Matthew Darwin Pinax The Graph Indexer Firehose OES GRT Blockchain Web3 Canada HP

GRTiQ Podcast: 130 Matthew Darwin

Today I am speaking with Matthew Darwin, Chief Infrastructure Officer and Co-Founder at Pinax, a new Core Dev team working to build The Graph. I suspect many of you will already know the Pinax team, they’re very active in Graph community events, on socials, and many recent in-person events. Their contributions have significantly positioned them as key players within the ecosystem, particularly in the development of indexing technologies such as Firehose and Substreams.

During this conversation, Matthew takes us through his personal journey into the world of web3. He shares his initial interest in technology, his substantial role at HP, and his eventual path to joining the team that established Pinax. We then delve into Pinax’s vital role as a Core Dev team, exploring their focus and objectives within The Graph ecosystem. Matthew also offers his unique perspectives on The Graph and the web3 landscape.

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.,[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.,[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.

Nick (00:13):

Hey, iQ’ers, this is GRTiQ. Recently, we’ve been adding transcripts to every release of the podcast, and we’re also going back in time and adding transcripts to prior episodes. So if you are a longtime listener of the podcast or just getting started, be sure to visit for transcripts for today’s episode and all the great ones that came before it.

Matthew Darwin (00:51):

So I’m really excited about using The Graph maybe as an example of how things are built in the future. You can actually come together as a set of distributed teams to build something interesting, and if we do nothing else, there will be a huge amount of learning just in that and enabling future collaboration over the internet.

Nick (01:43):

Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today, I’m speaking with Matthew Darwin, Chief Infrastructure Officer and Co-Founder at Pinax, a new core dev team working to build The Graph. I suspect most of you will already be familiar with the Pinax team. They’re very active within The Graph community, attending events, active on socials, and have attended many in-person events such as hackathons. The contributions from the Pinax team have significantly positioned them as key players within the ecosystem, particularly in the development of indexing technologies such as Firehose and Substreams.


During this conversation, Matthew takes us through his personal journey into the world of web3. We talk about his early interest in technology, his incredible experience and role at HP, and his eventual path to joining the team that became Pinax. We then talk about Pinax’s role as a core dev team, exploring the focus areas and objectives they’ll pursue within The Graph ecosystem. Matthew also offers a unique perspective on The Graph and the web3 landscape. As always, we start the discussion talking about Matthew’s educational background.

Matthew Darwin (02:49):

So my background is in computer science, so I went to university, studied computer science with a co-op term, which gave me some good opportunities to get practical experience as well as the formal experience during the classes.

Nick (03:05):

Well, Matthew, I’ve had the opportunity to have a lot of people on the podcast before that have studied computer science, and when I asked the question of what exactly computer science is and what they studied, I get various responses. So to keep with tradition, how would you describe what you studied when you were pursuing a degree in computer science?

Matthew Darwin (03:23):

That’s a good question. I guess I got a bunch of skills that some I use, some I don’t use. It’s quite interesting now being 20 plus years after education about which skills you use. So for example, I was doing some mapping related function, nothing related to blockchain, but it’s like, oh, now all of a sudden I need to use sign, cosine, tangent, all these math calculation things. It’s like, okay, well that was interesting. So I guess computer science gave me an education in… We did 3D animation, we did object-oriented programming for the first time, a bunch of these different skills, which some I use, some I don’t. So there wasn’t a specific direction. It wasn’t like, okay, here’s blockchain. Well, blockchain wasn’t invented back then, but it was a bunch of different skills.

Nick (04:18):

Do you remember what drew your interest studying computer science?

Matthew Darwin (04:21):

So when I was probably 10 or 11, my dad had a computer at home and I used to see him on all the time, and then I asked him to show me it and he’s like, “We wrote this little very basic program, well, in BASIC programming language, which was like 10 print hello, 20, go to 10,” and it just printed, hello, hello, hello. Wow, that’s cool, right? And then you got it to add and then you got it to say, “Hello, Matthew,” these kinds of things. So that’s really where my interest in computer science started. By the time I got to high school, it was foregone conclusion that I was studying computer science, but I didn’t have a specific goal in mind. It was just like I started computer science, worked on computer related things in high school, played in the computer lab, I took all the computer classes, I got the computer science medal because I was the highest score in computer science. So it was natural going to university and studying computer science.

Nick (05:18):

This story or this motif of a parent having a computer in the home, drawing the interest of the guest in their early life is fairly repeated throughout the podcast. But one interesting thing is that some guests were of the mind of taking the computer apart, learning how it works and putting it back together. Were you one of those as well?

