Today I am speaking with Pedro Diogo, Technical Program Manager at The Graph Foundation. Pedro has played a pivotal role within The Graph Foundation, collaborating closely with core developers and contributors to bring forth groundbreaking initiatives, including the MIPs program and the recent announcement of the new Chain Integration Process.
During our conversation, Pedro offers insights into his background, including an interesting discussion about his home country, Portugal, known for its reputation as one of the friendliest crypto and web3 nations. We then discuss Pedro’s journey into the world of crypto, his early engagement with The Graph (as a user!), and his eventual transition into full-time web3 work at The Graph Foundation. At the end, Pedro shares details about recent ecosystem programs he’s been involved in and outlines his visionary perspective on the future of The Graph.
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Pedro Diogo (00:18):
All of these teams working together towards this common vision, and I’m super excited. I mean, I don’t think there’s any other protocol doing what The Graph is doing, and it’s such a critical component for the whole web3 space. You have to go somewhere to get data in a verifiable way regardless of how you ask for that data.
Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Pedro Diogo, senior technical program manager at The Graph Foundation. During his time at The Graph Foundation, Pedro’s worked alongside core developers and contributors to develop some of the most exciting initiatives, including the MIPs program and the recent announcement regarding the new Chain Integration Process. During this interview, Pedro talks about his background, including a discussion about his home country of Portugal, where he shares his perspective on the country’s reputation of being one of the friendliest crypto and web3 countries in the world. We then talk about when Pedro became interested in crypto, how he happened upon The Graph as a user and his eventual move going full-time into web3 with The Graph Foundation. At the end of our conversation, Pedro talks about some of the recent ecosystem programs he supported and he shares his long-term vision for the future of The Graph. As always, we start the discussion talking about Pedro’s educational background.
Pedro Diogo (02:05):
So my background was telecom and IT, engineering. It was a very comprehensive degree when compared to typical software and engineering or computer science or even electrical engineering. We had all of those in Portugal, but this one had all of them. So it was pretty fun understanding how the different stuff works from programming stuff, but then also figuring out how networks work and how data gets transmitted, studying radio, the math behind it, but also coding that data. So it was pretty fun. I did not use most of the telecom stuff during my career. It was mostly the software side of things. But, yeah, that was my background. Very focused on software and telecom.
You mentioned there that you’re joining me from Portugal. I’ve had other guests of the podcast on before from Portugal, but I believe you’re the first that was born and raised there. So given your native status, how would you explain why Lisbon and Portugal have become so crypto friendly over the years?
Pedro Diogo (03:07):
Yeah. So I think this is a mix of having great engineering schools here with a lot of, let’s say, in-house talent paired with a culture of entrepreneurship. So Portuguese people are scrappy people by nature. We were poor, we thrived and we always found ways of getting things to work. So there’s great tech startups with unicorn status even coming out of Portugal or came out of Portugal over the last couple of years. Many from Lisbon, yes, as you mentioned, but also others throughout the country. So for this reason, I think it was only natural we became this crypto hub because at its core, it’s all about using new technology to build better than disruptive products and services. So it’s easy to find startup by accelerators and incubation programs here in Portugal and finding ways of going through an investment seed round or finding places to do co-working and mingle with other mind like folks, that’s very easy here.
And all of these existed before web3, so it’s no surprise many are moving here as… Well, we can offer everything they need for innovators and entrepreneurs to build and shape cool things all while enjoying a nice quality of living like nice weather, cost of living, food, safe and relaxed environment, et cetera. So I don’t think this really means crypto friendly or that we will be crypto friendly forever. Regulation is coming, there’s a lot of progress being done at an European level and higher taxes are coming too, I’m not really an expert here, but I don’t know the nitty gritty details of these new legislation that are coming out. But if we can avoid things like Tarot, FTX, Celsius through good regulation, it might be actually net positive for the space in the long run. And taxes wise, I just hope things don’t change too much and government becomes too greedy to the point where Portugal loses its value and all of these acquired talent and knowledge and all of these infrastructure that allows us to just get new people to come to the country and build their startups and their products here.
Let’s go back then to your education a little bit here. It sounds really interesting to me. It sounds very comprehensive. Do you mind just talking a little bit more about the types of things you studied and why you chose that discipline to study? What sparked your interest in pursuing education in this field?
Pedro Diogo (05:30):
So, yeah, I think this one was I didn’t want to focus on computer science or electrical engineering or very specific areas. So this one allowed me to understand how systems get built, like understand the whole stack. That to me was very interesting. And so I got to do things like working on all of these layers of the stack, getting the math behind how data gets transmitted over networks, different media while also programming and building all of the electronics required to see everything working and processing all of this data and transmitting it using antennas and transceivers, all of that. That was super fun. It was very hard for sure, but I loved it. And during my master’s… The master’s I did out of this five year degree, I focused on the IoT side of things. That’s a good combination of telecom, software, electronics, all things combined when you think of Internet of Things.
