Jose Maria Macedo sits down with Matthew J Cantieri, General Manager of Anchor Protocol, a money market on the Terra blockchain that offers an attractive stable yield for depositors. The two discuss Anchor’s yield mechanisms and sustainability, bringing Anchor to traditional finance, the impacts of the Columbus-5 upgrade and much more!
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Cool. All right, today I’m thrilled to be hosting Matt Cantieri, GM, Anchor Protocol. Matt has a storied career in technology, including being part of several acquisitions, and spending four years as a partner in Microsoft’s venture capital fund. He’s now helping contribute to Anchor, a savings protocol in Terra, which aims to become the stripe for savings and has grown to over 4 billion in TVL since its launch six months ago. In this podcast, we dig into Matt’s background, what got him interested in joining the space, as well as all things Anchor. Matt, thanks so much for joining us.
Thank you, Jose Maria. This is great, great to be here.
Awesome. First of all, could you give us a quick description of your background and how you got into crypto?
Yeah for sure, absolutely. Thanks for having me, this is awesome. I’ve wanted to talk for a while. I’m Matt Cantieri. I joined Anchor at the beginning of the year as General Manager. What that means is, I lead adoption of the platform as well as kind of owning the overall commercial and product success of the protocol. Before Anchor, I was a partner at Microsoft’s early stage venture arm, it’s called M12 now. I was as partner there for five years as a generalist looking across all sorts of verticals like enterprise, SAS and security, applied AI and all that kind of stuff that Microsoft should care about. But my passion was really for crypto. I got exposed to it in mid 2015. Yeah, beginning of 2016. I actually met Vitalik and Joe Lubin, and a bunch of Ethereum core devs at an Ethereum conference in Shanghai and it was just unbelievable. It’s like total mind blow. It was talent that was flocking the space, the hyper diverse backgrounds of the people participating.
I watch people from different projects helping each other code things, a cafe at 2:00 am on a Tuesday. I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, or what they were doing. But like I kind of grok the room and felt the energy and knew something kind of huge is being built. After I got back to the States, I started playing around Ethereum and investing in it and trying to get our firm to be a player in the industry. But we weren’t really set up to invest in crypto, we didn’t take tokens and our diligence process took weeks, like more of a traditional sort of VC. So like losing deals right and left and these are deals I wanted to do and you know deals that could have probably returned the fund several times over. But we did very well outside of crypto but, because I was so interested in crypto and wanted to be a player there, it wasn’t going to be the long term home.
That’s super interesting.
You so you got into crypto in 2017 and you tried to get Microsoft into it, didn’t didn’t really work. But be managed to… I saw in your profile, you join the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance with Microsoft. Was that something that you pushed for and what was that like?
I did. In Ethereum, Microsoft still is kind of a Ethereum shop in this kind of enterprise is kind of blockchain the way. They partner with Consensus, JP Morgan and a bunch of these bigger places to figure out what big financial institutions needed, how they could participate in the space, how they can be thought leaders, developing quorum, all that kind of stuff. I thought, being on the council, being kind of a founding member there would get us a seat at the table which it did. But it’s funny, it’s a different take on on crypto when you’re working in a place like Microsoft and even Ethereum Alliance. Microsoft is all hot and bothered with Permissioned blockchain and Enterprise blockchain-
Blockchain, not Bitcoin type stuff?
Yeah, exactly. Blockchain not Bitcoin. It is still that way today. And obviously, enterprises are paying in billions of dollars a quarter, so that’s a good way to hit your number. Is to work on Enterprise blockchain, so I get it and I don’t really hold that over anything. It makes perfect business sense for them when you’re trying to manage quarters. But having a consortium of banks or auto companies who don’t necessarily trust each other, blockchain kind of private environment and helping them solve use cases like supply chain and governance. I mean, I’m sorry like you know provenance… really interesting stuff, but not unbelievably exciting and kind of iterative. I think 95% of the initiatives never really got out of PSA. But pushback was always, “Hey, why can’t we just use a database and tweak a few things?” And, “Yeah, well kind of right?” We didn’t see a ton of these get out of the innovation departments where budgets are pretty limited.
I became a public blockchain guy pretty quickly after seeing the Enterprise blockchain. It’s not nearly as iterative, it’s totally game changing, it kind of open anyone, anywhere in the world. The fact that I could kind of play with Ethereum map and only need MetaMask is a big deal. When you have some tokens on these things, some skin in the game, right? Makes you hyper engaged and you learn faster, and then you kind of see the speed and permissionless nature right away. There’s no middleman, there’s a call to the bank, there’s no three to five business days or whatever. The value hits you in the face right away, and so that’s super cool, right? That’s the thing, it’s immediate value, it’s self directed. I always say, you go download a wallet, preferably Terra Station. Spend a few hours playing with the stuff. It does change your life, then you look at traditional finance and you’re kind of grossed out.
You’re like, “I can’t believe the world works this way.” Yeah, I became a Bitcoin kind of a Bitcoin not blockchain guy. Bitcoin meaning Bitcoin and Ethereum and all these kind of other cool little ones. I just thought that was so much more interesting than this enterprise blockchain thing, which was eventually big contracts. But just another kind of thing in the arsenal of Microsoft, which has a huge arsenal. The spirit was really in public blockchain though, and that’s kind of what drew me to the space for sure.
That’s super interesting. So you’re at Microsoft, you kind of got into the enterprise blockchain stuff, got disillusioned with it and then got into the public blockchain stuff. Fell down the rabbit hole as a lot of people do, and then when did you decide you kind of wanted to enter this space full time? What was it that made you want to take that leap?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think mid 2020-
Yes, [inaudible 00:07:10] summer, perhaps a little bit before that, so really good timing. A co investor of Microsoft ventures, and in a big time lead investor introduced me to Do, and I was just kind of immediately kind of impressed with his vision for Terra. I did not know much about Terra at all. I mean, it was fairly low awareness, and Luna wasn’t exactly down to the moon at that time. I’m a US person and it’s obviously it’s got some mindshare over in Korea and some of these other Asian countries. But like I saw his desire to take DeFi out of the lab, and move it to mainstream consciousness. Through all these real life use cases. Chai which is the eCommerce platform that was thriving over in Korea. Mirror was being conceived. Anchor Plans were early but kind of underway, so I thought, “Look, if this guy and this team can make the crossover which no one has really done to date… ” I see pockets of it, but no one’s really done it big time. “Then this kind of ecosystem is going to be really massive and important.”