Matthew Darwin (05:39):

For grade five science fair, so everybody’s supposed to do a science project. So ours was take the cover off the computer and have people look inside. So I didn’t actually do any tinkering in the hardware. I played with the software. So all the software, you could change the source code so then you can make it do other things. So when you are playing Hangman, maybe it did something different instead, that kind of stuff. So I was very much more on the software side and I still am. My brother on the other hand got into more of the hardware side. He did computer engineering and played with that. So as a pair, he was doing hardware, I was doing software.

Nick (06:16):

How would you explain your early interest in technology? What was it that drew your interest?

Matthew Darwin (06:22):

So I guess getting the computer to automate things was the thing that really got me into it. Again, back when I was a teenager, I was filling around with programming lights and things. Well, this is before LED anyways, you got that real light bulbs on. You can get the computer control these things, you can get the computer to automatically add up spreadsheets and things like this. So it was really about automating things and doing things on my behalf was really what got me into it.

Nick (06:53):

So Matthew, outside of working on it in the science fair and tinkering around the home, did you get involved in building technology? Did you have jobs or early work where you were getting your hands dirty in other ways?

Matthew Darwin (07:06):

Yeah, so one of the things that I started out with was volunteering at a local not-for-profit movie theater. And one of the things I did there was to… Back then, everything was on paper in terms of membership records or who bought tickets for what movie, whatever. So I took all that, put it in a database, and manage that whole system. So that was an interesting volunteer project. And then in the future, my chemistry teacher had the Turbo Pascal that he had from his university and he gave that to me.


And then I used that to learn Pascal and then there was a table hockey tournament during lunch hour, and so they would play the entire NHL schedule during the school year. So that’s a lot of games. And so somebody needs to tabulate all the results. Guess what? Throughout a computer program, tabulate the results, it would generate a printout at the end of lunch hour with the new score, the ranking of each team because there was two player teams and they all represent one of the actual teams in the NHL. So that was fun just to get going and learning more stuff.

Nick (08:16):

When you think back on this time in your life, what was some of the most impactful people? Or was there an impactful experience that kind of shaped your future that you can think of?

Matthew Darwin (08:26):

Yeah, so there’s a couple of people I can think about. Well, first is my dad obviously got me into the technology. Second is one of the IT professionals at the university who I was in this discussion with him, should I go Linux or Windows? And he provided some guidance about different things, options to go with. Back in the day, most things were Solaris or SunOS, I think it was called back at the time. So anyway, so during those conversations, got onto Linux and stayed on Linux and that was how I get and use Linux today inside The Graph ecosystem with all the indexing thoughts. The other person who gave me a really important role was the system administrator on a community network. So way back then there was no internet service providers where you pay your 20 bucks a month and then you get your internet.


Instead, it was set up as a community thing, they got some funding. And anyway, the system administrator there, well, I had an interested in technology, so I wanted to modify the system, but there’s hundreds of users online at any one time. So if I want to modify something and I break it, all of a sudden I might impact hundreds of users. So the system administrator there was very tough on code reviews and making sure everything was well-documented, tested, et cetera. And I think of him to this day in terms of how I do work and make sure that everything is up to snuff before you start impacting users.

Nick (09:57):

I want to go back and double click on something you said about that decision you made the guidance of a mentor about pursuing Windows or Linux, and was this just the decision about software and something that you felt like you had access to or was this something more philosophical?

Matthew Darwin (10:12):

This was really more philosophical. At the time, Linux maybe wasn’t quite as popular, but it was free software, open source software. There’s a whole movement talking about it back then, but Windows is more popular in terms of getting jobs. That’s where the careers work. So staying on the Linux side really aligned with my passion about being in control, managing things. You have the source code, you can do everything. When I bought my first computer, guess what I ran on it? It was Linux, this kind of stuff. So yeah, there was definitely a philosophical aspect to getting to Linux and staying in that. And I tried to stay in that ecosystem ever since.

Nick (10:57):

Matthew, you’ve been around for a while and what’s really incredible about speaking with you today is your story arc is such that we can go back pretty far and talk about how technology has evolved and where we are today. And my question is, do you think Linux and some of those open source free software, were those predecessors to web3? I mean, were they foreboding that something bigger was coming to what we now call web2? Or do you think those were just early attempts to get what we’re now working on in web3? How do you think about that?

