Transcription Episode 65

Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Lakeland Blockchain. Today we are speaking to Greg from Shardeum. Greg was one of the founding members of Shardeum, and we talked about the difficulty of perhaps creating a solution, a truly decentralized solution in this time and age, and also a lot about Sharding and when is Shardeum mainnet coming apart from other things and how the community is super involved in Shardeum and the upcoming events that they’re going to be participating in.

Greg would be there at ETH India, and he would be in Bangalore. If you are looking to set up a meeting with the Shardeum team, then you should really get in touch because he would be visiting all of these events and the side events. And if nothing else, it would make for a really great conversation because he’s a super sorted guy with a tremendous experience of building right out of college.

And I can’t wait for you guys to hear this conversation. Let’s deep dive right in. Hi Greg, thank you so much for making time to speak to me today.

How are you doing? Hey Tarusha, I’m doing well. Thanks for asking. It’s 9.34 p.m. here.

Got to love the Web3 working schedule with people all around the world. Sometimes you’re taking meetings at 5 a.m. Sometimes you’re recording podcasts at 9.30 p.m. Right, and where I’m sitting, it’s 1 p.m. in the afternoon. So that truly goes on to show how Web3 never really sleeps.

And everybody is at it at some point somewhere in the world. Absolutely. And new big news every day.

Today, we had the Binance news. So there’s always something to keep things exciting. Keep things exciting and keep you on the edge of your seat.

So thank you once again for making the time. And for our listeners, can you tell us how you got into Web3 and how you got involved with Shardeum as well? Yeah, absolutely, Tarusha. So I think I’ve, like many people in this industry, had a natural interest in technology since early in my career.

As a college student, I had two core interests. One was entrepreneurship and the second was technology. I was really excited by tech startups.

And I saw all of the money being invested in this industry. And I got to learn about decentralization. And I became really fascinated by the concept of trustless systems where we don’t have to rely on any centralized intermediaries.

And so at the end of my college career, I was thinking about what I wanted to do. And I wasn’t really excited about going to work for a nine-to-five corporate job in a cubicle at some enterprise’s office. I really wanted to start my own company.

And I knew if I could find a problem to solve in an industry where there was a lot of companies with funding that would pay to solve that problem, then I could become successful. And so in 2017, 2018, there was a lot of new companies being launched in Web3, but not a lot of websites to advertise on. And I discovered that if I could build a service that made it easy to advertise on the most popular Web3 websites, that would be useful for these companies.

So I wound up raising a six-figure seed investment for a product I built called Global Blockchain Network. Worked with about 60-plus companies in Web3 in 2018 and generated over $300,000 in revenue my first year out of school. So that was how I first got started in Web3.

This is wonderful. So you really got out of college and you deep dived right into Web3 and you built your own company. How did you move away from your own platform and become a core member of the Shardu team? Great question.

So at the time, I was living in Dallas, Texas, and working in Web3, you typically attend Web3 meetups and events in your city. So I was attending Web3 meetups in Dallas. And I was happy with what I was doing at that time, but I was essentially running a marketing service.

And operating service-based businesses is really tough because once the customer’s work is complete, you have to get into sales mode and find new customers that want to pay for your service. And then the service requires the effort of humans, not of technology. So you have to also provide and fulfill the service.

So that became challenging. And I was excited about trying to transition into a team, building a product. I met a guy named Omar Syed, who’s the tech co-founder of Shardeum, at a meetup in Dallas.

At the time, he was working on a project called Shardus. Shardus is software developers can license to create their own app-specific sharded blockchains. Shardeum has licensed the Shardus protocol to build the Shardeum smart contract platform.

And I was just really fascinated by Omar and his experience. You know, in 2018, we had lots of different types of companies in Web3, many scams and just really unprofessional organizations that were solely focused on fundraising and, you know, making money. But here was Omar, one of the first webmasters at NASA, someone who had built applications for enterprises like Yahoo, who was granted three patents on a system he designed for them.

And Omar had no focus on money or raising funding. He was just focused on solving the scalability challenge and solving hard problems by building a sharded, you know, software to create sharded blockchains. And so that really impressed me.

And I started working nights and weekends with Omar. And while working with Shardus, you know, a lot of, like Omar is originally from India and a lot of the team and community were from India. And so I wanted to reach out to Nishal, the founder of WazirX and tell him about what we were building.