We stayed in touch over the course of a year and he ping me a few times by the Anchor. We would chat about product vision and go to market strategy, which Fintechs we should kind of go after for stripe for savings. That kind of stage of the project lifecycle, which we’ll probably talk about a little bit. Then one day late last year, Dev said, “Hey, why don’t you come on over and lead Anchor.” It took me a few days to decide, and I’m a fairly healthy skeptic. I’m more traditional background, I’m not 23 years old obviously. But I kind of knew I want to be in crypto full time, and Anchor had an almost infinite [tam 00:08:54]. Great team, unbelievable product market fit, it’s a problem everywhere in every country, the savings problem.
It hit all these kind of boring VC investment check boxes and then some. Then we could theoretically tap in any pool of money and they’re earning nothing and then basically turn it into something earning a ton, which is what we’re doing now, so it’s super cool. It was like, I was interested in the space and then I met Joe and it was like, “Okay, this seems like a really great way to enter the space.” I don’t know if I want to go a crypto fund or if I want to be an operator. The funny thing about crypto is you can kind of be both. Investors are builders, builders are investors for sure. Actually both skills can help you think about things and you’re not really giving up the investing. It’s part of this job, really is crypto fund which is super fun.
100%, yeah I couldn’t agree more with being a builder and investor, I think is the most fun I’ve had in work ever.
And you’re good at it.
[inaudible 00:09:58]. When did you join Anchor? Was it end of 2020, or was it 2021?
At the beginning of 2021, yeah it was. I think my official date, it was end of February, beginning of March is when I officially joined, even though we’ve been talking for 6,7,8 months prior to that.
We’re just not feeling each other out on Telegram and then it kind of came together, it was awesome.
Nice because when you first heard about Luna and I guess that summer 2020, it was a very different network, right?
It was totally… The whole narrative was around Chai and sort of like Korea runs on Terra. I think Joe told me that someone had described Terra’s marketing as a shy Korean girl and that’s what kind of [inaudible 00:10:41].
That’s exactly right, there was no marketing. There was there’s very little awareness.
And Do wasn’t this massive presence on Twitter and that this whole lunatic army that kind of coalesced, was not obviously as bigger then. You’re so right. It was like, it was really funny. People told me that. It’s just like quiet thing in Korea, but they’ve got real life use cases and they’re chugging along. You look at it today and you’re like, “Oh my God. It’s just like this… It’s a revolution.” It’s like the attitudes different, it’s so much bigger, so much more ambitious. It’s absolutely mind boggling. You saw that the Terra finance vision back then in 2020, because Dowas telling you about it. He was telling you about Meri, he was telling you about Anchor and you kind of saw this vision of a financial system built on USD. I did, I was really lucky to have early glimpse of that. I was like, “It was really hard to grok this stuff.
It was how everything fits together in terms of you want to create big time core financial primitive use cases, which are going to drive demand for USD, and then the corresponding burn of Luna. Then it took me a while. I read the white papers, obviously a bunch of times and was talking to people, but I didn’t really fully get it till I started at Anchor, Anchor is obviously a black hole for UST, with a UST. It’s unbelievably great use case, it’s really performing well. But it’s funny like the other… Anchor by itself is not like the thing. It’s like there needs to be unbelievable kind of cool things across the entire Terra ecosystem and other chains by the way, like we’re opening this whole thing up.
The more kind of UST is in demand and the more ubiquitous it is, and the more kind of it’s on desks and exchanges everywhere, it’s funny. That almost kind of does a lot of work for you. It’s easy to get UST in and out, it’s highly liquid, then a percentage of that finds its way to Anchor and AUM goes up. So the exercise of just getting UST proliferated and people using it on another chain and people seeing what it can really do, is a big driver for Anchor itself. You want everything in the ecosystem to succeed because you want to drive that demand for UST, which eventually parts of that find its way to Anchor. It’s a concept that took a while to understand, I probably didn’t even understand it for the first couple months of the job. But it really is this ecosystem community thing and-
… Anchor gets a lot of some of the benefits from that, it’s great.
Yeah it is, because everyone is sort of driving to make UST more useful, right?
… on Terra is trying to do that.
Yeah, you come out of Microsoft, you’re like, “It’s go win.” It’s go win, it’s grow as fast as you can it’s a win. With this, it’s like empower the community, empower everything around you, make everything around you more interesting and more useful and there will be benefits that flow to you that are kind of mind boggling. You can go out and do business development, you can go do like, talk about this. You go out and do deals and that’s awesome and you build bridges too-
We’ll definitely get into that stuff.
Before we get into that stuff, I’d love to because we’ve talked about Anchor a lot. Most people know it as a protocol offering kind of 20% savings on UST, right? Which sounds like magic, probably sounded like magic to you when you first heard it. I’m curious, how do you explain this to people? Because you must have a lot of experience doing this at this point. How do you explain to users what Anchor actually is, and how it like manages to generate that 20% yield?
Yeah, I know absolutely. The first step is really getting the DeFi community comfortable with it and being able to explain kind of at a granular level what it is. When I’m talking to funds and users and potential investors in the DeFi community at large, it’s high level. Anchor is this high yield savings protocol, offering low volatile yields on Terra stable coin deposits. Our stable coin is UST, not to be confused with US treasury’s. The Anchor interest rate is powered by this kind of diverse stream of staking rewards, from major proof of stake chains like Terra, Ethereum and Solana. Then therefore can be expected to be kind of much more stable than money market interest rates, so we really believe a stable kind of reliable source of yield in Anchor is this opportunity to become a reference interest rate, basically across crypto. Anchor defines the money market between a lender looking during stable yields on the stable coins and a borrower, looking to borrow stable coins on their stakeable assets.