Matthew Darwin (11:30):

So it’s kind of a cross between the two. If we go back, there was existing systems before Linux. If you go back to the early days of Unix, things were shared between people. Even that community network thing that I talked about, that was open source, but it had a very restrictive license. So you can actually change it and give the changes to other people, which was weird, but aligned with the philosophy at the time. Whereas Linux was like, “Well, here it is, you can change whatever you want. Just make sure you give it to everybody else.” Okay, that’s great. So that was a freedom compared to some of the other stuff that was going on. So I think in order to get to where we are in web3 today, that was a requirement because if we look at all the things that we do in our team, well, it’s all built on stuff that other people built, which is built on something that other people built, whatever.


So if I had to pay or run the whole stack for all of web3, the amount of technology there is huge, right? And the world goes a lot faster and we can build more things faster because we share things. And that comes really from that philosophy of open source and building things in that way. And everything in web3 is that way. So when I started my career path, having a GitHub with all your source code open, that wasn’t a thing. People didn’t do that. Well, it didn’t exist then either. But sharing all that stuff wasn’t the fact the way things are done, but now it is, right? So I love working in this job because of that philosophy and rather than working in a big corporate company which wants to keep things closed and licensed and you need to pay a lot of money for. So I think those precursors in Linux and then what came from that is what leads to today and then what we’re doing today will lead to more things in the future, which we can’t even imagine yet.

Nick (13:24):

So when you think about this trajectory of web3, given everything you just said, and this is a fairly common question I ask on the podcast, longtime listeners will know that this is coming, but do you think of web3 as a revolution against web2 or do you see it as an evolution like the next step as mankind builds and improves technology?

Matthew Darwin (13:47):

I see it as an evolution. So I see web2 was an evolution on Web1. So Web1 was everybody runs their own stuff. I don’t know what you call Web1, something like that. Then web2 is like, “Well, let’s get all these people together and then we create this network effect.” Then web3 is trying to get, well, let’s go back to everybody running their own stuff because that’s really important and enabling and open source, that philosophy comes with it.


But then let’s keep the aspects of web2, which have the network effect. And then somebody will come along later and then they will try to take web3 and do Web4 with it. And then so it’s this battle between centralization and decentralization that, it’s not really a battle, it’s a continuum. We go more central and we go more into decentral, whatever. Or if we look at computers, like everybody had their own PC on their desk. Well before that, there was mainframes. Then I read a computer on the desk, now we’re back to cloud. And then with web3, we’re trying to decentralize things again. Just wait 20 years, the same thing is back in vogue.

Nick (14:52):

So let’s go back to your personal story here then and talk about what you did after university. What did you do upon graduation?

Matthew Darwin (15:01):

So as I said earlier, I was in the co-op program, so that gave me opportunity to try a few different things during my university time. The last company that I worked with in the co-op term decided to keep me, which was great. I worked there part-time to finish school. School took a little longer than expected to finish because I got distracted with working on interesting projects. But anyway, I stayed there. I worked on a space called network management, which is if you imagine a huge data center or a company with a lot of PCs and printers and scanners and all those profiles, well, you need to find them all, manage them, inventory things, keep track of them, generate alerts when things go wrong, that kind of stuff. So I got into that space and then that company was acquired, that company then was acquired, and then I ended up working for Hewlett-Packard, which was a great company at the time, 300,000 employees doing hardware, software, consulting management.


And I was in the software division because I’m not really hardware guy, I’m more of a software guy. And so I’m working on network management, help desk, asset tracking GitHub, like ticket tracking, all these kinds of things that large companies would use. So that’s what I spent a lot of time doing. And HP sent me all over the world to talk to different customers, go to conferences, and in fact, I had a huge team that I was managing. So I wasn’t just a individual engineer, but I actually was managing a team in China, Romania, US, Canada, throughout the different places. So yeah, it was great fun. Learned a lot. I can’t say enough good things about HP as a company.

Nick (17:50):

Well, I want to talk about your experience at HP, and I think it’s an incredible contrast to working in web3 on a smaller team like you’re working on at Pinax in a decentralized protocol like The Graph, but yet you have this contrasting experience in working in one of the biggest companies ever started in web2 with this incredible legacy in that of Hewlett-Packard. What was it like working for Hewlett-Packard in such a large company? What was that experience like?

Matthew Darwin (18:15):

Well, so I guess there’s pluses and minuses. So you’ve got the opportunity to do anything you want. So look at the internal job postings. Go apply for something, go do something different. If you want to take a career leap into the unknown and do something different, you still have the security that you’re inside HP, but you can go and get all of these different experiences. If you want something more stable, then you can do that too. The other thing in HP is there’s two tracks. There’s a management track and a technology tracks. If you want to stay, a technology-focused person, you can be a vice president level, but just as a technologist. So HP is fundamentally a technology company.

