The Delphi Podcast Host and GP of Delphi Ventures Tom Shaughnessy hosts Seb Audet, co-founder of Zapper to discuss user growth, benefits to offering DeFi education, integration speed, communities without a token, and more.
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Hey, everyone, welcome back to the podcast. I’m Tom Shaughnessy, I’m one of the podcast hosts, and I help lead Delphi Ventures. Today, I’m thrilled to have on Seb Audet, who’s the co-founder and CEO of Zapper. I met Seb around a year ago when we first launched our fund, so it’s really awesome to have him on. Seb, how’s it going?
Doing pretty good. Thank you very much for having me on.
Yeah. Seb, Zapper’s come a long way. I’d love to hit off just from the get-go, did you ever envision Zapper to be what it is today when you originally founded it? I mean, DeFi and tracking has come quite a long way from how we used to track our assets.
Yeah. I can’t say that initially we had this grand vision that we would get to this point. We never really expected that it would grow so quickly, but the way we saw it from the beginning is, what’s the big problem in DeFi in a small market that we think is going to be very big in the future? And if we rewind DeFi, initially, there were very few protocols, maybe six or seven. We have the big ones, Aave Compound, Synthetix, Uniswap, and it was just very annoying for me to have to track them individually and update my spreadsheet, and so we built this solution with Zapper where you could track a very minimal amount of protocols.
I think the first use case was just Uniswap and Synthetix, and it was geared really towards the Synthetix user base, because there was a shared incentive between these two protocols. So a very small market, but it was a big problem. I just shared it in the Discord and it just snowballed from there. Obviously, I never expected to have this amount of growth, but we did know that we were tackling a very important problem in a small market that would become big in the future.
You lobbing out the Synthetix comment on them basically being the first ones throughout yield farming just shows how much of an OG you are.
Yeah, it’s the OG yield farm.
Yeah, most people think it’s Compound, they maybe got public about it, but… Can you just share how people tracked their assets before Zapper? Back when I first started in crypto, it was all Google Sheets, we’d pass around Excel files, stuff like that, there really was no way to track any of this, right?
Yeah, and even if we rewind back, I mean, it’s still very popular, but Blockfolio, we have to manually input every token you add and input every transaction, there’s nothing automated from it. So that’s the default, I’d say, use case for most people in crypto to manage their portfolio. But the issue with DeFi, DeFi is very programmatic, it’s very automatic, so Blockfolio doesn’t fit at all the use case for DeFi. And so yeah, most people were using spreadsheets, going daily on every website or looking at their Etherscan and updating it. I think there was Zerion at that time, but Zerion had just a very singular focus of having just lending and pooling in one platform, they weren’t looking to track all the assets everywhere.
And I think there was the other app called MyDeFi, a very OG app that was trying to track all your assets, but I was just frustrated by it not tracking my own apps, and so I was like… It’s just a very uncomfortable feeling to not be able to see your money, you don’t feel good. It’s like, “Did I lose something? Did my portfolio just crash?” And so it was just so frustrating that I had to solve it, and that was really just the initial use case. Yeah, spreadsheets, Zerion and a few other app tried to tackle that problem.
Yeah, you’re right, with most winning CEOs, where the project they launch is to solve a problem they already have. That’s Andre with Yearn, that’s most major successful founders. I guess the other question for you is, when you were starting Zapper, I guess, at the time, one of the thoughts on the other side, playing devil’s advocate was, “Hey, you know what? The wallets will just track your assets. You don’t really need this external service to do it.” Did you ever have a view that, “Hey, you know what? What I’m building might just be automatically shown by someone’s wallet?” Or what was the give and take there?