So we got a meeting with Nishal in 2019, pitched what we were working on with Shardus. At the time, he was solely focused on his exchange, had no plans to partner with us on building ShardVM, but he was interested in what we were building and followed along with our progress. And in 2021, he started to notice, or 2021, early 2022, he started to notice that a lot of people in India were buying crypto on WazirX, but not many of them were withdrawing assets from WazirX on-chain and using decentralization.

So Nishal got this idea to understand why aren’t these users going on-chain and how can I help make that happen? And he discovered that a lot of users in countries like India aren’t using decentralization because transaction fees were high, especially in 2021 during the bull market. And so he wanted to look for a way to build a layer one smart contract platform that could make fees extremely cheap, no matter how many transactions there are for users in price-sensitive countries. And after following along with Shardus’ progress, he asked Omar if he could build a smart contract platform that could achieve this objective using the Shardus protocol.

They discovered that it was possible to do that using Shardus and that’s what led to the founding of Shardeum and how I got to where I am today. Wow, that’s quite a journey. And it’s so interesting to know how you guys kind of conceived that idea and you’ve executed it obviously tremendously well and more power to you guys.

But what motivated you guys to create like a layer one platform? And there must’ve been like in the time and age when you guys started off, at that point, I think everyone had this particular notion that there are already too many chains and creating a layer one obviously has its own sets of multi challenges. How did you overcome those challenges? What were those challenges? I would love to know that. Thanks for asking.

So I just wanna clarify on the Shardus product that wasn’t a layer one at all. It was just software that people could license or copy to create their own Sharded blockchain. And the reason that we first started building Shardus back in 2017 is because Omar wrote a paper in 2011 called Sound Money Without Commodities.

And while writing that paper, he was thinking about a way to build a global universal basic income like a new monetary system because he feels that there’s a lot of challenges with the current central banking system the world relies on where these central banks continue to inflate their currency. And in many countries, there’s no asset backing this feed out currency. So it just continues to get inflated year after year.

And we as citizens of that country are losing money to inflation. Omar felt a global universal basic income monetary system would be really powerful for the world. And thought that after discovering Bitcoin, blockchain would be great infrastructure for it.

But with having experience working at places like NASA and Yahoo and Zynga where he was focused on scalability, he could foresee that the existing blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum weren’t going to scale to be able to support something at the scale of a global universal basic income monetary system. And so he was hoping that someone would use the sharded architecture he had used in his Web2 career at those large enterprises to scale blockchains in Web3. But after tracking the progress of the industry to 2016, 2017, no one was using the architecture he felt was scalable enough to support like a global mainstream monetary system type application.

And so he needed to solve his own problem. And that’s when he started building Shardist and moving on to Shardeum. As I mentioned, the reason we built Shardeumis because true decentralization is that layer one where the validator nodes can be operated by anyone permissionlessly who can help secure the network and participate in consensus.

And the existing layer ones we have today become expensive when too many users are using them and start to compete on gas fees, Nishal discovered that there needs to be a layer one for users in countries like India and Nigeria or Egypt or Vietnam or the Philippines where it’s easy and affordable for everyone to run a validator node and participate in transaction on the network. And that’s what led to the launch of Shardeum. Well, so, you know, you guys basically saw a real problem in the space and you set out to solve it.

Nothing better than that. You know, you did not just start a layer one because, you know, you could do it. You’re actually actively trying to solve a problem.

The scalability basically trilemma through sharding and that is what your white paper mentions as well. Could you explain how perhaps Shardeum achieves this and its significance in the context of decentralized networks? For sure. One of the challenges or problems we’ve recognized with existing decentralized networks is some of them are very decentralized and, you know, have thousands of validator nodes such as Ethereum.

But the issue is they are unable to provide a high level of throughput or process a lot of transactions because all of the validators are doing the same work. You know, our perspective is that networks like Ethereum have too much redundancy where they have, you know, thousands of validators that are all doing the same work. And what they really need is parallel processing, you know, for greater efficiency and more throughput so that the network can support more users and process more transactions and not become congested and expensive.

And so the way to achieve parallel processing is using sharding. There are different types of sharding. Some people who aren’t, you know, computer science experts aren’t aware that, you know, the concept of sharding is really to do something in parallel, to perform a function in parallel.

And there are different types of functions and blockchains that you can parallelize like, you know, data storage or computation or gossiping of transactions or slash messages also known as networking. And so some types of sharding only parallelize one or two of the functions. But state sharding is what is known to parallelize all three, you know, functions of a blockchain.