Nick (18:56):

Well, in addition to all of that, you did a lot of travel as well, and so longtime listeners know, I always like to ask guests that have traveled a lot what that experience was like. Did you enjoy that travel element and what are some of the places you got to go and visit?

Matthew Darwin (19:09):

I mean, corporate travel is not always fun. You see the airport and the hotel and that’s about it. But at the same point, I love my travel to China. So I went there, I don’t know, 10 different times for a couple of weeks at a time each time. It was great. I had a team of almost a hundred people there. So getting to know the team, working with them, it was a awesome experience that I never would’ve otherwise had. And HP sent me like, “Matthew, please go to Australia for three days for a conference.” All right, well maybe I’ll just tack on a week of vacation because that’s a really long trip to go for three days. So yeah, sent me to India, Israel, wonderful places to go see.

Nick (19:51):

Well, Matthew, I want to go back to what you said about that early decision you made about pursuing Linux or Windows and how that was predicated on this personal philosophy that you had. How was that challenged or shaped going to work at hp? Did it change your philosophy or shape it differently than what it was?

Matthew Darwin (20:11):

So the great thing about HP is that if you talk to the guys in the hardware department, they make everything work with Linux. So there’s no arguing whether the hardware works with Linux or it doesn’t work, it just does. So somewhere in the HP technologists group, they have the same philosophy that the printers work in Linux, the desktop PCs, the laptops, whatever, it doesn’t matter. It works, which is great. From the software perspective, it was a little bit more of a challenge because you had to go based on the customer’s needs. So not all the customers wanted their software to run… They wanted to run Windows. Okay, well, it runs in Windows, but the group that I was in for quite a while, we were doing discovery stuff and one of the things you need to discover is well, do you have HP-UX machines?


Do you have Solaris machines? Do you have Linux machines? Do you have Windows? Whatever you have, we need to find it. So was it interesting debate at one point with the IT department, it’s like, why do you have all this different hardware in your lab? How do we manage it? Well, we have to be able to test and discover it, but we can’t support it. Well, that’s the product, so figure it out. So that was an interesting challenge in terms of that way. And I did give up my Linux desktop at one point. Then I did install Windows because it was just more practical to use Outlook and PowerPoint and management type tools. But at the same point, HP is quite comfortable with people doing side projects. So I kept up my Linux skills on my own, running machines in my basement and running a little website and things like that and community volunteer work and all that stuff. So I always kept my Linux skills all throughout my career, even though I wasn’t doing Linux on a day-to-day basis as a manager.

Nick (21:55):

Do you have a sense for how large web2 companies like HP will respond to the emergence of something like web3? I mean, do you think they try to negate it, battle it, or do you think they try to join it and prove it? I mean, how have you thought about HP’s potential response to web3?

Matthew Darwin (22:16):

The interesting thing is the HP of today is not the same as the HP that I worked there. It was split into four different companies. So I really have no insight on what HP is actually going to do or the software division, which is now OpenText. So I would be working in OpenText if I was still in the software group. So I don’t know what they would be up to, but I know when I was there, HP thought a lot about, okay, we’re going to hire all these millennials, millennials think differently. How do we do different things and we organize? And this was a management task. So as a engineering company, it was definitely forward-thinking. And if I think about the software that I was working on, so one of the things, if you’re in a regulated space, say you need to be healthcare or banking or car manufacturing, there are rules and regulations you need to follow.


And the software that supports those industries has to follow practices and procedures to make sure that the auditors can check that you’re following the rules. So I think blockchain, for example, might have a good space in there because that should reduce the auditing requirements provable on blockchain. So is that web3 or that’s just the upgraded database that has this blockchain technology stuff? The other place that I see blockchain playing a role is when you need to go across companies. So if you’re doing things for yourself, it’s not a big deal, but when you need to coordinate with other people, now all of a sudden if you’re sending faxes to each other to coordinate, that’s a lot of overhead.


So can we just coordinate that on a blockchain? That’s great. So Harvard Business Review published an article about a year ago, a year and a half ago about Walmart Canada, and they integrated with all of their shipping suppliers and all on blockchain, and that’s how they negotiate all the invoices and stuff. So it saves them huge amounts of time and money. So technology that we built in the web3 space can be definitely used in a web2 company in a slightly different fashion.

