Episode 08: Today I’m speaking with Eva Beylin, Director of The Graph Foundation. Eva has a brilliant mind, and our conversation covers a wide range of topics, including her vision for the Graph Foundation, the Graph Grants program and her advice to those who want to get more involved, and her insights on what role The Graph will play in the future of Web 3, DeFi, and the NFT market.
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The goal of The Graph is to index all data. And right now that looks like it’s just blockchain or maybe just Ethereum, but in 10, 20, 50 years, you can imagine every time you open your application or open your phone, the data you see should be indexed by The Graph. And the reason that is because we very strongly believe that Web 3, Ethereum, and other protocols are the future.
Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Eva Beylin, director of The Graph Foundation. Eva has a brilliant mind, and our conversation covers a wide range of topics, including her vision for The Graph Foundation, The Graph Grants program and her advice to those who want to get more involved, her insights on what role The Graph will play in the future of Web 3, DeFi, and the NFT market. We started our conversation discussing her non-technical entry into the crypto space as a business consultant working in the banking industry.
My background is economics and Spanish, and I decided to go straight into management consulting right after college. My focus was financial services and payments, and I was really interested in some of the innovative work with digital payments and digital identity. But I really quickly realized just how slow all the progress is when you’re actually changing bank infrastructure and how, you know, adverse they were to even considering blockchain as technology. And at that time, my brother actually was starting Bounties Network at Consensys. And so I was learning a lot more about Ethereum, you know, what it could do for payments and just, you know, work in general, and I was sold. So, I actually took about a three-month leave of absence to teach myself Ethereum, and I would just sit there watching, you know, Ethereum researchers on YouTube all day. And then I came back and I had to quit, because I just couldn’t do it anymore. And at that time, I was still living in Canada, probably between Canada and the US. But then shortly after I moved to Thailand to join OmiseGO. And the rest is history.
2:54 I’m interested in what it was about Ethereum that caught your attention and drew you into crypto.
For me, it was very clear when I started learning about Ethereum just how much opportunity there was to build on Ethereum versus Bitcoin. So that was most interesting and relevant. At the time, I was still working in consulting with a lot of banks, insurance companies, and consumer products. So when I thought about what the future of blockchain was, I always thought about how would we potentially build these organizations on a blockchain and Ethereum was so clearly that solution. But as we started seeing other smart contracting platforms come out, Ethereum just really maintained its culture. And that’s a culture that you see in person, that you see with the researchers and developers and community builders, but also a culture in the way they innovate. And so although there’s there’s been a lot of feedback around the Eth Core dev process, or, you know, around specific types of implementations around DAOs, the fundamental ethos has always been the same, which is a commitment to this open vision, and also encouraging others to contribute as much as they can.
How does your background in economics inform your perspective about the crypto space?
So I’m going to split this answer in two. So you know, one, economics is very clearly important when it comes to token economics, thinking about a protocol or a micro economy’s incentives, right. So in The Graph network that is tied around the GRT utility token, but I would say separately, what economics teaches you it just how to think about cause and effect, and micro and macro impact. And to me, the most relevant thing was how this matters for mechanism design. And so a lot of the things we think about, you know, around Plasma or roll-ups or staking, it all fundamentally comes back to game theory and logic, you know, not necessarily computers. And that is what I think economics really provides you is sort of a breadth of understanding of how maybe multi-disciplinary systems work from a more human And logic standpoint,
Given your non-technical background, how did you overcome some of the challenges of entering into the crypto space?
So my background is a little strange where I actually learned how to program in high school, my mom is a front end developer, and so as my brother, so I did have the option growing up to get into “tech” But, I chose economics because that was personally more interesting to me and the types of problems that I would face in work. And so I encourage anyone that’s even somewhat interested in crypto to take a step back and not be so disparaged by needing some kind of robust technical education, because so much of crypto is actually much more about economic systems, logic, the way the world works, the future of work. And so we are using Ethereum, Solidity, these are mediums, but they aren’t the end all be all. And I would say the more mature that we actually get as a space and you know, the more that we have user experience to think about and the more we’re educating new users about crypto, the more we actually need non-technical people to enter the space.
Is it fair to say that part of your draw to the crypto space then would be this idea of a new economic system?
