Episode 21: Today I’m speaking with Chris Remus, an Indexer at The Graph. Chris is the founder of Chainflow, a well-respected validator involved in many networks. Chris is also very active on Twitter and publishes a lot of original content, usually focused on his perspectives related to keeping stake decentralized.
Our conversation with Chris covers his entry into crypto, his early draw towards Ethereum, his values, his thoughtful position on keeping stake decentralized, and we end with a discussion of Chainflow and The Graph.
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Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Chris Remus, founder of Chainflow, an Indexer. In The Graph, Chainflow is an active Indexer in The Graph community. And Chris is an active voice in the broader validator ecosystem. Our conversation was very interesting, ranging from how Chris uses his values driven compass to navigate his work as a validator, his impassioned stance on keeping stake decentralized, and why it’s so important, and his long term vision for The Graph. We started the conversation discussing Chris’s background and how he first became interested in crypto.
Yeah, sure, thanks for having me. My journey in the crypto space started, just under a year after our first son was born, I was coming out of the new parent, sleep-deprived fog. And four years in the neighborhood. In Brooklyn where we were living, there is a sticker on a mailbox and I walked by this sticker. I don’t know this was the time period I’m talking about now was late 2015, early 2016. And I’ve been passing this sticker on the mailbox that said blockchain.me for a number of years before that, usually walking my dog. And after our son was born, and my head started to clear, I realized that I hadn’t really been intellectually interested or stimulated by any of the technology work I’d been doing probably for the past, I don’t know 7, 8, 9 10 years. So one day, as I was walking past that sticker, I took a picture of it to remind myself to check it out further when I got home. And I carved out some time to do that. I couldn’t find the website itself. But you know, that brought me to Bitcoin. And then very soon after that, I came across Ethereum as well. And while Bitcoin was interesting to me, Ethereum really caught my interest. Because what I was attracted to with Ethereum, is that, you know, as I started Bitcoin, primarily as a store of value, you know, that’s over, over simplifying things. What resonated with me about Ethereum in those very early days was that way, you can actually build things on top of this blockchain. And basically, once that happened, I discovered Ethereum, I started to do a lot of personal research, and really dove right in.
And over time, I was trying to figure out what within my background could be helpful to the Ethereum community primarily. And I realized that through a very diverse career, one of the things that had been consistent was my project management work.
And I realized a lot of these projects, first of all, are decentralized and are resistant to centralized control. So I respected that. And I also realized that we were pretty early in the development of projects on Ethereum, specifically, but that said, I came across the Ethereum Name Service. And Alex Van De Sande, Nick Johnson, we’re working on it at the time. And I saw that they tried to launch and that the first launch failed. Nick wrote a post mortem about why the launch failed. And I replied to that post mortem with another post that essentially said, here’s how project manager could help the next launch attempt succeed. I sent that over to Nick and I volunteered to be that project manager. And Nick took me up on it. We launched ENS successfully and I did that was my formal entry point into the crypto space particular the Ethereum ecosystem.
Can you describe in that 7 to 10 year period before you made the leap into crypto. What types of work you were doing you, you mentioned you were in the technology space?
Yeah. My early experience…I was trained as an electrical engineer, and when I got out of school, which was going on about 20 years ago, a little bit more, I started to work at Sprint, the telecom company. And I was trained in telecommunications technologies, because at that time, a lot of people weren’t being trained in that. And Sprint needed people who knew these new and up and coming technology. So I was trained there. And my first job out of school was actually as a Unix system administrator working on Solaris boxes. To make a long story short, I became the primary person, the actually the only person responsible for supporting all the backend systems that kept Sprint’s first internet IP router backbone running. So early on, I had a Unix system administrator background. And then from there, I went on to do a lot more Telecom, and IT infrastructure work. So I’ve worked in some telecom startups back in the late 90s, early 2000, during that Telecom, boom and bust. And after that, I went to do some work in the consulting space. So I did consulting with companies like Booz Allen and Deloitte Consulting. And then I worked with defense agencies, security, intelligence agencies, financial services, both agencies within the government and also commercial financial services, companies, like credit card processors. So combined, through those years, I gained quite a bit of experience, both hands on, and then strategically designing networks and data centers that were high availability, high performance and needed to be very secure. So I did a lot of that work. After that, I dipped my toes into the startup world. And I tried to start a company that was intended to be the Netflix for Bollywood. So essentially, becoming Netflix for all of the very popular movies and TV and music content that was coming out of India. That was back in 2007.