Nick (24:26):

If we think about what web3 is fundamentally about, and you’ve already said, Matthew, that this is kind of a natural evolution or a next step in the progress of technology, but if we fundamentally try to determine what prompted or the catalyst for this evolution, I mean a lot of different guests have said different things about what web3 is fundamentally about. It’s about privacy, it’s about data integrity, it’s about economic equality and a whole bunch of other things. I’ve also heard people say it’s about human coordination, but what do you think it’s fundamentally about?

Matthew Darwin (24:55):

I think it’s fundamentally about the freedom to build whatever you want. So you want to do DeFi great, go do DeFi. You want to do human coordination, you want to do that? Great. So let’s get the data out of the web2 companies. So let’s build a technology stack that allows you to replicate what the web2 companies are doing in a decentralized way or a more powerful way that you can contribute as an individual and then go build the thing that makes you happy on top of that.

Nick (25:24):

Well, Matthew, were talking today because eventually you leave HP and go to work in web3, and you’re currently working at Pinax core dev team working on The Graph that we’re going to talk a lot more about in a moment. But before we get there, what’s the backstory for how you got interested and went to work in web3?

Matthew Darwin (25:41):

So when I left HP, I spent some time just looking around to see what’s going on in the world. I did hear a little bit about Bitcoin at the time. It didn’t really tweak my interest, but what did pique my interest was a thing called OpenStreetMap, which was if we think about the philosophy of web2, web3, OpenStreetMap is web3 to Google Maps of web2. So Google Map has this centralized database of everything and everybody needs to contribute that data to Google. Well, how do we get it out of there? Well, let’s build a community of decentralized teams that’s building a community organized map.


All the data is open free, you can use it however you want. So I got into that because somebody had a meetup. I went to the meetup, it sounded cool. Anyway, so I met Denis, who’s the CTO at Pinax, through the OpenStreetMap community and the OpenStreetMap community got involved with the Bike Ottawa community. We need to build a map of all the bike routes in Ottawa. So anyway, this is how that group got together. So I got into blockchain, not because I was that interested in blockchain, but I was interested in technology. And Denis is like, “Hey, we need somebody with Linux assist admin skills to manage all of our machines. Are you interested?” I thought, oh, sounds interesting, why not? So that’s how I got into blockchain.

Nick (27:08):

So Matthew, if it wasn’t Bitcoin that really drew your interest and you just started working with Denny and went to work on blockchain, what was the poll there and where did you get started? What blockchains were you working on at the time?

Matthew Darwin (27:21):

Yeah, so Denis and a few others in this group that would become Pinax. We were working on the EOS blockchain. So EOS is a brand new blockchain. It hadn’t yet launched. It was in this alpha stage, whatever. And so I got into blockchain because that’s the one that they were working on. But it was interesting because it’s like, well, here’s the source code. Go. If you have any questions, here’s a telegram group. Go ask. Okay, sink or swim, away you go. I took that, tried to figure out how to get the thing to run. I remember my first summer vacation when I was trying to go to Boston and the software was crashing every other day at the restore from backup. I was like, oh, a lot of “interesting”, in quotes, challenges there in terms of building out the ecosystem and managing an infrastructure. So this was we’re doing validation or block producer in EOS and then eventually run nodes and have people connect to you and build tools around it and build applications on top. Anyway, so it got quite big over time.

Nick (28:32):

How long were you working when you started recognizing those philosophical things that drove your early decision-making to your career about open source and stuff? Did you start recognizing those things and thinking, oh, hey, how about that? I’m in a place that I recognize?

Matthew Darwin (28:48):

So the answer is yes, and the answer is more than that because when I left HP, I decided I wanted a job that did three different things. I wanted it to be open source. I wanted it to have a significant difference in the world, and I didn’t want to be doing maintenance on old versions. I wanted to always be working on the current thing up in new things. So this job, check, check, check, met all the criteria. So I could have done other things, but this one met all of those things. So that was why it was cool.

Nick (29:22):

So at this time, you’re not only moving into a new industry and pursuing something that you find interesting, but you’re also becoming an entrepreneur. And after working at HP and moving into being in a startup and being an entrepreneur, that’s a pretty big leap. What was that experience like for you?

Matthew Darwin (29:40):

So when I left HP, I was looking for something new. It was like do something. So taking a risk was no problem. If that didn’t work out, well, I can always go back into the web2 world, so there was no doors that were closed. So I just took the opportunity and when I joined with the other co-founders at EOS Nation, it wasn’t me being an entrepreneur. There was a group of us who were being entrepreneurs together. So that provided a lot of support and especially for all the things that I am not good at or didn’t want to do. So I like to focus on the technology part. So I’m not worried about the counting, I’m not worried about finance, I’m not worried about HR. I’m not worried about rules and regulations. There’s other people on the team who do social media or whatever else, and I can just focus on just being an entrepreneur in the part that I’m good at.