And so there have been a few attempts at state sharding in blockchains to date, but none have really fully implemented state sharding and unlocks the true capabilities of state sharding to, you know, scale like we do in Web2. In Web2, when you use products like Facebook, or TikTok, their backend distributed system can scale using sharding. When they need more scalability, they just add more servers on a, you know, a cloud infrastructure system like Google Cloud or AWS.

The same thing is gonna happen in blockchains. When you need more scalability on Shardeum, you just need to add more validators to the network. And so Shardeum’s dynamic state sharding works by assigning a unique range of accounts to each validator node.

So in Ethereum, every validator does, processes all of the accounts transactions in the network and stores all of the accounts data. They all do the same work for the entire network. But in a Shardeum, each validator is covering a unique range of accounts while slightly sharing a similar overlap in those accounts.

So each validator slightly shares a little bit of accounts with the validators near it, but every validator covers a unique range of accounts. This ensures that every account has a redundancy of 128 validators in the network hosting that account for, you know, security and redundancy. But also because each validator covers a unique range of accounts, you can process transactions and store the state in parallel.

And so as you add more validators to the network, there’s more parallelization resulting in greater throughput. And this will enable Shardeum to keep transaction fees low forever, no matter how many transactions there are, because we can ensure the throughput is always greater than demand, just by adding more validators to the network. Sorry if I got a little too technical there, but that’s my best high level overview of how dynamic state sharding functions.

That’s very, very interesting. And I will come back and ask you how to, how can you explain this perhaps to a five-year-old, but I do have a follow-up question regarding the state data redundancy. How are you approaching this, you know, while you are dynamically also adjusting the network size based on usage? Like, is there any SOP there? Like, how are you approaching this particular challenge while maintaining the data in redundancy as well? Yeah, so I have grasped a lot of knowledge from our co-founder, Omar, over the years.

I am not, I’m not a distributed systems architect myself, so I can do my best to answer your question. Just to clarify the question, you’re asking how do we manage redundancy in the network? Yes, by a dynamic parallelization. Yeah, by still ensuring that, you know, you’re adjusting the network size based on usage, and you know, you are running all of these parallel transactions as well while sharding, because this is a trial and error, like you’ve mentioned in the white paper, right? So how are you approaching this? Yep, yeah, good question.

So first I want to clarify the word dynamic in dynamic state sharding. So in Shardeum, the word dynamic refers to the creation of shards. When you think about existing sharded blockchains today, the network is live and it’s sharded.

There’s predefined shards that always exist, irrespective of the transactions in the network. So if you have a network where you have static state sharding with these predefined shards, and you have a transaction that’s submitted to the network that involves some accounts on shard A and some accounts on shard B, or some accounts on shard C as well, then the transaction first needs to get routed to shard A, be processed by shard A, then the data from shard A is sent to shard B, shard B processes the, you know, transaction for the accounts it has, and then sends the data from shard A and shard B to shard C, where shard C will complete processing the transaction and then roll back the data across the prior shards. With Shardeum, the word dynamic means that when a transaction is submitted to the network, a shard is formed dynamically in real time based on the accounts involved in that transaction.

So because each validator is assigned to a unique range of accounts, when a transaction is submitted to the network, a list of the accounts involved in that transaction is injected into the transaction, and the transaction is only routed to the accounts included in that access list. So the validators that are assigned to the accounts in the access list get together and form a consensus group, also known as a dynamic shard, and we vote on the transaction, and when greater than 50% of the validators are in agreement, a quorum is achieved and a receipt is formed, proving proof of quorum. So that’s a general overview of how the dynamic piece of dynamic state sharding works.

Now, in terms of redundancy and understanding, the other aspect of dynamic sharding is referred to as autoscaling, where we can grow and shrink the number of validator nodes autonomously based on the load of the network. So every cycle, which is a period of 60 seconds, every few cycles, maybe two to three, the number of active validators in the network are autonomously adjusting based on the network’s load without any developer involvement. So I can’t speak to specifically to how the protocol determines the number of accounts that each validator covers and how much redundancy there is between those validators, but there’s a parameter in the sharding protocol where you can define the number of accounts or the number of validators that cover each account.

So you can define the redundancy and the protocol automatically divides the state or shards the state to ensure that there’s always the required redundancy of, for example, Shardeum’s mainnet having 128 validators cover each account. And so the way autoscaling works is every few cycles, maybe every two to three minutes, all of the validators in the network report the load of their machine. And based on the median load of all of the validators in the network, they determine the required number of validators needed to process the current load, which I’ve mentioned a few times now.

