A.J. Warner AJ Warner Offchain Labs Arbitrum Chief Strategy Officer New York Paul Hastings Yeshiva

GRTiQ Podcast: 104 A.J. Warner

Today I am speaking with A.J. Warner, Chief Strategy Office at Offchain Labs, the founding team behind Arbitrum, an L2 offering a suite of scaling solutions for Ethereum.

In addition to being one of the most well-known L2 solutions in the Ethereum community, Arbitrum is top of mind for members of The Graph ecosystem for two primary reasons: first, Arbitrum was recently added to the MIPs program and Indexers are working to add support for the chain on the decentralized network; secondly, it was recently announced that The Graph Network would be scaling to Arbitrum in order to lower the costs and barriers to participation in the protocol.

During this interview, A..J talks about his background in business, law, and real estate, his journey to Web3, what L2s are and what makes Arbitrum different, and then he helps break down all the recent news between The Graph and Arbitrum.

The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e., GRTiQ.com/podcast[episode]). We do not authorized anyone to copy any portion of the podcast content or to use the GRTiQ or GRTiQ Podcast name, image, or likeness, for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books or audiobooks, book summaries or synopses, or on any commercial websites or social media sites that either offers or promotes your products or services, or anyone else’s products or services. The content of GRTiQ Podcasts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice.



We use software and some light editing to transcribe podcast episodes.  Any errors, typos, or other mistakes in the show transcripts are the responsibility of GRTiQ Podcast and not our guest(s). We review and update show notes regularly, and we appreciate suggested edits – email: iQ at GRTiQ dot COM. The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e., GRTiQ.com/podcast[episode]).

The following podcast is for informational purposes only. The contents of this podcast do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice. Take responsibility for your own decisions, consult with the proper professionals, and do your own research.

A.J. Warner (00:00:21):

They got a ton of adoption. Basically, everybody’s using subgraphs in some component. I think it’s critical. I think if we want to have the data component of what’s happening on blockchains digestible, it has to be part of the decentralized stack, essentially.

Nick (00:01:03):

Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today, I’m speaking with A.J. Warner, Chief Strategy Officer at Offchain Labs, the founding team behind Arbitrum, an L2 offering a suite of scaling solutions for Ethereum. In addition to being one of the most well-known L2 solutions in the Ethereum community, Arbitrum is top of mind for members of the graph ecosystem for two primary reasons. First, Arbitrum was recently announced as one of the new chains being added to the MIPS program, and indexes are currently working to support the chain on the decentralized network. And secondly, it was recently announced that The Graph Network would be scaling to Arbitrum in order to lower the costs and barriers of participation in the protocol.


During this interview, A.J. talks about his background in business, law and real estate, his journey into web3 and crypto, what an L2 is, what makes Arbitrum different and how it works. And then, he helps break down all the recent news that’s happening between The Graph and Arbitrum. As always, we started the conversation talking about A.J.’s professional and educational experience, which included a stint as a freelance sports writer.

A.J. Warner (00:02:12):

Sure. Hi. Well, first of all, thanks for having me on, Nick. I really appreciate joining you. So, I have a pretty non-traditional background for this space, but I feel like everybody kind of has a non-traditional background. There’s no blockchain degree in college. I went to Yeshiva University for undergrad in New York, after growing up in Toronto and living in Canada for the first 18 years of my life. Studied economics, actually, that’s where I met Steven Goldfeder, co-founder and CEO of Offchain Labs.


After undergrad, I did a JD-MBA at NYU with a focus on real estate and finance, and that’s really where I thought my career was going to go. Graduated school in 2017, went to Paul Hastings, which is a large international law firm and focused on real estate development. Most of my clients were New York City developers, either buying buildings in Manhattan or developing new projects in Manhattan. And I was always passionate about blockchain, crypto, generally, but it was always more of like a hobby or a side thing for me. And then obviously took the plunge in 2020, full-time into the space. But really, my professional career is rooted in New York City real estate.

Nick (00:03:21):

So every once in a while when I do research about a guest, I come across these nuggets of things that make them different from any other prior guest. And in your particular case, you’re the first freelance sports writer that I’ve had on the podcast before. What can you share with us about what you did as a freelance sports writer?

A.J. Warner (00:03:37):

That was a fun time. So when I was in college, I decided, I’m a big sports fan, I like to write, so why don’t I start combining these two things? I used to write posts for Bleacher Report, which is like a community created, and now more of a more professional content creation platform. But my two most exciting pieces were actually in my local paper in Toronto. I’m a big hockey fan, like most Canadians, and Toronto Maple Leafs fan in particular.


And there were two players that were free agents, and the whole community of Toronto basically thought that they were worth way less than I felt their valuations were. So I cold called the editor of Toronto Star and I said, “I want to write some pieces why these players are worth more than people seem to think.” He said, “All right, you got 30 seconds to make your pitch.” And I did. And he said, “All right, if you can get me something in the next 48 hours, I’ll publish it.” So I basically stayed up all night, I had no experience in this. And then, it was pretty cool. They took it, they ran with it. I was on the front page of the sports section with a little picture of myself, an aspiring sports writer. Came with a lot of hate mail, but it was a really fun experience. After doing two of those though, I realized that journalism is not for me. You got to deal with a lot of people who are very passionate, get very angry, and I just didn’t have the bones for it.

Nick (00:04:56):

It’s an incredible story, especially the way you got involved. I’m curious if you use any of the skills that you learned at that time though, as a sports writer, in what you do now.

A.J. Warner (00:05:05):

I think that one of the themes that went through that hobby, went through me going through law school and business school, and the work I was doing before and something that I was very focused on, I would say, analysis, analytics, and probably taking a pretty measured approach to decision making. And I think that that is a pretty common thread, actually. One of the things that just was the crux of my piece in that was, “We’re letting our emotions take advantage of determining what the value of this player is. This is cold-hearted analysis of what it looks like.” When you’re a corporate lawyer, you obviously have to show empathy, but there’s law, there’s contract, there’s rights for your clients, and you have to vigorously defend those rights. So it’s a lot of that analysis.


And similar now with what I do at Offchain Labs, [inaudible 00:05:58] questions of growth for the ecosystem, sustainability of the ecosystem, collaborations, partnerships, et cetera. A lot of those times, you have to take a very measured approach because everything sounds amazing and everything sounds cool, and you have to sort of understand, where’s the business going? What makes the most sense for where we are today? What will make the most sense in the future? I think that’s probably the common threads. I don’t know if I use any of the actual skills, but it’s probably the same thing that excites me about what I do today and excited me about what I did in that hobby, is probably pretty similar.

Nick (00:06:26):

Well, as you mentioned, you studied law, and before you went to work in crypto and at Offchain Labs, you were going to be an attorney. And I’m curious, what drew your interest into that field? Do you remember why you decided to pursue law? And of course, you got the JD-MBA, so you did business as well.