Yeah. Well, I’m kind of impatient in nature, so I couldn’t wait after a wallet, integrating it… I couldn’t wait a week or being the doubt that, “Oh, eventually they’ll track it,” I had to see it right now. And that was the original thesis is, we know how uncomfortable it is for users to not be able to see their money. And so we pinned as the most important product value for Zapper as, people want to see their money. If they can’t see it, they’re, one, going to be uncomfortable, and two, it’s like an exit door that you create for them to use another product. And so that’s always been a main point of focus, and that’s the main reason why we did Zapper. It was just very uncomfortable, I couldn’t wait for another product to do it, we had to do it ourselves.
That’s really cool. No, that’s a great answer. And I guess one of the issues in crypto is building a community. Community is everything, they’re the ones that will take your project to the next level, they’re the talent, whether it be token econ to community building, brand building, etc. You guys have been able to attract an insane amount of users, I’ll let you share the growth. I don’t want to steal your thunder here, but one of the things that you were able to do was, you were able to attract such a large number of users without having a token, which is kind of insane because most communities are built with a token because people have a shared sense of buy in, and they obviously have upside in the tokens, stuff like that. How the hell were you able to get so many users without a token?
Yeah. I’m actually surprised myself how well this is going, but I could outline the strategy and the reasons why we were able to grow. Right now, we’re about at about 240,000 monthly active users.
Yeah. And the initial growth hack, honestly, initially, it was an unintentional growth hack, is that when you… Say we initially have four or five protocol integrations, every time you add a new protocol integration, we’d go on their Discord, we would share it, the protocol would share it, their community would share it, and that’s just a really good way of acquiring new users. We did that for such a long time that we built a very strong user base that’s very loyal. They know that we’re going to add a new protocol when it appears, and every time we add a new protocol, we get exposed to a new community, and that’s been super helpful.
And I think a huge element that helps, and it’s retention. Retention is so important in DeFi. If you want to grow and you don’t have retention, you’re not going to grow. You need to have this floor of users that will consistently stay on your app regardless of time. They’ll be there in a month, two months, three months, and what that means is that every new big batch of users that you add, you know for sure that a good chunk of them are going to stay, and that’s a core pillar of growing. And I don’t think enough DeFi projects are focused on retention. For, Zapper that’s kind of like a side effect.
Tracking your portfolio is something that’s embedded in our daily lives, it’s something we’ll do on a daily basis, even an hourly basis for some. I don’t know for you, but for me, I definitely check it almost every hour.
It’s bookmarked for me, man, all my wallets. Yeah.
Exactly. So the product is very aligned with our retention strategy. So it’s something you do on the daily, but say transactions, for example, we were struggling to get people from just tracking their assets to actually transacting, so we were working on different strategies to help them discover and retain them using other strategies. The number one thing that’s the most important is figuring out a way to retain your users. If you don’t have that, you won’t have any growth. And I think a lot of DeFi projects are just focused on acquiring all their users right now through a token. And it works for like the initial two weeks, three weeks, a month or a few months. They get a big community, but it dies off because there’s no retention built in the product.
No, you’re totally right, Seb. One of the things I didn’t pick up originally when we invested in you guys was just that you never needed a token to grow because this was something that retail would need regardless of a token. It seems so simple in hindsight, but you don’t need a token to attract people to something that they’re going to natively need every day.
Exactly. Having a token won’t necessarily correlate to people being able to see their money. End of day, people want to see their money. If they can’t, they’re not going to use it regardless if we have a token or not.
Yeah, that’s fair. One of the key, I guess, cornerstones of Zapper is just the number of protocols, apps, integrations, Zaps you guys have, and it feels like adding new applications that you’re able to track through Zapper is obviously crucial to growth and the uptake of the platform, but it also seems like a crazy operational hurdle to not only keep adding these integrations, but maintaining them and now adding new chains, and adding all the apps that are in those chains. How do you hire for that? How do you maintain it? How do you keep that integration speed?
