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The Future of Decentralized Finance with Philipp Zentner, CEO & Founder of LI.FI

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In this episode of DAO Talks, Tim is joined by Philipp Zentner, CEO and Founder of LI.FI, a groundbreaking platform that aims to aggregate and abstract DeFi infrastructure across multiple blockchains. A true pioneer in the field, Philipp brings a fresh perspective to the world of decentralized finance and the web3 ecosystem.

Together, Tim and Philipp dive into the intricacies of multi-chain scalability, the critical role of standardization, and the thrilling developments at the infrastructure level of web3 that promise to revolutionize decentralized finance. Philipp shares his expertise on the complexities of blockchain infrastructure and the challenges of aggregating data from diverse sources to provide a seamless user experience. Moreover, he offers a glimpse into the current state and future potential of the blockchain industry, exploring the prospects of a multi-chain future.






Tim - 00:00:02: This is Tim Delhaes and you're listening to The DAO Talks Podcast. In each episode, you'll hear me talk to builders and makers of web3. Together we'll be exploring our multi-chain future, share personal stories, and discuss how we're investing, experimenting, and failing with the Startups that define the future. So join me on this journey of discovery as I chat with these leaders, changemakers, and misfits about Tech, life, the universe, and everything. Today, I'll be talking to Philipp, Co-Founder of LI.FI. LI.Fi is a DEX aggregator, and we're going to be talking about, well, DeFi aggregation, CeFi aggregation, sequencers, and obviously the future of the multi-chain Web3. We also going to be handing out plenty of advice, tips and tricks for founders that are going into the Web3 space. Philipp, how are you and where are you?


Philipp - 00:01:05: Hey, thanks Tim. I'm good, thanks for having me. And I'm in Berlin right now.


Tim - 00:01:09: Again, but you've been traveling in your own place or you are staying in a friend's place or you're renting or AirBnB-ing, what are you doing?


Philipp - 00:01:19: No, I'm traveling a lot just for LI.FI. The past six weeks I've been in Cartagena where I've been visiting two of our developers. I've been in Toulombe visiting France, but then also San Francisco with the Berlin Fintech Delegation, Austin for ConsenSys, New York to meet investors. So it was a lot going on, but overall I've been traveling for the past two years and mostly sublet my apartments to France and friends of friends.


Tim - 00:01:44: Well, good. We're going to go into that. I'm really interested in the back story to that and how you're organizing your life and how you ended up in this life anyway. But question, obviously, could you summarize for us and for the listeners in as short as possible what LI.FI does? And from what I know, you guys are obviously aggregating Decentralized exchanges and bridges and talk about that a little bit. And I would then love to know a little bit more, you know, and we're going to jump into what does the centralized world mean for you in this context?


Philipp - 00:02:18: So there's a lot of Liquidity spread across multiple Blockchains, not only Ethereum is relevant today, but it's also Polygon, Arbitrum, Optimism, BSC, and many others. So this Liquidity is stuck in Protocols, but it's also available on Decentralized exchanges on all these different Blockchains. If we want to move assets or information like data from one chain to the other, we need cross-chain bridges. So what LI.FI does is it's a multi-chain Liquidity layer. We are aggregating Liquidity across these DEX aggregators and bridges, and we have a smart order routing that allows us to conduct any kind of asset movement across and on-chains. So you can essentially say, I have cake on BSC, but I want to have magic on Arbitrum. And then our smart order routing would figure out, hey, the best route right now is using 1Inch on BSC, and then we're going to use Connext to move the funds over to Arbitrum. And then on Arbitrum, we might want to call 0x to swap it into Magic. And we not only figure out the best route, we also calculate the call data, which you then can sign and can do the transaction. We have smart contracts on each chain, so we do all of that for you. It's non-custodial though. And yeah, we can do these complex multi-chain transactions within one transaction, means one signature. So it saves a lot of guess overhead, it's great user experience, and we try to abstract away that multi-chain environment we are in.