Well, talking about the Internet of Things, I saw online that the master’s thesis you wrote was titled A Complete Internet of Things Solution for Real-Time Web Monitoring. I mean, that sounds very interesting and it may have some tie-ins to what you’re doing now in web3 and with The Graph, but I’m curious, what was the kind of central argument there of your thesis?
Pedro Diogo (06:47):
Yes. So during my master’s, which was the last year out of these five year degree, I focused on researching what the ideal IoT or Internet of Things system could look like. I did a research and built a prototype for a very specific use case. Yeah, back then there was a lot of hype around this Internet of Things where everything was going to be connected to the internet at all times and being able to talk to one another. And so new technology was being developed like new radio more suitable for super constrained devices with very limiting power and computing capabilities. And these devices may not even actually be connected to [inaudible 00:07:27], so they’ve powered by batteries. But they were also researching, there was a lot of communication protocols similar to things like HTTP coming out. And, yeah, that was just… I thought it was two major problems hindering this goal of achieving this interoperable world where everything could talk to one another.
So the first thing was that there was a lot of open standards still being developed and not a lot of adoption by different vendors because if you have too many standards, then it’s not really a standard that you want to follow because they were all competing. So there was no consensus around one standard, one way of having devices talking to each other and following that particular language and way of talking. The other big thing was that the big tech companies, they were all releasing their closed protocols, creating silos, locking consumers to their own ecosystem. And so TLDR and the conclusion of the thesis was that there will always be different communication protocols and new radios at the device level make it impractical for things to talk to one another.
And more importantly, we should just be working more on finding ways of acquiring all of this information regardless if they come from vendor A or vendor B, and then interconnect all of these devices at higher levels of the stack, think like the cloud generally speaking. And that’s where we can extrapolate knowledge to ultimately give users the proper interface to connect to these devices and extract value from search, let’s say, interconnected data.
So that’s not easy to do, not just from a user experience perspective, but also I don’t think big vendors will ever stop building closed protocols and APIs. And, yeah, that was my thesis. I just combined a bunch of standards and, yeah, I built this very specific use case for health monitoring and, yeah, that was super fun.
Well, Pedro, I hear about your background and the things you studied early on in your education. I’m starting to see some threads that probably prepared you or at least led you intellectually to what you’re doing today. Before we get to all the work at The Graph Foundation and how you became interested in The Graph, let’s talk about what you did after university. So take us back. What did you do when you graduated?
Pedro Diogo (09:47):
So the first thing while still doing my thesis, actually, I co-founded a startup with a colleague from the university, an old friend, and other people I met at a startup acceleration program here in Portugal. Not in Lisbon, but here in Portugal. Basically what we did was a web and mobile application for personal trainers to connect with their students. We were creating this… We were giving personal trainers the ability to create training programs and monitor their clients’ or patients’ progress by tapping into their fitness wearables data. You might see some similarities there with IoT stuff somehow related. And then fitness wearables or fitness trackers back then, they were getting hot. This was in 2014. Fitbit had launched their major fitness tracker with Bluetooth capabilities and a mobile app a couple years before; two or three years before.
So this was getting hot, and we saw this opportunity. We got a grant from the government to build it, and we were building it for almost two years. Eventually, we didn’t succeed in getting the capital required to continue as a company, so the team parted ways. The product was nearly done, we didn’t ship. It still saddens me. And, yeah, after that I continued working with other early stage startups and then as a freelancer building web platforms, mobile apps through a couple of years with different colleagues. And, yeah, that was the immediate thing I did while finishing my studies.
Pedro, as longtime listeners of the podcast will probably know, this spirit of entrepreneurship, this interest in working in startup environments is a very common thread with most of the guests that have joined the GRTiQ Podcast. And no surprise it exists with you as well. Tell us about that experience. I mean, becoming an entrepreneur, working in startup environments, is that something you enjoyed?
Pedro Diogo (12:50):
Yeah. So very much. Short answer is very much. It was a lot of fun having to think about how to ship a product, how to build a product, how to find a product market fit, how to design the actual solution. And then building it, that was a lot of fun. I loved it. When I think I didn’t do a good job at while doing this company that was called Feto was the capital side of things, getting some funds to get us off the ground. I was very focused on building the product really and testing it out and talking to other personal trainers and getting them to use it, give us some feedback and iterating. Months went by and no money was coming in. And this was at a time where this was being built by university colleagues. So back then we were all getting these offers to do other stuff like another job.
We were very poor back then and we were all moving out of our house so we had bills to pay and everything. That’s when we started to think about other things we could do in parallel to get some more money coming in. That’s when I started my freelance thing and eventually the company kind of died because of that. We didn’t have the means to continue really financially speaking. And during that process, I also started to look for a full-time job, like a fixed salary. That was something I felt like I needed because all of these freelance gigs were interesting and fun. I learned a lot. I worked with different people, but I needed a full-time salary and that’s why I started looking for companies which worked on things that were related to my educational background. So telecoms, smart cities, Internet of Things, electronics, things like that. And I found this company called Ubiwhere here in Portugal, and I’ve stayed there for almost five years. That was a good move. Yeah.
