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We opened up the episode with Antonio giving a brief introduction of the story that led him to where he is now. How a oportune internship at Coinbase opened him to the world of crypto and put his Princeton CS degree to good use. It was the general sense of excitement within the company about crypto that brought him into the fold.
In his early days at Coinbase a lot of Antonio‘s work was figuring out how to work with the early crypto banks. Banks with no API’s which as you can imagine was a nightmare for an exchange trying to make the majority of their processes automatic. This was a great insight into being creative with solutions to big problems and fed Antonio’s resolve as a problem solver and future founder. One of the most valuable things he received from Coinbase were the relationships he walked away with when he left to do his own thing.
Then began the entrepreneurial journey in early 2017. Antonio’s first project was a decentralized search engine for Dapps, the downfall being there weren’t really many Dapps at the time. Luckily, he did not give up and after mulling over what he saw as the long term future of crypto he decided to build a DEX. Not just any DEX but one with a protocol that allows interesting decentralized derivatives products.
In the next segment we touched on building a great team, how important good advisors are and the oracle problem. This led into why a DEX, which lopened a discussion of thinking forward rather than for immediacy, and the beauty of bootstrapping through decentralization. I was curious of the security issues in DeFI and asked Antonio if this was something that weighs heavily on the team when releasing their protocols, he then walked me through the process of building protocols, what smart contract audits are and the confidence he feels in his and his teams work.
One thing we couldn’t skip in this conversation was what ell’ is going on in the DeFI space right miau, luckily he’s in a good position to speak on this as he breathes and sleeps DeFI. Antonio’s conclusion is that this is the culmination of several years of work with an adjunct vast incentive scheme that brings lots of attention to it. We went a bit into the tokenomics of projects in the DeFI space and my sense is that dYdX may slightly regret not having issued their own. Maybe soon?
To wind down we looked at what dYdX’s roadmap is going forward and some of the goals they want to achieve. My last question was what were some of the lessons he’s learned building a company from scratch. The most essential point he leaves us with is almost verbatim to something you’ll hear everywhere in real estate: location, location, location - well for a company it’s timing, timing, timing.
00:00 – 02:54 Introduction
02:54 – 06:22 First foray into entrepreneurship, building on the blockchain and the importance of timing
06:22 – 12:50 Entering the world of programming and then Coinbase
12:50 – 16:35 Banking in early crypto and valuable relationships
16:35 – 22:04 Inspiration for dYd, why a dex?
22:04 – 26:40 Building dYdX and the team
26:40 – 33:50 The oracle problem
33:50 – 39:02 A dex as a forward-looking project. Bootstrapping through decentralization
39:02 – 49:48 Security in DeFI and audits
49:48 – 1:01:40 What the hell is goin’ on in DeFI and tokenomics
1:01:40 – 1:05:13 dYdX roadmap and goals
1:05:13 – 1:08:57 Lessons learned building a crypto company