Tim - 00:03:46: Who is your primary customer for that? I know you guys are running a B2B business, but who's your best or typical customer for that? Who are you teaming up with here?


Philipp - 00:03:56: A few use-cases and examples. One is a wallet. A wallet has always been monetizing by offering swapping functionalities. Now they also offer bridging. So with us, they can get both out of the box. So they only have to maintain one technical dependency in order to offer both. So swapping and bridging for wallets is one use-case. Another use case is an onramp. An onramp is limited in terms of which assets they can onramp to. With us, they can own the user journey end to end, which means we allow them to call our API and figure out how to onramp into a specific long tail asset, which is not available on centralized exchanges and or they're not holding themselves. So onramping into long tail assets and the other way around off-ramping, the user has some shit coins leftovers, right? So it would be good for the off ramp in order to increase conversion rates to allow them to select any asset they have on any chain and we swap and bridge it as necessary into the coin they can actually off ramp like a safer coin. Custodians use us to have closed asset circuits. The idea here is for a custodian, the North Dam metric in general is an AUC, like Asset Under Custody. If the user is intrigued to leave custody in order to get asset exposure to a DeFi asset, we allow them to figure out the best route to that asset and then the value can leave custody, can be swapped, bridged and swapped and then sent back into custody. So the user gets the DeFi asset exposure they want to have and the custodian can maintain the AUC.


Tim - 00:05:27: I want to go back to the second use case that you just mentioned because you talked about on-ramping and off-ramping to fiat. As far as I understand, you guys are currently supporting Decentralized systems for exchange and figuring out the routes. You're not integrating with centralized exchanges. Is this something that you're planning to do or not? I mean, it seems like a natural way if you're already supporting fiat on and off ramps, connecting into the centralized exchanges would seem like a natural step or not.


Philipp - 00:06:01: It's just that there are enough players already that are well established that aggregate centralized equity. Centralized Equity means OTC, which can be quite resource intense to manage. It also means centralized exchange API's. You need to get access to that. It's all very permissioned. It's not very easy to get access. There's a business developer required. Sure, we can do that. But we are so busy doing that on a Decentralized level that we believe probably makes more sense to. We might aggregate centralized exchange aggregators. That could make sense. Yeah, it is definitely a place into our story and then allow smart order routing across centralized and Decentralized equity. It's certainly something we see ourselves doing down the road. But DeFi infrastructure is changing so fast. And there is so much happening on any level of the stack that we are simply way too busy to do that in a good manner.


Tim - 00:06:57: And if you look at this stack and the DeFi infrastructure from the bridges and protocols that are out there, what is your best guess? Maybe you know it. How many of them are you today already aggregating in your protocol? Do you have a number for that?


Philipp - 00:07:15: I mean, there's not one number. So before we aggregate single DEXs ourselves, we typically try to find a DEX aggregator on that chain. So we aggregate with all the deployments of 0x, inch, PowerSwap, OpenOcean, and DODO. Only on certain chains where they're not there yet, then we aggregate DEXs ourselves. So this is one thing. We have around 14, 15 bridging solutions aggregated from Connext, HOP, SeaBird, Stargate, Multi-Chain, to the native Arbitrum Bridge or Optimism Gateway. This is what we do on top. And then there are Relay Networks, RPCs, Guess Estimation API's, Simulation Services. We need to make the right guess estimations and ensure a reliable experience. So there is a lot of stuff. Also, lots of data sources, token lists, token prices. There's actually a lot we have to aggregate to make all of that happen. It's always hard to say how to put a number on that.