That, and I also think that crypto has the means to sort of shift this narrative of what it means to be technical and contribute to a startup. And, because crypto is so multidisciplinary, there’s room for everyone to contribute. And, definitely, some degree of knowledge about Ethereum and the underlying protocols is important. But more than anything, it’s being aligned with the vision
After your initial entry into crypto and your time at OmiseGO, you found your way to The Graph. What drew you to The Graph?
Yeah. So when I was leaving OmiseGO I was still very interested in this layer 2 scalability mission. So after OmiseGO I stuck around in Ethereum doing a lot of consulting for various projects. But I was still trying to figure out the next layer of the stack that needed to be worked on that would help us achieve our long-term vision of, you know, mainstream adoption of Ethereum and access enabled for end users. And so The Graph itself solves several problems for me. On one hand, open API’s solve the problem of redundant API development work. So I literally was able to envision developers being more collaborative, and to the future of a subgraph, where you are able to query one subgraph that is indexing multiple smart contracts. And so that’s very exciting from just, you know, providing very rich data, heavy applications, or even Web 4 dApps that might not interact with the blockchain themselves, but present some kind of really rich data set, you know, like Messari, or CoinGecko, for example. But, the other problem that The Graph solved that was so clear to me, was that we need every component of the stack to be decentralized. And this was an area that hadn’t received a lot of attention. And I think on one hand, developers are very used to either building their own database and server or working with a centralized API provider. And so that maybe has caused some ignorance. But I think it’s becoming clearer that every component has to be decentralized, or else you really aren’t building a decentralized application. And that means that you have many components, and many, you know, distributed contributors, you know, so in The Graph network, we have Indexers; we have curators; we have Delegators. And the goal is that every part of this indexing querying service that otherwise was centralized, can actually be provided for in a very global distributed manner.
I’ve seen you express before, the idea that getting into crypto was one of the best decisions you ever made. Can you describe why that’s true?
Well, on one hand, you know, consulting, banking, a lot of these very rigorous business streams, you know, they don’t give you a great work-life balance. So on one hand, you know, crypto has allowed me to embrace other aspects of my life, because they’ve actually been quite conducive with the crypto mission. So in consulting, you wouldn’t maybe have a lot of time to do any external reading that wasn’t related to your client, you know, whereas in crypto, we are trying to get as much information as possible into our mechanism design, into our protocol design. The second thing is just you know, crypto is so all encompassing. So you get to work on economics, technology, communications, creativity, you know, you name it- depending on the dApp or protocol you’re working on. And that allows you to really express a breadth of your own skills. I learned so much more about the world. And so I would say a lot of people right now may perceive crypto to be very bull-market-esque, but there’s a deeper side of crypto, which a lot of people are driven by this vision of decentralized liberty. Being able to own your own assets, own your own identity and not have any kind of state power be able to control that.
Given your professional background and your current role as a leader in the crypto space, what are your thoughts about the role of women in crypto?
So my background is consulting with major banks where I was often the only woman in the room and so they were male-dominated environments and you quickly as a woman have to learn how to interact in those kinds of environments, for better or for worse. What’s great about crypto is because ingrained in, you know, even the protocol design, is the sense of openness. You know, this unicorn culture, this, you know, open-source culture, it kind of breeds a more open work culture as well. So it is really exciting to be working in crypto and be accepted and have opportunities. That being said, there aren’t always the same opportunities, or the same spotlights for a lot of the really productive and impactful women in the space. You know, I really appreciate being put on your podcast, for example, but there’s other podcasts that have had significantly less women, even though they’re CEOs, founders, whatever it might be. And so what I always come back to is, it’s so low of a cost to give someone a chance to give them a follow or give them a like, or send them a message, or even invite them to a demo day as Yaniv did for me, you know, two years ago, and the long term impact is so massive. And so I can’t accept anyone saying, “Oh, we didn’t have enough women on our podcast, because there weren’t enough,” Well, no, you just weren’t looking. And it wasn’t your priority. And it can take as simple as someone literally following you on Twitter, or you following them, or then their content to be part of your content, and for then their priority to be part of your priorities. And it takes just a bit of openness I think. And you know, some of the things I’ve seen is, so many people are on the sidelines that are ready to help and are just intimidated. And so by us being more open, you know, as either crypto veterans or people who, you know, are really familiar with the space, the least we can do is have a call.
One of the nuances associated with what The Graph is doing, and crypto in general, is the idea of creating a new workforce or redefining labor. How do you think about this important topic?
