life After Taproot: The Coming Age Of Narratives For Bitcoin Innovation & Governance

Taproot is the first change to Bitcoin since 2017. It will introduce Schnorr signatures, Merkelized Alternative Script Trees (MAST) and a reformed scripting language known as Tapscript. Collectively, these upgrades will make the Bitcoin codebase simpler and unlock a number of new capabilities.

Taproot enables key aggregation: complex multi-sig transactions will now look like uni-sig transactions on-chain. Bitcoin thus becomes “more private”, obscuring complex transaction types from blockchain sleuths. In addition, Taproot makes Bitcoin more efficient by unlocking batch verification: nodes more efficiently verify complex transaction types powered by Schnorr signatures. Finally, Tapscript enhances the capabilities of Schnorr while introducing opcodes that make future upgrades more flexible.

In summary, Taproot makes Bitcoin more private, scalable and secure. It is a non-contentious soft fork. An overwhelming majority of participants agree that Taproot improves Bitcoin. Beyond these technical contributions, Taproot could represent a turning point for narratives in Bitcoin innovation and governance.

We are more compelled by Taproot as a catalyst for Bitcoin governance than the idea that Taproot is a revolutionary technology. The upgrade makes marginal contributions to the protocol, but could more importantly catalyze the next major themes in Bitcoin politics. The post-Taproot era leaves behind the PTSD of 2017’s Block Wars, highlighting the continued vibrancy of Bitcoin’s political body.

As the crypto cycle progresses, the market has taken to the idea that Bitcoin is “stuck”, outpaced by innovation elsewhere. Participants interpret post-2017 conservatism as stagnation. We have a fundamentally different take: that Bitcoin politics is more alive than ever before, and that Taproot debates capture this aliveness. Taproot’s activation will be the culmination of four years of discussion following 2017. Despite being non-contentious, the upgrade has spurred a fresh discussion on how to digest 2017’s lessons and juggle power between developers, miners and nodes going forward.

This post-Taproot era introduces new opportunities for Bitcoin evolution, but also highlights growing risks. As Bitcoin enters the sphere of nation state actors and powerful technologists, the network will face new pressures. We speculate that high-trust and well-resourced actors will lead fresh proposals for change that appear far more “reasonable” than the proposals in 2017’s civil war. These could represent covert threats to Bitcoin’s political stability. The debate between technical hardliners and progressive incumbents will likely intensify over the coming year, again shining a light on the robust nature of Bitcoin governance and potentially making the protocol more defensible in the long run.

The next set of debates about stability versus change will force hardliners to sharpen their defense of Bitcoin’s non-negotiables, while motivating incumbents to pursue fresh and increasingly aggressive narratives about evolution.

Within this new chapter for Bitcoin, we think the network will slowly find its place in broader Layer 1 (L1) and Layer 2 (L2) developments, at some point defining its identity in the new “multi-chain” landscape. Taproot (in our view) doesn’t introduce “Bitcoin-native DeFi” or “smart contracts on Bitcoin”, but it will likely motivate burgeoning L1s and mobile, multi-chain developers to explore Bitcoin-centric innovation. This presents new opportunities as well as new risks – how the network digests these discussions will be an important signal going forward. At the same time, Taproot’s contribution to the privacy of Lightning channels could further invigorate Bitcoin’s L2 story, just as the Lightning network shows signs of a mainstream “breakout”.

DOWNLOAD OR VIEW THE REPORT HERE.

Arrington Capital Hosts Polkadot In Miami

Yesterday the core Web3 Foundation and Polkadot teams visited Miami – including founder Gavin Wood. We were honored to host an event for them and the Miami crypto community. Approximately 50 people attended the event. 

The event happened to coincide with the release of our most recent research report on the Polkadot ecosystem. You can read that report here, titled “The League Of Parachains: Polkadot”.

We are early investors in DOT and ecosystem projects and look forward to increasing our attention to new startups and protocols on Polkadot. We believe that investing in the Polkadot ecosystem is a compelling and diverse niche within crypto investing more broadly, and one that will grow over the coming years. This will include everything from seeding aspiring Parachains and the dApps on top of them, through to Polkadot-native credit markets and direct CrowdLoan participation.

This is the first formal event we’ve hosted since moving our headquarters to Miami, and we look forward to many more.

The League Of Parachains: Polkadot

Polkadot has a novel answer to the multi-chain problem analogous to coexistence between nation states within the international community. Each nation pursues its own destiny and vision for the future, yet these disparate cultures come together to form alliances, engage in trade and live in a world of diplomacy rather than warfare.

This is the idea behind the Relay Chain, Polkadot’s “Layer Zero” (L0). Developers build custom blockchains that meet the needs of particular applications and users (“the Parachains”), but these chains cooperate under one banner of shared security. They each focus on building the core competencies of their Layer One (L1), but collectively share the security of the L0.