Tim - 00:08:12: I imagine that's what I was trying to get at. Now, the thing that has been going through my mind, and I mentioned this earlier, and I would love to see your perspective here. Obviously, between us and Web3, there is people who are really Bitcoin Maximalists, right? And they think, hey, Bitcoin and everything else is not going to work, or Ethereum Maximalists, and go ahead, it's going to be all Ethereum. And then there is people that look at the other extreme and say, hey, there's going to be hundreds or thousands of Blockchains out there. You're obviously an advocate of the multi-chain future, you know, as you can see on your LinkedIn. When you think about the future and you think about the term multi-chain, what do you think this future is actually going to look like? Do you think there's going to be five Chains, 50 Chains, 500 Chains? What developments that you're seeing today, do you think make a lot of sense and they will persist over time? And what developments that are happening today and Chains that are out there, in terms of categories, do you think will not exist? Give me what's in your head.


Philipp - 00:09:23: For me, it is, if you look on how markets work, any market, right? We have a vast amount of solutions that do the same thing and specialize on certain use-cases, or simply target different target groups, right? So it's just also, let's just look at the database space. So we have Relational Databases, MySQL, PostgreSQL. We have NoSQL databases and document storage databases like MongoDB, CouchDB. We have large scale database like Cassandra. We have data lakes like Snowflake. We have time scale databases like Clickhouse. There is so much going on and of a search engine optimized databases like Lucene or Elasticsearch, which you can misuse as a database as well, right? Like just optimize for different type of indexing and searching. So there is so much going on and we're going to need the same things in crypto. There's no way around. So we're going to see different solutions for file storage, different solutions for data availability, execution, and the ordering of transactions. Already see a strong trend in order to make all of that scale because it's not only about having a store value, right? It's not only about having money. It's also about censorship resistance for certain things. Like there are more values attached than you can find just in Bitcoin, for example. And I do believe that decentralization will happen to a certain extent. It's not going to fulfill the 100% idealistic ideas many people have, but if we end up in a system that's 30% better. For me, it's just, so the internet made it possible for humanity connect on a global level, but it as digital information became valuable, we failed to represent ownership. This is now possible on the blockchain. And we already see a strong trend towards modularity and the separation of concerns, separating consensus from data availability and execution and things like that. So modular Blockchains are a trend. We also see experiments around shared sequences or shared settlement stacks. There's a lot going on and for a reason because these systems have to scale. And if you take a look in what it takes to even scale Decentralized databases, like MySQL database, like what's necessary to scale that, then you know that there's a lot of work that needs to be done to make that happen on a Decentralized scale. So yeah, I think the future will be multi-scale, multi-chain, otherwise you won't be able to have that Decentralized future. Super excited about it.


Tim - 00:11:49: I share that with you. So do you think, whatever, if there's today, you're going to throw a number at it, there's 200 Chains and stumble over the fact that you also use the long tail, the term long tail for certain assets, which I personally also like to think about it in terms of Chains. There is a bunch of like long tail Chains there. Do you, you know, if we project forward a few years, do you see, you know, a tail that gets much longer in terms of amount of Chains? You see something that goes from, I don't know, whatever. If there's 200 Chains out there today, do you think there's going to be 2,000 Chains? Do you think it's the same? There's going to be dying off. Like if you, nobody can tell, I understand that. I can't tell you that, but what does your gut feeling tell you? I see the categories that you are seeing and technology innovations. I'm just wondering about, you know, there is a lot of different databases out there, but is it a hundred, is it two hundred, it's likely not two thousand or is it going to be a different, of a different nature?