To borrow the stable coins, the borrower locks up bonded assets as collateral and borrows stable coins below the protocol defined LTV loan to value ratio of 60%. This is the kind of… This is the way to talk to the kind of DeFi community. Bonded assets in our kind of definition are these liquid tokenized representations of staked assets in a POS blockchain. If any of this diversified stream of staking rewards accruing to the global pool of collateral, then gets converted to our stable coin use [inaudible 00:16:06] and conferred to lender depositor in the form of stable yield. That, that kind of explanation and what it does, is like, “Okay, that’s mechanics.” That’s how this works, that’s how this is different than lending protocols. I see that your yield is coming from a stable sources of cash flow, which are staking rewards, I kind of get that and that plus the borrower paying a little bit of interest gets you to a place where it is pretty stable.
When you’re talking to traditional finance, it’s kind of a different thing. You got to define this a little bit differently. You can’t go down this kind of path of talking about liquids taking [inaudible 00:16:52], doesn’t really get you very far with a CIO asset management firm. It’s kind of gibberish to them, so either way I’ve been kind of positioning to the external community, outside of the Twitter degens. Is like Anchor uses basically the latest crypto innovations to drive yields that are far superior than what you can get down the street at your bank. If they want to get into mechanics, great. That’s short circuit for lot. Some reads my papers, other just want to hear when you secure a crypto network or validate transactions on a chain, you get paid for your effort and those payments are basically the most stable cash flows in all of crypto. We take those cash flows and pass them to depositors.
And it’s like very seamless way. Most of our targets outside of DeFi, they’re not crypto skeptics. They kind of get it. They kind of know what a proof of stake is. There’s a ton of companies we also talk to, that are along educational road and we need some… But we need to get some early wins. I find potential partners that are kind of crypto forward but probably don’t know all the intricacies or care about those. They’ve got businesses to run. Long winded, the pitch to them is look, we’re basically taking the best of crypto and applying it to the most core financial primitive out there, which are savings, and the rates generate a sustainably orders of magnitude better than what you can get in traditional finance. Is that something you’re interested in? Put some of your treasure in there and give it a test drive. What if we could then offer that to your users? You get to some interesting scenario. That’s not easy, and a lot of people are 18% to 20%, that’s bullshit.
That’s totally scummy stuff that you see on a billboard downtown, and so that’s another challenge. There is compliance challenges, there’s belief challenges, there’s a DeFi scares the hell out of me challenges. These things do not take one or two meetings, they take a little bit of time, a little bit of education and getting people comfortable with some pretty wild concepts. But that’s kind of the fun of it, too. Is I kind of view myself as one of the bridges. I came out of that world and I view myself as kind of a bridge from this back, into that world because there’s a few million DeFi power users and there’s billions of people on the planet and I think a lot of people that are not enjoying the benefits of this should be. I want Anchor to be the way they do that, but you’re going to necessarily a bottoms and risk curve a mile out there and go degen into some coin. Then they get rag pulled, that’s kind of something I would do. That’s something my cousin or grandfathers are going to do.
I think that savings is a thing that people understand. If you can do it better than anybody else, it could be the way. I’m not saying it will be the way, but it can be the way that people kind of get introduced to this space. I think the risk return profile is super interesting. Look, it’s a little… It’s not quite as out there as some of these other things in crypto. Again, the mechanics are tough and it took me a while to understand the mechanics. But the idea behind it is relatively simple in its immediate product market fit anywhere, because it’s so far superior. They’re always like in tech, you got to have a 10X solution. How about 1,000X solution, but 1,000X can be too good to be true to a lot of these folks. You got to manage that too.
100% and Anchor originally sort of, and I think still refers to itself as kind of the stripe for savings with the simplicity of a few lines of code, you add this high yield savings account for your users. The way I’ve always seen it, there’s kind of two separate times for Anchor. You have the 100 billion plus market of current stable coins like USDC and USDT and getting all of them into sort of UST and aUST, earning the 20% yield which is higher than what you can get anywhere else in crypto. But then you have the second market that you kind of mentioned in the second part of your answer. Which is going after all the real world UST savings accounts that are earning loads to negative yields. It’s like, do you see it this way and what market are you most focused on and what are your strategies for each of them?
Yeah. I think that’s exactly right. I think it’s a really good characterization. In my mind, I think you got to win DeFi first. If we can’t find product market fit in DeFi, how can we expect to kind of bridge out to billions of mainstream users? You lose your early evangelists, your supporters, you don’t have a ton of momentum, you probably lose a little bit of confidence. You haven’t proven it out to your core audience first, so the priority now is kind of making sure we are the absolute in kind of best way to save and earn crypto in a kind of highly decentralized fashion so I need the community brutal to you know tear us apart in forums and on Twitter because it makes the product better. Then when you’re kind of battle hardened and secure and buttoned up, you can kind of take this to a world with more rules. The nightmare scenario is, you go out and light up a big of [inaudible 00:22:14] with a solution not built for… But you’re not primetime ready. Then something goes wrong, you burn those users, you kill future partnership opportunities.
We’re being really thoughtful and careful about how we pack into this and we want to be a software provider, not being in any kind of influencing the flow of funds, partnering around that kind of stuff. The stripe for savings aspect of this is really interesting. It’s as I said, we’re really going hard on product features and upgrades and making sure this is the best possible standalone decentralized protocol there is. But yeah, the next stage of the lifecycle is this stripe for savings concept, which is basically making Anchor available to any partner and its end users, via this super TurnKey enterprise API, onramp wallet set up, conversion of dollars into our stable coin, you’re earning, getting back out painlessly, making the most kind of seamless on an off ramp possible and abstracting away all the crypto sausage making in the process. The user probably doesn’t know or care about UST, we just borrow this concept. Stripes is payments in seven lines of code or less, and we’re savings in seven lines of code or less.
We think this is a humongous market. In terms of Anchor’s goal, I think you got a big picture. I see Anchor as the way mainstream users kind of start to capture the benefits of DeFi like I said and we want to win in kind of all markets. Safe haven when the shit hits the fan and when things are going great, a portion of your your crypto in something like Anchor which is earning 18% to 20% is nothing to sneeze up, so we want to win low and high and kind of everywhere in between. But yeah, stripe for savings is a different Tam. We think both are huge, and look, and there’s dead money everywhere. There’s dead money in corporate treasuries, South African mining company you can be whatever… a community bank. Things are not earning interest anywhere and so if you can deliver something like 3%, you’re blowing the world away, and if you can deliver something like 18% to 20%, that’s ridiculous. That gives us so much room to play with too. You start, “Hey. The insurance is onto this thing.”