And so to better understand this, there are standby nodes in Shardeum and there are active validator nodes in Shardeum because when you add more validators, you can process more transactions. The network wants to pay the minimum number of rewards needed only for the amount of validators needed to process the current load. For example, if there’s 10 transactions per second in the network right now, the network doesn’t wanna pay 100,000 validators to process those 10 transactions.

Maybe it only wants to pay 500 or 1,000 validators to process those transactions and all remaining validators are on standby. So the shardist protocol determines and controls the size of the network. And every 60 seconds, percent of the oldest active validators get rotated out for new standby validators.

Standby validators are selected randomly to join the network. So you get this node rotation, you get a dynamic adjustment of the amount of active validators based on the load and you get a dynamic creation of shards based on the accounts involved in each transaction. This means that one shard could cover my account and your accounts transaction while another shard can process other people’s transactions.

And many shards can be created all at the same time for different people’s accounts so that you can process transactions in parallel. So hopefully that, and it does that all while ensuring that every account has at least 128 validators storing the state and processing those accounts transactions for decentralization security and redundancy. Hopefully that gives a more clear insight into the dynamic aspect of sharding.

Yeah, it does. It makes me, like you guys have created a very robust tech architecture around this. And again, the way you kind of explained it in these simple words, I can almost imagine like the flowchart in my head.

So wonderful. But now, you know, going back to perhaps the not so technical way of explaining, if you had to explain sharding to like a five-year-old or somebody who perhaps is not that technically sound, how would you do it? Yeah, I think the way I would explain sharding is, you know, your parents go to work and they have a job. And you can imagine sharding is like, you know, your parent going to their workplace and doing their job.

And maybe they’re building a car and your parent just needs to put the tires on the car. But there’s other people that are producing, you know, other parts of the car. And when you add up all the parts that every employee at the company creates and you add those parts together, it forms the car.

So by everyone doing a unique job, they’re able to produce more cars faster. When you don’t have sharding, it would be like if all of the employees at the company were doing the same work at the same time. They, all of the companies, all of the employees produced one part of the car together at a time.

And it takes them a long time to build the car because all of the employees each are doing the same work of producing one part at a time. Another way to think of sharding is like, adding more lanes to a road or a highway. When you add more lanes to a highway, you know, there are more lanes for cars to travel down the road in parallel.

So there’s less traffic because the road can fit more cars. But when you have an unsharded network, there’s just one lane doing processing all of the work. I think those are very good examples to explain, you know, how sharding works.

So moving on from the technical aspect, you know, the white paper for sharding mentions that it’s a community oriented project and the proof of community is very intrinsic. To this, what is the kind of impact that you’ve seen so far in terms of proof of community? And how are you really implementing this? Thank you for recognizing proof of community. I am confident it’s been one of the most effective marketing campaigns in Web3 since it was launched.

We have been running proof of community now for about 13 or 14 months. And there have been 269 proof of community events today across eight countries with 17,000 people attending these proof of community meetups. And what’s really great about these proof of community meetups is they’re very educational oriented and focused on attracting new users and developers into this space.

If we want to bring Web3 mainstream and, you know, have decentralization used by people globally, we need to educate them on this technology and bring more people into the industry. And that’s what’s great about proof of community is it focuses on achieving that. And in countries where Web3 is needed the most, places like Nigeria, where we’ve hosted 35 events today and Nigeria has hit its highest level of inflation in two decades at 26% annual inflation.

These people need access to a stable monetary system. They really have a high need for DeFi and Shardeum’s doing great work in Nigeria, educating them on how to use DeFi and blockchains and building a blockchain for them that makes DeFi affordable when Shardeum mainnet is left. So proof of community has been a massive success and we couldn’t do it without the community itself.

Shardeum has no employees in places like Nigeria or Vietnam. These are all community-led initiatives and it’s going to lead to a community of people that, you know, empower each other and can build their own products and companies on Shardeum and, you know, solve real problems in the world. So I’m really, really proud of the progress we’ve made here.

You know, that’s wonderful to know. How are you incentivizing or encouraging your community members to take up these initiatives? You’re asking for the secret sauce. It’s really straightforward.

You know, you and I want to be viewed, if we’re ambitious people, we want to be viewed as leaders in our city in this Web3 industry. We want to be viewed as someone who’s a thought leader and an expert in Web3 and we want new connections in our personal network. We want to grow our personal brand.