Yeah. Honestly, it’s something that’s very hard. Obviously, we’re struggling with, but it’s a very unique problem that Zapper has. I could count on my hand the amount of products that are in the same boat, but for us, a lot of it is has been about figuring out a way to automate those new protocol integrations. But a lot of it is, definitely something we can do better is figure out a more transparent way of, we have community deciding on the protocol integrations and us delivering them. And right now it’s not fully fluid between the votes on the community. Obviously, one, it’s very gamable, people can vote and have bots vote protocol integrations. And two, on our side, we have to juggle between, how easy is this protocol to integrate? And how many community backing does this protocol have? And we have to juggle.
And sometimes we’ll take the easier one that has less backing than the really hard one that has a lot of backing. So a lot of a juggling act, but every new hire, engineer hire, the first two weeks is just doing protocol integrations, that’s your Zapper initiation. And after two weeks, I’d say they become already pretty good. They’re already way better than me, they can ship configuration protocol integrations much faster, and we’re actually starting to build that automated strategy to actually be able to push them out even faster. And also, that brings to those community incentives and our app store that we’re building right now.
That’s awesome, Seb, and I guess one of my next questions for you is that automating adding new applications to track new layer ones, all of their apps seems incredible. And it Definitely seems something that should be automated or you eventually outsource this to the teams themselves. It doesn’t seem like there’ll ever be an issue with, say, tracking if other protocols integrate, but do you have any concerns on decentralizing away or outsourcing or automating the Zapper Farm feature on Zapper where people are actually moving funds around? Because then you run into a situation where people could lose funds if they’re sent to the wrong contracts, people could steal funds? How do you decentralize that and scale it while having the gatekeeper of you guys?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. And to summarize, there’s two aspects, as you pointed out. There’s a protocol integration where you can read your balances, but there’s also our zaps, which are transactional in nature and allows you to easily go into a Uniswap pool, for example, or Sushiswap, whether it’s on Polygon or Ethereum.And they’re very different, and one can be automated with less risk. The risk is that people can’t accuracy see their balances because the protocol integration wasn’t properly done, but we can’t afford for that to happen on the transactional side.
So what we see to shift more towards the community is really the balance side of things, so tracking your portfolio, and the zaps would be more of this internal toolbox of things that we build. They’re connectors for protocols, they’re battle tested, and then developers could leverage them and build… They can use our kind of Legos that we already built. Also offset the audit risk because all those kind of zap Legos, those transaction connectors would all be pre-audited and it would just become a game of putting them together and trying stuff out. But the strategy, definitely, we want to be very careful with zaps because obviously, the risk is much higher, and it’s a risk we can’t afford basically.
No, I agree. Zaps are crucial, it let’s people do the next step beyond just tracking their portfolio, it lets them do things with other platforms are protocols, so I definitely understand why you’re protective of it, and I’m glad you are. Just before we go into the future of Zapper, I just want to go back again on the history side of things because it’s always interesting to hear founders that have overcome issues, and I’m not sure if you have any in the past. But were there any cases in Zapper’s history where you’re like, “Damn, I don’t know if this is going to work.” Or, “Hell, I don’t have the right talent.” Or, “I don’t have the right money”? What was the hardest, I guess, thing you had to overcome in the earlier days of Zapper?
I would say it’s interesting, because Zapper’s history is like we’ve been here for a year and a half. I first started-
10 years in crypto.
Yeah, exactly, it feels like 10 years. But the initial MVP of Zapper, a precursor to Zapper, DeFiZap actually started two years ago. But I’d say the toughest part… So I was working as an engineer at this slash designer hybrid at Shakepay, which is the biggest Canadian exchange, and while I was there, that’s where I really started experimenting with DeFi, and I had this thing called DeFiSnap, and it was going very well, getting some traction. And in March, that’s when the pandemic hit, and we had DeFi Black Thursday-
I remember that.