Let’s talk about your time at Ubiwhere. So as you mentioned there, you went through this period of working in startup and entrepreneur, things didn’t work out exactly the way you had planned so you got a full-time job working at Ubiwhere. And you spent quite a bit of time in terms of your career at Ubiwhere. What is Ubiwhere and what did you do there?
Pedro Diogo (15:13):
So Ubiwhere is quite interesting, to be honest. I really liked working there, met a lot of smart people and a lot of good people there. So Ubiwhere is a small company here in Portugal. It has a strong R&D department, mostly on, like I mentioned, telecom and smart cities. So I initially joined as a backend engineer. A couple months later, I transitioned to a PM role, so I was involved in these R&D research into development projects. These were funded by the European Commission, and this is a well-known… The EC, they have a well-known funding program for all sorts of enterprises and academia. So these projects were three year long projects where we worked on with other internet providers on things like 5G and also big companies like IBM, Siemens, Nokia, Huawei. Huawei, because they also have an European research center in Sweden, but also universities.
So it was big consortium with different people with different background. And this was Europe’s way of ensuring that innovation and novel products and services can be built with leading edge technology, coming mostly from universities and all of these strong R&D departments. So to better explain this, we were not writing the papers. Universities were, and we were mostly focused on building the actual products with such technology, finding market fit and trying to spin up new startups. And that’s what I love doing there at Ubiwhere. For five years I managed to work with a bunch of different companies on different projects and then assembling different teams to build products and trying to spin up new companies, which we did. So that was a lot of fun. Very, very interesting times. Yeah.
Well, Pedro, as you know, it’s not always the case that people actually apply their education to what they do professionally. And in your particular situation, you are. It sounds like to me that you have been, up to this point in your career, applying all the things you learned at university. Is that right?
Pedro Diogo (17:27):
Sort of. So I did use the knowledge I had acquired during my university time, but what I did at Ubiwhere for the most part was just project management really because these were big consortium, big projects, super strict deadlines. And a lot of the EC works in a very particular way, if you apply to their grants program, you have to follow a very strict and very specific framework you need to abide by and set of guidelines. So it was mostly PMing and finding the resources internally, assembling my team to build tech solutions. So it was a tech lead role and project management roles.
And obviously, not all things were operational. I had to work with the other companies and the universities and figuring out how we could build stuff. So, yes, in a way as in I was not designing the antennas, I was not assembling circuits, I was not writing all of the software, but I was involved in the design solutions like the architecture and exploring the design space. That I was involved with. And I helped build and code some of these early prototypes, but I was mostly involved in PMing because we had a bunch of resources with different engineers with different backgrounds and software developers. Some were more on the front-end side, others were more on the backend side. So I was mostly assembling teams and PMing there like establishing the timelines and all of that sort of thing. So, yeah, it was related to my background because all of these projects were telecom, smart cities, which requires knowledge in telecom and all of that.
Well, let’s go then back in time and talk about when you first became aware of crypto. So you’re well on your way now working at Ubiwhere, you’ve got what sounds like a pretty good professional track, you enjoy the people you’re working with and the work you’re doing. At what point do you become aware of crypto and what were some of your first impressions at that time?
Pedro Diogo (19:35):
Sure. So this was still within Ubiwhere actually. The first time I got into crypto was in 2017. Funny enough, that was through mining Ethereum and Monro like coins. I had access to some servers. I started playing around with different mining clients, just doing geeky stuff like benchmarking GPUs, CPUs. The very geeky things really. I didn’t make a lot of money as it was just a hobby with a couple of average servers really. But it was just fun. I was just doing it for fun. Then I started learning about Bitcoin through Andreas Antonopoulos. I think the listeners might know who he is. He wrote a lot about Bitcoin and then Ethereum. So about his books first Bitcoin, then Ethereum. And Ethereum got me hooked. I had no idea such a thing existed really. And this idea of an open and permissionless completely distributed system that anyone can deploy any program with strong consensus guarantees to me was mind blowing really.
Then I learned Solidity, played around with their smart contracts. And eventually at Ubiwhere, I started bringing this technology to some of the projects we were working on. And funny enough, we started with remission blockchains. Big companies were trying to find ways to get their share of the market by building these closed blockchains. And it’s actually very funny to think about this now because I don’t think it ever worked anyway. I’m not following that now. But these were essentially glorified databases that no one really wanted to work with.
So in these European research projects funded by the European Commission, I tried to bring these public blockchains to it and see how we could build stuff with that tech. But, yeah, no one really wanted to touch it. No one really wanted to touch open and public blockchains back then. No one really liked it. No one really liked what was going on with these ICOs. This was during the ICOs era. There were a lot of scams back then unfortunately. And, yeah, it seemed like the EC wanted to stay away from it, which kind of makes sense now. But, yeah, it was just as a hobby. And then eventually I loved the tech and I actually worked on some projects at Ubiwhere with Ethereum, which was super, super fun.