We want people inviting us to work for their company or asking us to launch a company with them and a great way to grow this personal brand and build this personal network is, you know, to be the person that’s organizing Web3 events in your city and, you know, being a leader in the industry in your area. And so Shardeum looks for ambassadors in different places around the world that want to do just that. We give them a small budget for the venue and the food.

We make it really easy for them to host this event. We give them the presentation we’ve created for the event and have a whole playbook for it. And it’s a great opportunity for these ambassadors because they’re passionate about Shardeum.

They get to support Shardeum while at the same time growing their personal brand and their network and creating new opportunities for themselves. That’s brilliant. I think, you know, why I asked this question was primarily to, you know, hear this answer.

In Web3, a lot of these actions are incentivized by some financial gain or possible financial gain and that is really just not sustainable. I truly believe that, you know, if you want to create something that the community will use and you want the community involved then you have to involve them in a real way where they feel like they’re part of the system and they feel like they have some skin in the game. So what Shardeum has been able to do that in terms of holding these events in different parts of the world has been really brilliant.

And, you know, you guys can actually chart a path for other people and other projects in Web3 that are perhaps looking to get users more involved because Web3 is ultimately all about community. And that kind of brings me to the other part of it because, you know, you are a layer one solution. How are you incentivizing or encouraging developers to build on Shardeum? I love the questions you’re asking, Tarusha.

So Shardeum has two value propositions at the moment for developers. And I believe and hope that over time these, you know, value propositions will evolve as Shardeum mainnet launches and, you know, the network grows and maybe we can start looking at different data points that result in new value propositions. But for now, there’s two core messages that developers are really excited about.

One is that, you know, from a marketing perspective, you can view different blockchains as like their own unique website. And every website has unique website visitors with different demographics. And so as a company, you don’t want to just advertise your product or your company only on one website.

At first, you want to test advertising on multiple websites to access different demographics. And you’ll double down based on, you know, conversion data and marketing data on the sites that perform the best for you. When you’re building for the EVM, it’s really easy to deploy your applications contracts on numerous EVM networks.

And, you know, then each network has its own community of users and you can see where you get the most traction. And while most blockchains today are focusing on, you know, Western more developed countries like the US or, you know, UK or France or China or Korea or Canada, Stardium, you know, as we just discussed, has invested a lot into growing its community and large emerging populations like India, Nigeria, Vietnam, Philippines. And what’s surprising is these are the countries that are actually topping the Chain Analysis Crypto Adoption Index.

And so developers are excited that by building on Stardium, they get access to new users they don’t currently have access to in these countries. The second value proposition is from the tech perspective, a lot of developers have gone burned over time. You know, when they first got into Web3 and built their first, you know, Web3 application, they weren’t ever thinking about, like scalability over time.

They were just really excited about decentralization and wanted to build a dApp. And so they built their dApp and launched it. And then what happens is when the dApp becomes popular or, you know, we go into a bull market and networks get congested, gas fees start to become really high and they lose their users.

Or maybe the use case they wanted to build for becomes unaffordable because the cost of gas is more expensive than the value of the transaction itself. And so with Stardium’s dynamic state sharding architecture, it enables developers to no longer have to worry about losing users due to rising gas fees. And it also opens up new possibilities for use cases that can exist on blockchains that don’t scale.

Like microtransaction use cases where the value of a transaction, you know, could be, you know, two cents. And so those are the two core value propositions at this time that, you know, are attracting developers to Stardium. That’s wonderful.

I think, you know, you’re giving them the very basics, right? Which lays the foundation of any good application. You’re giving them access to users, which is something that any Web3 developer really wants because that is quite a real problem in Web3 that people have these wonderful products, but not many people are using them. So giving them access to users is a big win.

And the fact that, you know, these transactions are happening at the pace at which they are happening and the network fee is low. All of those are very big advantages for somebody who’s just starting off. So, you know, we deployed on Stardium and our tech team has had a stellar time, you know, deploying on your network and you guys have always been very, very supportive.

So this is like a shout out to you and your tech team and as well as a personal recommendation from my end to our listeners, if there is any Web3 developer who’s thinking on which network perhaps to possibly deploy on, Stardium is a very good bet. A very supportive ecosystem comes when, you know, you start deploying on their network and I cannot recommend them enough. So, you know, what you guys are doing, like again, yeah, it’s wonderful.

Thank you so much for the support. And we’re really excited to help DApps grow over time Tarusha. And I just wanted to add one more point to your question and double tap on that.