A.J. Warner (00:06:44):

Yeah, so one thing that is interesting, so I knew I wanted to go to law school, I wanted to be a lawyer, and I practiced for three years. The one thing I knew the entire time was I never wanted to be a litigator. I never wanted to go to court. And the breakdown, really, in the legal system is you have, in the United States, at least at the larger firms where people specialize earlier and you can become a corporate lawyer, which is like you do transactions, you become a litigator, which is you do a lot of research, write briefs, go to court, settle.


And the fundamental difference between these two things is, how important is collaboration in what you’re doing? So in litigation, folks are not really so collaborative because it’s not a repeat relationship. Right? I sued you, I probably never want to see you again, you probably never want to see me again. So everybody’s trying to get the best deal that they can for themselves. In corporate law, everybody knows everybody, right? So you can do the same deal, I might buy a building from you today and I’m going to buy your other building tomorrow. And if we don’t have a good relationship on this one, then the next one is not going to go well, right? And I saw that throughout my career in law, was the balance between making sure you get the best deal today and also making sure that you have the best relationships that are maintaining proper relationships to continue to grow your business, to continue to grow your counterparty’s business so that everybody’s kind of happy.


And that’s always been something that I’ve really liked about what I did. You have, at the end of the day, everybody’s obviously stressed at the end of the day, the best feeling is when both sides are happy with the deal. And in hindsight, somebody always gets a better deal, somebody always gets a worse deal. But that feeling in the moment of both sides being happy with the deal is really what you strive for when you’re a corporate lawyer. And I love that. And I think that is one of the fundamental tenets of web3 generally. Right? Nobody is here to try and suck somebody else dry. It’s not the business models that we’re trying to create. We’re trying to create sustainable business models of open public software that anybody can use and build upon and compose and be collaborative and create value together.


And that’s what we do a lot, obviously, with our work at Arbitrum, that’s what we do generally with our work, working with partners, how do we help and make you succeed? Because your success is our success. And obviously, it’s a little bit different than a corporate real estate environment where you’re talking about buying a TV screen in Times Square, but a lot of it’s the same where if you don’t have a collaborative mindset, a collaborative attitude, you’re going to get shunned by the street pretty quickly and people are just not going to want to work with you. And that’s one of the things that I think has probably served me really well in my current job, is that ability to understand how games and cycles are played in relation to this. ‘Cause in crypto, everybody knows everybody. And it’s important, your reputation is extremely important as a counterparty.

Nick (00:09:45):

So you’re an interesting person because you’ve got this incredible career track, right? You’ve got a JD-MBA from a great university, you’re in the biggest city in the world to start pursuing a career in real estate and in law and business. And yet at some point, you become aware of crypto and decide to do a whole career change. If we go back in time, when was that? When did you first get interested in crypto?

A.J. Warner (00:10:08):

Yeah. So these timelines are not completely perfectly aligned. So I graduated in 2017, but my interest in passion for crypto began, really, in 2014. When I was in NYU, I took a class seminar on Bitcoin. It was, that’s really what it was. Ethereum didn’t exist yet. You had obviously some of these other small coins that obviously today don’t really have much relevance, but were part of what people were trading in the online casinos, et cetera. But really, it was all about Bitcoin.


And the thing that resonated the most with me, 2014, we’re exiting an era of quantitative easing, massive amount of capital flooding the system. The thing that always drove me a little bit crazy about the current American financial system was the lack of sovereignty in the system, right? And it’s like, all of these centralized controls, the bankers were just pumping in money, quantitative easing, what are the effects on that? Inflation has adverse impact much more on lower class than the upper class. And how do we think about that? What is the effect? And it always kind of irked me, and I’ll give you an example of something that still bothers me today and is a great example of this. We have all these accredited investor laws in this country, but basically anyone can get a credit card that has them paying 18% interest. Right? And it’s like, if you want to talk about how things are set up for certain parts of the community and certain parts of our country to fail, credit card debt is extremely scary for a lot of the people, but it’s so easy to get the exposure to that debt at 18%. But if I want to invest in a great private company, I can’t. Right? And that to me always felt like an example of how the system takes away sovereignty.


And I would say that that was one of the things that really interested me most about the technology. When I was in law school, a bunch of crazy things were happening in Bitcoin. The Mt. Gox hack occurred, Charlie Shrem was arrested for his role in facilitating transactions in Silk Road. I did a lot of work when I was there interviewing with his lawyers, understanding his case, understanding the ramifications of his case, what it meant for money transmission, what it meant for the viability of this as a peer-to-peer cash. And that stuff all really interested me a lot. Throughout the time, I continued being interested, then Ethereum launched. And that to me was a whole other level of interesting technology, because it took something from just money to sort of infrastructure that you can build upon and have a vision of a permissionless sovereign environment, which was extremely powerful.


And for the first two years, it was so hard to appreciate what that looked like because there was nothing but terrible applications that lived on top. Right? There was nothing interesting to do. This is pre-Uniswap, right? This is 2015, 2016. It was hard to imagine what it was, but the mental framework I always had, and it still kind of exists today when I think about Bitcoin and Ethereum, is Bitcoin is gold and Ethereum is oil. And with oil, you can do a ton of things from an innovation perspective, right? You know, it powers our cars, it powers transportation, it powers airplanes, and obviously it will take time for those things to be developed. And that’s really, I think, how I view decentralized applications on top of Ethereum. So that takes me through basically all this time.


And during this time, like Steven, like I said, we went to college together. In 2014, we were the only one in our friendship circles that cared about this stuff, so we kept close. 2017, he comes and starts telling me about Arbitrum, about what they’re doing, and I became, actually, their lawyer when I was at Paul Hastings. We helped the company off the ground, we helped found the company from a legal perspective, helped them through their seed investment, et cetera. I continued my legal career, kept chatting with the team, Harry, Ed and Steven, the founders. Well, they launched on Testnet in 2020. Steven reached out and said, “Hey, there’s really something for you to do now as someone who’s non-technical to help contribute value to build this ecosystem.” And I basically quit my job that week and that’s when I joined full-time.


So that’s the full story of how my legal career and my interest and excitement in this space, kind of like the timelines overlap. But yeah, I mean, there was a two year period, I think 2019 to 2020, I was working full-time in real estate and spending all day and my private time just keeping up to speed. So it was nice to have to shed the full-time real estate stuff.

Nick (00:15:49):

I want to go back to something you said about your first impressions of Bitcoin in 2014, and for listeners that aren’t familiar with what is meant by accredited investor, regulation in the United States has designated that you must have a certain level of income or net worth to be able to invest in certain types of assets. You said that the light bulb moment with Bitcoin was it might enable sovereignty, and I’m just curious if you could explore that a little bit for listeners that don’t make that one-to-one connection or maybe haven’t explored this idea before. But, how does Bitcoin address this question or concern about sovereignty?