And at that time, we were we were too early, and financial crisis hit. So we had to close those doors. And then for about the next, this is directly to your point now, for about the next 6, 7, 8 years, I was really going through a personal transformation of trying to figure out what to do next, both personally and with myself as someone who was doing work. And, you know, I was doing various project management consulting, jobs, nothing that ever was too stimulating. I ended up doing some technology patent work, which looking back was, you know, somewhat cross green to what we’re doing now in the open source world.
But, you know, it’s all during that time that, you know, I was, I was doing the work to pay the bills. But I was really trying to figure out what was going to come next for me. And fortunately, you know, that sticker stuck in my head. And it turned out that entering the crypto space is what was going to come next. And I feel super fortunate it did, because, you know, for the first time probably in a very long career, I feel like the work that I’m doing now aligns also with my values as a person, as a human being. I feel really grateful for that every morning when I wake up and do the work that I do through Chainflow.
So Chris, one theme in the GRTiQ Podcast with all my guests is the hook into crypto is Ethereum. There’s something about either the utility, the vision, the practicality of Ethereum. And it’s true with you as well. So I’d like to ask if you would be willing to explain what it was or is about Ethereum that prompted you to take the leap into crypto.
I guess to start, I would say that I’m not one chain maximalist by any means. I think what attracted me to Ethereum was that, as I said in previous answer, I was really intrigued by the fact that you could build other things on top of this chain. And I think fundamentally, that was the biggest attraction to me.
And I felt like, in a way, I almost felt like I was late to Bitcoin to, whereas Ethereum had only launched a few months before. So you know, typically, I like to try and get involved early in things. Throughout my career, I’ve had various degrees of success in doing that. But one of the things that I’ve learned is, you know, being somewhere early and being involved early is usually pretty exciting. And that’s also where you can person can have the most impact.
So I think those factors combined to me, looking into Ethereum and, you know, the entry point with the Ethereum name service DNS was a fortunate
One at that time. And Nick and Alex were both really fantastic to work with. And this was also my first experience with the Ethereum community itself.
And I would say that one of the things that kept me interested in Ethereum was the community and still is the community. I do think Ethereum has one of the strongest supportive communities out there, if not the strongest.
And from the Ethereum Name Service, I went on to do some work with Aragon, and other projects. And I was able to get to know that community even better, and the more I got to know that community, the more I felt connected with that community, and its values. And yeah, so I’d say that, you know, that was the entry point into Ethereum itself. And then the community was something that really caused me to want to go deeper into Ethereum and participate more within the theorem community, as I got to know more about it. And as I was fortunate to meet more people within that community.
You’ve mentioned a couple times already that there’s something about the crypto space and Ethereum, in your personal values that align, what are those values in? How did you find alignment with them in the crypto space?
Well, I think it starts with the fact that I don’t feel like I’m, I feel like I’ve been excluded from the legacy economy.
And when I think about the legacy economy, I also think about the power structure that it upholds. And, you know, I would say that I’m not part of the 1%. And, you know, the more I think about it, and over the years, as I think about it more, when I think about a capitalistic society,
I really believe that these capitalistic societies
Essentially are set up in a way and the values that drive them are set up in a way to reward a very small number of very wealthy stakeholders who end up attracting inordinate amounts of capital. And one of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, that’s a pretty good example of that is the gap in the CEO pay. So if you look at the ratio of how much more CEOs are getting paid, than, you know, the workers who were, you know, so often on the front lines, and over the past year, you know, on the front lines means literally being on the front lines in a lot of ways, especially in the healthcare industry. Just feel like there’s really something wrong when CEOs are getting paid so much more than these people who are out there doing the work. And not only out there doing the work, but you know, being thrown up on billboards with masks, you know, giving a thumbs up sign saying we’re with you. But in a lot of ways, I feel like people like this are getting exploited and continued to be exploited. So I think that’s a long way of saying that I feel like the current economy is very inequitable, very exclusive, and very unfair, I feel like I’ve experienced some of the effects of that, not nearly to the extreme that many have.