Philipp - 00:12:52: So if you go on CoinMarketCap and you see how many Layer 1 are out there, it's too many. Of those who are there right now, not many will survive. With any Startup, it's always a matter of timing, right? So I think many of them failed to have the right timing. So these projects are going to die out. People become tired because there's also behind these projects, there needs to be a certain leadership, right? And leadership also gets tired if there's not enough traction. Like I've been burning myself through Startups before I started LI.FI. And it's just at some point, like the energy is gone. And you fail to attract the right talent and you fail to attract more money and you fail to attract clients. And often, let's not forget, Blockchains are marketplaces. So there's a chicken and egg problem. Solving that is one of the hardest things. Marketplaces are the hardest discipline in terms of business models, right? So it's just really hard to pull that off, actually. At the same time, we will constantly pour in more money into research. And when it comes to distributed ledgers, cryptography, and these findings have to be productized. So we're going to see Layer 1 over and over again that come with a different programming language that come with different benefits that utilize different strength on software side or hardware side of things. So I believe there will be the constant attempt to start a new L1. It's pretty lucrative, right? And yeah, we're going to have Chains that focus on games. Some will focus on AAA titles. Some will focus on mobile games and then will be Chains for high frequency trading. There will be private Blockchains. At least for a long time, we want to see permissioned private Blockchains around the banking sector for sure until it becomes too attractive to leave that environment and move money in some legal way around outside these private waters. I think it's a really long journey ahead. So during all that time, LI.FI is well positioned to help companies to navigate this environment because we have all the data, we do all the research and we can securely provide a way to prototype on whatever is coming and build products and remain flexible without having too many sun costs.


Tim - 00:15:09: That actually leads me to the next question there because obviously it's hard to say, you know, how many bridges or, you know, the DEX are there and how many aggregate to aggregators, how many Chains do you guys support today? What's the reach like 15.


Philipp - 00:15:23: Today it's around 20 Chains, 20 EVM Chains. We are now soon going to Solana and Cosmos, but it's 20 EVM Chains right now.


Tim - 00:15:33: And do you expect this to increase significantly? You're going to expect us to go to 30, 50, 100. Or do you think, you know, the universe that, you know, you and users going to move in is just the center of the universe, at least as long as we're in the bear market or I'm trying to get a sense of how you look at the market there? 


Philipp - 00:15:54: I think we will end up with around 25 to 50 Chains and probably keep it at limit for a long time. We also have a lot to build on top of all that, right? Like there are so many things from privacy preserving, Liquidity movements to price impact protected Liquidity movements. There are topics like MEV that become more relevant. And yeah, as you mentioned in the beginning, maybe centralized Liquidity or being able to get flash loans while doing these transactions. There's so much room for building this out. Very exciting and also frightening because it just means I could double my team tomorrow. It would still be too busy.


Tim - 00:16:32: I get everyone. And so let's go there from, you know, obviously, if we look into the long tail in terms of assets, in terms of Chains, and I like a perspective, you know, and I think there's an argument to be made to say, you know, well, as you put it, maybe there's 50 Chains and we're going to stay there. It might be almost a valid approach to say, well, you always focus on the top 50 or something, right? Like, because it can't be infinite and whatever the criteria is. And you said, okay, great. And there's going to be a lot of stuff that can be built on top of that. You mentioned a few, and obviously a lot of these things that you can build on top are enabled by the things that are being built below it. What is the most exciting, you know, stuff that's currently happening in the infrastructure level that might not be that obvious to, you know, people to see that you are not only excited about, but that you think that have, you know, could have a huge impact on how, you know, this web3 is multi-chain web three is operating or will operate tomorrow.


Philipp - 00:17:37: The hot topic right now is probably shared sequences. So we have seen a lot of papers coming out recently. And the idea here is that rollups, like Optimism and Arbitrum, are centralized. And that is a problem. It helps scaling Ethereum, but one could argue that those rollups are financial services that have full control about what's happening. So one idea is to separate. So if you look at a rollup, you have the sequencer that takes in the transactions and orders them. And then those transactions will be executed in an execution environment. And then they will be posted on an L1 bridge to be settled on Layer 1. The idea is to separate these things and then create a sequencer standard that can be Decentralized, actually execute transactions on multiple Chains, on Optimism and or on Arbitrum and or on AdStack, Scroll, whatever. So this is interesting. For us, it's interesting to see what does that actually mean for aggregation. Can there be shared Liquidity across different rollups? How do we prevent spamming? How do we deal with MEV? Is MEV a bug or a feature? There are philosophical questions around this. There are technical questions around this. There are plenty of potential implications for us at LI.FI as well. How do we want to position us here? So right now, I'm talking to all these founders from Espresso to Austria and figuring out how they see these things. But it's pretty early also for them to figure these things out. It's just a narrative in the infrastructure space that's playing out well at the moment. So we see some running after it. And yeah, it's certainly a topic of high interest for us at the moment.