A.J. Warner (00:16:24):

Yeah, this is also a little bit personal to me. It’s not an analogy that I thought of, but it resonated with me a lot. So I don’t know if you’re familiar with Ari Paul, he’s one of the founders of Blocktower Capital, but he used to talk about this a lot, where I have a Jewish background, my grandparents weren’t in the Holocaust, but most of my friends’ grandparents were. My grandparents on my mom’s side fled religious persecution in the Soviet Union in the ’70s and they left everything behind. Those were the trade offs that they had to make, right? Leaving all of their material possessions for sort of the world that they wanted their children to live in.


And if there was a digital parallel to that, and again, it’s not the simplest thing to conceive of, but that could have been a very different reality for them, right? Going from a comfortable life in a country that they didn’t want to live in, to sort of starting all over again in their forties from a financial perspective because they didn’t have a digital store of value that they can take with them in the form of a seed phrase. And obviously times changed, but I think about just my family’s perspective, my community’s perspective, a lot of the suffering that people went through, how much that was tied to the fact they didn’t have the ability to have sovereign control of what their assets looked like, because it was in the forms that couldn’t be transferred. So I think that that is an example, that’s not like a regulatory example of something that’s always resonated with me.


But from a regulatory perspective, obviously there’s laws that you have to follow in this world, but I’m definitely not advocating for anybody not to follow the rules and the laws of any country that they live in, but it is incredibly empowering to have even something as simple as an NFT live in a self custody wallet that you control, that belongs to you. You don’t need to have a custodian. It’s an incredibly empowering thing to think about what that means from an ownership perspective. You can take it anywhere in the world. We’re seeing it play out with Bitcoin now, where we don’t talk about the adoption from a peer-to-peer perspective living in the United States, but you look at places like Argentina, Venezuela, Lebanon, there really is… People are really starting to consider this, and stable coins to be fair, on Ethereum, as alternative forms of wealth storage. Not necessarily creation, but even just wealth storage. And that’s a really important component in the ability for somebody to sort of maintain a sovereign self.

Nick (00:18:44):

I have to ask you this question about what you told friends and family as you, in 2020, decide to change careers and go into this new emerging industry. What were those conversations like?

A.J. Warner (00:18:54):

They were interesting. If my mom ever listens to this, she’ll know the truth. My parents didn’t really get it, to be honest. For them… Obviously, I have two children, I’m married. The way they think about this, the way most people think about it, the way I think about it, is making sure you can support your family is the most important thing. You have to understand what kind of risks you’re taking. I had confidence in myself and in the team that I was joining, the product that we were building, that this was going to be something that was worth it.


But also from my personal perspective, and even if this wasn’t the company, this was the industry for me. This was the mission that I was going to get fulfillment professionally to continue down a path. I always believed you have to love what you’re doing in order to be excellent at it. I liked real estate, I sometimes loved real estate, but I definitely understood that there were people, even at where I was working, who cared about it professionally more than I did, which would mean that they were likely to be more successful than I would be at it. I was extremely passionate about this industry, what this industry can do, who this could empower in the world, and I had to move, basically. So when I explained that to my family…


Also, I was at the point in my career where if this didn’t work out, I’m sure I could have figured out a way to return. I had very strong relationships and I had a skillset, but I had some sort of safety net, I would say. But this was more about just joining something I was passionate about. I’ll never forget one of the partners that I worked closely with, when I told him I’m leaving, he goes, “Of course you should do this.” Obviously, there was a hole in his team with me leaving, which I’m sure he filled pretty quickly, but he knew this was the right thing for me. And he said, “If you ever want to come back,” he was always here, but go crush it, basically. And that meant a lot to me because he knew that this was the right move for me, which made it feel right to me.


When I told my friends, they were all like, “This is a no-brainer. You spend every minute of every day talking about this thing. It’s ridiculous that you’re doing something else.” So definitely some risk. My wife was extremely supportive, which was a huge help. So it’s really about understanding what you can and can’t do, your support systems. It’s not for everybody to go from a traditional job that pays the bills to something that obviously has a lot more risk built into it. But I think the principle of, do something that you care about more than others, is likely to lead you to have more success, is a pretty reasonable perspective to take.

Nick (00:21:24):

A lot of my listeners are looking for ways to go full-time into web3, and so a story like yours is inspiring but also informative. What do you wish you would’ve known then that you know now about making that move that might be helpful?

A.J. Warner (00:21:38):

Yeah, so I would say a few things have changed since then, right? I think 2020 versus, I guess, early 2023, the industry as a whole has become a lot more de-risked, right? So you don’t have… When I switched, a lot of my colleagues at work were like, “You’re nuts,” basically. But now everybody has friends who are working in web3. It’s like working at a tech startup for the most part. From a social perspective, it’s very de-risked and I think it’s important to appreciate that distinction. You’re not viewed as somebody who’s joining a cult that believes in scam internet money. You’re joining companies and products that are trying to build out the next evolution, the next generation of the internet, which I think is critical.


So I think in some ways it’s de-risked, but the flip side to that, it’s also become much more competitive. We see a ton of resumes, of incredible resumes, and if you stacked my resume against these resumes, I would have no shot of getting the job I got because it’s really competitive right now, because of a lot of people are excited about the technology. And these things are related, right? The lack of risk as an industry and who it attracts.


The thing I would say that I wish I did differently, and obviously I’m fortunate to be where I am, but if I did it again, I would do this. There are so many opportunities to get involved publicly, even if you’re not working full-time in this space. Take advantage of that. There are so many people who have gotten jobs, even on my team, there’s a few people who we have on our team, I discovered them on Twitter. That’s how they got their jobs, right? And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a benefit of the ecosystem. It’s a very small ecosystem in terms of, if you build a reputation for yourself on Discord or on Twitter, people will respect you. It doesn’t matter if you’re anonymous, not anonymous, whoever you are, people respect your opinions and your thoughts and you can contribute so much value. You see some of these folks building on, for example, dashboards and analytic dashboards on Dune, and it’s incredible how much value, how much analysis they’re doing and providing. And you can do all of that to build up your knowledge base, also build up your skillset and exposure within the ecosystem.


The other thing I would say is, people are extremely approachable. You don’t have this sort of… Everybody wants to help, right? I get reached out a lot from different people who I talk to about my career. “Can you take a look at this deck? We’re trying to build a seed round,” and I’m happy to help and I’m trying to pay it forward as people help me. But take advantage of that. Not everybody… People are very busy so not everyone will have time, but people generally are very welcoming and looking to grow the pie of what this industry looks like. But take advantage of that. Obviously don’t waste people’s time, but if you have good questions, if you have ideas that you want to bounce off of, if you want introductions. People are generally pretty helpful.