Well, there’s a lot to unpack there, Pedro, and it’s super interesting to me. So let’s just kind of take a few of these one by one. So what prompted you to start running a minor? I mean, you must’ve had somebody introduce you or did you just start reading about this on the weekends and at nights and just figure, “Hey, I’ll give it a shot”?
Pedro Diogo (22:21):
The motivation just really was… It’s one of those things if you want to learn how things work, you just mess around with it. And back then, for me, the way I thought about let me see how this works is just let me just run the software and see this thing working. That was what I did and I found it very interesting mining different coins. What does that mean? Why do some [inaudible 00:22:44] and some are more like GPU oriented? Why are we doing CPU coins? Why do we have these ASICs now? I think it goes back to my education. I knew what PGAs were like. We wrote software, we coded circuits and electronics just to do one specific function, and it did that specific function very efficiently because the hardware there just knows how to run those instructions really. So I was trying to figure out what does that mean to have all of these miners worldwide to compute all of this stuff and how much does it cost?
And then I noticed the economics side of things. Is it profitable for me to run one of these things at home? Should I do it? Then I went through a period where I started talking to some friends and we were considering actually trying to pull in some money and buy one of these ASICs and put it in our basement because it’s cool there and electricity is cheap here and just have it run there and see if we can make something out of it. So it was purely just as a hobby like that. I was just curious really.
And then the second thing I want to ask you is about that aha moment or the light bulb moment you had when it came to the power of Ethereum. And so you recognized something quite early on that this technology was disruptive or different or something like on the cutting edge of what is possible. Just tell us what it? What was it about Ethereum that just really struck a chord with you that opened your mind to the new possibilities?
Pedro Diogo (24:17):
Yeah. So Ethereum was this concept of having this public and open network of computers, computing stuff in an open and public way that everybody can see and coming to consensus. And you pair that with money, programmable money, and possibilities really are endless. You can build things which you couldn’t before. This idea of implicit trust and verifiability, you can verify everything like why am I paying for such service? Why does it cost that much? Who am I actually paying? Is there someone in between where some fees are going through for some reason or whatever? That to me was a lot of fun.
And what I loved about it was, again, it’s a great tool for entrepreneurs. We could explore ways of building new things a lot more efficiently. If the value proposition of my product is transparency and fairness, some of these core values, if they are implicit in that product, it can only be so if you use infrastructure like this. Your users might not know this, they don’t really care, of course, but it’s just that people that want to build apps, they can do so more easily now. If you want to build something that involves paying someone for some service, just do it on a public and open blockchain just much easier. Just if you abstract the way of how people pay for stuff like fiat on-ramps and stuff and if you abstract the way the complexities of assembling a wallet, if you build a nice user interface and if the user experience is nice, you can build great products a lot faster.
And so Ethereum to me really was… When I saw we never had this sort of technology, this unlocked so many different ways. I think we’re still learning how to actually use it. We’re going through a phase where it’s some people want to say out of it because of all of this regulation that’s coming and whatnot, but fundamentally it’s amazing. We didn’t never had anything like this. If you want to build an app or new products and services, you got to code it, you got to find a provider to host it, no one really knows what you’re doing. We’ve had all of these scandals like people raising a lot of money claiming they had this amount of users and they’re not. They were all bots. All of those shady things.
You can’t do that anymore. And then it’s the other side of things, the money part or the DeFi part. You could launch these services in places where people can play around with your application and buy stuff through your application or whatever just using DeFi, just using some tokens or another currency. Another way of paying people not going through… Some of these people don’t have banks or don’t have a bank account. So I think it’s just everything that Ethereum really allows for, which we didn’t have before. That to me was mind blowing really and it still is the sort of things we can build. It’s incredible.
And we’re still exploring. We are very involved in web3, so we see what we see in the web3 space. We hear about NFTs and stuff. But the way I used Ethereum at Ubiwhere was we were building applications and services that anyone could actually use and they didn’t even know they were using Ethereum or that they were paying with tokens or that they had a wallet. This was more than five years ago, but I still think that we still need to do a lot better there. We can build these things with Ethereum, not really rubbing in people’s face like, “Here’s a wallet. Now you got to learn how to protect your private key and this is your seat phrase.” That will never fly in my opinion. People will not really adopt this technology if that’s the user experience. But if we figured out how to build these new things with this technology and focus more on UI and UX and abstracting the complexities that come with that technology, then I’m sure we’ll be able to onboard a lot more people and fully unlock the potential of these public and open blockchains like Ethereum.
Incredible overview, and I appreciate you sharing all of that. And it makes a ton of sense. And so let’s then jump back into your personal story. You’re working at Ubiwhere, you’re doing some really cool on the side hobby type work that leads you to actually introduce some applications at work that’s using Ethereum. At what point do you become aware of The Graph and what’s the backstory then from you leaving Ubiwhere to join The Graph Foundation?