… and that’s when I put in my resignation for Shakepay, and I was like, “I’m doing this full time. I really believe in this.” And through there, I met Suhail and Nodar, and there we founded Zapper. So I’d say that was probably one of the toughest decisions. My girlfriend was like, “What the hell? Are you completely crazy?” And I had a few startups in the past and they all failed. So it was March, DeFi was crashing, we had that whole maker fiasco. And we had COVID. I didn’t have that much money saved, and yeah, I decided to just go full-time because that’s what I wanted to do, and I just believed in it in, and I didn’t see myself working at Shakepay because I was just going to be thinking about DeFi all the time anyway and thinking about Zapper.
I’d say that was the most difficult time for me, it’s actually the inception period, but from there, been relatively smooth sailing.
Yeah, I understand why your girlfriend was a little freaked out that you left your job, there was a sell off, you didn’t have a lot of money saved. That makes some sense now.
Yep. No, I totally understand. She was always very supportive. I think it’s so important to have a supportive network around you to help, and I am very fortunate that she was super supportive.
Yeah, no, it’s a podcast for another day, but I just saw that Harvard study, someone tagged me on that study over 100 years with those 700 successful people, and the whole thing is just having quality relationships and loving who you’re with. So that makes a lot of sense.
So Seb, this is a good segue into the future of Zapper. So you left a job, diving into crypto full-time. It’s hard for people to do that today because they don’t know where to go, but with Zapper, you guys launched Quest and Education, and it’s a really cool way to educate people, attract them, show them DeFi in one place. I know I still don’t have one thing I send people. I basically say, “Send 100 bucks with fees or 500 depending on fees to MetaMask and mess around with everything on DeFi Pulse.” But what exactly is the whole idea around Education and Quest with Zapper?
Yeah, so the idea is, right now, you’d probably agree, it feels like DeFi this big secret that we all have, and we’re trying to broadcast it to the world, and somehow there’s some friction around communication. It’s really hard to broadcast the value of DeFi, and until they actually try it, that’s when it really clicks. And so the idea and what’s been successful for me, and I don’t know for you, but what’s been successful is actually going through MetaMask, doing it with them, and then it clicks. Then there like “Oh, wow, this is actually really interesting.” It’s usually not from sending them a bunch of articles, it really depends.
The most effective way is actually just having them do it, and the idea with Zapper Learn, and gamification in Quest is actually creating that engaging learning experience where you learn and actually do the thing right after. So you have an article on, what is Uniswap? You learned about Uniswap, and then you have a quest to add liquidity. And there’s an interesting, I don’t remember who shared it, I think it was 0xMaki but it might not be him. Actually, I don’t think it’s him, anyways, about people entering in DeFi, there’s this really big knowledge gap, and if your willingness to enter DeFi is below that knowledge gap, it’s just going to be too much friction.
But gamification and fun basically is like this lubricant on this gauge. It’s this padding, it makes it more welcoming and accessible to actually start learning and do stuff, and that’s been our whole angle. And because Zapper’s mission is to make DeFi accessible and easy to use, it has to be accessible and it has to be fun, and that’s the whole reason why we’ve been focusing on that aspect. And yeah, so far, it’s been pretty successful.
So Seb, I guess, a lot of this will probably be for younger users, web3 native people, if that’s even a thing yet, but do you think that… I saw a video today on Twitter of some senators saying we should ban crypto to keep up with China, which has got to be the dumbest take in crypto’s history. But if you sent Zapper’s Quest to, let’s say a large traditional macro fund or let’s say a senator or a congressman or something like that, do you think that they would also be able to understand DeFi in a better way?
I’d probably say they wouldn’t be the target market. I think it might actually be least helpful for them, because they might be like, “Why mixing games and finance? Those two things should not belong together.” But maybe I’m wrong. I think my hypothesis is really around young people and engaging them in finance. We’ve had this generation of people, and there’s a reason why meme stocks are a thing, is because we have this people that are just disillusioned completely by traditional finance, they’ve felt left out, they have huge debt.