So a lot of the values that I’m trying to bring to the space are expressed through my work here are those that I feel like are consistent with a lot of the crypto native values that I was exposed to, when I first got to know people within the space and resonated with these people. And essentially, to me, what that boils down to is creating a more equitable, fair and inclusive alternative to the current economy. And the power structure that it upholds.
Someone with your background and technical skills probably had a lot of options available. In terms of how you participate in the space. You chose that of the founder of Chainflow and as a validator, what drew you to that particular stakeholder position?
As I mentioned earlier, my entry point into the crypto world was through project management and product management. But you know, about that same time that I started that exploration after seeing that sticker. I came across Proof of Stake I guess this was mid-2016 when some of the early Ethereum Casper work was published.
And, you know, I thought to myself, that the Bitcoin mining ship had sailed for me as someone with an interest in telecom data center, infrastructure and telecommunications in general, I’d initially been attracted to mining. But, you know, as I said, that ship sailed because I didn’t have the capital to buy servers that would compete and actually generate a return. So when proof of stake came along, I immediately thought of it as a more inclusive alternative to mining, essentially.
And I was fortunate to become one of the first people to join the Cosmos validator working group in October of 2017. So I was able to then put that theory to the test. And sure enough, at least in my case, you know, I was able to afford to, you know, buy or rent the servers I needed to, to get started. And that started to prove out my theory that, you know, I think I can participate in the staking economy in ways that weren’t necessarily available
In a Proof of Work environment, because of the high costs associated with mining. And once I got into it, I started to brush off my old system administrator skills and realized that I really, really enjoyed it, too. So over time, my work migrated from more of the project management side into more of the staking and Web 3 infrastructure side of things. And over time, you know, once Cosmos launched, and the staking networks started launching in pretty quick succession. After that, I found myself to be in the fortunate position of being in early and started receiving lots of different invitations to participate in different networks. And that’s how Chainflow is born.
How would you describe the role of validators? Which I think, and you correct me if I’m wrong, Chris, but the role of validators which are called Indexers at The Graph, in the broader ecosystem, why does this role exist? And why is it so important to have people like you?
Sure, so I think, you know, I think Indexers the way I look at it is Indexers in The Graph ecosystem. And validators more broadly. And staking systems really provide the fundamental foundation for the network to run on top of, I look at the Indexers as the core foundation for the protocol to run on. And I think, you know, as part of providing this foundation, we play a really important role of keeping the network secure. And one of the ways we do that is by verifying data integrity, and essentially, you know, in a broad sense, making sure that everybody is doing what they say they’re going to do, and providing what they say they’re going to provide. So that, you know, essentially, the project or the network runs as expected, which in turn builds the confidence among people to use the network and value accrues that way. So to summarize that, I think the indexes provide the technical foundation for running this network in a secure way, and providing a degree of confidence to those who are operating on top of it, that make them comfortable to use the network, which then that usage accrues value to the network and its stakeholders.
I followed you for a long time you’re active on Twitter, you publish a lot of articles and content. So I’ve been very interested in following you and your thought process. And anyone that’s followed you and I’m sure some of the listeners already do, are familiar with the fact that you take a strong position on keeping stake decentralized. So I wonder if we could just spend a minute here and talk about what you mean by that and why that position is so important to you. Yeah, I’d love to. I appreciate having the platform to do that.
One of the things that in my early days participating as a Cosmos validator, reviewing the economics and token economics, I noticed early that there seemed to be a mechanism by which the rich get richer. And I believe a lot of people have this criticism of Proof of Stake. And when I pointed out it’s not to criticize what we’re doing here, it’s more to bring attention and awareness to the fact that if other decisions aren’t made, then this rich get richer problem can happen, and will happen and continue to happen.
So, in the case of cosmos, I pointed this out early, the responses were anywhere from, well, this is where it has to be done technically, to people are good, you know, and people won’t exploit the system.
So we don’t have to worry about it.
Then, shortly after the main net launch, stake, quickly accumulated to a very small number of validators.