There’s a bunch of different cool things you can add on that? Maybe take chunks off that percentage, maybe that 18% goes down to 14.5% or 15% but it’s got all these cool bells and whistles and [deep egg 00:24:53] insurance. Our contract insurance and just blanket coverage across the thing. It’s like, we’ve got ability to operate in ways that some of these other “competitors” although I don’t really see it in terms of competitors. They don’t have… If you’ve got a three or 4% kind of thing you’re offering and you’re saying it’s guaranteed, you don’t have a ton of room to play with before you start getting down to levels that are more to add like 25% and 23%.
Then you’re like, “Okay, well you’re more risky too.” You’re a little bit better rate, and you’re more risky because you’re defied even though it may not be true. That’s obviously the perception. You get into some weird territory where it’s not perhaps the most interesting thing, whereas we’ve got so much headroom because the yields are so high, we can do all sorts of cool shit and just pile on different levels of assurances and et cetera to make this thing really palatable to people who are kind of more conservative, but want all the kind of bells and whistles and all the good stuff that you may get in TradFi that you can’t really get in DeFi. Yeah, you’re right. I mean, both markets are huge and I’m excited about both of them.
I guess the from your answer, the goal is to kind of build up your [lindi 00:26:14], effectively with DeFi users. Get get a bunch of people using this, get DeFi users comfortable with this, get the TVL up battle tested, and then go out with a product for institutions and kind of go into that one by one. It we go into each one in terms of like, on the TradFi side, how much progress are you making with those traditional companies? What do you think the pieces are to the product back? Because I guess there’s an on ramping piece, where you have this relationship with prime trust. I don’t know where that is exactly, but there’s I guess an off ramping piece. There’s sort of like an insurance piece potentially. There’s getting them comfortable with UST as an algo stable. I don’t know if they even… I can’t imagine what those conversations are like. But yeah, we’d love to hear, what do you think are the pieces that need to be in place for this to be a compelling TradFi savings product?
Yeah, it’s really interesting. You know what, at eye level we’re going after partners with no direct access to pools are mainstream users, mostly with an affinity for crypto. Companies with existing crypto offerings that may include stable coins. There are [inaudible 00:27:20] these are complementary to Anchor, or Anchor is like a potentially superior alternative to it’s third party, savings account offerings. Partners to connect to get quickly et cetera. We go through those profiles, so the partner’s profile is here, neo banks and FinTech infrastructure, companies who are recommending things or powering technology for neo banks. Basically banking as a service type companies. Custodians, asset managers finance the face consumers. Those are kind of the audience we’re going after. We’ve had a lot of strong traction with international neo banks and banking as a service. Also lightly regulated wealth management funds. But yeah, you’re right. I mean, the cool thing with neobanks is, I think the average neobank loses $10 per user.
It’s really ugly unit economics and if we’re 18% to 20% on a web app, and they want to offer it to their users at 4% or 5%, we’ve got a lot of room in between to share revenue which is, we’re all looking for new revenue streams. Then it’s a cool offering, they attract users and they keep users from churning up. But yeah, I mean the things that you need I mean, everybody is kind of struggling with this beyond Anchor, It’s on ramps like, how do I get my funds onto this thing in a scalable way? How do I keep you know Anchor out of the flow of funds because we don’t want to be in there obviously? How do you convert US dollars into UST? Another thing that happens behind the scenes on exchanges with OTC desks et cetera. These are all kind of elements, off ramps as well. It’s like, you got to have a bunch of on ramps and off ramps. You got to have really good relationships with market makers and exchanges to have that liquidity and being able to jump in and out of US dollars and UST, it’s a big undertaking.
It’s not by any means kind of buttoned up or finished at this point in time. Then yeah, insurance. I mean, there’s no MassMutual or Lloyd’s of London right now in this space and it’s probably not coming tomorrow either. But you got breach insurance, you’ve got this company called Realm, which is I think the only regulated big carrier in the space and we’re working on insurance policy with them right now and I think that we’re going to be one of the first to have something that’s an official kind of insurance policy you know. It’s not going to cover all the AUM on the platform, it’s going to take some time to build that up. But there’s that sort of thing. Once we have that, we can kind of dangle that to these other big carriers like AON, those are the ones that I named who are coming into this space and say, “Hey, look. We’re taking these steps. We’ve gone through this brutal diligence.” I mean, it takes months to get through some of these processes, but we’ve done the work, we’ve done the legwork, we’ve passed the test.
We just need some these big players to come in. Somebody who can cover a billion, 2 billions, $5 billion, because right now there’s not that kind of coverage. It’s a little bit too risky, it’s a little bit too far on the risk here. The insurance piece is big, the onboarding piece is big because we’re not a bank, we’re not FDIC. All these kind of elements come together. In lieu of having some massive insurance policy, you really got to sell people on the risk reward. Like, “Look, we don’t have FDIC. But you can go buy Nexus Mutual.” You can go by some deep egg. It knocks you down 2.5%, 3%. Takes you maybe from 19% to 16%, which still kind of boggles people’s minds. You can kind of self cover a little bit, and add some security there, that gets you to a place. But you got to just be transparent with risk disclosures. You got to be telling people, that there are substantial risks associated with this stuff, and it’s kind of buyer beware. I found that that just resonates with a lot of people.
Some people just walk away, they’re like, “Oh, you don’t have a massive insure. I can’t even touch the shit.” Other people are like, “Okay.” They see it more like a different asset class there. Not necessarily savings, it’s kind of high yield thing that’s better than savings, in some cases better than the stock market, with a different kind of risk profile that in some cases, I think is quite a bit less. Yeah, I mean with Anchor, it’s like, “Yes, you’ve got this kind of striper saving thing.” That’s catching everything, but I mean the way you’re really talking about this, is it’s almost like a separate investment asset class. If you’re going into some alternative investment, you read through these long pages and pages and pages of these are the risks. It’s similar with us. I mean, this is new. This is something where you have to err on the side of being incredibly transparent and almost tripping over yourself, explaining all the risks. Yeah, you’re right. There’s all these pieces, and you can’t really do it yourself and that’s why the ecosystem is so important too.