Polkadot’s goal is to thus become the blockchain of blockchains, separating state from application and allowing each L1 focus on its own chain’s customizability. The L1s outsource security to the mothership: each nation receives the benefits of a standing army without needing to raise, maintain and deploy a standing army. The Parachains can thus redeploy resources otherwise spent on L1 security into their chain’s core competency. This shared security unlocks (1) Parachain customizability without sacrificing security and (2) built-in interoperability between different Parachains.

Polkadot requires unique economics. The Parachains depend on Relay Chain security, but security is not free. It is scarce. Parachains slots are therefore scarce, with an entire economic architecture built around how developers acquire, maintain and outsource aspects of security to the L0 – again analogized to the way a nation would join and maintain status within a global order.

To price and allocate the scarce resource of network security, Polkadot turns to the free market: to the candle auction. These enable permissionless, competitive and fair allocation of resources, financed by the network’s future users through a process known as CrowdLoans. Projects that can’t secure a Parachain slot can still access Relay Chain security by renting it out from winning Parachain slot holders through a pay-per-use model.

In this report, we unpack the technical and philosophical foundations of Polkadot. The first section will focus on how Polkadot answers the blockchain trilemma, converging on the customizability of the Parachains. The second section will unpack the financing of Parachains through CrowdLoans, candle auctions and Parathreads. In the third and final section, we explore prominent Parachain pioneers and describe how they are leveraging Polkadot’s architecture to build their own custom blockchains.

DOWNLOAD OR VIEW THE REPORT HERE.

Building The Multi-Chain World: Announcing Our Investment Into SubQuery

We are thrilled to announce our investment into SubQuery, which we think will be the prime data aggregation and indexing layer of the entire Polkadot ecosystem. We’re excited to partner with Digital Currency Group (DCG) and Stratos Technologies to co-lead the $9M strategic round. The SubQuery ecosystem is only growing, and we look forward to seeing the protocol emerge as the foundation of Decentralized Finance, NFTs and Web 3.0 on Polkadot.

We will live in a multi-chain world. Nation states are differentiated based on shared history, differing values and unique competitive advantages. So too will Polkadot Parachains cater to users based on specific user requirements. Different political and economic philosophies will manifest as consensus algorithms and emission schedules. Just as nation states specialize in what they produce and export, Polkadot Parachains will specialize in particular crypto-verticals like Decentralized Finance, NFTs or Web 3.0.

To organize and coordinate, Polkadot Parachains will need a secure and decentralized data aggregation layer that standardizes and unifies communication between different applications on separate Parachains. Enter SubQuery. 

SubQuery is a decentralized data aggregation, indexing, and querying layer between blockchains and applications. SubQuery abstracts away blockchain-specific data idiosyncrasies using the SubQuery SDK. This enables developers to seamlessly deploy their applications onto a Parachain without needing to develop their own querying frameworks. 

SubQuery enables the decentralized querying of open-source blockchain data. Consumers – application developers – can request data from the blockchain, while Indexers work to clean and provide that data to the Consumers. Data indices are built according to a manifest – a document describing which data from a particular protocol needs to be indexed and in what form. Nodes, operated by Indexers, record these instructions (i.e. what event to listen to, how to store the data and in which form) and update the data indices with the new data that is fetched periodically.

Embedded in the design of SubQuery is a marketplace enabling the efficient allocation of capital and useful Parachain data. Unlike other data indexing protocols, the Consumers and Indexers both equally share the cost of indexing upfront. Consumers and Indexers enter into a bespoke agreement – known as a Purchase Order Contract – about the structure of the data index and the Consumers pay the cost upfront. Hence, the Indexers are guaranteed revenue if they deliver on the data index contract. This means that both Consumers and Indexers are first-class citizens on the SubQuery protocol, and coordinate to efficiently allocate their capital to standardize, index, and aggregate useful Parachain data.

SubQuery Network Value Flow

SubQuery is fully operational on Polkadot and Kusama and is already serving millions of daily data queries to over 60 projects, including three out of the five inaugural winners of the Kusama Parachain auctions – Karura, Khala, and Bifrost.

SubQuery Ecosystem Map

OnFinality, the company behind SubQuery, is a major infrastructure provider for the Polkadot ecosystem. In August alone, its API service received ~5 billion requests from its 15 supported networks, including Karura, Moonriver, Shiden, Phala, and Bifrost. 

OnFinality August Recap — 18 Billion Requests

Business Wire: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210908005482/en/SubQuery-Announces-US9-Million-Funding-Round-For-Decentralized-Data-Protocol-For-The-Polkadot-Ecosystem

The Block:
https://www.theblockcrypto.com/post/116915/subquery-indexing-protocol-polkadot-funding-saft

Cointelegraph: https://cointelegraph.com/news/subquery-raises-9m-for-polkadot-data-protocol

Coindesk: https://www.coindesk.com/business/2021/09/08/subquery-gets-9m-in-series-a-to-improve-access-to-blockchain-data-on-polkadot/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/subquerynetwork

Telegram: https://t.me/subquerynetwork

Discord: https://discord.com/invite/78zg8aBSMG