All of a sudden, people started saying things like, wow, how did that happen? And what happened is, once real money started to flow, you know, many operators, just, you know, gravitated toward trying to accumulate as much as possible. And I think, particularly from these bigger validator companies, and especially the exchanges more recently, if you’ve accepted a lot of investment from people, those investors expect a big return. So how can you go out and participate in the staking economy? And not try and grab every token of almost impossible? How can you go to your investor and say, hey, we’ve already accumulated, you know, X number of GRT.
We think that’s enough. For now we’re going to try and help other Indexers accumulate GRT, in order to protect the network and keep stake decentralized. Now, there are probably some, there might be some investors that get on board with that. But my sense is, you know, most of these bigger operators, one, are too afraid to have that conversation or don’t care to have the conversation. So as a result, that’s the justification for trying to attract as much stake as possible.
And by doing that, I mean, to me that’s orthogonal to the values of trying to keep stick decentralized.
And what I see happening in these early I still can work. We are in, early days, what I see happening is that a lot of warning signs are flashing that if we don’t get ahead of this soon, in a way, we’re going to hit a point of no return, because the nature of staking economics is that they compound rapidly. So capital begets capital, and capital compounds capital. And once the centralization starts, it’s really hard to turn. So what I’m trying to do with this keepsake decentralized message is at least bring awareness to what’s happening here. Because I think the other thing that’s happening is many in this space will talk the decentralized talk, yet not really walk the walk, and for various reasons. Now, some people don’t want to rock the boat, some people are afraid of these bigger operators. Some people, you know, don’t want to rock the boat, because they think that’ll negatively impact token price of which are getting compensated. And many people turn a blind eye to this. And I really feel like it’s a dangerous time to turn a blind eye to this, because the decisions we make now will really shape the type of economy that we build in the future, or economic alternatives that we build in the future. And the way things are going now, you know, we could very easily end up with an economy that is also controlled by a small number of very wealthy stakeholders. And if all we’re looking to do is build, you know, rebuild the current economic system, simply on different tools than to me, what’s the point of this?
What’s your advice to Delegators? Who heard your thoughtful response to that question, and want to take an active role in keeping steak decentralized? What can they do? That’s a really good question.
The first thing I would suggest is understand the implications of their decisions. So for example, thinkers in The Graphtronauts, telegram channel, I saw somebody post this message that said Coinbase or Binance are offering a really high return on their staking service. And, to me, exchanges are the worst place to stake for a lot of different reasons. First of all, if you actually go back and look into Coinbase’s documents, for example, you’ll see that they actually take a pretty big chunk in exchange for the convenience of heavier tokens liquid and simply just being able to stake very easily from their interface. But exchanges, my experience really are contributing very little, of any value to these ecosystems and are also commanding large, dangerously large amounts of stake.
So first thing I would suggest to delegates is really be aware of the implications of your decisions. And I get that it’s really easy to take the easy path, but ultimately, for the long term value of these networks and the longevity of these networks, and for value to truly accrue to them. I personally believe decentralization is very important. So you know, understand that convenience is one thing, but long term value is something else, and the two may be at odds. So practically, I guess breaking that down, practically, I would say that if you’re going to stick to an exchange, or if you don’t want to do a whole lot of research, then at least spread your stake around to two or three validators for Indexers. One, you know, that does help keep stake decentralized. And two, it also, it also reduces risk so that essentially, all of your tokens aren’t staked in one basket.
So there’s a lot of education that needs to be done. And I would really say, you know, be thoughtful about your decision and truly understand why you’re in this ecosystem to begin with, and make decisions accordingly, and ask questions if you have questions.
So Chris, I want to ask you a follow up question. And it’s a little bit of a thought experiment. But I think it’ll also help listeners understand more about your position and the things that can be done. Imagine a situation where maybe Chainflow is the largest Indexer. Over at The Graph, it’s got the most delegations from Delegators. And it’s kind of sitting at the top of the list of Indexers. Does that send alarm bells to you? Are there things that you do proactively to maybe offset that leadership in that particular case?
Yes, yeah. And I can give a particular example, or a specific example of something we did do recently. So for example, on Solana are really great Explorer, Block Explorer, on Solana is solanabeach.io, by Staking Facilities.