At The Graph, we really think about how can we empower as many people to contribute as possible. And so the roles of Indexers, curators, Delegators, subgraph developer, they really span a wide set of skills. You know, anywhere from being a very critical Kubernetes, or infrastructure developer, versus someone who maybe just wants to build a community and understands the meaning of open data. And we’d like to think about how we’re sort of creating a new platform for the future of work, because in essence, somebody can dedicate their lives to being a curator. If you can envision there being enough queries and enough dApps that are using The Graph for that on-chain data, then maybe it is someone’s full-time job to curate and makes sure that Indexers are, you know, processing the queries for the correct sub-graph, or the most prioritized sub-graph. Just as we think about Yelp and Yelp reviews as being a very critical part of our restaurant going experience we can think of curating and delegating as also being a very critical point of our dApp development, and thus, the backbone of our digital metaverse.
Lots of people involved in crypto, and especially at The Graph, have a deep-seated mission or vision of what they’re trying to accomplish. And I hear that in you as well. What can you tell us about what that vision is?
I think one thing we all have in common is a clear understanding of where we’re headed. And so everyone you speak to in crypto, you know, understands that right now, we’re so, so early. A lot of people don’t even understand why decentralized infrastructure is necessary. But when you take a step back, and you think about, you know, what happened with Parlor earlier this year, and the ability for a single organization to take that down, and you realize how critical it is for every part of the stack to be decentralized. And so this vision of crypto blockchain protocol implementation is not simply the underlying chain. It’s really every component of that stack. And I think we’re all united by that vision that we can’t really progress in this Web 3 world, this metaverse until every layer is decentralized. So personally, I joined The Graph because I was so excited about what sub-graphs could do for just composability and data access. Coming from some sort of analytical economics background, you know, gated access is very common, you know, you have to have a Bloomberg terminal or have a CapIQ subscription. And so the idea of being able to create a decentralized, incentivized network of data access was so exciting to me. But I quickly realized there were a lot of other components that needed to be built both on The Graph and just in our Web 3 stack before we could even consider creating real applications for users like you know, a real Google search or a real Twitter.
The GRTiQ Podcast is made possible by a generous grant from The Graph Foundation. The Graph Grants program provides support for protocol infrastructure, tooling, dApps, subgraphs, and community building efforts. Learn more at thegraph.foundation. That’s thegraph.foundation.
What is the vision or mission of The Graph?
So how would you describe the journey you’ve been on since your initial role at The Graph to your pre-sent role at The Graph Foundation.
So my journey with The Graph actually started with doing some consulting. And then eventually, I got into a full-time role as ecosystem lead at Graph Protocol, what is now known as Edge & Node. And so after, I guess, about almost two years now, I’m sitting at The Graph Foundation, and was nominated as the director. And so I oversee a lot of the ecosystem initiatives that are also under the purview of The Graph Council. And so that includes things like the community treasury, managing grants, overseeing some of the governance initiatives, and just larger growth and collaborations. And so some of the things that we’re focusing on now is migration. So, enabling a very seamless migration for dApps that are relying currently on The Graph’s hosted service and migrating to the decentralized network. And we are also focusing on multi-blockchain. So you might have seen a few announcements over the last several months, but we’ve hit quite a few EVM-based chains, including Binance SmartChain, Fantom, and FUZE. And we’ve got quite a few other multi-blockchain mentions in the pipeline.
How do you describe the relationship between Edge & Node, The Graph and The Graph Foundation?
Edge & Node, which is the former Graph Protocol team that initially launched the network is still a very key contributor to The Graph ecosystem. But we are building very rapidly a decentralized network of, I guess, contributors, so decentralized network of network contributors, and Edge & Node plays a key role. But we also have quite a few other organizations and individuals that are quite autonomous and are experts in their own domain. So another organization is ProtoFire, that has been working with The Graph building subgraphs for various projects in the space, including SuperRare and Yearn. And they’re another key pillar, you know, that works with The Graph Foundation. And so our goal is to very quickly, you know, create these communities and sub-communities to build on The Graph, whatever component might be needed, and make sure that we have enough contributors to actually build this universe that we’re envisioning
What is the vision or mission of The Graph Foundation?