Nick (30:37):

So by virtue of being the host of the GRTiQ Podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to interview all the core dev teams. And of course, I’ve had several different members of the streaming fast team on the podcast before. And I know because of those interviews and some of my prep for this interview that you probably met StreamingFast when you were working on EOS blockchain. But for the benefit of listeners that may not know that history, is this when you met StreamingFast and how did that relationship come about?

Matthew Darwin (31:04):

So back in the day, five years ago, yes, we did collaborate with them in order to launch the EOS blockchain. They were one of the founding block producers in the EOS blockchain, and they focused a lot on, well, surprise, surprise, indexing data and figuring out how to build tools around the blockchain data. So the EOS blockchain has a block every 0.5 seconds. And so you need tools that understand how to process data very, very quickly. And they built all those tools, and that’s how they got into The Graph. And the way we got into The Graph is because the StreamingFast team said, “Well, we need people that under understand how this tech works and they can scale it, they can run it, et cetera.” So that’s how we ended up here. So yeah, so we started way back at the beginning. We collaborated, they built tools, we ran the tools, we gave them feedback, we gave them lots of feedback, they grumbled about the feedback, but at the end of the day, it was all about making the tools better. So we have this very long-standing relationship with the StreamingFast team.

Nick (32:13):

And to double down a little bit here on the historical elements here, StreamingFast at the time would’ve been dfuse and the technology that they were asking you to work with and build, would’ve this been things like Firehose or Substreams? What were you working on?

Matthew Darwin (32:29):

So yeah, we were working on dfuse. dfuse is really the precursor to Sparkle, which is really the precursor to Substreams in technology. If you get to write something the third time, it’s probably pretty good. So I really like the fact that the StreamingFast team is on the third iteration of things. But yeah, the original version was called dfuse, which has many, many elements which are basically the same as what you see inside Firehose and Substreams today. But it also had a lot of very specific stuff that was specific to the EOS blockchain technology stack. So the difference with Firehose and Substreams today is it’s blockchain agnostic. They’ve gotten rid of all that specific stuff that the actual developers for those blockchains build on top of Firehose and Substreams the specific things they need. But otherwise, the technology stack is the common bits that can be reused many times.

Nick (33:21):

I always get excited about these historical threads when different people’s stories and different contributors with the ecosystem overlap. And I appreciate you sharing some of that here. So if we span forward then a little bit, when did you become aware of The Graph?

Matthew Darwin (33:36):

Interesting story. Inside the EOS blockchain, there was the EOS Network Foundation at one point asked for a bunch of teams to go research what else is going on in the community, in the web3 community in broad. So it was like get out of your little bubble in the EOS and go figure out what else is going on in the community. And we took on the assignment or me specifically to go find out what’s going on in API land. One of the things that came up, of course, was The Graph.

Nick (34:31):

Well, Matthew, as I’ve said multiple times now, we’re speaking today because Pinax is now a new core dev team working on The Graph. And I want to say obviously congratulations to you and the team, and I appreciate you joining me and allowing me to introduce you to the community and a lot of the GRTiQ listeners. Pinax has been working on The Graph for a little while. I’ve noticed you around and obviously seen the team at different events. What can you tell us about what the focus of the team will be by virtue of working as a core dev team?

Matthew Darwin (35:06):

As you said, we’ve been around for a little while. We started working on Firehose and Substreams to introduce it to the Indexer community. So the focus has really been understanding all the latest changes, Firehose, Substreams, how does that integrate with The Graph node, all the different components of The Graph, how does all of this stuff work together? And then I’ve done a lot of Q and A sessions inside the Indexer Office Hours. That’s what we’ve been doing up to now that will continue. So that’s really the foundational piece of what Pinax is contributing to The Graph ecosystem.


So more Firehose, more Substreams, more blockchains, all that stuff. We just keep growing that. The thing that we’ve been working on more recently, and one of our team members, Yaro, was recently on Builder Office Hours and he showed, “Hey, here’s how you use actual Substreams from a developer point of view.” So we’re going to spend a lot more time building tools to make it easier to use Substreams. So up till now it’s been about how do we run Substreams as an Indexer. Now it’s as developers, how do you use Substreams? So we’re going to expand in that space. That means writing more example code, doing demos, podcasts, showing up at conferences, these kinds of things. So it’s all around Firehose and Substreams, what we’re doing inside Pinax. And we’ll just keep expanding that scope depending on whatever’s needed at the time.