Tim - 00:19:24: You're obviously very deeply submerged in this. I get the sense you have a, on one side, business perspective on what do users want and what do businesses need and bringing a solution to the market. But you also seem to bring sufficient technical understanding to the table to understand what's actually happening under the hood, right? Like not just what car do people want, but how is this actually produced? You also said earlier that you worked at a bunch of other Startups before doing LI.FI. Is LI.FI your first own Startup or have you done others in the past?


Philipp - 00:20:06: I've always been starting companies myself. Was always my Startup.


Tim - 00:20:10: Was always your Startup. What was the Startup before LI.FI and how did you get from there to where you're now?


Philipp - 00:20:19: So the past years, I've been building companies with the same co-founder, Max, who's my CTO. We are both very technical. We both have a software engineering background. At some point we decided I'm going to be the Bistef guy that can talk technical and he's going to be the guy that stays in the basement and codes and ships. So we spent six years building a Software as a Service B2B in Gaming, two and a half years in biotech, another year in marketplace intelligence. What all these three things had in common were B2B Software as a Service and very data intense. In a different manner, all of these three setups were data heavy, and that led us to do a lot with a variety of databases. And that also gave us the inspiration to start LI.FI and questioning the scalability of Blockchains. So when we joined crypto, just actually quite recently, beginning 2021 the first Hackathon was in March, NFT Hack. I think it was March 21. And then right after scaling Ethereum, which was like a three, four weeks Hackathon by ETH Global in April 2021, we did that full time. And at that point, it was, if you think back, it was pre-Phantom hype, pre-Avalanche hype, pre-Polygon hype, pre-Solana. It was, you know, like,


Tim - 00:21:37: It seems like a decade ago, right? Like it's like, feels like a decade ago.


Philipp - 00:21:42: All right. When we were pitching to venture capitalists in our seed round, they were questioning if the future is going to be multi-chain. They were like, ah. look where we are now, right? So for us, it was a no-brainer, though. Like, looking at these, it was just like, if you have any technical understanding on how distributed systems work and how databases work and what it takes to scale software, you would have known the future has to be multi-chain in some way. And for a long period of time, it's going to be fragmented infrastructure and fragmented Liquidity. And it will remain that way for a long time. So that's what we are solving for.


Tim - 00:22:22: When you started going that path, you had like parked or dissolved or sold your prior Startup or the Startup is still around or you like this and then one day said like, screw this, we need to go into that or how did that? Two questions like what problem did you see that you wanted to solve first? And you've hinted at it. And what was the situation you were in when you decided to actually go after it? I'm curious about that.