The mission of The Graph Foundation is really to lead The Graph into a place of maturity. And so we have a flourishing ecosystem of Indexers, Curators, and Delegators and that we have a council that is very fruitful and productive. We have GIPs that you know, are seamless and are being implemented. And we can have a really great ecosystem of development, you know, dApp development, multi-blockchain expansion, whatever it might be. The point of the Foundation is really to play a facilitating role is that we like to think of ourselves as very lean. The goal is to have many contributors, like organizations similar to Edge & Node or ProtoFire or any of our Indexers and really honing in on this future of work and how we can actually decentralize our ecosystem from the get go.
What are your thoughts about the future of The Graph Foundation and the role it’ll play in the ecosystem?
We’ve always had a vision of progressive decentralization. So we’ve started with The Graph Council that is a six of 10 multisig, representing five diverse groups in our ecosystem. But the long-term goal is maybe even the gap at The Graph Council is decentralized itself, perhaps you know, the Foundation itself also has sub decentralized communities or sub DAOs for various decision making. So we are exploring different ways to decentralize. But our current priority is making sure that the network is stable and migration is successful.
Many listeners will be familiar with The Graph Foundation, because of The Graph Foundation’s Grant Program. How do you describe that program and what it’s seeking to accomplish?
So The Graph Foundation Grants Program’s goal is really to support all contributors in the ecosystem. You know, we’ve all been around for some time, and various pockets of crypto and we’ve learned a lot from various nonprofit or grant organizations. And one thing that we all kind of came to is you really have to start bringing in contributors early, because that’s how you build commitment. That’s how you build, you know, knowledge base and expertise. And what we’re finding is that through our test-net and curator program, we’ve started finding a lot of individuals and organizations that just want to help out in any way they can. And the cool thing about The Graph, because we have this very multidisciplinary universe of indexing, curating, delegating, and then also subgraph development, we have a lot of places where people can contribute. And so our grant program is focused on four categories, the first being Protocol Development, so that might be anything related to The Graph node or Indexer agent itself, anything that might be a subsequent GIP. The next is Tooling- that might be dApps, or dashboards, you know, that are helping Indexers or curators in their process, or might be, you know, direct infrastructure tooling. We also have a category of dApps and Subgraphs. This one’s kind of exciting, because we are helping fund teams that might be building subgraphs or need that support. And we also want to be funding Web 3 projects that we think are critical for the space. And the last category is community building. And this one’s particularly interesting, because we’ve seen so much global reception of The Graph, we’re quite overwhelmed, to be honest, with how much regional interest there’s been in growing a developer community, in specifically India, or, you know, growing content specifically for the Chinese Indexer community. So that’s been really exciting for us to watch. And we’re looking forward to see how when we expand to multi-blockchain, these grants, you know, grow and differentiate, because right now, we have built quite a mature community in Ethereum. But you know, for example, Polkadot and NEAR, you know, there might be a whole different set of needs that, you know, we’re not aware of, and we’re excited to support them.
What’s your advice for listeners who might want to apply for a grant from The Graph Foundation?
You can head over to thegraph.foundation, that’s our new interim website. And when you apply, I would make sure to list as much information as possible about why you think your grant is relevant, you know, what the impact might be to the ecosystem. And then being very specific about milestones and roadmap and what to expect. We are trying to work as quickly as possible to go through them. So you know, make sure to look at your email and your spam to see if you’ve been selected for an interview. But we are looking to decentralize this process further. So right now, we have a set of Graph domain experts. These are contributors in our community, either throughout the test-net, or have been, you know, subgraph developers over the last few years. And so we’re really trying to bring in as many people as possible to help make decisions on funding. But we’re also open to, you know, hearing feedback. So if there’s any feedback on what we should be funding more of, or what the community would like in terms of tooling and different kinds of applications, we’d love to hear it.
Because of your role at The Graph Foundation, you offer a unique perspective You’ve probably re-viewed or seen most of the applications from people seeking a grant. I’m curious if there are any gaps or areas where you’d like to receive more applications?
So the first one I think about is multi blockchain. Like I mentioned, there’s quite a few new communities that The Graph will be entering. And so I’m sure there’s a lot of either tooling or new kinds of applications that may need some kind of subgraph support. And so we love to fund any kind of innovative work there. The second would be just more Web 3 dApp experimentation. I feel like the bear market really scared quite a few innovators and dApp developers away from experimenting. And that makes sense. But I do think we’re approaching a time of infrastructure maturity, we have layer 2 launching on mainnet this summer. And so I think it’s time for us to start experimenting more with all the tools that we currently use today in Web 2 should be on Web 3. And so a few examples are one grantee is building a decentralized Google Docs on The Graph and SkyNET. And we also have another grantee building a decentralized workflow. And so I’d love to see more experimentation there.