Pedro Diogo (28:58):
So I learned about The Graph by accident. Probably very likely many other people did like developers in general. So in our case, we just needed to build an API to expose our smart contracts data. That’s all we had to do. And as a software developer, that’s something that you always need. If you have an app, you always have a front-end and a backend. So your front-end or the user facing stuff needs to get data using an API. You’re using Ethereum, where’s the API for me to get my data? So blockchain nodes, they expose these RPC interface, but that’s not really efficient. So that’s where we found this [inaudible 00:29:42] thing. I had no idea what that was at the time.
And, yeah, one of the things we were building at Ubiwhere was this mobile application. This is a very concrete example and similar to what I was saying before. So we were building this mobile application that interacted with a smart outlet. Smart outlet/smart meter. And we were using Ethereum to essentially build a marketplace for peer to peer buying and selling of electricity basically. And we designed this smart outlet in-house, which communicated via NFC with our mobile app, and that’s how we control the flow of energy going through these smart outlets. And we would also monitor the energy consumption at the outlet level. And then people that were using this solution, they would engage on this transaction by agreeing with the provider’s kilowatt hour price that was set on chain. And the money would be transferred to the providers as soon as the consumer would stop charging via the app and the smart outlet. So it was a very basic use case, very simple concept.
This was one of my favorite projects really because it was a very simple thing, but super fun to build because we built the whole system and that’s what I usually like doing. So the peer-to-peer payments were settled on chain. This was Ethereum. Back then there was no real L2s, so it was a little bit expensive. And during that process, we learned a lot. We started using [inaudible 00:31:16] transactions so the user wouldn’t pay for gas. I learned how to store private keys in a [inaudible 00:31:22] like this that it can be cheap. We had built into the [inaudible 00:31:25] smart outlet then use wallet keys to sign and verify these transactions between the mobile app and the outlet.
So, yeah, it was a lot of fun and I was using this technology in other projects. We actually got a grant or more than one grant to run another three to five year project based on blockchain and telecom. Super interesting stuff too. But as time passed, I was using Ethereum and blockchain stuff a lot more. And eventually I figured, well, I really want to go full time. And that’s when I started looking for a job in this space. I talked to different protocols, and then I was lucky enough to get chosen by The Graphs team, which was amazing. And so The Graph was really what I really wanted.
As someone who builds apps with Ethereum at its core, The Graph’s value proposition was super clear. Of course, we needed the proper API, as I mentioned then. Without The Graph, it would’ve taken us a lot longer to make progress. We would have to build out our own indexing solution, we would have to restore the database, we would have to host it, we would have to maintain it. With The Graph, all of that is taken away from you. And this goes back to the efficiency of building new products and service with Ethereum at its core. You ship things faster really, especially if you use great tooling like The Graph. So I knew there was value in using technology like Ethereum to build these things and this is where I want to go, and I eventually got here and I will always be grateful for the folks that hired me. I don’t think I can do anything else now. The Graph is still my passion really.
Pedro, that’s a remarkable background starting off as a user of The Graph and kind of stumbling upon or accidentally coming upon The Graph and starting to use subgraphs. The other really incredible part of that is that you’re working in web2, but you’re powering some of the things you’re working on with web3, but people don’t know it because abstracting it away. Which ultimately seems to me to be one of the biggest challenges right now for the industry is to do essentially what you were doing there. When we talk about The Graph and the fact that you were a user first, can you just go back a little bit there and tell us about how The Graph made your life easier and the impact it had on what you were trying to build?
Pedro Diogo (33:52):
Sure. Yeah. So it goes back to the efficiency. As a developer or if you’re building something that uses Ethereum, you need APIs. And so The Graph gives you that automatically. You need only to focus on your smart contracts, right? And then if you use The Graph, then all the data you need to build your application will be available in a GraphQL sort of way. So you have a proper query language step into your data and do queries on it. I don’t even think that the web3 space would’ve evolved as quickly as it did without The Graph. So we felt it at Ubiwhere like, oh, this is way easier. Now I have APIs, now I can build the front-end, now I can build the mobile apps. That’s super useful.
And I think the whole DeFi space during the early years when The Graph came out, they also noticed it. A lot of things got shipped during that time because developers would ship it faster. I don’t think the space would’ve evolved so quickly if we didn’t have The Graph. So major, major important piece of software we currently have allowing developers and entrepreneurs to just build and ship things a lot faster and more efficiently.
Let’s talk about MIPs for a minute here. For listeners that may not know what MIPs was and sort of the objective of that initiative, what can you tell us about that?