Nick (36:34):

And what can you tell us about your role?

Matthew Darwin (36:36):

Yeah, so my role in Pinax is the chief infrastructure officer or CIO. But we changed information to infrastructure because that’s more appropriate in what we do. Part of my role is managing the actual infrastructure that we have in the company. So we actually have data centers with servers in them. We’re not using cloud services to manage blockchain infrastructure. So talk to suppliers and get the server set up and make sure all of that stuff is running. So that’s first job. Second job, the engineering team reports to me, so all the team that’s building all of the new tools and things that you might see. So we’ve done some demos about using Substreams with Google Sheets, which is a very different thing than the traditional GraphQL working in The Graph. So we want to try using Substreams in different ways and then show people and open their imagination.


So that was the idea about that. So managing all that and then contributing change requests to either graph node or Firehose and Substreams in order to make everything work better. So that’s all the technology part. We also have another group in the company that’s what we call it marketing or engagement or that kind of thing. So then once we’ve built some content, then we need to get it out there and make sure the world knows about it. So we have a whole group of people inside the company who are working on that part as well.

Nick (38:03):

I want to encourage listeners to follow up Pinax on Twitter because that team is doing an exceptionally good job, and if you click around and follow some of that, you’ll learn something new and there’s always fresh content coming out. So it’s definitely a good follow. Tell us about the team, Matthew, and where they’re located.

Matthew Darwin (38:18):

Our team is a virtual team, so we’re in multiple places all over the world. Most of the team is in Canada. Most of the founder team is in Canada, and the engineering team is mostly in Canada, or we do have people in Malaysia, Germany, US, and other places. So it’s interesting working in a totally distributed environment. We don’t actually have a corporate office other than the data center, so everything is virtual.

Nick (38:51):

Prior to this role as core dev, you and the team were contributors within The Graph ecosystem, and are you also working in other stakeholder roles, for example, as Indexers? I mean, I think you mentioned that a moment ago, but just want to verify, are you also in Indexer operation?

Matthew Darwin (39:07):

Yes, for sure. We are an Indexer. So part of understanding how Firehose and Substreams works well, you really want to make sure that it’s working with the indexing components in The Graph. So yes, we are an Indexer. We’re not a big Indexer like the OG Indexers who have been around for quite a while, but we do have a small indexing role and I expect that we’ll get bigger over time.

Nick (39:30):

The things that Pinax team is working on are incredibly important. And listeners of the podcast know that I recently had Alex Bourget on to talk about Substreams-powered subgraphs with the recent release of that. And these terms are circulated throughout the ecosystem, but not technical folks like myself. We don’t always follow or understand exactly what is meant by Firehose, Substreams, Substreams-powered subgraphs, and subgraphs themselves. And so without getting too technical, just staying high level, how important are things like Firehose or Substreams to the future of The Graph?

Matthew Darwin (40:05):

I think The Graph doesn’t exist without it. That’s how important I think it is. It’s a transformational technology, and it’s going to enable us to build amazing things. So if we look at the Missouri team likes to tweet out every so often, “Hey, we process the Uniswap in X amount of time,” which is 100th of the original time using the Substream technology. So Firehose is really about getting all the data out of the blockchain and preparing it for use.


And Substream is about using it in accordance to however the developer wants to use it. So going back to that philosophy that I mentioned earlier about just enabling people to do whatever they want, Firehose and Substreams allows that to happen. So let’s get all the blockchains, let’s make them available Substreams compatible, and then let’s let the developers loose and do whatever they want. So if we’re just focused on just the subgraph space, we’re missing the scope of what we can do with The Graph here. So I’m super excited about working with Edge & Node, Semiotic, GraphOps and StreamingFast, all the teams really to take all this technology and do something great with it.

Nick (41:24):

And before we leave this topic, Matthew, I want to ask you what I think is a pretty difficult question. I know this is something that I wouldn’t be able to do very well, but that is if we put into the same sandbox, Firehose and Substreams, how would you explain how those all work together?

Matthew Darwin (41:42):

It’s about their layers, right? So Firehose is very technical and nobody you want to interact with that and then you try to build something on top of that, and then you started to build something on top of that to make it simpler. Well, The Graph up till now has always been about subgraphs, and we’re trying to get, I think to a point where Subgraphs are still there. They’re still important there, but there’s a bunch of other things that you can do as well.