Because we want a lot of people to build this. You get Ozone insurance coming out. You’ve got people building on top of Anchor, that can really help with a lot of these things. Again, I don’t want to be sitting there on a ton of commercial agreements, I want this thing as decentralized as humanly possible and have people do the work and be supportive and be an evangelist and recruit people from everywhere all over the world to help build this stuff because that’s kind of the spirit of this and obviously, the governance in a place where it’s people from all over the place are voting on all these different cool proposals. That’s kind of the dream and that’s what we’re getting to. I’m so excited about Columbus-5, that unlocks a lot of potential to get new products to finally out into the wild, because they’re kind of waiting for it. Yeah, it’s certainly not an undertaking that we as a core group at Anchor can do ourselves, it’s heavily partnership and heavily kind of ecosystem based. But the good thing is we’re all kind of marching toward that, and-
I think a lot of it is coming out of… Because obviously in a traditional stripe for savings, you’d hire like a Biz Dev team and go out and start pitching all these FinTechs and have the sales cycles and stuff. But we’re actually seeing with kind of Luna is, you’re seeing these neobanks, also like crypto native neobanks spring up in different places. Whether it’s cash, or Alice, or [terracotta 00:33:52], and kind of, you don’t need to pitch them. They’re actually doing it because they want to bring UST to people. There’s also kind of that avenue, and it’s something that we’ve sort of seen over and over like with adventures. We can kind of see people all the time say, “We want to bring crypto to the masses with whatever product it is.” I’m like, “I kind of think to some extent, the masses have to come to crypto.”
You need those… I’m not sure if maybe people will be using MetaMask or Terra Station in the future. I’m curious, what’s your take on that, in terms of the bottoms up that we’re seeing happening with these lunatics? They’re out building applications, instead of going to the big FinTechs. Kind of it being a revolution sort of from within.
Yeah, it’s so funny. My gut instinct and my kind of reflex when I started, because I came out of something highly centralized and I’ve done a ton of business development at startups. I was just calling on big companies to basically… Begging them to work with us, and you get in the door and you get through the labyrinth of these big places, and you that you get some. You get to a commercial agreement, then you’re like, “Okay, we’ve been blessed. We’ve been kind of knighted and now we can get this thing into these big infrastructures, and we can start really having phenomenal ARR because we’ve gotten our solution stuck into some of these big tech type companies, and they’re using it. It is funny, the organic nature of this is the bottoms up is so interesting. When you talked about those two Tams, it did. It kind of hit me. When you focus on building this thing and having the right ecosystem, and having them be building things that are useful and make your core offering so much better, and them doing it out of their own motives, and their own dreams to build this thing.
Like you said, it’s like you don’t even have to tell these people. They start building it on their own because they want to build a big business, or they’re idealistic or whatever. The whole thing is kind of like leading a horse to water here. You lead a horse to water, you can’t really make him drink. Do you want to go do… You want to go talk to a Chime or a Revolut? Or even bigger, go talk to Fidelity assets, Digital assets? Yeah, you can absolutely have those conversations, you absolutely do. I think the closed around [inaudible 00:36:23]. But you’re going to get a ton of good information about what they need to see, at some point in time to get into the space. It’s really good for product feedback, and it’s really good to understand how they think about regulatory environment and what it takes for them to actually go by DeFi someday. You get a lot of good learnings on that. I use those conversations as much for learning as for any kind of execution.
I think, going out and building community, which is DeFi is the best place I’ve ever seen at this. It’s unbelievable how good you are at this. Going out in partner with you guys and talking to the jump trainings and getting this really kind of rabid base. It’s not a ton of people, but it’s a rabbit enough base of really smart people to kind of get the word up, and that’s how some of these things start. Do you want a really huge diffused community of people who could it bounce off at any time and go jumping to the next hop project? Yeah, that’s like… I guess that sometimes works. But I think you ask Doe, you ask me, you ask some of these people, Terra… It’s like, “I’d rather have kind of a smaller group of nut jobs that are like… ” It’s going to take the earth burning down or whatever, for them to get off the wagon. That is so horrible, because these people go to the mat for you.
You know this, you see this shit in Telegram and you’re like, “I can’t believe like the number of ideas I’ve seen that are better than any idea I’ve had.” I’m like, “I’ve never heard of this guy.” Some freak in anon over in Czechoslovakia, or Czech Republic, I guess I should say. It’s like, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I’m like… Then I’m also like, “How are you spending so much time on this? You’re not on any kind of payroll, you’re spending all this time on this. It’s because you love it and you care about the community and you see the potential of it.” So yeah, the amount of work that gets done for you at a grassroots level that makes your life and your products so much more interesting and better and more palatable for you eventually TradFi and these other places, it’s just that’s all I can say. The open source nature of it, it’s unbelievable. You know this better than anybody.
You just start jumping into these Telegram groups, and it’s like, “Okay, there’s nine unbelievable ideas here in a row.” I don’t even know how to parse these things. Then they’re like, “Hey, Matt, build this.” I’m like, “No, you build it. You know more about this than I do, you go build it. You go hire three people, we’ll support the audio. Maybe give you a grant or something.” Dois hilarious, Dois like, “No. I’m not doing that. Why the hell would I do that? You do it.” It’s amazing. You come from my background, we got to build everything. We got to build everything because we got to compete everywhere, we got to kick everybody’s ass. This is totally opposite, which I absolutely love.
One of the coolest things you’ve seen on the crypto side is Anchor’s Fixed Yield has become kind of a core primitive that others have taken and built upon. Whether it’s Orion that’s kind of exploiting that yield to other chains, or whether it’s Sabera, that’s allowing for kind of self paying subscriptions using Anchor. What are the applications built on top of Anchor that you’re most excited about? Relatedly, are there any applications that you haven’t seen yet that you’re particularly excited about someone building?