It’s not just the value propositions, but how do we actually go about communicating those value propositions to developers and helping them build companies on Stardium? There’s two approaches to ecosystem growth. One is top-down, which refers to, you know, helping companies that already exist on other blockchains or helping Web2 enterprises, you know, build new products in Web3. And so top-down is really just a simple business development strategy of reaching out to these apps that already exist on other EVM chains and communicating our value propositions to them or maybe understanding some of their challenges, not being able to acquire a lot of users on those networks and, you know, forming a plan with marketing to help them acquire new users on Stardium and grow on our network.

But what I’m super excited about is the bottom-up focus, which is, you know, helping people who aspire to one day become a Web3 founder, turn their idea into a company and raise funding on Stardium and hopefully one day launch one of the biggest, you know, Web3 companies in the industry. And so right now we’re doing a lot of, you know, work to prepare, you know, a marketing campaign when Stardium’s mainnet launches, which is going to really focus on targeting people in countries like India or the U.S. or Nigeria or, you know, our different countries we’re popular in around the world where we want to find, you know, the builders that want to launch companies and, you know, dream of one day becoming a venture-backed founder in this industry and making an impact on the world and, you know, promoting content to them initially, really focusing on content that’s only useful and helpful so that we can recognize who they are and capture their information and then start to promote different events to them that engage them and get them building on Stardium. It doesn’t even need to be like, you know, a startup they’re building.

We just want to identify their skill and build relationships with launch and then the final stage is to help these startups scale on Stardium and that’s where, you know, we’ll introduce them to the VCs that support the Stardium ecosystem. We should have an ecosystem fund available for the Stardium Foundation to directly invest in helping grow these companies. We should help them with their partnership with development, introducing them to enterprises and so I just wanted to share a little bit more clarity that there will be a whole lot of support for people that dream of becoming founders in the Stardium ecosystem and we’re really excited to, you know, change people’s lives, help them turn their ideas into big companies and make a positive impact on the world.

That’s wonderful. I think, you know, supporting the developers which becomes the backbone of any good network is so important and you guys are taking many steps and, you know, you’re doing events and you’re churning out great content that would be helpful to them and you have a great community and support. All of these are very helpful factors in attracting and perhaps retaining those developers.

So again, you know, are there any particular ways in which any developers perhaps get involved? Like, do you have like a Slack channel or Discord or something that you would like to share right now for our listeners? Yeah, thanks, Tarisha. I think the Stardium Discord is a great place to get involved. So if you go to our Twitter account at Stardium or Stardium’s website, you’ll find the link where you can post about the products you’re building and get in touch with our ecosystem team to get hands-on support.

Brilliant. I’ll show to put in the link in the description of the episode. So what are like the upcoming milestones for Stardium both in terms of tech as well as community? Obviously, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this, but when are you guys going to be going live with your mainnet as well? So if you could tell us a little about that, it’d be wonderful.

Yeah, yeah. That’s why everyone’s excited for the team members at Stardium, the community. Everyone’s core focus is Stardium Mainnet, which is planned to launch in March of 2024.

So just about four months away from now. We’re really excited. And we’re very confident that we’re on track to hit that March timeline.

So I think that’s the next big milestone both for the tech and the community. I would say the other tech milestone is the full Stardium protocol code will be going open source before March. And between now and then, there’s a whole lot of scalability testing and security auditing.

There will be bug bounties that will be live as well after the security audits are complete. So that’s another way for the community to get involved and earn some income by discovering security bugs in the Stardium network. I think those are a few of the key milestones coming up.

One thing we’re also really excited about right now from a business perspective is Stardium Series A, which we’re actively raising right now. Stardium has raised $26 million to date. And we’re now raising the Stardium Series A. I can’t comment on how much or the valuation, but I’m excited to raise more capital to further grow the community, make progress on achieving our mission and be able to have more resources to support founders in the Stardium ecosystem.

That’s wonderful. Congratulations. Raising capital in this market might be a little tricky, but with what you’re building and the kind of traction of the team that you have, I’m sure that it’s a piece of cake for you guys.

And I’m always rooting for you, Nishtal, or your entire team, because what you’re building is brilliant. And I think you guys are one of the first to actually actively start talking about sharding. And that is something, and actually doing something about it, perhaps.

There are some conversations here and there about sharding even then, but you guys really have executed it. And I can’t wait for the mainnet to get launched. So all the best for that.

Thank you, Tarusha. Yeah, I think part of decentralization and the reason we’re all here is because of these trustless systems. And so anyone in this industry can tell you whatever they want.