And I did not leverage those two things enough. I’m naturally pretty shy. I’ve gotten over that a little bit now, but I barely talked on Twitter about crypto, and that was just because I just preferred to read and consume from people who… I had a little bit of an imposter syndrome, probably still do a bit but definitely did then, about what I can contribute, but you shouldn’t because you might say something stupid, but you’ll learn why it’s stupid. People will definitely tell you on crypto Twitter why it’s stupid. But the next time, you’ll understand and you’ll, I’m sure, have valuable contributions to make. So I would say, take advantage of the resources and the inclusivity and the collaborative environment of the ecosystem you’re joining, because people are happy to help.

Nick (00:25:26):

Where’d you come in on this debate that’s happening on Twitter right now as it comes to what to call the industry? I’ve seen a couple loud voices within the industry saying, “We should have never said web3, it should have just stayed crypto.” And then there’s the converse of that argument, it should always be web3 and never mention crypto. Where do you come in on that debate?

A.J. Warner (00:25:44):

That’s a good one. I like that question. I think it depends who you’re talking to. I think it’s really important for us to understand that there isn’t one narrative that will capture for everybody why people care about what we’re doing. And I’ll give you an example, right? In Arbitrum, the roots of Arbitrum’s growth, if you go back to the launch of the network, was definitely in DeFi. And there’s a DeFi culture in crypto, and that’s crypto. But now, as we’re building out the gaming environment, that’s a web3 environment. It’s like, what are the differences? I think the differences come down to sort of, what are the users and the developers in these different verticals looking to get out of the technology? Right?


So for DeFi people, it might be financial opportunities for people who wouldn’t have those financial opportunities if it wasn’t for DeFi. They wouldn’t have the ability to open up an account and swap and buy ETH, or they don’t have the ability to make options trades because they’re not accredited investors. And for them it’s about sovereignty, and those are the key rights. For gamers, they don’t care as much about the security and these principles. For them, it’s about the ownership of the assets, and are you the product or are you the user? In the web2 versus web3 debate, right? The nature of the business models. And I think they don’t care so much…


The reason I call it crypto, and I think the [inaudible 00:27:10] the cryptographic components of the underlying blockchains, which these assets are built on. It’s not as important to them versus other themes. So understanding, I think, what do people care about? Is it the efficiencies? Is it the sovereignty? Is it the permissionless activity? Is it composability? Really, I think impact, my default is crypto, but I’ve been getting more into saying web3 because I think a lot of people like to hear it.

Nick (00:27:37):

If web3 becomes the term, the brand for the industry, if you forecast out, does web3 coexist with web2, or do you think at some point web3 replaces web2? That’s, again, another hotly debated topic out there on Twitter and other places. What’s your perspective?

A.J. Warner (00:27:56):

I think they coexist, personally. I think one of the things that we’re making a mistake right now in our industry is making the assumption that every business model needs to be flipped on its head. For some use cases, like web2 business models, they just work, they make the most sense. We talk about, for example, decentralizing Uber. And that’s always the classic example of, why do we need a central company? We could have a peer to peer ride sharing network of drivers and users and there wouldn’t have to be an extraction from a middleman. And then when you think about it though in practice, that middleman is the one who ensures that the users are safe, ensures the screening of the drivers, right? And maybe in a very long time, there will be AI and systems that can replace that in a more efficient way. But conceptually, if we just had peer to peer Uber today, I don’t think as a society we would be better off. Right?


I think that 90% of instances, people might be better off because they wouldn’t be paying the extraction fee from the middlemen. But in those 10% of cases, I think these disasters would be horrifying, right? So I think that we have to understand, and this could be [inaudible 00:29:14], right? There are some obvious use cases. I think the earliest ones that we think about are cross-border money payments. Like, yes, I think disrupting Western Union and how much they take is a very reasonable use case for what we’re doing. And I’m fully behind replacing as a business model. But we’re even seeing that in web2. web3, I think crypto can do this cheaper and I think that’s a great example, but there are other examples like the Uber one, where I think sometimes we come with a hammer and say, “Everything’s got to be decentralized,” where there’s definitely a spectrum of things that you do or don’t want to be decentralized. And I think there’s a lot of things right now that… Let’s focus on the things that we can focus on.


I think gaming’s a great example, where you have this, there’s such an obvious market of, “Wow, we can create these in-game assets and make them tradable and actually owned.” I mean, that’s amazing. You have to remember, the overwhelming majority of people who play a game just want to have fun. So I think that’s a great example of where the principles [inaudible 00:30:21] we have, where sovereignty and ownership and value for your work can sometimes not 100% align with the reality of what most people in the world really want. And I think we started with a lot of the play to earn games, which I don’t think have a long term horizon of sustainability and growth and interest, because again, people want to play fun games. So right now, we’re in a journey of how do we take that path of combining a game so that it’s super fun with taking the things that can be added from web3 to make that experience better for the user as a whole? I think that’s where we’re going. I think the evolution of blockchain gaming, I think is a great example of how we should incorporate and shouldn’t incorporate web2 business models and experiences into what we’re doing.

Nick (00:31:14):

Stopping short of full disruption. And I appreciate the point that you made there about, not every industry is ripe for disruption from web3 and crypto. But when you look back on your days in real estate and in law, are there moments where you see, “Oh wow, this would be very helpful.” Blockchain or crypto would be very helpful in a couple scenarios that exist in that industry?

A.J. Warner (00:31:39):

Oh, 100%. I mean, one of the things that I was doing, especially when I was a junior, I had these very complicated mortgage loans that were getting sold and split up into… This is one of the things that caused… like The Big Short, if you’ve seen the movie, they take these mortgages, they split them into different notes with different risk profiles and they sell them to different lenders. The amount of paper and inefficiency that goes into those systems is insane. There’s a whole middle ground of lawyers and bankers. There’s a lot of disruption there, if you had more efficient systems. I think that that’s probably true for many mutual fund, robo-advisors, all these different kind of… But again, a lot of those efficiencies are happening on the web2 side also. Like you see, if you just look at the, for example, going from the mutual funds of the ’80s to the Vanguards of the world, the spread in fees has come down significantly.


So the question is of how do we bring this onto the blockchain? What are the value propositions of the blockchain? To me, it’s much more about transparency. The ability for people to, A, know their assets actually exist, but B, have simple transfers. So, do you have to call a broker? Or can you just execute something yourself? Is, you don’t think about it, but that’s a 10x user experience improvement. I had to take something out of Schwab recently, or transfer, and it take me like two hours and four days. And yes, they’ve made that a simple experience from a fee perspective, but it’s still a mess from a transparency perspective in a way that I think a lot of blockchain infrastructure can make that way easier.