It’s a great question. Because Anchor by no means does this kind of alone and we want to build this core savings protocol in the best most robust way possible, with the most sustainable yields we can generate at the highest levels. Yeah, the applications built on top Anchor that I’m kind of most excited about, I mean the two you named are amazing. I invest in Orion, really like those guys. [Vaughn 00:40:14], those guys are great and they help us go a cross [inaudible 00:40:18], so obviously super strategic. Some of these slick front ends are great too, like Alice is packaging with the protocol does and kind of then offering it in a consumer friendly way to mainstream users. Also like some of the wonky stuff, Levana building leverage on top of Terra assets, you get like Luna 2X to [inaudible 00:40:39] unbelievable like recurring payments, big fans there.
As we aggressively decentralize, you’re always on the spectrum. When you’re starting a major undertaking like saving, the Core Primitive, obviously starts off with a small brain trust. Then as it kind of becomes more decentralized, the job really becomes making all these other apps really successful. It becomes less about Anchor, and it becomes more about this ecosystem, and all the amazing use cases it enables, unlike if we do a hackathon or if we do something. Say, “Hey, come build on Terra.” Like literally right now, I think like six out of ten pitches are about how do we build on Anchor.
Some of the stuff is super wacky and some of it is really interesting, and some of it I wish people would build because we think they’re… there’s some areas where I want people to really hone in on, because I think it makes what we’re doing really interesting and cooler and more stable. Some I’ve seen, some I haven’t. But you’re right, I mean, all these things are coming online too after Columbus finally. It just opens this floodgate of people who can actually execute, so yeah. People always ask, “What haven’t you seen that you want us to build?” It’s a really hard question, but we’ve got a few ideas around things like that.
What do you say to people who argue that the 20% savings rate isn’t sustainable? Obviously earlier this year, Anchor depleted its yield reserve which led to replenishment funded by TFL in July, which was somewhat controversial. After the launch of [Beef 00:42:31], we saw Anchor grow its yield reserve, but it’s now depleting again recently. How do you think about this, and are there any changes that you’re planning to kind of help with this and to make sure this is more sustainable?
20% is the published market rate that we came out with. We had this really interesting kind of problem even. It’s like, what’s a number that can get DeFi excited? We all kind of sat around, 20% seemed like the thing. If you can make 20% stable, we were hearing for people like that’s it. 10% is like kind of interesting. 20% was kind of the holy shit. That is the number we went to market with, and we all kind of knew internally that was kind of a top, that was kind of a ceiling on it. Do I think a 20% is sustainable? Are you going to see 20% on Anchor in a year or two years? I think it’s going to come down gradually. If you think 20% causes stress to the system, it can certainly do that in tough market conditions, and you’re right, we don’t want to be tapping the yield reserve aggressively. It freaks people out, and sure as hell don’t want to replenish it. The replenishment in July was intended to be a one time event. We did it to buy time for development to shore up any holes that was going to precipitate another bad situation.
To your question, we looked at the metrics last night, Ryan and I did. By the way, Ryan Park is the unsung hero of Anchor, the guy is unbelievable. But you could do a different podcast on him. You should get him in too, he’s a great guy to talk to. We ran some numbers last night. We can sustain about 18% deposit APY and a 50% utilization ratio for a really long time. We’re not sweating too much, yields should come down a bit like I said. But it doesn’t have to happen anytime soon, and when they do come down, they’re still going to be… It’s going to be really gradual, and they’re going to be kind of much higher and more consistent than all [inaudible 00:44:50] compound or these others. On a relative basis, it’s still going to be like we’re in the driver’s seat. But look, I mean you need some cushion. You need to be in a place where you can run this system and you can absorb shocks. Adding Beef helped a lot, and I think bSOL, bDOT, bATOM, all these different bonded collaterals will improve things a lot more and more.
Diversified yield sources as we go beyond the actual staker rewards. We’re going to probably be driving yields from stuff like derivatives. Right now it’s spot, but there’s a lot of different things we can do outside of this core thing. We’re talking about staking rewards, that’s kind of the one. Look, I mean it’s a great question. I get asked this all the time. There are people and fanboys are like, “Yeah, this is 20% in perpetuity.” I think we’re really being realistic here. Staking yields calm down over time, there’s some gravity there. There’s competition, there’s all sorts of elements that kind of come into play, that suggest to me that 20% is a ceiling. I kind of hope I’m wrong, I mean maybe we get to 23% I don’t know. But to develop a comfort and make the system kind of anti-fragile and to give the yield reserve a place where it’s not scaring people and not scaring us, that’s kind of where we want to go. It is slowly declining as of today, you right. And there’s going to be… I think, all these periods where it does kind of decline a bit.
That’s kind of the way this market is, and it’s very volatile, and collateral prices… things all kind of come together as a confluence of events, but sometimes make it go down. But we’re actually developing furiously around this, and the great thing is, we think we’ve bought enough time with that replenishment in July to make all the kind of requisite adjustments around this, so that it never kind of needs to be replenished. That this beautiful, self sustaining thing. I mean, look I know there’s a long answer in v2 of this thing. We’re working on dynamic yields, so this kind of also speaks to our awareness of the sustainability issue. I mean, it’s the first thing I asked when I joined, right? Maybe you have yields adjusting with macro conditions, protocol metrics, other things, right? You make those kind of… Yeah, belong to… That’s right, exactly. Yeah, and then they maybe start developing yield curves. Where immediate liquidity yields X percent, tying your UST up for a month yields Y percent.
You can build a curve out of these things, and then all of a sudden it’s like if you do a little bit of money locked up, you can go invest that kind of thing and maybe create yield from that. But yeah, I mean concepts like that and adding new sources beyond staking rewards and adding new collaterals that diversify the current staking reward, kind of offering. Then kind of managing… I think we’re in a really good spot, I really do. But I think it has value to come down a little bit. But again, it’s going to be gradual. You’re not going to say like, “Oh, it’s 14% of [inaudible 00:48:19], that’s like no.”
Obviously the deposit side frankly is a very easy pitch, 20% yield is very attractive and I don’t think that’ll be a problem. But frankly to succeed, it also needs to become kind of the go to place for borrowers and specifically for borrowers for proof of staked assets. How do you think about growing borrowers? Because right now obviously, your kind of borrowing demand is very dependent on the ANC incentives.