Many listeners will recognize that you’re active on Twitter, and there you’re often found tweeting about NFTs. What is it about NFTs that so interests you?
So for me, first and foremost, NFTs and digital art are a new art medium. You know, it’s really nice that crypto is getting involved. But the digital art movement has actually been growing for the last decade. And so, you know, my hobby is painting on the side. And I recognize just how much work goes into these NFTs. And any criticism about you know, whether the NFT has value is really just ignorance about how much time goes into creating digital art. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is we’re in this really exciting, you know, enlightenment, that artists and creators get to be empowered, because they now have a lot more control over their assets. And also, they can create free markets around their artwork, which was never possible. Or you had to go through these gateways like a Sotheby’s and nothing against Sotheby’s. But I think the point of crypto is for people to have more ownership and be able to control their destiny a little more. The other place, I’m actually really interested in NFTs excelling in is the adult industry, because the adult industry is so notorious for having content taken down, or, you know, being used in harmful ways and artists and creators not having ownership. And I think NFTs provide an avenue for their content to be permanent, you know, using a blockchain or IPFS, or, you know, using The Graph for indexing that data. But number two, just also, you know, similarly to digital art, being able to better commoditize your own work. You know, there’s also a celebrity named Emily Ratajkowski, who has been on this giant movement about her own ownership of, you know, her own modeling work and her brand, and is coming out with a new NFT. And I think that is the longer-term story here, not, you know, the price of an NFT, one day to the next.
I’m curious how you would describe as an artist, the relationship between something as personal as creating art, and this new environment of NFTs?
The one thing I would say is, having now minted some of my own NFTs, there definitely is a vulnerability to digitally releasing your art. Whereas, you know, if I just did a painting and posted it on Instagram, it’s kind of, you know, it only exists in that micro-community. But NFTs are global. And there definitely is this sense of putting up a piece of my soul for sale. You know, kind of like a Horcrux. One other thing is, I was listening to Beeple a while ago on Clubhouse, talk about why he liked NFTs. And he said, it took the pressure out of the thing he hated the most about his job, which was pricing his art, because like you’re saying artists, so personal, the job of identifying how valuable it is, in some kind of monetary term is just so insane. And so what crypto allows is the free market mechanism to then value your work, which you know, in one way is more efficient, because then you can get a faster feedback loop. On the other hand, you know, it’s hyper-capitalism commoditizing something that maybe otherwise has intangible value.
So is there a relationship between what The Graph is doing and the NFT space?
We are really involved right now with the NFT community, Yaniv Tal, the CEO of Edge & Node and co-founder of The Graph Protocol is actually leading these workshops that are bi-weekly, bringing together a lot of the subgraph and smart contract developers in the NFT space, Zora, Foundation and others. The goal is really to create better standards around NFT development. You know, there’s a lot of memes and narratives out right now about NFTs not being sustainable. And to be honest, they’re, you know, quite true. And so we’re trying to do our part to bring the community together and help solve these problems. And I think that all comes down to the same vision that The Graph is driven by, which is the decentralized stack. And so with NFTs, you know, the storage problem of perhaps the NFT data not being easily accessible, or being not permanent, can be solved. And so we want to contribute to that space as much as we can.
Hi, this is Eva Beylin, Director at The Graph Foundation. If my conversation with GRTiQ Podcast has been helpful to you, then please consider supporting future episodes by becoming a subscriber. Visit GRTiQ.com/Podcast for more info. Thanks for listening.
A question I’d like to ask all the guests of the podcast is how they think about or define a subgraph?
So a subgraph is an open API. And put simply, it is the access point to retrieving blockchain data. And so a great example of this might be like Uniswap.info, maybe you want to see the total trade volume in the last 24 hours. And so that data of that sum or maybe the price of a specific asset, can all be retrieved from a subgraph. And so a subgraph while it can be about one smart contract right now, there will be other features like subgraph composition that allow you to query multiple subgraphs, or multiple smart contracts directly from one subgraph, kind of like an umbrella.
In your opinion, how important are Delegators to The Graph ecosystem and community?