The tradeoff is that it’s way easier for me today, because I’m crypto native. I understand how to use a MetaMask. The challenge I think we have now, and I’ve been pretty vocal about this actually, lately, is I think we’re at a point in blockchain technology where the product and user experience is really where the ball is in the court, for scale. Right now, obviously, Arbitrum will try to scale throughput and speeds and efficiency of using Ethereum, but I think that the product user experience has to scale. And I think that is critical. My mom would have absolutely no idea how to use MetaMask or how to use almost any of these wallets in a self custodial way. I think some of the centralized exchange products are more advanced for non-crypto native users, but we have to get the self custody environments. And this goes into account abstraction and smart contract wallets and all the different things that our team’s looking at and doing research in. I think Argent, as a wallet for example, or many other wallets are looking at that. I think that’s where we’re at right now where there’s definitely efficiencies, but we need to have the product that can implement these efficiencies become as user-friendly as possible.

Nick (00:34:37):

Well A.J., you and I are talking today because there’s a lot of news within The Graph ecosystem about Arbitrum and scaling to L2. Before we get to that, can you talk a little bit about Offchain Labs? You’ve mentioned it a couple times. What it is and what its relationship is with Arbitrum.

A.J. Warner (00:34:54):

Yeah, sure. So Offchain Labs, it’s pretty simple, is the company that has developed and built the Arbitrum protocol, essentially, on top of Ethereum. So we have two public chains live right now, Arbitrum One, which is a rollup chain, and Arbitrum Nova, which is what we call antitrust technology, very similar with some trade-offs for security for lower costs. And those are both projects that were incubated by Offchain Labs. Recently, Offchain Labs acquired Prysmatic Labs, which is the team that built Prysm, the ETH consensus client, so that’s part of the Offchain Labs family as well. The mission of Offchain Labs is to scale Ethereum, and that is combining both support for the Prysm software on the staking side, and obviously primarily focusing on developing Arbitrum as a scaling platform built on top of Ethereum to allow the world to access it, both developers and users, in a very cost effective way.

Nick (00:35:51):

So a lot of listeners won’t really understand what an L2 is and the fact that Arbitrum is built on top of Ethereum. It gets a little bit convoluted. For the basic listener, how would you help them sort through what all that means?

A.J. Warner (00:36:04):

Yeah, sure. And it’s probably helpful to take a step back and think about the different components of building blockchains for a second, ’cause I think that would be helpful context. So first blockchain, and let’s just call it Bitcoin, is very good for value transfer but doesn’t have much else that it can do. It can’t do smart contracts. So all of these complex activities like launching Uniswap needs programmability on a blockchain that something like Bitcoin doesn’t have. So you need a blockchain that is much more flexible in nature, and Ethereum is the first example of this. So when you think about scaling blockchains and using blockchain technology for these applications, you quickly run into something called a blockchain scalability trilemma. And a trilemma generally means you can have two out of three things, but you cannot achieve all three things at the same time. And in Ethereum, it’s throughput, decentralization, and security.


So, we’ll focus really on the throughput trade off, but the point here is Ethereum, by design, limits the throughput of the network because they’re primarily focused on maintaining its decentralization and security. So Ethereum allows, basically, I think it’s on average like 13 transactions per second take place on the network. The software can support more, but the reason why it doesn’t do more than that is because if we want Nick, A.J., any of these listeners, to be able to run nodes on reasonable software, they need to have the ability to run that software themselves. And you want it to not be too expensive, otherwise people will not run nodes. So that’s where the limitations come into effect. And because you have this limitation, that is why Ethereum gets so expensive.


And the reason for that is, it can do 13 transactions per second, but there’s more than 13 transactions per second of demand. So an auction mechanism is implemented where whoever’s willing to pay the most will be put into the next block in those 13 transactions per second. And that’s why sometimes Ethereum gas prices go way up, because we have these limitations. So that’s where Arbitrum comes in and Layer 2 technologies. And the goal of rollups, which Arbitrum is, and we’ll describe it in a second, is to help solve Ethereum scalability trilemma by separating the decentralization of Ethereum from the throughput environments, what we call the execution environments like Arbitrum.


So how does Arbitrum work? Arbitrum, to users, whoever’s used it before can tell, it looks and feels exactly like a blockchain. In reality though, it is a set of smart contracts that lives on top of Ethereum. And when you do a transaction on Arbitrum, let’s say I buy an NFT on OpenSea, and Nick, you do a swap on Uniswap, what the protocol does is it takes all these transactions that we do on Arbitrum, it compresses the data and posts that data to Ethereum on behalf of the Arbitrum users, and that brings the costs down significantly. And the reason for that is twofold. So one is from a data perspective, it’s compressing it, so it only posts the data that you need to recreate the transaction. But two, when you do a transaction on Ethereum, what you’re telling Ethereum’s validators to do is to store the data but also to execute the transaction. And that from a resource perspective is extremely expensive.


So by taking the execution of the transaction and doing it on Arbitrum and only the data going to Ethereum, you can bring down the cost significantly. So a transaction like a Uniswap trade that might be $5 on Ethereum might be 12 cents on Arbitrum. And that’s because the compressed data that exists of this transaction that’s posted to Ethereum is all you really need. So what happens? You know have the data that occurred on Arbitrum posted to Ethereum. So if Arbitrum fell over tomorrow, you can recreate the entire state of the chain based on the data that’s been posted to Ethereum, without Arbitrum.


But this is the secret sauce of rollups and where everybody’s solving, is how do we know the data that was posted to Ethereum by the Arbitrum protocol is true, correct and complete? So when I say that A.J. bought this NFT and Nick did this Uniswap trade, maybe A.J. spent $12 on the NFT, but according to the data that was posted, I spent $10, and I should have a $2 balance in my wallet. So what happens is, that’s when you get to the proving mechanisms. So Arbitrum uses what we call an optimistic rollup prover, or a fraud prover, and then there’s something called ZK rollups, which uses your knowledge proofs.


I work on Arbitrum, so I’m going to focus on the optimistic rollup side. So what happens is, whoever posted the call data to Ethereum, a challenge period is opened, where anybody can challenge and say, “The data that was posted by that validator was incorrect, this is the correct data.” And in reality, everybody will know, anybody who’s running a node knows what the correct state is. But basically, a challenge goes back and forth between the two validators, where the validator that wins slashes the other validator and the correct data is posted to Ethereum. All of that adjudication happens at Ethereum based on the different updates that were made to Ethereum.