How do you think about sort of how you maintain yourselves as the best place for borrowers using proof of stake as collateral once the ANC incentives run out?
Yeah, it’s a great question. I think right now, you’re basically paid to borrow which is a kind of crazy concept due to these ANC incentives, and we’re working on ANC to obviously be capturing more value because I think that asset is kind of not performing as kind of the protocol is growing. I think that the protocol itself is generating some incredible metrics and we need to make sure that ANC is also kind of corresponding following that and growing alongside and not only taking advantage of Luna but just… We’re doing the hard work we’re doing the hard work of the protocol and I think some of the low hanging fruit is making ANC a value capture thing that is really kind of interesting. We’re kind of in bootstrap phase, where we’re using quite a bit of ANC incentives which again, it’s kind of inflationary and doesn’t give you a great reason to hold it sometimes and you know it’s a situation where we see kind of tapering on that. We don’t want to be just printing ANC willy-nilly forever.
We need to get to a point where this thing is kind of standing at a place where you don’t have to reward with as many kind of incentives there. I see that kind of tapering and the incentive I think on the borrow really needs to come from the UST itself. As post Columbus-5, there’s all these things kind of launch and you’ve got Lavanas and you’ve got all these great projects that you’re invested in as well, as you kind of develop more and more use cases. You think of AU… sorry, you think of UST as the kind of gateway drug to all these amazing apps that you can’t find anywhere else. Certainly not in traditional finance you know. We think that creates enormous demand for UST and you’re going to want to borrow that. You’re going to want to borrow that, even if the direct incentive to borrow it kind of goes down a little bit.
If UST is the kind of money and it’s the money on Terra, and it’s hopefully more and more than money on other chains as well because we think this is something that should proliferate everywhere. If you start to say, “Hey look, UST is the kind of price of entry to all these unbelievable use cases that I can’t see anywhere else.” Then it’s like, “Okay, I need UST.” Okay, where do I go borrow this thing? Let’s have Anchor be one of those sources. There will always be others, there’ll be other places obviously. I know that Mars… There’s all sorts of really great stuff being built. But Anchor being a place where people can go and borrow UST, to be able to access everything across the chain across multiple chains is really going to have to be the thing.
Because if you start pulling some of the ANC incentives away, and net APRs and all that kind of stuff, get to a place where it’s not as compelling as it is today, then your reason for borrowing has to change and your reason for borrowing has to get more intense, and there needs to be more reasons to want the UST. If we can create ecosystems that are hyper valuable and the kind of unit of the currency on these thing is UST, then it’s like hell. I just want this. A bit of a long winded answer, but certainly we’re not going to be handing ANC out like candy. That’s not going to be a thing. It’s not good for the protocol itself, it’s not good for the ANC Token which obviously I love, and it’s unworkable. Thinking more broadly, it really is about UST in that, yeah.
By the time this episode comes out, Columbus-5 will probably be out. But I’m curious to get your kind of predictions and then the listeners can kind of see how accurate you were. Like what do you think? How excited are you about Columbus-5? What do you think it means for Terra and the Luna ecosystem?
The network upgrade Columbus-5 happening Friday September 30, so I guess… I guess it’s Friday, of course. Yeah it’s so cool. Seeing your edge burning, things become more capital efficient. We got so many projects waiting for this just to come on, because there was a lot of… there’s a backward compatibility issue. It was Columbus-4, like the people were sitting on their hands until Columbus-5 launches. Then all of a sudden, they can kind of shoot out of the gates. I think October is going to be the most fun month. October and beyond, I think October in particular just with the fervor around this is going to be one of the most kind of exciting months in Terra’s history, and I think it’s something that everybody is just kind of on pins and needles for. You can read it on Twitter. Then like… Yes, I think there’s this proliferation and that goes to that point of creating demand for UST which helps everybody, which helps Anchor because a huge percentage of that always kind of flows into Anchor and is my business so I selfishly want that to happen.
But as it pertains to this business, Columbus-5 five helps us improve liquidations. Liquidations and cascading liquidations were the thing that kind of got us in trouble at the end of May. Block sizes increase that’s more throughput, that should help liquidations and people fixing your margins. Those are typically in times of network congestion, so that’s exciting. That helps us in addition to all the ways that we’re trying to fix liquidations. That’s a nice thing to have along with the stuff we’re building specifically with Anchor. Then like Columbus-5 is also going to enable wormhole and you know IBC so those two things will enable you to kind of enable easier integration with other chains or collateral we’ve got a lot of stuff just waiting on wormhole it’s a big dependency and once that thing kind of happens, we’re going to be… There’s different… Yeah, exactly. Like being able to get the bSOL up.
We’re pushing people toward that, we want wormhole to be the way that people are interacting with us, so that’s a big deal for us and we’re just kind of… It’s imminent, which is great. But that’s really going to lighten the… That’s going to make the kind of rollout of collateral on Anchor, the bond of assets that go much smoother and faster and be more efficient. Yeah, I mean Columbus-5 in general is one of the biggest milestones in the places history and it’s something that everybody in the ecosystem is fired up about, not just like Terraform lab, it’s a big deal for everybody in this space.
Switching gears a little bit. We’ve seen that with kind of X Infinity, which is a portfolio company of ours and we’ve also helped design a token for, onboarding kind of millions of users onto basically bank accounts. Onto their first Ethereum wallets. Some incredible stories there with the Uniswap Airdrop and stuff. They’re also expanding to kind of do other things. The idea is that will sort of the game that you play also become your bank. Are you interacting with the Metaverse via a game like X Infinity, which also becomes your yield account, the place that you go for loans and all of that? What do you think of that and how do you see kind of the future of finance and what do you see Anchor playing a role there?
Yeah, I would like Anchor to be a really core piece of that. We could even go out and partner with X Infinity and have savings vehicles within gaming. There’s neobanks being built on top of Anchor, that are begin to be a lot more exciting than the kind of traditional neobanks now that are on your iPhone or whatever. I do, I kind of see this all coalescing into a Metaverse where Anchor is part of a yield deriving kind of phenomenon. It’s certainly not going to only be an Anchor, there’s tons of room for players in this space. But I do think if this can diffuse a bunch of yield sources, powered by DeFi, flowing into really cool UXs like gaming hyper engagement, there’s NFC elements that can be very interesting around this that people are exploring. Yeah, obviously going to a bank branch is dying already. I mean, like 22 year olds are not going to do that. Stuff is happening online and stuff happening in apps. I think the next iteration of this is this Metaverse concept that you’re talking about, and there’s lots of things hooking into it, driving yield from different sources.