And Solana is working really hard to decentralize the network. Staking Facilities through Solana beach are really doing some interesting innovative things to do that. Also, one of the things that they’ll do is, if you look at the list of validators, you’ll see that there’s a line on list of validators. And essentially, the note behind that line says,
The validators above the line control, about 33% of total stake, you know, contribute to sake decentralization by delegating to validators below that line, they’ve actually taken that a step further, where they make it a little harder to delegate to the validators above the line than to those below the line. So recently, we were, you know, we got above the line. And when that happened, we tweeted out something, essentially, that said that, hey, thanks for your support to get us above the line.
But now, you know, rather than delegate to us, please consider delegating to some other smaller independent operators. And we need some of those smaller independent operators. So one thing we would do is encourage, in this case, GRT, Delegators, to delegate to others. And we would recommend some smaller independent operators that, that we feel aligned with our values and that we can trust. And then the other thing we could do, which we’ve done on a network called Regen Network built on the cosmos SDK, we’ve taken some of our earnings and delegated them to other validators. So the other thing we would do in the case of The Graph is if we found herself in that position, and even if not the biggest, you know, one of the biggest, we would then turn around and delegate some of our rewards to other Indexers. Of course, we’d have to figure out the mechanics behind that because I don’t know off the top of my head if we get penalized for that. But we’d have to work something out. So essentially, the two things that we would do if we found ourselves in that position, one advocate for other smaller, independent validators and start to discourage people from staking to us, or at least asking them to consider staking to others. And then, if we could, which I think we could, we will begin delegating to other smaller independent operators as well.
As the founder and operator of a validator at Chainflow? Are you then selective in the projects that you act as a validator and making sure that they align with your values? And in keeping stake decentralized?
Yes, very much. So a lot of people ask us how we choose what networks we operate on. And there are a number of factors involved. First and foremost, we look at the values of the network itself, and the core team behind that network. And we look for values alignment with our core values. So we’re looking for projects, and teams that walk the decentralized walk and not just talk to talk. So to us, that’s really the most important factor, when we consider which networks to delegate on of course, after that, economics, come into play to want to make sure we’re not losing money, by operating on a network, or if we are, it’s not going to happen perpetually, because there is, you know, a startup curve that, you know, we invest our time and resources into, and hopefully, over time, you know, these networks become income generating for us. So we can continue to support the network and operate on more, but we really, first and foremost, look for the values alignment, both with the network itself, and then the core team. Because we then believe that those values do
make their way down to the community itself. And even though we’re operating in a decentralized world, the values of the founders of projects of the network and their core team really set the tone for the network’s future, I believe. And so I think what we usually do is we talk to the team as much as we can we get a feel for the network, we participate in test nets.
And then from there, we should get a pretty good feel for you know, whether or not these networks align with our values. I guess we’ve been fortunate to be at this long enough where we’re able to sense that in a pretty clear way.
And, you know, of course, things are early. So a lot of projects start up more centralized, but then promised to decentralize. So then we also keep an eye on this, let’s say at the at this three month mark at the six month mark, and at the one year mark two. And if we just constantly monitor these, these projects for alignment, you know, and if we find, for example, networks really not decentralizing or there other reasons for our values and networks values to diverge, then we’ll, you know, ultimately, take our infrastructure down and focus on the networks that we do feel stronger value alignment with.
What can you tell us about the team at Chainflow and your vision for what you’re trying to accomplish? Sure. So the team is a small one. Right now, it’s, it’s myself and my colleague, Alex. I founded in bootstrap Chainflow and basically self-funded. So we don’t have any investors, which affords us a high degree of independence, which we really, really value, because we believe that really allows us to stay true to our values. And we feel fortunate to be in a position where, you know, we’re operating independently like this. So you know, one of the things it when Alex joined Chainflow, he’s brilliant, technically. And more importantly to me, is that our values aligned. So similar to how we choose networks.
As I’m looking to expand the Chainflow team, which I am right now, actually,
As important as the technical skills are, whether it’s technical DevOps or technical awareness and community building, you know, are technical on the financial side. It’s even more important is values alignment. And that’s, that’s pretty much the place where we are right now and that Alex and I have things running. We have some help from different people here and there, but I am at a point where I’m hoping between now and the end of the year, we’re able to expand Chainflow to a point where we have some more dedicated community and awareness building help.