So that’s how really the mechanism for knowing the data that was posted from Arbitrum to Ethereum is true, correct and complete. In reality, this shouldn’t happen because if everybody’s running nodes and they know what the right data is, somebody would only challenge if they want to lose money, a mistake, right? ‘Cause they’re going to lose money. Unless there was like a software bug, obviously. So in practice, we actually haven’t had a challenge live on the Arbitrum One main net because there hasn’t been any fraud posted by a validator.


But we did have it, actually, in the proof of work [inaudible 00:42:12], and this is actually pretty cool. So obviously, Ethereum went through the merge in September where it went from a proof of work environment to proof of stake environment. I’m sure most of your listeners know what that is, but it went from minors doing the work to a stake validator set. What happened though, when that fork happened, was the proof of work Ethereum chain continued to exist. So because Arbitrum again is a set of smart contracts, it existed on both networks, the proof of stake chain and the fork proof of work chain, which is obviously abandoned to date, that nobody’s using, et cetera. But somebody tried submitting invalid proof and draining the Arbitrum bridge on the proof of work network of all of the ETH that was living there, all of the ETH proof of work tokens. Somebody on our team in his own spare time was actually running a validator, though, and he caught the invalid state proof and he challenged it in real life.


So we know the software works in a real environment, we’re just obviously… I don’t think that the attacker on the proof of work network expected anybody to be defending the state of the network, but it was nice to see it play out properly and in real time. But that’s really how rollups work, and that’s how you get the scalability. Because Arbitrum can do about 10x the throughput of Ethereum right now at between 50x and 100x the fees of what it costs to use Ethereum, and it just posts that compressed data. So if Ethereum was doing 13 transactions a second and an Arbitrum environment could do [inaudible 00:43:41] 10x, you’ve got a 10x order of magnitude improvement. That’s just Arbitrum, there’s other rollup environments that are contributing that, these are all working in parallel where we can get obviously massive throughput increases over what Ethereum can do on the base layer.


And that’s why we call it Ethereum’s rollup centric roadmap, because it allows the scalability trilemma of execution and throughput to be divorced from the decentralization and security perspectives because Ethereum is not expected to do the throughput. The way I like to describe it to my friends and family who aren’t in crypto, the rollups are like Venmo and PayPals of the world, where users use it every day, but under the hood, you know that the banks that are using Venmo and PayPal are settling with each other. Right? At the end of the day, they’re all finalizing what their ledgers look like. That’s what Ethereum looks like. All these rollup environments where you’re doing your economic activity, and then the Ethereum layer is settling everything. In the same way that if I wanted to send you $10 for when we went to get a coffee, I wouldn’t send you a wire, right? That’s just not how our infrastructure’s set up. If everybody was sending wires, that system would collapse. That’s kind of how Ethereum is designed. Use the equivalent of Venmo, use Arbitrum and we’ll settle to Ethereum. But that’s how I like to think about.

Nick (00:45:28):

Well, that’s a brilliant analogy and it really helped me understand this environment, and I’m sure it’ll be very useful to listeners as well. I want to ask you this question about the future of L2s. And I want to ask it because obviously we’re living in, and it looks like we’re going forward in, a multi-chain future, but there’s this component of L2s, which are of course built on L1s. And so what’s the future of L2s? I mean, are they the multi-chain future? Or how does that look in your mind?

A.J. Warner (00:46:04):

Yeah, that’s a good question. So I think that I’m an Ethereum maxi, I think… I love Ethereum, I think everything can be built on Ethereum, should be built on Ethereum, it just takes time. Because again, Ethereum always prioritize security and decentralization. So if those are your priorities, throughput scale will take longer to implement in other environments that have the ability to move quicker, because they also frankly don’t have billions of dollars of assets and financial activity at stake. I believe in a multi-chain L2 future where a lot of people are doing a lot of different things that are going to be basically designed to optimize for the Ethereum experience.


And I’ll give you an example of what this means. We have two chains just in Arbitrum alone, Arbitrum One and Arbitrum Nova. And Arbitrum One is the optimistic rollup. All of the call data is posted to Ethereum. That’s how you get from the $5 to the 12 cents that I was describing in a transaction. But there are certain use cases… And the 12 cents is just call data posted to Ethereum. That’s it. That’s the most it can get compressed. We’re doing work within the Ethereum community, a lot of my colleagues are working on this too, called EIP-4844, to basically make rollups even cheaper to post to Ethereum. But fundamentally, if we’re talking about today, January 2023, the limitation is that you still have to post call data.


And for certain use cases, 12 cents is still too expensive. You can’t have a game that is trying to sell assets for 50 cents or 25 cents and there’s a 12 cents transaction fee. It doesn’t work. And frankly, those assets don’t need the security of Ethereum. It’s not worth it to them to have the security there versus in a, let’s say a less secure environment. So that’s why we developed Arbitrum Nova. And the way Nova works is it’s very similar, it’s the same code base as Arbitrum One. The only difference is it doesn’t post the call data to Ethereum. It posts the call data to a data availability committee of a hosted set of distributed institutions that are part of this committee, and those institutions post the certificate that says that they have the data.


And the validator assertions still happen on Ethereum. If the committee ever decides to collude, you can fall back into a rollup. So you have all these defense mechanisms to try and ensure both robustness, decentralization, and security of the network. But in the optimistic case, everything’s humming along, you get that 12 cent cost using the rollup down to a penny. And we’ve been using both of these projects, and blockchains basically, to grow different verticals. We tell games, “Go to Nova, because for your use cases, unless they’re very high valued NFT assets, it makes more sense to be on Nova. If you’re a DeFi project where 12 cents is not really the high priority of your user base, go to Arbitrum One.”


And we’re going to see, I think, a lot of that, where people take advantage of different architectures, a modular blockchain architecture where you can plug in different data availability committees. But I think fundamentally, a lot of it will settle, if not all of it, will ultimately settle on Ethereum from a security perspective. I think one thing that you’ll see in the L2s, and this is, Arbitrum is focused on this now, is everyone’s focused on the EVM, the importance of having support for solidity, making it really easy for developers to build smart contracts. And Ethereum is obviously very focused on EVM and solidity. That’s what they can support. But you have environments on L2s that can be more flexible.


So Arbitrum, we’re talking about now, right now, we have full EVM compatibility and support, but how do we have other languages supported on Arbitrum? So we’re going to be starting with other languages like Rust and C++ and move other languages, and bring them into the same environment and they can be composable with solidity contracts. You can’t do that on Ethereum, but you can have a lot of this experimentation on something like Arbitrum. Another example of this is a lot of the ZK rollups have been experimenting with account abstraction, before Ethereum’s account abstraction or ERC-4337 is implemented.