Meme stocks are kind of like this middle finger towards to traditional finance. And to engage them in finance, you have to go completely 180 from what traditional finance used to represent. It didn’t used to represent fun, so you have to go a complete 180 to be able to talk to that demographic.
You’re right. I’m grasping at straws trying to figure out how we convince the older people with all the money to do this, but you’re right on the younger demographic. What do you think, I doubt you guys have any stats on this, but if you do, that’d be great, but what do you think is the average age of somebody messing around on Zapper? Is it 18, 28, 38? Because you guys are in a way really accelerating the adoption of crypto for younger people who want to get involved. There’s no longer months of just messing around, you can go on Zapper, you could do Quests to earn experience Zapper now to understand these protocols, it really makes it easy.
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I would say probably between 25 and 35. What’s interesting with crypto is most of it is pseudonymous, or anonymous in nature so it’s very hard to know exactly who your users are, and actually, it’s funny because we’re actually doing an exercise, and I’m sidetracking but trying to determine, who’s the persona? Because when you build the UX around the product, you try to figure out, what’s the persona, a typical person? And what we ended up on is up pseudonymous Twitter account, we don’t actually care who you are, we care about your on-chain pseudo name, and we’re shifting towards more of a pseudonymous economy.
We don’t care about what’s your age, what’s your income and traditional where you live, but we care about your reputation in DeFi. And that’s what I think is super interesting.
I guess the second and third questions for you are, what do people actually get by doing these quests because people are all profit oriented? Are they earning NFTs? Are they earning native tokens of a project they’re interacting with? Or are they earning hopefully, just knowledge as well?
Well, what they’re really earning is proof of… It’s like this reputation that they’re actually a hardcore Zapper user, and they’re early Zapper user. We’re in the very early history of Zapper, we don’t yet know what these badges or these levels might be useful in the future, and the way I see it is like you’re building your CV for Zapper. And I still don’t know that could be used in the future, but it’s building up that reputation.
I totally agree. The whole idea of an on-chain CV is hilarious, we haven’t had a real one in a while. Do you think people actually get hired off of their Zapper History? It’s already happening with other… It’s like Atomic Blue, I forgot the name of it. I mean, DegenScore is obviously an obvious one.
Yeah. I’ve seen a few people being hired to manage people’s wealth based on their Zapper history, so seeing a glimpse of that, but I think the channel at large is, and just even us hiring Zapper, I think the CV is probably the thing we care the least about in the whole application. Honestly, I think we probably wouldn’t even need it in most cases.
That makes sense. I guess moving beyond Quest, or not beyond Quest, but do you think that the learning and the education that you offer will go beyond DeFi to NFTs too or not so much?
Absolutely. And to go back on earlier question, which was, what you’re earning while doing the Quest, it’s like a proof of work. It’s a proof of work where you spend time on Zapper and you earn XP, and then you can mint NFTs. So those NFTs are backed by all the work and time you spent being on Zapper. And going to your point on, are there things we can do on NFTs? I actually have a whole thesis, it’s not written down, but it’s in my head around NFTs where I think the future of finance is much weirder than we think. Right now we’re still at the stage of modeling the car after the horse carriage.
We’re putting old models into DeFi, and those are good, a lot of them are very important financial primitives, but I think there’s so many things that we could do in DeFi, and if you think about DeFi at its core, it’s increasing the bandwidth of how we communicate value. It’s increasing the expressibility of how we communicate value. If you think about media and the internet, it used to be very expensive to broadcast information from yourself, just very expensive. You’d have to buy the newspaper, buy an ad somewhere. And now, you could very cheaply broadcast information to the world. And to a similar extent, financially, very expensive to broadcast yourself, very hard for you to have access to a bunch of different financial services depending on where you live.