Philipp - 00:22:53: So Max and I, we were always curious by anything data intense, as I mentioned. We were mostly too early with our ideas. That was often a problem. Timing is everything. You can have the best ideas in mind. If your target group is not ready for it, you have a problem. With LI.FI, we really hit the nail. It was perfect. It was literally we came out with a prototype out of a Hackathon and people wanted to use it. It was like, all right. If there's B2C interest, there's certainly also B2B interest down the line. So we started with a Multi-chain B2C Interface, and then we pivoted into LI.FI. Back then, it was called Leaf Finance. Now it's called LI.FI, short for Linked Finance. And that's how we found traction. The Startups before, we didn't sell them. No, there was not even a fire sale. We didn't even try to do a fire sale just for the sake of it. And right before crypto, we were just working with Christoph Maier, actually, from Atlantic. As we see here in Berlin, and we were evaluating different markets, and we were evaluating the logistics market. So we were actually on the search for the next thing we want to do. And over the past years, we have built an extensive network of entrepreneurs. So we had plenty of offers on the table going in different directions, different people that wanted to work with us. Because the products we have built were always great, and we were always passionate and delivered high quality. People knew that. So we were in a good spot. We had options. But then, a friend of mine called me and asked him for help. Asked me for help on an NFT project. If you remember, at that time, NBA Top Shots was going on. So that was the thing. And that's why the very first Hackathon we did in DeFi was NFT Hack. And I did that on my own. Max helped a little bit, but was busy wrapping up another freelance project. So between projects, we have been freelancing to survive. And yeah, that was the first foot in the door in crypto. And then we saw, oh my God, this is a mess. And then we thought, oh my God, it's also a huge opportunity to take our knowledge from 20 years of developing in crypto. Max and I, we both, so we are both beginning our thirties. We both started programming when we were 12. We have seen the web growing and we have seen all the booms, mobile boom, the variables boom, the, um, or bubbles. And from the Software Services to seeing how Social Media became big in the US, how long it took actually to come over here to Germany, how we were first day AWS users when they literally only had one or two different services like EC2 and S3. We have seen Stripe grow from day one. Um, I remember the day of the announcement. Remember the day of TechCrunch announcement and Hacker News launching and all of that. You know, I think all that experience gave us a good idea on where we are at regarding web3 and what is necessary to make it grow. And for us, it was, okay, if this is supposed to mature, someone has to aggregate core defined infrastructure and abstract it away. And we felt it's the perfect time to do so.


Tim - 00:25:48: To drill a little bit further and, you know, to connect, to connect where you are today. Would you be able to formulate, you know, the part of the original problem that you saw that is still very much present or at the core of what you're trying to do, or do you think this has evolved significantly or is it stale?


Philipp - 00:26:12: Yes, not at all evolved. It has. So our thesis was the Futures Multi-Chain. Someone has to aggregate and abstract it away. That's what we've been starting with. And it's the very same thing we're still doing. And I'll tell you, we're going to do the very same thing in two years from now. It's perfect. So that was our pitch to VCs. Hey, this is a problem that's just starting and it's not going to get, it's not going away that soon. So it was a good timing to start that. It's a timeless problem for now. Certainly with more standardization and more shared Decentralized solutions on different levels, things will change and maybe simplify. But along the way we can be the Egg Company, Other Companies, to guide them through this jungle of infrastructure. And for sure, we're going to pivot. For sure, we're going to adjust our product to the needs of our clients. And as we discussed already, maybe it is aggregating centralized Liquidity as well. Maybe it is building market maker driven products on top, be able to fulfill Liquidity as needed. There are so many angles, so many things to do. We also are very research intense. Just released a page on arbitrary data messaging bridges. We spent seven months with consensus on a risk assessment framework, which we just represented in IEEE conference in Dubai two weeks ago. So we do a lot on the research side as well. And we work with chain agnostic improvement proposals. So CASA is an important organization. We try to standardize, try to standardize how Blockchains should represent certain things, may it be a user account, may it be a blockchain ID. All these things need to be standardized. So standardization is an important process that has to happen. And yeah, there is just a lot. I hope that answers your question.


Tim - 00:27:52: No, it doesn't. It's the, how big is the team at this stage?


Philipp - 00:27:55: So overall, we are 4040 plus people by now. We have raised 23 million dollars in the past two years, and we have processed around 1.5, 1.6 billion dollars in volume since April last year.


Tim - 00:28:10: This is the largest organization that you had to run or was any of the other Startups bigger in terms of team size?


Philipp - 00:28:18: That's the largest so far.


Tim - 00:28:20: How do you feel about it?


Philipp - 00:28:21: Great. Well, actually, I'm incredibly happy to have hired such a great team I can rely on. So I can actually go out, fundraise, take care of bigger strategic things. We have such a good and driven team. I'm incredibly grateful for that. So super happy about the position I'm in with this company, this team and this outlook. So yeah, I know overall absolutely happy and it's nice. And it requires me also to obviously to grow personally and finally to grow into a better leader. I'm learning a lot from people within the team, but also from advisors and friends that are more experienced. It's really nice. Yeah, it's a lot of travel. That's one thing that's really exhausting. totally worth it.