You can kind of pick and choose or mix where that yield comes from. They’re just kind of trading pairs. Obviously want to see something like SLP in what we’re doing, so it’s just going to come in these newfangled wild ways, and I think it’s going to be… You don’t even realize it almost. It’s like it’s your banking kind of blends into what you do and what you do for work and what you do for fun. I’m really excited about, I don’t know exactly what it looks like, but I hope it’s this kind of diffuse monster Metaverse thing where everything’s kind of plugging in and flowing into where people like to spend their time. This becomes like not onerous, or a pain in the ass or talking to some bank teller. It becomes something that’s built into the stuff you enjoy doing and you’re earning kind of along the way, and you’re benefiting protocols obviously. You’re also spending your time the way you want to be spending it, and also earning in parallel, maybe that’s kind of utopian, but I think that’d be a really interesting outcome.
You spent 20 years in [Chad Fide 01:00:02] all sorts of places like investment banking, Microsoft. I’m curious, what’s been your experience like working in this space so far?
Yeah, it’s funny. I mean, I worked my ass off at Microsoft’s VC. I worked my ass off prior to that, sold the company to Microsoft in 2015 called Avalon Cloud App Security. Was working crazy hours there. I mean, I was basically leading US operations and it was a great outcome. Very traditional kind of Silicon Valley startup. I’m in Silicon Valley, place works hard. I mean, this is New York is like… I’m not going to denigrate other geographies by any stretch of imagination within the US. But Silicon Valley is brutally hard place to… I mean, everything is expensive. Everybody works really hard, and it’s brutal. It’s a very Darwinist, it’s nasty. I had friends in crypto… friends in crypto funds. I had a lot of contacts in the industry and they all were maniacs. Was like super smart, but crazy, I was like this is a cult. This is the weirdest damn thing. They were constantly whether or not working, they’re posting on Twitter which is work anyway, and it’s seven days a week. I’m like, “Shit.”
I was trading this stuff and I’m like, “This is awful.” It’s Saturday, this means this is going to tank and this is going to like… All of a sudden you’re glued to what you’re doing on Saturdays and Sundays since it’s seven days a week. So that mean that 9:00 to 5:00, I traded my 9:00 to 5:00 for 24/7. It’s super true like everybody warned me. Our had a BT, Jeff Kwan was like, “Yeah, you’re not going to believe this. This is like putting your head in a washing machine.” Then I did and it is unbelievable. If you don’t love this stuff, if you don’t love crypto, if you don’t believe this stuff, you’re going to get just absolutely destroyed. It’s the stage this is in now. This is market formation stage. This is massive new economies being built and I’m sure other things were like this, or other analogies in the past, so history somewhat repeats. It’s the stage of where this market is formation wise, this is just… You are just going to work so hard.
You’re going to be interacting with people constantly, in different geographies, seven days a week, so you got to really enjoy it. You got to love it, because it will kill you. Back in the day, I always say a week feels like a year. I mean that’s absolutely right, it’s absolutely right, so I was prepared verbally. I was verbally and kind of intellectually prepared, but it’s way more intense than that and you start to see it all around you. Then you’re certainly like, “Why are things like this? Why aren’t they like this?” Then it starts infecting your brain, then you start annoying the hell out people who aren’t in crypto. I think I was telling you a while ago, I think I’m ruined. I don’t think I can go back to the big tech. I don’t think I can go back to any anything, because it feels like slow motion. But yeah, I think this is not going back. I think me personally, I burned the boats. I burned the boats, I’m not going back to anything outside this [inaudible 01:03:32], there’s no way. I’d go nuts, I’d go absolutely crazy.
This was awesome, I really appreciate the time. For people whose interest is piqued and they want to find out more about Anchor, where should they go to read more, or to use the protocol?
Yeah anchorprotocol.com is the web app. Obviously you’re going to hit that. Downloading the Terra Station was super quick and easy, and getting kind of a custom that you’re going to be blown away by how fast it is, it’s crazy. On our site, there’s great documentation et cetera. They can reach out to me on Twitter. I’m also at [metatera.money 01:04:09]. We got a great community, super vibrant. Yeah, I love it there. But oh man, you get to the Terra ecosystem, it’s like this, it’s unbelievable. It is so fast and cheaper. Yeah, I think it’s the next iteration. Yeah, anchorprotocol.com, Terra Station wallet. You’re going to see a proliferation of wallets, so this is going to be… You’ll able to get into this thing a lot of different ways. Then yeah, hit me up on Twitter, I’ll answer questions. White papers are out there. We’re building that aspect of the business, making this as easy as possible to get into and increasing discoverability. It’s not the most discoverable thing or network either, so takes a little bit of work, but it’s going to take a lot less work in only a month, yeah.
Thanks very much for coming on. It was a pleasure having you and I hope to do this again very soon.
Yeah, absolutely. Anytime.
(00:00:00) – Introduction.
(00:02:41) – Matt’s background.
(00:04:46) – The Ethereum Labs at Microsoft.
(00:08:15) – Why Matt decided to go full-time crypto.
(00:11:45) – The early days of Terra.
(00:15:20) – Introduction to Anchor.
(00:21:48) – Anchor’s strategy for targeting the markets.
(00:27:38) – The infrastructure needed to make Anchor compelling to traditional finance.
(00:34:00) – Matt’s thoughts on building from the bottom-up.
(00:40:24) – Most exciting applications build on top of Anchor.
(00:43:00) – The sustainability of the 20% savings rate.
(00:48:53) – The approach to increasing borrowers.
(00:53:21) – What the Col-5 upgrade means for the Terra ecosystem.
(00:56:56) – Anchor’s role in the future of finance.
(00:59:36) – Matt’s experience of working in crypto.
(01:03:08) – How people can get involved with Anchor.