DeFi increases your bandwidth, allows you to easily broadcast yourself to the world. And when you think about finance, a lot of these things are abstractions of value. What they’re actually transacting is time and work and people building stuff, and what we can have with DeFi is actually you can go down the stack and get close to the actual layer of value transfer. For example, an essay that earns fees dynamically based on people that are reading it instead of having IOU or a stock that represents in that company that somehow gets its value derived from that essay. So we’re getting closer to the source, and I think it’s going to take time, but that’s what DeFi enables long term.
And I think there’s going to be a big intersection between NFTs and DeFi where I could take my Charizard Pokémon card, deposit it, use it as collateral, make it work. I have a bunch of things of value, we all have in our homes, but we can’t make them work, and we’re starting to see those kind of assets digitally, and we’ll start to being able to make them work and perhaps take a mortgage with your Charizard card or with your crypto pump.
That’s a fascinating thesis, Seb. I agree with all that. I guess I’ll throw a question your way, you could take it whichever way you want, but I guess, how far away are we from your vision there? Then to close the loop on the on-chain resume item, how do you link that to getting a job in crypto or to developing your own platform? Because it seems like the denser Zapper gets, you could tell who’s kind of a Degen, who’s really a Degen, and who’s an OG, but how does that translate to an actual work environment or an actual job?
That’s a good question. I think it’s tricky because if there’s someone applying, we don’t want to ask them for their Zapper address because it’s personal. But if we could, it could be a good way to gauge-
[crosstalk 00:28:24]could flop going up there.
Yeah. But you’re also opening yourself up to judging the investments. It’s like, “Really? You went in that that farm?”
You went [Shibu 00:28:36]?
Yeah. Like, “What were you thinking? Not hired.”
Exactly. You’re right, it’s hard. And just switching gears a bit, one of the cool things that I’ve personally found about Zapper is just the amount of, I guess, airdrops or yield farm rows I just didn’t even know I had. Is that a key feature you guys are seeing from your users?
Yeah. It is. And like I said earlier, we try to maximize the happy moments you have on Zapper and discovering airdrop, or something on Zapper that you didn’t know you have, like discovering a $50 bill somewhere in your house, it’s fun. So to have that in Zapper also is a pretty good feeling, and often people will share about it. They’ll share it on social media, “Hey, I found this airdrop on Zapper.” So yeah, it’s always been important for us for you to be able to find every loose penny.
I like that. I should have asked this question earlier when I was asking about your target market, but is there any specificity around your target users? I feel everybody says crypto’s global, but in reality, a lot of project’s users are from a specific country or then if we dial down, the projects are focused on a specific chain. Like you guys are very Ethereum focused. I guess the question is, is Zapper global? It’s obvious, but I want to know if not. And then two, when do you guys expand to the Terra Lunas of the world or go beyond Eth? You already are, but I guess the beyond layer one support.
Yeah. In our approach with the DeFi, we want to be as agnostic as possible, and in terms of how global we are, I’d say almost every country in the world is represented through Zapper. Obviously, there’s a few words, very difficult to be able to have access to Zapper, but obviously, North America, very big market, but we also have a lot of users from China. And we actually have Ze on our team who’s really focused on our community in China and helping them. And it’s really interesting to see the cultural differences between different countries, but also what’s amazing is to see all these people from around the world using your product.
What are the cultural differences? Because I was going to ask that, full disclosure, we’re invested in DeBank, as well as… I think there’ll be a couple front pages here, but I feel like there is a dichotomy in the global communities of uptake here. What do they look for?
Yeah, it’s very interesting. If you look at China, people will be looking to find yield, number one. That’ll be the most important thing to find, and they’ll maybe sacrifice a few different elements, whereas here in North America and perhaps in the western world, it’ll be a bit different, where we balance both the product and yield, but for them, it’s just finding the best yield no matter what. It doesn’t care which chain it lives on. There’s not as much maximalism in China. We have a lot of Ethereum maxis in North America, people there are just focused really on one chain over the other, but we have much less of that in China.