So I think what you’ll see is different flavors of data availability, trade offs between costs and full security of Ethereum, and also experimentation around product user experience, developer experience, that can happen on L2s, that ultimately settle back to L1. The key principle is, these products will settle back to L1 because fundamentally, nobody has solved… Going back the scalability trilemma, nobody has solved this. And Ethereum is by far the farthest along in separating execution, data availability, and sort of security in the networks.

Nick (00:50:55):

Most of my listeners will be aware of the fact that there’s some competitive nature in the different chains, meaning Ethereum is competitive with other chains like potentially Ceramic or Gnosis Chain, Solana, these things. My question is, is there a similar type of competitive environment at the L2 level as well?

A.J. Warner (00:51:13):

Yeah, definitely. Definitely competitive. I think that there’s a bunch of different teams that are building optimistic rollups, there’s a bunch of teams that are building ZK rollups. Competitive, but at the same time, most of the teams, they get along well, they have an utmost respect. We’re all really aligned in this vision of scaling Ethereum. And I think that’s really important. We have a shared goal, we have differences in how to get there, sometimes strong differences and fundamental differences in opinion, but everybody’s focused on that goal. And I think frankly, we’re all better off for the fact that you have a diversity of teams that are solving for this.


Today, Arbitrum, in terms of rollups, is about 50% market share, in terms of rollup adoption. But we know that there’s incredible teams that are building that are trying to catch up, get their technology as advanced as possible to capture that, and it fuels us to continue to get better, and the entire ecosystem benefits from this competition. I do think though, that what makes it so great is, I think, overwhelmingly, it’s extremely collaborative. I have very good relationships with a lot of people at the Starkware team, for example, an amazing team that’s building on ZK rollup technology. And we’re excited to see each other succeed and see the innovations that we’re all looking at.

Nick (00:52:36):

Well, I want to break down two important points for listeners from The Graph community and others that might be listening, and then ask you some questions about the graph. But the breakdown is, there’s been two announcements. I referenced one earlier, as it relates to The Graph and Arbitrum. The first one was that The Graph is scaling to Arbitrum, to bring down the cost. And this is going to be going into effect at The Graph. The other announcement that was made was in relation to The Graph’s MIPS program, which is a special program, their Indexers are onboarding new chains. And so the program launched with the announcements of Gnosis Chain, then Polygon, and then four chains, and one of those four chains was Arbitrum. So, two really important kind of initiatives right now happening within The Graph community as it relates to Arbitrum.


When did you first become aware of The Graph? And do you recall what your first impressions were of what the protocol was doing?

A.J. Warner (00:53:32):

Yeah, I actually remember, it was [inaudible 00:53:35]… I was probably two or three weeks into my job at Arbitrum, or Offchain Labs, and we had a call with a bunch of folks from The Graph team and I’m like, “Wow, these guys are really smart.” And I remember thinking about the vision that they had, the problem we’re trying to solve, decentralizing access to this information, and that’s an example of a problem that’s incredible to solve it, right? It’s unbelievable that we now have democratization of this and making it permissionless to be able to digest all this data, that’s incredible. That was my first reaction of like, “Wow, this is what they’re trying to do. This seems extremely smart.” Obviously over time, I’ve worked more closely with Tegan Kline, for example, from Edge & Node, and Kyle as well, business development efforts, understanding what we can do to help support.


And yeah, it’s been great working with the team at The Graph. We’re obviously super excited that they’re leveraging Arbitrum infrastructure to make the costs of being part of the network cheaper, as well as the program for decentralization of the subgraphs as well. So it’s amazing to see the innovation happening there. I’ve had some exposure to the StreamingFast project as well. I’m not as familiar with it as working with the Edge & Node contributors, but it’s amazing to see how all these different teams are contributing back into The Graph ecosystem. And they set an extremely ambitious problem to solve, and it’s incredible to see some of the progress that’s been made.

Nick (00:54:58):

Do you know if Arbitrum uses The Graph? I mean, I’ve already mentioned that The Graph is obviously scaling to Arbitrum infrastructure to bring costs down, but I’m curious if the reciprocal is true.

A.J. Warner (00:55:08):

Yeah, we use The Graph in our bridge. So that’s really, from our perspective, we have one touch point with users and that’s The Graph, where we basically want to be able to surface data for users, crossing the bridge, wallet information, et cetera, transaction history. So we’ve deployed some graphs on our bridge. Within the Arbitrum ecosystem, basically, how are the applications building on top of Arbitrum? Obviously take advantage and leverage The Graph’s infrastructure, Uniswap, who uses it for their subgraphs, for their analytics, et cetera, information. But yeah, we definitely are extremely reliant on it from an infrastructure perspective. The irony is, because we’re a blockchain, we don’t have that much end user exposure. It’s usually applications built on top of us, but our bridge page, yeah, definitely, we’ve got our Graph nodes running.

Nick (00:55:55):

Given your perspective of the industry, do you have a sense for how important The Graph is for web3 and for it to reach its full potential?

A.J. Warner (00:56:03):

Yeah, it’s a good question. I don’t know if I’m the best to answer this because I’m not like the most, from a data perspective, the most savvy technical guy. But it is important, right? The ability to have confidence in the data that you’re digesting, the importance of it being able to be accessible by anyone, the importance of being able to self host your data and make it readable, it’s critical. I think what they’re doing now is, they’ve got a ton of adoption, basically everybody’s using subgraphs in some component. I think it’s critical. I think if we want to have the data component of what’s happening on blockchain as digestible, it has to be part of the decentralized stack, essentially. That’s how I think about it in terms of their importance, and I think… I know Tegan is extremely passionate about this. Obviously, the rest of the team is, and I’m sure you are as well, making the data digestible is an extremely important component of what we’re all trying to do.

Nick (00:56:55):

Well, there’s a lot of momentum in The Graph community and a lot of it’s tied to these announcements related to Arbitrum. I’m super excited to see those costs come down to participating in the network, and I’m sure it’ll open the door to a lot of people that want to contribute and get involved. What is your future vision of Arbitrum? What does the future look like?

A.J. Warner (00:57:13):

Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s tough to know, because we’ve got this research team, engineering team, that has all of these amazing tricks up their sleeve. When I joined, we had, basically, we built a custom node, we had our own programming language. Then we figured out ways to use [inaudible 00:57:30] to improve throughput, and use Wasm instead of our own language, and we’ve got 10x improvements in throughput, and 70% decreases in costs. That was sort of 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023.


We’re focusing now on, how do we make the developer experience, which is very solidity focused, much more expansive to include other languages to be able to use Arbitrum? So I think predicting the future of what it looks like is very difficult because of how quickly the pace of innovation is. The thing I would say is, our team is dedicated to solving scale without compromise. That’s the goal. We want to have the best in class scaling technologies for Ethereum, make sure we’re always using the best research, always contributing the best research, always using best in class technologies to get there.