Delegators are so critical because we really are trying to create a universe where anyone, regardless of their skill set is able to contribute, and Delegators contribute greatly to security of the network. You know, there’s a lot of Indexers that have their own stake, but their own contribution to the network can only go so far without delegation. And so Delegators choosing responsibly which Indexers they want to support, and thus, which subgraphs are being processed is really important in the long term when we think about sustainable data access and Web 3.
Another question I like to ask all the guests of the podcast is, What’s their advice for delegates when it comes to choosing an Indexer?
So the most important factor for a Delegator is whether or not they trust the Indexer. And that means whether or not they trust that they’ll close allocations, whether they’ll change up delegation parameters on them, and also what their expected uptime is, and basically, can other applications depend on that specific Indexer to process queries very quickly, and provide a good user experience. And if we take that kind of step back, then we see the role as choosing which data providers for the Web 3 ecosystems should be most trusted and relied upon. And so the advice I give is really doing your own due diligence, you know, that might be understanding what it means when an Indexer changes parameters, what it means, you know, for them to be involved, how are they currently contributing. So a lot of our grantees are actually currently Indexers that are building really cool tooling, like delegation calculators, and net-work dashboards, and just really doing your research about that Indexer and their long term vision, I think one thing that we could improve on is creating better tooling and informational resources for Delegators. So we’re definitely open to hearing more grants that can help solve that problem. But we’re also hoping that longer-term, as curation also becomes more mature, we’ll see a fruitful community of Delegators, Indexers, and Curators that are able to communicate and support each other.
What’s your vision for a post-migration world when The Graph is fully decentralized, and how that might impact different roles within the ecosystem?
I’m personally very excited for the post-migration world, because we envision even Indexers being competitive with the kinds of services they provide. And so we’ll start to see Indexers specialize in different kinds of queries, we might see Indexers, you know, having different kinds of delegation parameters and configurations based on the type of subgraphs they want to serve. And so we’ll have a lot more personality and identity to all the roles in the network. Indexers being you know, one of the more interesting ones, but Delegators then get to be a lot more selective of who they want to support, which Indexers they think are most critical. And then also Delegators have the chance to curate one subgraphs are also migrated.
So what is your long-term vision for The Graph and its impact in the world?
As I mentioned, the goal of The Graph is to index all data. And right now that looks like it’s just block-chain or maybe just Ethereum. But in 10-20-50 years, you can imagine every time you open your application or open your phone, the data you see should be indexed by The Graph. And the reason that is because we very strongly believe that Web 3, Ethereum, and other protocols are the future, because there’s no way we can go back to a time where the state or private organizations have more control over our assets, our identity and our data than we do. And I think that anyone who doesn’t see this coming is you know, in for a rude awakening. And when we finally have the critical infrastructure, like The Graph and other Layer 2s, and decentralized storage, we’ll be able to build such cool applications that we weren’t able to build before.
So much about crypto is this idea of decentralized, finance or DeFi? How do you think about the role The Graph will play in the future of DeFi?
What’s been exciting for the original Graph team is just how much the hosted service was used during DeFi summer, and how much more traction we’ve seen. I don’t know if you’ve been following our Twitter, but we released these monthly and quarterly tweets about some of our usage data, and DeFi really is a predominant use case. And what that signifies to us is that a) there’s increasing adoption of DeFi apps themselves; so you know, visitors to Uniswap, visitors to Synthetix. But b) that signifies a lot more usage and sort of development of these data-rich apps that may be more useful for just information sharing, or helping users become better at DeFi but maybe aren’t the actual original DeFi app itself. That, to me points to a maturing ecosystem where there’s more nuanced and more intelligent investing and DeFi activity occurring, than maybe two years ago.
Given your background in investments and banking, I’m curious if you could describe what the benefits to everyday people would be in a DeFi environment?
The impact of DeFi to me is just so immeasurable, you know, from the most basic use case of payments or a savings account. That’s kind of what drove me to Ethereum in the first place, and thus joining OmiseGO. But the vision long term is really any kind of transaction, not even financial, being somehow on chain. And we can replicate all of Web 2, fiat, traditional financial markets, you know, derivatives and assets. But the more interesting thing is all of these new concepts that are being developed, so things like flash loans fundamentally changed the way you can take out debt, you know, I don’t think there exists that kind of mechanism in traditional finance. Other assets, like wrapping Bitcoin, or wrapping other chain assets on other chains, creating bridges, there’s a lot of these new mechanisms that just fundamentally changed the way we perceive finance, and allow end users to have a lot more autonomy and ownership, and thus also benefit much more than they do today.