And, yeah, I think that’s really where we’re looking to focus. Next, we’re really looking to focus on helping people understand why we’re here, and why they may want to support us because we can support them. And then also, just as importantly, is we’re really trying to amplify the keep stake decentralized message. Because we see that also as a core mission of Chainflow, I see the two very tightly intertwined. So yeah, over time, we’re looking to expand. And as we do that, it’s really important for me to find people who have very strong ethics, very strong morals have a strong sense of who they are, and why they’re in the crypto space. And who are really coming at this from Crypto first mindset and not a money first mindset.
As someone who then has a really good purview of the entirety of the crypto space and a lot of the different networks. What can you tell us about your perspective of The Graph?
What makes it unique, and its potential impact on DeFi in the Web 3 space, I did a Podcast with my staking defense Podcast with Tegan Kline, back in I think it was December. And why should backup I guess, I first became aware of The Graph when I was working with Ethereum Name Service. Because at the time we were building the DNS interface, and one of the things that we need, and they still need to do is have a search function to look up names. And at the beginning with some early attempts, you know, despite having really smart people looking at it took a really long time. And then Nick Johnson, the founder ENS, got connected into The Graph. And he deployed a subgraph that we then used, and it’s, you know, it’s sped up the response times really drastically. So that was really the first time I came in contact with The Graph.
And then I met them also at some ETH global events, and this was probably about three years ago. So I’d known about The Graph for a very long time. And when I saw them launching their test net last year, I felt super excited that now we can do Chainflow, participate in a really meaningful way.
So the more we got involved, and then culminating in this Podcast I did with Tegan last year, interacting with the team continued to reinforce to me that the team is really coming at this from
a crypto values first perspective. And in addition to having a really, really important and useful, real world use case, you know, I thought that it was such a powerful combination, that there’s a real use case. And there’s a team that’s truly committed to decentralized principles. And I think with that foundation, I think that’s a really strong foundation. And so I think in ways both technically and more, anything, metaphysical is the right word, but from a values perspective that this is really going to come together in a good way to make The Graph and even more valuable network than it is today, in that
there’s going to be a lot of information available in a decentralized way, to a lot of different people, all underpinned by true decentralized values, which also then creates income and wealth. And from what I’ve seen, you know, for example, in the end, from what I’ve heard about the test net distribution, in terms of the winners, you know, I think I have high hopes that this will really go a long way into creating this more equitable economy that we’ve been talking about, for example, I’ve heard at least one story of a participant in the test net, who, through their successful participation, you know, is now earning five to six times what this person would earn as one of the top engineers in India. And to me, I think that’s really the purpose of building this decentralized economy. It’s to give people with the ability and the commitment, the possibility to thrive, as human being in both the economy and society at large. And I really believe that The Graph is doing a lot of things to make this happen.
How important is the role of Delegator in The Graph ecosystem and maybe even more broadly, throughout the crypto space people that stake
Yeah, Delegators are very important. I mean, validators are important. Delegators are really important too, because, you know, we provide the infrastructure but without the delegate there’s not a whole lot we can do. So delegates are crucially important in securing the network by staking to validators, and also, I would say, for shaping the future of these networks, too, because? Well, I think so many delegates focus purely on the return, you know, holding these tokens also gives them a voice in governance. And, you know, I think that’s really important, because, again, coming back to these early stages
of the staking economy, you know, people’s voices can be heard, and they will be heard. And I think The Graph is also doing some really great work in decentralizing the governance process. So I think delegates are hugely important both in securing the network and also participating in the process to determine what the network’s going to look like in the future.
What’s your advice to Delegators, when it comes time to select an Indexer to stick their GRT with?