I think the future for what it looks like is a few public chains like we have today, that most applications use. As applications continue to mature, they’ll want their own environments, like what we call your application specific chains, that will probably launch as L3s. I think we’re still a little bit early for seeing the proliferation of those, but as we continue to get more users, I think that will happen. I think that’ll be a critical component of growth, because people want… Again, it goes back to those different kind of trade offs. Right now, our public chains are all paid in ETH. Somebody might have a chain that they want to have paid in their own token, if it’s a game, like an in-game native token, for gas experiences, right?


So there’s going to be a lot of modularity, I think. But our team’s commitment is continuing to solve scale with whatever the best in class technology is. We often get asked like, “Is Arbitrum going to become a ZK rollup one day?” And the answer is, I don’t know. We don’t have a commitment to optimistic rollup versus ZK rollup technology. Our commitment is to scale Ethereum with the best in class technology of the day. Today, from a developer experience, from a cost perspective, there’s nothing better than optimistic rollups, and that’s what’s allowed us to launch a year and a half ago and continue to begin scaling and have the developers onboarding. We didn’t wait for ZK to be ready, or whatever it is. And the future of Arbitrum is a commitment, basically, to use best in class technology to scale Ethereum.

Nick (00:59:47):

For listeners who want to learn more about Arbitrum and the community at Arbitrum, what’s the best way to connect?

A.J. Warner (00:59:53):

Yeah, I mean, definitely our website, Arbitrum.io, Twitter, we’re pretty active there, obviously, like most folks in crypto or web3. Our Discord, tons of stuff to get involved with, whether it’s like fun NFT projects that are launching, or you want to talk about the technical components, Discord’s a great place, and that’s just the Arbitrum Discord, Discord.gg/Arbitrum. You know, you can reach out to our partnerships team through our website. However we can help, our team is here to be helpful. We’re dedicated to working with projects like The Graph to continue to scale their infrastructure to make it more accessible to the world, and that’s our primary focus.

Nick (01:00:29):

Well, A.J., now I’m going to ask you the GRTiQ 10. These are 10 questions I ask each guest of the podcast every week, and I created this as a fun way for listeners to learn new things, try new things, or achieve more with their lives. So are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?

A.J. Warner (01:00:44):

Yeah, I’m excited. I might need to think about some of them, so let’s go.

Nick (01:00:58):

What book or articles had the greatest impact on your life?

A.J. Warner (01:01:02):

That’s a good question. I would say reading, I think The Big Short. I think when I think about The Big Short, I think about a lot of the things that sort of got me started both in real estate and in crypto from a philosophical perspective.

Nick (01:01:15):

Is there a movie or a TV show that you recommend everybody should watch?

A.J. Warner (01:01:20):

Yeah, I think for me, it’s Good Will Hunting. The journey of both Robin Williams and Matt Damon in that movie, with the kind of honesty, the importance of honesty with yourself, is something that every time I watch that movie, I get out of it. Am I being honest with myself? Am I truly being honest with myself? Am I truly being honest about what I want to accomplish? Am I truly being honest about what my goals are for myself? Am I pushing myself hard? I think that a lot of those themes are encapsulated in that movie.

Nick (01:01:53):

If you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

A.J. Warner (01:01:58):

That’s a good question. This is one of those things about me that people always make fun of. I’m not a music guy. I can’t do two things at once. So when I listen to music, I literally can only… In the car, I don’t even listen to music. This is a good one. I don’t really have one, to be honest, that I would say, “That one would specifically stick out.” I do remember biking in high school a lot, the Red Hat Chili Peppers album, Californication, I think it was called. But honestly, I don’t really listen to music that much. It’s a weird thing about me.

Nick (01:02:35):

How about this? What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?

A.J. Warner (01:02:39):

I would say… I’m trying to think. There’s two in my mind that I’m thinking of. One is, basically, be honest with yourself. That’s it. It came up in the context of me saying something that it was obvious I didn’t really believe in, that was putting me on a path that I probably was better off not going down. Just be honest with yourself. Be honest with what you want in life. Be honest with what you want to achieve. Be honest with what’s your priorities, your values, and stick to them.

Nick (01:03:08):

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think most other people have learned or know yet?

A.J. Warner (01:03:13):

You think you have bigger imposter syndrome than others do, especially on social media.

Nick (01:03:19):

What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?

A.J. Warner (01:03:22):

The best life hack I’ve discovered for myself. Calendly. I was like the most inefficient person when it came to scheduling meetings, and then Calendly saved my life. I don’t know if that counts, but that’s the one I’ll choose. Plug for them, they should sponsor the show now.

Nick (01:03:40):

Right. Based on your own life experiences and observations, what’s the one habit or characteristic that you think best explains how people find success in life?

A.J. Warner (01:03:51):

They don’t think they’re too important to do anything. If you’re willing to do anything, you don’t ever have that sense of being too important, like you’re above that. You keep that… Like my dad always says, the grinders are always the winners. You know, you keep doing the things that you want to do and maintain that mentality that you have to do it, and it’s your responsibility, and that’s the attitude, you’ll always, that’s how you win.

Nick (01:04:17):

And then the final three questions, A.J., are complete the sentence type questions. The first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is…

A.J. Warner (01:04:25):

Self sovereignty and ownership.

Nick (01:04:27):

And how about this one? If you’re on Twitter, then you should be following…

A.J. Warner (01:04:30):

Arbitrum. And The Graph.

Nick (01:04:33):

And lastly, complete the sentence. I’m happiest when…

A.J. Warner (01:04:36):

I’m with my family.

Nick (01:04:46):

A.J., thank you so much for doing this interview. You’ve been generous with your time and it’s been very educational, introducing a lot of my listeners to Arbitrum and a lot of the exciting things that are going over there, as well as some really great analogies to help listeners better understand L2 and blockchain technology. If listeners want to follow you, stay in touch with the work that you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to stay in touch?

A.J. Warner (01:05:08):

Best would probably be on Twitter, @ajwarner90, or on LinkedIn, you just can find me by my name. Those are probably the best ways to get in touch, for sure. And feel free to reach out or if you’re looking for a job, we’re hiring across the board at Offchain Labs, and if you want to build on Arbitrum technology, we’re here to help support you in your journey. Thanks, Nick, for having me. It’s been great chatting with you. It’s been amazing working with the entire Graph ecosystem, so many different touch points. And let’s scale crypto, web3, whatever you want to call it. Let’s do it together.


Please support this project
by becoming a subscriber!



DISCLOSURE: GRTIQ is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any other way connected with The Graph, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.  This material has been prepared for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal, financial, or investment advice. The content for this material is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The Graph token holders should do their own research regarding individual Indexers and the risks, including objectives, charges, and expenses, associated with the purchase of GRT or the delegation of GRT.