Pedro Diogo (35:44):
MIPs was the foundation’s incentivized program to bootstrap Indexer supply on new chains. Before MIPs, The Graph protocol supported all the Ethereum, indexing Ethereum. Also IPFS, but it was not really multi-chain ready. And by the time we started MIPs, it was mid last year, mid ’22, we knew that the future would be multi-chain. The Graph had always been blockchain agnostic because we have more than 30 chains supported under the hosted service. And so the program lasted for nearly nine months. We had close to 400 Indexers participating, and it was a very similar program to the one we had before when the protocol launched mission control, as we call it back then. Yeah, so back then the focus was on onboarding these new Indexers to support mostly Ethereum.
And this time we wanted to ensure indexes could also support the new set of chains. We wanted to get on a protocol. We’d call it quality of service that would be better than the one we had under the hosted service. So this was crucial to ensure we had enough in quality supply to support this new wave of subgraphs coming to the network, primarily coming from these new chains. Including also obviously those migrating from the hosted service in pursuit of a more resilient and overall better service. It also allowed us to better prepare for this multi-chain world. Indexers started monitoring their infrastructure closely, optimizing their infrastructure constantly in pursuit of a better quality of service, which would always translate into more off protocol rewards because it was an incentivized program. We had Indexers competing against each other for queries.
This was one of the other benefits of the protocol. It allowed core developers to provide Indexers with the means to assess how they are competing on the network for queries. These tools are still being used today, even after MIPs, and it all adds up to a more resilient and for format network really. It also allowed us to start thinking about how we can best support Indexers in the future when it comes to supporting this multi-chain world. Also, as an Indexer, if you start supporting multiple chains, it becomes a lot difficult for you to scale your infrastructure effectively and manage all of that. So we worked on new tooling for orchestration and stuff like launch page coming from The Graph opps. And we’re also working on better documentation for each supported chains like giving Indexers the information they need to sync new archive nodes and what the actual requirements are, where the snapshots are so they can sync those nodes a lot quicker. And, yeah, really enjoyed being a part of it.
Pedro, one thing about a program like MIPs that maybe those that didn’t participate, maybe just listeners of this podcast, don’t fully appreciate is the cutting edge nature of it. I mean, a program like that and some of the technical challenges associated with it, that really isn’t leading edge, I guess you could say, of web3 and what The Graph is doing. Is that right?
Pedro Diogo (38:57):
Yes. I mean, it’s going from having Indexers supporting one blockchain to a world where we can have a lot more. Like any blockchain really, it’s a big leap. And for Indexers, it changes how Indexers interact to the protocol and how they think about scaling and which chains they want to support and the cost that might imply and how they can be profitable. But it’s also extremely important for web3 in general because same thing that happened with Ethereum and DeFi, we had all of these subgraphs powering all of the web3 stack and the whole DeFi space. It’s super clear that we’re now going multi-chain, so we’ll need to support those chains as well.
As web3 matures and we all evolve, people will want to build APIs for different blockchains. So it’s a critical milestone for the protocol now that being multi-gene ready and once MIPs ended, we figured, well, how do we scale? And we had to think of ways where we could allow the community to propose new chains to be supported on a protocol because the foundation cannot just do MIPs programs all the time, right? So we also came up with a new program.
Well, as you mentioned there, Pedro, that’s another big announcement recently for The Graph community, which is the Chain Integration Process, which derived from a GIP you posted in the forum and it came on the hills of the MIPs program. So for listeners that maybe have missed that news and some of the details, can you just quickly give us an overview of the Chain Integration Process and why that’s also another important milestone for The Graph?
Pedro Diogo (40:40):
It’s very similar to MIPs. We’ve taken the learnings from MIPs and this new Chain Integration Process. We’ve established some guidelines for the community to propose adding support for new chains, and now they can do so while ensuring that we have the required quality of service and reliability and also assurances that the data consistency is there. And the process is really easy. Whereas before we had the foundation coming up and saying, “Hey, we should support this particular chain,” say Gnosis, Fantom, Avalanche, Polygon in Arbitrum. This time it’s like the community can come and say, “Hey, we should probably support chain X.” And the chains themselves, they can come to us and say, “I want to be supported. I want to have The Graph for call support. I want to allow my community of developers to build APIs with The Graph. If they’re building smart contracts on my chain, they should have APIs.” And so the integration with The Graph is critical.
We’re giving them the opportunity to come to us, us I mean us generally speaking the protocol, and propose this. So it all starts with a forum post really. And once we get the forum post, then the community will come and see, okay, The Graph node integration exists. It works. We can index that data, the solution exists. And then if it exists, the step is to ensure that we can support their developers in [inaudible 00:42:14] like Subgraph Studio so that they can have a playground to work with for free, test things out before going on to our decentralized network. And during that period, we also test the integration with Indexers because they are the ones who will be supporting that chain. So Indexers will then sync a few subgraphs. We monitor the quality of service there, we ensure that there’s no divergency in the POIs, that’s the proof of indexing.
And if it all passes and if everything looks good, then it’s just the council votes away from getting indexing rewards on [inaudible 00:42:53], which means getting protocol support for that particular chain. So Indexers will then be able to sync those subgraphs on those chains and getting indexing rewards for it. So it’s a very open process anyone can do, and that’s how the foundation believes we can scale to multiple chains in the future and allow anyone to propose these chains and go through the process. So it’s hopefully a very efficient way to get there.