Similar to the question about The Graph’s role in DeFi, how do you think about The Graph’s role in Web 3?
In my mind, the vision of Web 3 and The Graph go hand in hand. And that’s largely because The Graph enables so much of what we envision in Web 3. So enabling decentralized applications to be truly de-centralized, enabling NFTs to be really accessible, enabling DeFi data to be really accessible to end users, not just accredited investors, all these things, I think, are a major component of the vision. But the other thing is why there’s this bit of you know, cyberpunk degenerates type of narrative is because Web 3 allows you to have control of everything and basically say, “Fuck you” to the man in a way that we literally were not able to do. And people who get to use Ethereum as their bank, and their bank can’t tell them that their stores are closed, or that they have to wait on the phone for a call center person to receive a check. None of these things matter. And that sort of this like very revolutionary third estate proletariat type of narrative that really proliferates throughout the Web 3 development ethos, as well. And I think that’s what’s going to continue driving us to success.
Given your background in banking and investments, how do you think about this question of what crypto might do in disrupting traditional economic and financial institutions?
There’s so much that crypto can do that will essentially dethrone these institutions. The most obvious one is central bank, digital currencies, and you know, creating DeFi assets like Rye, which is an algorithmic, non pegged stable asset, which you know, could be competitive with, let’s say, a government bond or a treasury bond. But I think more fundamentally, the central bank is just a proxy of a more widespread state power, and the central bank is one vehicle. And when we create systems like Ethereum that fundamentally change the way we think about money and how we access money, a central bank doesn’t have nearly as much power. And so the state will then have to look at other weapons that is disposal. And I think that’s where crypto changes this sort of power structure between the people and institutions. Because crypto is not only a monetary system, it’s not only a system for creating NFTs. It’s all of the above and some. And so we’re going to be able to create identity at some point with enough activity. We’re going to be able to fully rely on just a theory for banking without needing to rely on intermediaries. And all these things are very threatening to states. So I’d be interested to see longer term how central banks or governments think more collaboratively and how you know, crypto states and digital universes can actually become more real rather than some adversary to our incumbent systems.
This seems like traditional financial and economic institutions are trying to respond to the growth and future potential of crypto, if you could, what would be your advice to them, and how to accept this new world of crypto?
I think the first step of acceptance would be for governments or central banks to hold cryptocurrency, either in the reserves or on their balance sheet. And that’s just a very simple way for them to gain exposure and start learning. You know, the old saying of “skin in the game” is really important with crypto because you then become part of the incentive system and looking on the outside of an incentive system instead. Certainly not the same as participating.
What’s your advice for people with a nontechnical background, who might be concerned or nervous about entering into the crypto space?
I would say because we’re so early there, unfortunately, are still quite a few barriers to entry in terms of education or user experience. And so not being afraid to ask questions would be my biggest piece of advice, there really isn’t a stupid question. Everyone has asked stupid questions. And everyone who is currently in crypto never had crypto experience when they started. And so you know, it’s great to have some kind of real-world experience in your specific domain. But even just showing that you’re hungry and willing to learn is really enough.
What’s your message for listeners who want to get involved in the work that you and the team are doing at The Graph Foundation?
So if you head to The Graph.Foundation, that’s our interim website, you can actually see a job board that we have there. So if you have any jobs, maybe related to subgraph development, you can reach out to us to have that posted. Or you can even reach out if you’re interested in providing some kind of services, because like I said, we’re really trying to build this decentralized web of contributors very quickly. And we already get quite a few projects that are in need of a subgraph developer or need some help thinking through the way they want to build their subgraph. And these are opportunities for anyone who’s interested.
What would be your advice to listeners who want to become more educated in the crypto space?
Yeah, the first thing I would say is visiting, you know, ethereum.org and some of the very typical informational sites, there’s quite a bit of content that gets updated frequently, you know, on how to either set up a node or how to build a dApp. I’d also attend hackathons as much as you can, or even tune into some of their videos and workshops, because you can learn a lot from just even listening to those videos while you’re doing some work.
Eva Beylin, thank you so much for your time today. If listeners want to follow your work or keep in touch with you what’s the best way?
So you can find me on Twitter @EvaBeylan, I’m pretty active. And I’m also in The Graph Discord, and you can find me often at a hackathon or an Ethereum conference.
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