And you can choose to believe the people that you trust, but we’re all here for trustless systems. And so sometimes actions speak louder than words. And I think when you look at the amount of time and effort that’s gone into building out this network, where the development of the core protocol started in 2017 with Omar at the Shardist project.

Shardeum, if it was really just monetary focused and was just here to make money for the team, could have just been like a slight fork of Ethereum with a really good marketing campaign and launched mainnet already. But we’re not going to launch mainnet until dynamic state sharding is complete. And we’ve built new technology from the ground up that enables new capabilities for everyone.

So really excited to get the product launched after several years of development. Wonderful. Now moving a little beyond Shardeum and thinking of the Web3 landscape in general, what is your take about what are the factors or what are the niches in the space that will actually drive the market into a bull run again? According to you, which niches in Web3 are going to do splendidly well in the coming bull market? Good question.

I think there’s two prongs to the question. One is what are the factors that are going to drive the bull market and what is going to perform well during the bull market? And like performance, I will say it’s not financial advice. Performance could be like user activity or adoption, not just like the price performance of an asset.

But the first prong of the question is what would drive a bull market? Arthur Hayes is a very well-respected macro analyst. And he’s been pitching a narrative that I believe in. And so there’s a few things that are driving the current market.

And one is the US government’s debt problem. The US dollar is the world’s global reserve currency. And the US government is currently in a massive debt situation.

I forget the exact amount of debt. I can look it up right now. But I believe the interest that the US government is paying on its debt amounts to 20% of the total GDP of the US.

Yes, I had read such alarming figures as well. Yeah, it’s not a good situation. Yeah, so the US currently has like $33 trillion in national debt.

And it has a budget deficit of $1 trillion. And so it needs to find a way to get out of this debt situation because of how much money it’s paying an interest in. Arthur proposes there’s two ways to alleviate the situation.

One is to increase taxes and collect more money from taxpayers to pay down the debt. The other is just to inflate your way out of it and print a ton of money to pay down the debt. And no politician is going to run for office in the US and say, I’m running for president of the United States so that I can raise taxes and get us out of our debt situation.

No one would vote for that person because higher taxes aren’t attractive. So Arthur suggests the more likely way that the US gets out of its debt situation is within a form of inflation such as quantitative easing or whatever the current term for inflation is used by financial people. And so Arthur believes that the largest bull market that’s ever happened will occur when the money printer turns on to get out of the current debt situation.

And I think institutions are realizing the current fate of the US dollar and the US government’s debt situation. And they’re currently looking for investing in anything that doesn’t print is a quote I recently saw. Anything that doesn’t print has gone up in the past month or so because it’s a hard asset and no one wants to lose money to inflation.

So they’re looking for hard assets that are going to continue to accrue in value. And a lot of digital assets like Bitcoin are a great example of that. So the US government debt problem I think is a huge aspect to the next bull run.

Another piece to the puzzle is the Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs. What those do is they create more sellers, more people selling Bitcoin and Ethereum to the world. At the end of the day, to get people to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum and crypto, something needs to happen that attracts them into this industry.

And when you have large financial institutions selling ETFs like Fidelity and BlackRock and all of these different financial institutions issuing ETFs, they need to buy a lot of crypto and then go and sell the ETFs representing that collateral to users in the US and around the world. And so there’s a lot of excitement and demand for the upcoming BTC and ETFs. There’s been some talks about how proxy wars in Ukraine and Israel and Palestine have an impact on markets as well.

Maybe the instability leads to more people putting money into crypto. I’m not an expert there, so I can’t comment much on that. But I think those are the three current narratives that are driving this current market.

And the second part of the question, which is, what do I think is going to perform the best? I think the most popular application in Web3 today is Stablecoin. That’s like the core product in Web3 that’s found product market fit is having digital versions of fiat currency that you can send permissionlessly to anyone in the world 24-7. So there’s a whole lot of utility that will still come from Stablecoins, but that’s not super exciting.

Everyone knows that. I think everyone talks about gaming. I think Web3 is just a natural fit for gaming because now it allows you to have self-custody of the in-game assets and truly own the assets you’re using in-game and be able to potentially transfer those assets throughout multiple different types of games.

So I think gaming in Web3 is going to continue to grow a lot. Social applications are becoming really interesting because you can build one social protocol like Lens Protocol or CyberConnect or Farcaster, but then create numerous types of interfaces based on that protocol. And you have composability of these different social infrastructure products like Lens Protocol and Huddle01 were combined to create Lens Spaces similar to Twitter Spaces.