I’ll put links in the show notes for anyone that wants to go read more about the Chain Integration Program and the forum post that Pedro mentions there. But certainly exciting news for The Graph community and all of web3 for anyone that wants to propose new chains to The Graph Network. So, Pedro, just have a few remaining questions for you. The first one is, how has The Graph changed since you joined it back in 2021? I mean, what has it been like watching the network evolve and going from a user to somebody who’s working on it every day?
Pedro Diogo (43:54):
Yes, great question. So things changed a lot since I’ve joined. This was more than two years ago. When I joined, we had only one core development team. We had Edge & Node. Since then, we’re now at six different teams. The protocol is complex. There’s a lot of different things that we need to work on, not just the protocol level, but off chain components, on chain stuff and Indexer software, tooling, Subgraph Studio at the GYS. There’s a bunch of different things to work on. And throughout these years, we’ve all trying to figure out what the best way to work with different teams is just to ensure that we’re all working towards this roadmap. And going back to my previous job, it’s trying to strike a balance between being super restrictive and sometimes getting in the way. So we’re trying to find the right balance between letting developers build things while at the same time ensuring there’s alignment and helping out coordinating things so we can all ship things more efficiently and faster.
So the protocol has evolved quite a lot since all of these teams joined. We didn’t have a lot of expertise in AI, so Semiotic is helping out a lot. We couldn’t focus a lot on The GraphQL side of things on tooling and clients. And so the Gill joined and helped us out and now we have very nice GraphQL clients and it also helping us out at The GraphQL layer on the query side, on graph node; StreamingFast, building super fast indexing solutions so we can index data a lot faster and more efficiently.
Anyway, we have a bunch of different teams. I’m not mentioning them all, but we have a bunch of different teams working on different things, and that’s how the protocol evolves. You can’t just have one team with a set of expertise building this thing like the world map requires a different skillset, different teams with different expertise and coordination is critical to ensure that they’re all working together for the same goal. And now we’re evolving. We are shipping all of these things. We’ve announced last year when we showcased the roadmap, but things also change. This space moves fast, priorities change. And the working groups we’ve shared and that would’ve formalized a couple of years ago, some of them are active, others have been created, task forces have been created as well. So it’s always changing.
Well, clearly a lot of things have changed, Pedro, since you joined The Graph Foundation. And I’m sure it was quite an experience for you going from a user of The Graph to somebody actively contributing and help build and evolve the protocol. If that then was what’s changed since you’ve joined, let’s ask a question about the future. I mean, what types of things, what initiatives are you most excited about when you think about the work you still have to do at The Graph foundation?
Pedro Diogo (46:51):
When I joined, we had this team only [inaudible 00:46:55], right? And ever since we started working with multiple teams. So I can say that from the time I’ve joined to where we are now, the focus has been on The GraphQL side of things and subgraphs, ensuring that we have proper indexing speed, giving developers better tooling to build their subgraphs, also better clients to consume that data through The Graph clients. But at the same time, building amazing subgraphs and APIs that the space needs: that’s super high quality data. That was mostly Insari’s work. And now I think we’re at a point where new technology have also been built by StreamingFast, specifically on Substreams. I think we’re now at a point where we can go beyond GraphQL. And so different core developers are continuing in expanding the protocol to these world of multi-data services while at the same time continuing the research you’ve been doing since last year on things like verifiable data, like the work that Semiotic has been doing and minimizing the [inaudible 00:48:00] we have on a protocol between consumers, Indexers and all of that new payment solutions.
So we’ve been focusing on that. And now I think the future ahead is going beyond GraphQL and then this new technology built by the StreamingFast team mostly on firewalls and Substreams. We have to have native support for those new data services on the network as well. So I think that’s a major focus for the future. Once we get all of these things built, you can think of LLMs as well, like large language models. You can think of ChatGPTs sort of things that are now very popular. But it makes a lot of sense because if we are coming to a point where The Graph has all the knowledge about web3 and web2 in a verifiable way, you want to do queries like you do with Google. So you’ll got to do it through natural language queries. So that’s the sort of things we are focusing on.
And obviously that also involves empowering Indexers. They are ultimately the ones that will be exposing all of this data. And like I said, yes, simplifying the protocol and it’s extremely exciting. We’re clearly aligned with the vision for The Graph and that we’re now at a point where we can see the different pieces and we have different teams working on different things, but collectively we’ll get there. So it’s extremely exciting. And, I mean, we can see it now. We have multi-chain, we have new indexing technology, we have new API or way to build APIs with Substreams. I mean, we’re getting there for sure. So it’s amazing to see all of these teams working together towards this common vision. And I’m super excited. I mean, I don’t think there’s any other protocol doing what The Graph is doing, and it’s such a critical component for the whole web3 space. You have to go somewhere to get data in a verifiable way regardless of how you ask for that data. You’ve got to go somewhere to do complex queries and get the data out, and you don’t need to trust anyone giving you that data.
