One of the dominant narratives in DeFi is that regular people will be compelled to move their fiat into DeFi because of high yields. Empirically, this is true — lending rates for stablecoins on Compound today are >10% APY, and there are multiple “yield farming” opportunities with anywhere from 50% to 200% APY. In the real world, most banks give their customers sub 1% rates per year on their money.

However, when regular people hear these yield numbers for the first time, most express skepticism instead of confidence. This must be a scam! The yields must reflect some hidden risk…


Every year, we get slightly more clarity into understanding what blockchains are actually useful for — from supporting new types of money to coordinating humans via blockchain-based programs. We have seen some applications explode in prominence and others fail, and we are gradually getting better at discerning real from fake. Making predictions about the future is always difficult, but I have found it a useful exercise in critically thinking about what is actually working and what is not.

1. Bitcoin is still king

Bitcoin has remained the most prominent cryptoasset in the eye of both insiders and outsiders of the industry. Over the last 2…


In 1945, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek wrote a seminal essay titled The Use of Knowledge in Society. In this essay, Hayek invites us to consider a world where all information is known to a single mind. In this world, the problem of allocating resources efficiently in society would simply be an optimization problem to the single mind/computer who possesses all the information. If this is true, should we focus on making information more transparent and available to a central planner, like a government? Hayek argues that this is futile because knowledge is fundamentally decentralized — it consists of “dispersed bits…


There has been a lot of discussion about the differences between Cosmos and Polkadot, two projects focused on blockchain interoperability. If you are unfamiliar with the two projects, this tweetstorm is a good high-level explanation of the two projects and resources to learn about them.

Although there are many posts explaining and highlighting the differences between the two, I believe most “Cosmos vs Polkadot” posts today are either biased or lack nuance. This blog post is an attempt to create a deeper discussion about the two projects, from architectural trade-offs to philosophical differences.

Why Build A New Blockchain?

There are two primary reasons why…


You may have heard the words Cosmos, Cosmos Hub, Tendermint, and Interchain being used interchangeably in some context or the other. Tendermint is a consensus algorithm which was invented by Jae Kwon and in 2014. Seeing the effectiveness of this consensus algorithm, he set out to build a more ambitious project — a way to allow multiple blockchains to communicate seamlessly with each other. Jae and his co-founder Ethan Buchman established the Interchain Foundation and did a fundraiser to build the Cosmos Network, in which the Cosmos Hub is the centerpiece.

To understand this project, we need a large amount…


The advent of smart contracts have opened up an entirely new avenue of applications. Ethereum, the leading smart contract platform, has facilitated the creation of compelling decentralized applications such as decentralized exchanges, prediction markets, autonomous organizations, and Cryptokitties. However, the Ethereum blockchain is completely transparent and data from any of these applications is accessible by anyone. This closes the door to an entire range of applications that rely on privacy. For example, a voting application should not reveal anything about the votes while the voting process is under way, and only reveal the winner once the process has closed. Voting…


Since Cryptokitties, people have realized how dire Ethereum’s need for scale is. Ethereum in its current state is a functioning World Computer but it is very, very slow. A multitude of new projects have been birthed to become “Ethereum-killers” by using novel consensus algorithms to achieve blockchains that can process thousands of transactions per second. These projects include DFINITY, Thunder, Hashgraph, Algorand, and so on.

This has created an arms race to build the first high-throughput smart-contract platform in hopes of stealing market share from Ethereum. These projects have come out guns-blazing with hundreds of millions of dollars in their…

Julian Koh

building @ribbonfinance, previously @coinbase

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