There the most important thing is, where can if make the most money possible? And I’d say, that’s mostly the cultural differences, I’m not saying that one approach is better than the other. It’s just different in how they approach the product, and their objectives are different too.
That’s interesting. Switching gears a bit, Seb, you guys closed your series A round, you raised a bunch of money, which is awesome. Congrats. I guess the question for you is, where do you intend to spend this money to grow Zapper?
Right now we don’t have any revenue, we haven’t built out our business model yet, and so this revenue is really helping us build out a full engineering team to be able to put out a mobile app, iOS and Android. We’re also building the app store, which will allow community members to build protocol integrations directly on top of Zapper. So it’s really just increasing our bandwidth and allow us to do more of the things we’ve always wanted to do, but just have been crunched on time.
I’m super excited for the mobile app, personally, and for our fund, but the other side of it is just, the app store sounds super interesting. Can you walk through that a bit?
Yeah. One realization that’s probably very obvious, is that it’s not sustainable for us to do all the protocol integrations that will exist. Right now, it’s as if we try to integrate every website in the world, and right now it’s manageable, but it’s becoming… The obvious trend is that it’s becoming less and less manageable. We know that it’s not sustainable long term. So we’re really building this app store where it would allow community members actually build on top of Zapper and extend it the way they want. Also, a thing is, and we’re approaching in a similar way to Shopify.
So if you’re a merchant on Shopify, you can extend your ecommerce website through different plugins to fit your use case. In a similar fashion, a financial dashboard is something that’s very personal, everyone has different use cases and they’ll like some features more than the others. So by having this app store, you allow the market to dictate which features should be built on Zapper, which protocol integrations, and then users of Zapper can decide and customize their own financial dashboard.
That’s pretty cool. Yeah, I know, the community curation is key, whether you’re looking for app’s integrators or apps. I really like that focus. The other side is just the future of Zapper, obviously, NFTs have taken by storm. There’s a lot of things I guess we’re waiting for like real appraisals for NFTs, Upshot’s a good example, crowdsource you could pay to rate kind of thing and get a more accurate value of your NFTs, but where do you think Zapper plays into tracking and then letting people use their NFTs in ways we’re not thinking about, I guess?
Yeah. Right now, NFTs are still in this spot where it seems like the DeFi market and NFT market are diverging. So we’re thinking about, what are the places where they converge? And how could we allow our users to leverage what they have at NFTs? Right now, you can only track, you can’t do much with them. I’m of the firm belief as I previously stated that NFTs will play a big role in DeFi. So there’s a lot of things we want to do. One step is obviously having the NFTs as those rewards in the Quests, not really put in DeFi, but we have other ideas into, say for example, you could have a piggy bank NFT and you put in DAI, USDC, that DAI or USDC could be lent on Compound and Aave, and it updates or makes your piggy bank NFT evolve or change in appearance.
So that’s thinking like some aspects from skeuomorphic design, everyone understands the concept of a piggy bank, you put money in it, and it changes in appearance, and it can also be something that’s cool to share and show people, and also mixes some aspects from the DeFi, NFTs, where you have a NFT that has some assets that’s actually backing it.
Now, I think that’s awesome. It really makes a lot of sense. I just want to close out Seb with, let’s talk about horror stories, what could go wrong there. Are you concerned with any… I guess one other concern, we’ve covered a bunch, but one other concern is, do you think that there might be any front pages of DeFi that pop up that support the other layer ones that you don’t and catch you? How do you think about competition on, I guess, other chains, because it would be really hard to start yesterday or start tomorrow and just get up to speed with all the integrations you have because it’s just daunting how many you have, it’s wild?
It would definitely be very scary to tackle. I’m often intimidated just by the amount of integrations we support, sometimes we have to update our own integrations, and there’s just so many that it’s just a job in itself. But we definitely always see like DeFi is going to be multi chain. I think Ethereum is going to be Manhattan, it’s going to be the main hub, but there’s going to be other chains for other use cases, and they’re going to capture perhaps different user bases. And for us, it’s very important to be able to support those people as well, because we want to support DeFi as a whole.