Exciting vision for the future of The Graph and a lot more to come. Pedro, I only have one final question for you before I ask you the GRTiQ 10. And this question’s about a little bit of your background and of course what you’re working on now. And the question is, how do you position web3 against web2? I mean you early on in your career were abstracting away web3, but were using it in essence as a web2 experience. Do you see web3 eventually replacing web2? Do you see a feature where they coexist? What’s your vision for that?
Pedro Diogo (50:42):
Yeah. So definitely co-existing. I don’t think web3 fully replaces web2. We’ll still need the legacy infrastructure for this transition to work. And if we put web3 in a completely separate bucket, then it’s not really an evolution of web2, but a different sort of internet kind of thing. I guess it all depends on one’s definition of web3, but for this to work, I think we have to work with and embrace web2. If we build things purely the web3 way, or at least the current web3 way let’s call it, the user experience will most likely suck. And onboarding new people will be extremely hard. So I don’t see web3 as an experiment for sure. I think it’s a natural evolution technological speaking. Like previous iterations of the web, this one will just require more work. It’s fundamentally different I think.
So I think web2 work because companies were able to build nice applications with great user experience at a cost like lack of privacy or no control over your data, how it gets used by those companies to generate more money basically. And web3 will get there too. I’m sure tooling is getting better. The fundamental technology is also getting better. Zero knowledge stuff for privacy and obstructing ways of how people interact with the blockchain. Most importantly, I think we need to get past this stigma of working with open and public blockchains. And I don’t mean we the web3 folks, I mean we as in people building new products and new services, like I mentioned. There’s a lot of stigma now. So entrepreneurs need to feel safe doing so, which will eventually lead to even better tooling and infrastructure for more products and services to be built. And I’m optimistic. I’m sure we’ll get there. We just need to fight a few more battles while continuing building the underlying infrastructure and tooling required.
Well, now I’m going to ask you the GRTiQ 10, Pedro. These are a listener favorite and perhaps if you’ve listened to podcasts before, you’ve noticed it. But it’s a great way for listeners to get to know the guests a little bit better, but also to learn something new, try something different or to potentially achieve more in their own lives. So, Pedro, are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?
Pedro Diogo (52:55):
Yeah, let’s do it.
What book or article has had the most impact on your life?
Pedro Diogo (53:13):
I don’t read as much, or at least not as much as I did before, but I would say many people have read this book, but I read it at what [inaudible 00:53:23] to me made a lot of sense. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. So it makes me think about things in [inaudible 00:53:26] world.
Is there a movie or a TV show that you would recommend everybody should watch?
Pedro Diogo (53:34):
Yeah, I don’t have an answer here. It’s so difficult, dude. This one is very hard.
If you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
Pedro Diogo (53:44):
Interesting. I don’t think I can say one music album. I listen to a lot of music, different ones, and I would say most likely [inaudible 00:53:52]. Any album.
What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?
Pedro Diogo (53:56):
What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think most other people have learned or know quite yet?
Pedro Diogo (54:06):
I really don’t think I have an answer to this one. Maybe I still haven’t learned anything that others don’t know.
What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?
Pedro Diogo (54:18):
I thought I was more productive at night is something weird because I used to work at night and then I didn’t sleep that much. But lately, I’ve found that I’m actually more productive if I do it in the morning. So I’m not an early person naturally. My body doesn’t tell me to wake up early or go to bed early. But when I do wake up early and I start working, I notice I’m actually more productive when compared to doing the same amount of work at night. So this was something I learned recently.
Based on your own life experiences and observations, what’s the one habit or characteristic that you think best explains why people find success in life?
Pedro Diogo (55:01):
Going out, seeing the world, understanding how the world works, I think is… You need to know how people live their lives and what they like and how they go about their lives to be successful and can’t just be in your own bubble, in your own environment with your own thoughts.
And then the final three questions, Pedro, are complete the sentence type questions. The first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is?
Pedro Diogo (55:29):
The potential to make the internet a lot better and does our life.
And how about this one? If you’re on X, formerly known as Twitter, you should be following?
Pedro Diogo (55:41):
I don’t have an answer. I am not really a Twitter or X user these days, so I can’t really recommend anyone. Sorry.
And then lastly, complete this sentence. I’m happiest?
Pedro Diogo (55:54):
When I’m out with friends cooking or eating and drinking with friends.
Pedro, thank you so much for joining me and for sharing your story about how you became interested in The Graph and then went to work at The Graph Foundation. If listeners want to stay in touch with you, Pedro, and follow some of the things you’re working on, what’s the best way to do it?
Pedro Diogo (56:21):
I would say Telegram as many people in the web3 space use Telegram. That might be the best way to get in touch, but also the Discord. If you go onto The Graph’s Discord server, you’ll find me Pedro: The Graph Foundation.
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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.