Again, I would say do some research. One of the pet peeves I have about block explorers today is that they still default sort by total stake. So if you go to most block explorers today, what you’ll see at the top are, you know, the biggest validators by stake, and I think that one of the easiest things we can do to combat state centralization is simply order the validators by alphabetically not by total stake, because what happens today is that Delegators will go to the block Explorer, they’ll see who has the most stake, probably not looking past the top three to five, they look for the lowest fee, and then they delegate. And unfortunately, what that does is it contributes to the stake centralization problem and causes the rich to get richer. So my advice in a perfect in an ideal world would be for Delegators, to do some research and get to know the validators that they’re going to stick to and understand why they’re staking to these validators in terms that go further than simply financial return. Of course, you want to find a validator who’s reliable and trustworthy.
But above and beyond that,
get to know the validators or Indexers that are the people behind them that are actually running these systems. And that’s why I think this Podcast is so fantastic, because,
you know, I think it’s really important for someone to make this decision not simply based on cold financial return, which makes the system more fragile, but to also choose validators whose values align with theirs. And I think that strengthens the system. And so I think it’s a balance between those two.
But it really comes down to education, I think, and doing research and making informed decisions.
You know, we move so fast, especially in the crypto space that easy is often seen as good, but it’s often those easy decisions that can cause us to become more fragile in the future. And if we want these networks to be around long term,
you know, we have to do a little bit more work to make sure that happens.
So Chris, how would you characterize or describe some of the challenges or opportunities facing members of the validator communities?
Well, I think the opportunities, we’re in a fortunate position to
participate in these networks in really meaningful ways. Because validators formed the foundation of these networks. You know, we often get involved early, and we can participate in the network’s development efforts early.
So again, coming back to this idea of being in early, I think it gives us
a perspective, to be able to help these networks from the ground up, and to have our feedback heard, which feels like a win in my book, especially in a world where it’s not always easy to be heard, right? It’s actually pretty hard to be heard these days. I think from validator perspective, that’s one opportunity, just early access to the networks and their communities and being able to help shape them from the ground up.
Others are that we’re able to build communities of like-minded people, whether they’re Delegators, or simply people that are interested in the networks that we validate on. So I think to me personally, being able to connect with others whose values connect with Chainflows, is something I also feel really fortunate for. And in terms of challenges. I do think stakes centralization is one of the biggest challenges we have because you know, there are a lot of powerful forces at work that are favoring large capital holders. And just like in the current economy, capital begets capital, and even, you know, proof of work with the mining economy.
Capital begets capital. And while it’s true that you do need a certain level of capital to participate in the staking economy, what I’m afraid of is that that level of capital is going to continue to increase, causing the pyramid problem of only a few very wealthy stakeholders being able to participate. So
to me, I think that’s one of the biggest threats to the staking economy today. Something that goes hand in hand with that, I don’t know
if this is becomes obvious to people yet. But I think the regulation of the staking economy
is also a risk factor. Because
if you look around,
keep your eyes open, you’ll see the crypto regulation is all over the place, and it will firm up over time. But I think one of the frightening things is, is that large companies, including banks, investment firms, and credit card processors, are now looking to
influence that regulation. And I think
that is a control technique that a lot of these bigger companies who are used to dominating instead of cooperating
are very practiced at using their benefit. So when I see a coalition of for very large financial institutions,
looking to influence crypto regulation, I think that’s a warning sign too, because one very easy way for them to control the crypto space from that perspective is by lobbying for and supporting regulation that they can only afford, and in a way that can have very detrimental effects on
smaller participants without the access to billions of dollars of capital like these other financial services industries do too. So I think, hearing myself talk about these two risks, you know, comes back to my point that,
you know, I’m really hopeful about the staking economy providing and more equitable, fair and inclusive solution to today’s current economy. I’m also very afraid that if we’re not diligent, and we’re not doing this with our eyes open and with the right intention, then we can go the other way, and simply rebuild what we already have in place. And
I know personally, that’s not why I’m doing this.
Chris, thank you so much for being generous with your time and so thoughtfully explaining important ideas not only to you but to all of the crypto space and keeping stake decentralized. If people want to learn more about you or the team at Chainflow, what’s the best way to do it, the best way to contact me would be good to go to Chainflow.io/contact.
The best way to learn about the networks that Chainflows currently supporting is to go to Chainflow.io slash staking and you can also follow me on Twitter at CJremus M as in Mary u S as in Sam,
CJ Remus on Twitter.
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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.