So trying to go for, I mentioned the Google sheets, but what about which you can use for accounting or you can use a Telegram bot or you can use a website that just has a stock ticker on it, and you can power that with live data from the Substream. You don’t need to create a subgraph. I think we’ll see a lot more use cases of people. Data needs to be organized in the way that the consumer needs it for their application. And The GraphQL way of doing things meets a whole bunch of requirements for application developers or dapps, but it doesn’t meet the requirements for data analysts, big warehouses, whatever. So we need to expand The Graph to work for all those different use cases as well.

Nick (42:57):

So Matthew, I only have two more questions for you before I ask you the GRTiQ 10, the first question is about optimism. What makes you optimistic about the future of The Graph or web3 as an industry?

Matthew Darwin (43:12):

The future of The Graph, I’m very optimistic about that because we have a whole lot of different teams who all come with their own points of view and we’re going to build something better because of it. It’s a lot more complicated than just one team with one CEO directing everything. We have to actually collaborate, but that strength will get us much further in the future. So I’m really excited about using The Graph, maybe as an example of how things are built in the future. You can actually come together as a set of distributed teams to build something interesting. And if we do nothing else, there will be a huge amount of learning just in that and enabling future collaboration over the internet.

Nick (44:01):

And the second question I want to ask you is about your time at HP. And I, as longtime listeners know, like to find threads in people’s stories that explain where they are today and what they’re working on. And I’m curious, if you think back to your time at HP working on software in a globally distributed team, did all of that prepare you to succeed in your role now in working in web3?

Matthew Darwin (44:26):

Absolutely. There’s no question. So everything that I’ve done up till now, whether it was volunteer work, university things, the HP experience, all those things, they are contributing to my experience today. So working with a global team, great. Now I meet people in The Graph community from all these different places. So yeah, absolutely understanding different cultures and customs is really important, especially as we ramp up in say, India.

Nick (44:56):

Well, Matthew, now I’m going to ask you the GRTiQ 10. You may have heard these yourself, but these are 10 questions I ask each guest of the podcast every week. And I’ve created these questions to help listeners learn something new, try something different, or to achieve more in their own lives. And so are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?

Matthew Darwin (45:13):

Fire away.

Nick (45:24):

What book or article has had the most impact on your life?

Matthew Darwin (45:28):

I’m an introvert, although people might not realize that as I’m out there talking in the Indexer Office Hours every time. So the book that had the most impact on me was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking By Susan Cain.

Nick (45:43):

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

Matthew Darwin (45:47):

Well, we talked about the fact that I travel all over the world, so I love watching The Amazing Race and seeing where other parts of the world and different cultures and of course places that I have been on before.

Nick (46:00):

And how about this, if you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

Matthew Darwin (46:05):

Rumours, Fleetwood Mac.

Nick (46:07):

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

Matthew Darwin (46:10):

I’m not approving that code for production.

Nick (46:12):

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

Matthew Darwin (46:18):

How to operate a 35 millimeter projector in a movie theater.

Nick (46:21):

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

Matthew Darwin (46:24):

So I got two here. I’m going to cheat a little bit. First, get over the fear of embarrassment of asking questions. There’s so much to learn inside web3, you have to ask questions. And second is something I learned really when I was at HP is I need to be able to put myself in what I would call email mode or coding mode, or interrupt mode and concentration mode. And trying to do both those things at the same time doesn’t work. So you need to focus whether you’re doing one or the other.

Nick (46:55):

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

Matthew Darwin (47:04):

Focus. Just working on something over and over and spending a lot of time on it, that’s how you get successful.

Nick (47:11):

And then the final three questions, Matthew, are complete the sentence type questions. So the first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is?

Matthew Darwin (47:18):

The opportunity to change the world to do something better.

Nick (47:21):

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

Matthew Darwin (47:24):

Is Twitter still exist?

Nick (47:25):

No, I got to change that question. Lastly, complete this sentence. I’m happiest when?

Matthew Darwin (47:32):

I’m in front of the computer solving complicated problems.

Nick (47:43):

Matthew Darwin, thank you so much for joining me for the podcast today and introducing listeners to you and the team at Pinax. And of course, I’m super excited to see the contributions you’ll make in unison with all the other core dev teams working to build The Graph. If listeners want to learn more about you or follow some of the work that you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to stay in touch?

Matthew Darwin (48:03):

Well, so the best way is to find me in The Graph Discord channel. I’m there all the time. I actually am still on Twitter or X. You can tweet at me @MatthewDarwin.


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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.