Tim - 00:29:08: What's the biggest thing you've learned so far from growing a team to this size?


Philipp - 00:29:13: Oh my God, there's so much. Since we are 40 people globally, so there's a lot of stuff in terms of asynchronous processes, so as in quantity across different time zones. It's just a thing. It's difficult, but we always had remote companies. So we had quite a headstart when it came to these learnings. At the same time, we learned a lot about everything. Hiring, fundraising, oh my God, fundraising. For our CSA, I spoke to 340 Investors. Overall, I've spoken to 500 investors over the past two years. We have 160 investors on our cap table. So that was a lot of pitching. There was a lot of pitching. So I learned a lot about storytelling, a lot about what is important. And if you talk to over 500 investors, you're getting invited to a lot of reflection on what you're doing. And those were great learnings as well. We had super strong negotiations, the hardest I've ever had. And yeah, all of that is learning and learning every day, actually. As mentioned, the infrastructure space is also learning that much. It's also growing so fast. Keeping pace with that is a challenge on its own. And it requires constant learning and understanding new paradigms. And it's, yeah, it's also very busily. So you always have to dig in deep to really understand what people are talking about, where problems are deriving from, what are potential solutions. And actually being able to compare possible solutions is much, much harder. So you have to dive really deep. So I spent a lot of time reading and still not enough.


Tim - 00:30:36: And I always think, you know, fundraising is a great way of reflecting your own business back to yourself and, you know, rethinking it over and over. So I imagine with this many conversations in the short time, right, because this has been, you know, a bit more than two years for you guys must be probably be interesting to question because there's obviously also a lot of like founders and people that are in and want to go into the web3 space here. What advice or let's start there. This cliché question, but what do you think how long the current market situation is going to last and what's going to make it worse or better? And two more come from a practical perspective, then what would you recommend to other founders that are just starting stuff in web3, how to go about fundraising in this moment? Or would you say, hey, don't do, screw it, don't do anything, come back and come back in the future? What's your take here?


Philipp - 00:31:43: I think good ideas and good founder personalities will always be able to raise money. It is just not for everyone. Sounds hard, but it's the truth. And it took me a long time to develop the skillset to actually tell the story in the right way and do my homework, build the prototype the right way, generate traction without having money. It's just tough. So it's a learning curve. And I believe that founders shouldn't be disencouraged if things don't work out. They should ignore the voice and go into web3 no matter what. It's a good time. It's a perfect timing. Go in, learn. If you go in, go in deep. I think I see many founders just have some Decentralized ideas, but do not understand where the big problems are that are to be solved. And they do not understand what the timing is on that space. So they come up with nice ideas that do make sense, but too early. The space is very much in the beginning. Dive in deep. Understand that this industry lives on Twitter. Follow, you need to follow the right people to end up in the right bubbles, to understand where the space is at. And then you need to spend enough time to educate yourself to be able to separate noise from true signals and build your own opinion on certain things. It's just, it requires you have to immerse yourself, especially because it's such a fast-paced industry is once you get in, you have to catch up on so many things. Like how was the development from UniOsop? Web one, web two, web three. Other, the major Blue Chip Protocols. How do they work? What didn't work? Like who were the competitors who died? Why did they die? How does the space function? What are these different? How does an Oracle work? What does the Oracle problem mean? What's the Oracle problem? What's the interoperability trilemma? What's the Blockchain Trilemma? You know, what's the problem with, with the rollups? What's the benefits? What's the disadvantages? What are alternatives? Get into it. Like get your hands dirty, but you really have to dive deep and it requires, it's a privilege. It's to a certain extent, it is a privilege because you need to spend time. So either you have the patience to do it on the side, the patient and the willingness and energy, or you simply save up money, spend three, four months doing just research, discipline, join an existing team and learn like by working in a company until you find your own idea. And yeah, I think the web3 space is also very inviting in the sense that there are so many grants and hackathons with lucrative price money. I think in the first year we did 13 hackathons and we have raised the first three hundred thousand, two hundred fifty thousand just from price money and grants. So we got a lot of money for free in the beginning to get started by simply trying our Protocols, by doing hackathons, by winning prices. And all of that gives you exposure to investors, to other talents, you get connections, you get advice and you will learn a lot. So it's a very inviting space, I would say. More inviting than anything else I've experienced before. Easier than Gaming, easier than biotech, easier than anything else I've seen before. And there's a lot of venture capital as well. So immerse yourself and just get started.