Right now what’s been mostly the issue for us is bandwidth, and because some chains aren’t EVM compatible, it isn’t as easy, it’s not like plug and play, and we built the entire Zapper stack to be fully EVM compatible. So we could add an EVM chain very easily, but for chains that aren’t EVM compatible, it’s a bit harder for us to do, but it’s still very doable, it’s just a question of allocation of resources. And we’re always looking at the activity, also taking the pulse from our community.
Right now what’s interesting, and perhaps you could answer a question on this, it feels as though some communities are building away and they’re having their own closed ecosystems, because initially, a lot of our users, “Hey, you should add Fantom, because I’m using Polygon, Ethereum, and Fantom, but Terra perhaps, and you even Solana seemed to capture user bases that aren’t necessarily overlapping. So we can’t just listen to the polls from our community because perhaps they don’t even use Solana or other chains. So always something we’re thinking about, but would just be curious about that.
Yeah. I’ll give a short answer because if want to focus on you, but I totally agree. I think a lot of the new or newer layer one’s outside ETH have their own user bases either geographically or culturally, or focused. Solana has a very DeFi, finance, let’s recreate Wall Street on Solana because they attracted that SBF, FTX traditional Wall Street people to a fast chain that they could do whatever they want on. Terra and Luna have a very specific kind of community there. Polkadot even has a very different community. So there’s a lot of different things ways to slice and dice it, but it’s good that you guys are open to it.
And I guess just closing out, Seb, what’s the roadmap on… I guess, what do you think is more important if you had limited dev resources? Not saying you do, but if you had to pick, would you rather support optimism stock where the L2’s on Eth? Or would you rather go out and say, “Hey, let’s support Solana, let’s support Terra.” How do you decide, because supporting a layer two is probably just as hard as supporting new layer one, I guess?
That’s a really good question. It’s act of balancing both like the Wayne Gretzky move. You could say the optimism, there is not much activity there yet, but if we’re prepared and we think that there is going to be a lot of people, then it definitely becomes very valuable for us. That’s what we did with Polygon, back in March, February, we actually started building the bridge. And at that time, there weren’t that many people using Polygon, but we saw the fee spike and we were like, “Okay, we know the future is going to be multiple chains, let’s build out Zapper to be EVM compatible and have Polygon.” The other side is you have a really big community of users being on it.
It kind of act between going where the puck is going to be, also being able to target L1s that you think are going to sustain long term and going to have a large user base, because if you go into a L1, that’s not going to sustain, and should’ve done the Wayne Gretzky move. So it’s a careful act of balancing both with limited bandwidth.
That’s awesome, Seb. It’s really awesome having you on. I can’t believe we waited so long to do this, but excited to download your mobile app hopefully soon. For those listening, just check out zapper.fi. You could track all your asset for expanding chains and apps. Seb, it’s been awesome having you on, man. Thanks so much.
Yeah. Thank you so much, Tom. And my cat also says bye.
I love your cat, man.
(1:52) – First Question – Did you ever envision Zapper to be what it is today when you originally founded it?
(6:34) – How Zapper got so many users without a token.
(12:30) – Seb’s thoughts on decentralizing and scaling the Zapper Farm feature on Zapper.
(14:49) – Seb’s Background.
(17:44) – The idea for Education and Quest with Zapper.
(23:24) – Earnings people get by completing “Quests.”
(24:55) – Whether the learning and education that Zapper offers will go beyond DeFi to NFTs.
(30:06) – Zapper’s global reach / targeting users with cultural differences.
(33:33) – Zapper’s app store.
(35:08) – Zapper’s role in NFTs.
(36:58) – Zapper’s competition.
(40:11) – Seb’s thoughts on supporting a layer two vs. supporting a new layer one.