So you can add up all these different interesting decentralized social infrastructure products like Legos to create these really interesting social experiences. So I think social will be exciting. I’m interested in these new decentralized GPU networks for training AI models.

Right. Having a decentralized network of GPUs for really low-cost compute to train new AI models since there’s a lot of growth in AI. I think we’ll see a lot of growth in Web3 there.

Even now, one of the OpenAI team members, I think yesterday or today, tweeted out about how he’s been thinking about centralization versus decentralization a lot over the past 24 hours with everything that’s going on with OpenAI. So those are the reasons why I think we’re entering a bull market and some of the verticals or use cases that I believe will perform well during the bull market. Well, that’s a great answer.

I think you kind of captured all the aspects that I truly also believe would drive in the next bull run and also which niches are going to perform better. Obviously, AI is here to stay, even with whatever is happening at OpenAI currently. And then there is the aspect of social and interactive applications that are being built on Web3.

I truly believe that apps that are actually solving a real problem for the users and adding convenience to their life are the apps that will do well in the coming bull run. Because the market has matured with several of these cycles and it’s about time that for adoption to happen, there are some real problems being resolved. For sure.

Yep, we have the same thinking there. Similar to how Shardeum was founded after a problem was recognized and Shardeum is being built to solve a problem. You know, we can speculate right now on what we think the popular future use cases of Web3 are, but what I’d really like to see happen more frequently is instead of founders in Web3 just building whatever decentralized product they think is cool, I would love to see them go out and survey people in their community and find common problems that need to be solved and build decentralized products because decentralization is the best solution to those problems.

Like when you look at Web2 companies like DoorDash that were built, you know, the DoorDash founders built DoorDash after surveying hundreds of restaurant owners in San Francisco and finding that the most common problem they had was deliveries being really challenging and inefficient. And so they built a solution to solve that problem. And we need to see more of this business idea validation or problem identification in Web3 and build products to solve those problems, as Dean mentioned.

Yeah, wonderful. You know, Greg, this has been such a wonderful conversation. I completely lost track of time and we are almost completely out of time.

And I would like to wrap this up by asking you perhaps one question that I ask everybody who comes on the show. You know, you kind of got into Web3 very early and you bring that unique perspective that, you know, you’ve not, you started working from day one in Web3. But if somebody is still, you know, thinking about Web3 and about how to get into it, what would be your suggestions to them or some advice to them for them to start living on blockchain? Yeah, I think it depends on your objective.

You know, you could be someone that, you know, is a developer, but they don’t know how to do smart contract development. And there’s many free resources on the internet. I personally think the most fun way for developers to get started in Web3 is to go to a hackathon.

And if they have friends that are already Web3 developers, they can go to the hackathon with their friends or they can just show up and make new friends at the event. And, you know, what a fun time that is to make new friends and, you know, learn how to build in Web3 at the same time. There’s a ton of job opportunities for people in this industry.

I would just similar to how I met Shardeum’s tech co-founder, Omar, at a meetup in Dallas. I would recommend going to Web3 meetups in your local area and just building relationships with people that are already working in this industry and learning about who’s hiring. And, you know, even contributing to projects, you know, for free in your free time, you know, to show them the work you can do.

At Shardeum, we’ve hired numerous team members who just popped up in our Discord community and started contributing as a community member. And we really appreciated their work and invited them to join the Shardeum Foundation. So I think those are a few ways to get started in the industry.

I think that’s wonderful advice. Just sort of start getting involved with projects that you are interested in. And, you know, you will be able to find a niche and make space for yourself here.

So before we wrap this up, Greg, any parting thoughts? Um, thank you so much for the opportunity, Tarusha. To the listeners, thank you for your time. Shardeum is an open, collaborative, community-driven project.

We would love to work with you on our mission to enable decentralization for everyone and make decentralization something that everyone in the world can use affordably. And we can all together make a positive impact on the world by making it a more fair, transparent society where we don’t need to rely on centralized intermediaries because we can all use the trustless Shardeum, the centralized network. Please attend a Proof of Community meetup in your city.

Please join our Discord and get involved. We’re really excited to build with you. And please check out what Tarusha and the team are building at

Thank you so much, Greg. Thank you so much for the shout out. And thank you so much for taking out the time to speak to me today.

Thank you, Tarusha. I really appreciate it. Have a great day.

You too.

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