Tim - 00:34:51: What do you like most about it?


Philipp - 00:34:53: The mix of lots of Idealism, meeting lots of Capitalism, meeting lots of Tech. Like that Venn Diagram, that intersection of Tech, Capitalism and Idealism is super interesting and gives so much room for making, for changing the system we are in. And that's just very exciting.


Tim - 00:35:15: You know, when I first 20 or so interviews, I ended up with a strange headcount that the majority of people had interviewed were either quantum physicists or musicians. Okay. And I agree with you on this triangle and it creates for me a very interesting series of personalities and its own culture of moving around in the space. So I agree with you. That's the exciting part. Also to drive this turn, what do you think are the three big ending like enablers that are on one side? One, two or three big enablers that are drawing a drive web three, but three adoption forward. And what do you think are the three, one, two, three big threats, like real threats to the industry at large?


Philipp - 00:36:07: Institutions are very important to this space. Institutional money has to come in. And for that, the biggest threat is regulations. Well, at the same time, regulations are important. Also for me as a founder, right? Having regulatory environment I can operate in is chance. It's good. It protects certain interests. It protects certain groups. And it gives me very clear boundaries in which I can operate in. You just have to make sure that people in politics understand things correctly and understand the impact of their decisions. So they have to understand not only the technology, they also have to understand the idealistic ideas and how they're going to play out. A lot of that is also game theory, actually. It's super interesting. But it's just very hard to get a bunch of politicians to make informed decisions on this. So they have to listen carefully and again, also immerse themselves to a certain extent. They don't have to be on Twitter and listen to everything, but they need to listen to people in this space. And the people in this space have to work their ass off to communicate all of that properly, which is tough. It's a tough challenge ahead of us. Yeah, regulations, chance.


Tim - 00:37:17: I can only repeat this often, but it is about communication. And it's about laying things out how they are and being transparent and honest and forthcoming about it. And in that sense, thank you so much for your time. This was very insightful. You can, as you put it, only dive this deep. There's no one, I guess, that can understand every aspect of it, but you bring that with you. And I love your passion about this Anti-Web3 space as a founder. And thanks for the advice that I think you're super welcome from fellow founders and people that are thinking to get into this space. So again, thank you for your time here.


Philipp - 00:38:03: Thank you so much for having me. It was an interesting conversation for sure. And to see you at some point in person.


Tim - 00:38:09: DAO Talks is brought to you by Grindery. If you enjoyed this podcast, consider subscribing to DAO Talks on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or any other platform you fancy. To find out more about Grindery, visit Thanks for joining me. Tim out.

About the Show

Decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, are all the rage. We’re seeing explosive growth in this sector as people experiment with building companies on top of tokens and smart contracts. If you want to get a better understanding of why this is happening, listen to the people that work, build and invest in them: the members.

Join me on my personal journey of discovery, a series of talks with the Web3 builders about DAOs, Life and everything else.

Graham Spencer

How people share their availability and generate stronger commitments via token staking

Spencer is a product manager for DAOhaus, and a RaidGuild contributor. During his Web3 travels, he's noticed that there are usually 2 kinds of people in DAOs - those that dip their finger in multiple projects, and those who focus on one project only. Now, he's championing incentive based mechanisms that make people share their availability and generate stronger commitments via token staking. That, and he thinks that DAOs can be an answer to climate change.