There’s so much influence in the NFT space today. Many new ideas are gaining momentum, and many cool things are happening. One of the life-changing innovations we encountered was the Fantom Foundation. Headed by CEO Michael Kong, Fantom Foundation is a blockchain development platform that provides scalability without compromising decentralization, and security. Michael sits with our hosts Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger to talk about the company’s vision and what it offers to the NFT community. Listen in and learn how to scale your business without compromise with this open-source smart contract platform.
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Michael Kong Of Fantom – Scalability W/O Compromise On Security & Decentralization, Plus: Opensea’s Phishing Scam, Animoca’s Billion Dollar NFT Pivot, And More…
This episode features Michael Kong, CEO of the Fantom Foundation. Fantom is a highly scalable blockchain platform for DeFi, crypto dApps and enterprise applications. It is designed to overcome the limitations of previous-generation blockchain platforms. Fantom is permissionless, decentralized and open-source. Michael has a background in finance and IT from the University of Sydney where he published papers on smart contracts security. Previously, he was an engineer for Block8, a software development company based in Sydney. He later started one of Australia’s first hedge funds specializing in cryptocurrencies. Michael, you’ve been busy. We’re glad enough you got some time to hang out with us. Welcome to the show.
Thanks a lot. I appreciate the opportunity. I’ll be here to answer any questions you have and talk about Fantom’s ecosystem, NFTs and anything you like.
We were talking about how you’re based out of the Bahamas these days. It’s good to have you fully present with us. We appreciate it. Fantom is a massive undertaking. There’s so much influence in the space and momentum. There are so many cool things happening with it. Let’s take a step back though and look into the history of the company. How did this idea come about? How did it end up becoming what it is?
In late 2017, I started creating a cryptocurrency hedge fund in Australia. It’s one of the first. We have a few people in traditional finance that were working at the ANZ Bank or the Australian and New Zealand Bank. They were running the global markets division. It’s one of the big four banks of Australia. In the US, you might have Wells Fargo, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. It’s the same category of banks except for Australia.
I always wanted to start a cryptocurrency hedge fund for more than a year but I wasn’t able to fulfill the regulatory requirements because I didn’t have what’s called an Australian Financial Services License to run a fund, which is something that you need. Being, at the time, my age in my early twenties, I wasn’t able to get such a license but I’ve asked my partner for people who did. He also had a lot of connections in traditional finance and could raise money for the fund.
What we were doing there was managing my hedge fund’s money, institutional money and credit investor money and advising on a variety of different projects as well. One of the projects was called Fantom. That originally came out of Korea. Someone in the team knew this guy who apparently had a few postdoctoral or PhD students and people who were associate professors at Yonsei University, which is one of these very technical universities in Korea.
He told us that he had an idea about creating new asynchronous technology. It’s a new way of processing transactions in an asynchronous manner. It’s going to be faster and cheaper than Ethereum. They already had a paper that they were writing and what they called simulation code tested on the development. Back in late 2017 or early 2018, it was during the ICO boom. Projects out of Korea that were very much infrastructure Layer 1-based had a lot of hype around them.
Also, the backgrounds of these people that we were working with seemed to be strong. They seemed to have more credentials than serious people in IT. We started working with them and helping them with their ICO. For example, helping them fundraise. We put some of our own money in there and worked on their legals and smart contracts for their ICO. We walked them through the fundraising process. It was one of the most successful ICOs of 2018. They raised a bit over $40 million.
Unfortunately, their team wasn’t exactly honest about the technology they built. In reality, they didn’t have anything. Fortunately, at the time, Andre Cronje, I’m sure a lot of people in your audience know him, was involved with Fantom from the very beginning. He had found out about Fantom because he was working at Crypto Briefing at the time as one of their technology reviewers. He got into Fantom early on and figured out what was happening. When we all realized that the technology didn’t exist, I was prepared to quit the project and say, “I’m done with this. This is not good.”
Andre said, “I have some ideas about how we can achieve asynchronous technology. My background is in consensus technology,” whereas my background is not in consensus. It has more to do with virtual machine analysis, middleware development and how smart contracts execute. It’s a bit high up on the stack. His background is in consensus technology. He ended up suggesting a few ideas and we ended up hiring a new team. We got lucky on our hires. That team started working on the real aBFT technology. It took them a year and a half.
Towards the end of December 2019, we launched our mainnet. Since then, we started to get a bit of traction, more so on DeFi, beginning with a couple of DEXs, namely SpookySwap and SpiritSwap, which are forks of Uniswap and SushiSwap. These applications were of high quality. It helped attract more users, which helped attract more developers and better market conditions as well. It helped turbocharge the growth of Fantom. That’s essentially what happened. I can go into a lot more detail in it if you like. That’s the background.
Fantom Foundation: One of the key properties for all blockchains is that you need to have 100% certainty between all the nodes in the network from the very beginning of time to the most recent transaction.
That’s a saga. I don’t think I realized the full expanse of it. That’s amazing to be able to right that ship and get it pointed in a direction of productivity and real value creation. Kudos.
It has had a bit of a rollercoaster and a lot of ups and downs. On the whole, it’s looking pretty good. We’re going to keep building the technology from the ground up, improving the execution of smart contracts, going out there and trying to get as many users as possible in the ecosystem.
You’re on the show so we want to delve into what our NFT curious readers want to know about your NFT ecosystem on Fantom, how you look at NFTs, how do they fit in the picture and what are some of the unique superpowers that your system opens up in terms of NFT possibilities.
Fantom has been known by many as a DeFi chain at the moment. That’s for a couple of reasons. One is that how Fantom initially got a lot of traction was via DeFi. It began with a couple of DEXs and all of the functionality that you have on Ethereum to do with DeFi. There’s lending and borrowing, all the compounding and all sorts of protocols. They’re the applications you see on Fantom. That’s why Fantom is one of the biggest TVL chains in the world or has the amount of Total Value Locked on-chain, which is almost $8 billion.
The other reason is that people like Andre and others have been building a lot of DeFi applications on Fantom. They have a lot of traction so that helps gain traction for Fantom. On the NFT side of things, we have been a bit lacking compared to other Layer 1s, to be honest. There has been a lot of focus on DeFi so I always want to have more focus on NFTs. What we’re doing on NFTs is that Fantom essentially is like a generalized smart contract platform. The way that you write, compound and deploy smart contracts on Ethereum works the same way as on Fantom.
That means that the use cases you see on Ethereum such as DeFi and NFTs can apply in exactly the same manner as on Fantom except with faster and cheaper consensus. We can process those transactions in an asynchronous rather than a synchronous manner, which gets you a lot better performance. On the NFT side of things, we’re telling people, “There are a lot of NFT marketplaces out there.” There’s one that the Foundation put out that we want to give to the community on Artion. There’s NFTKEY, which has fast support on multiple chains.
There’s PaintSwap, which is a native NFT platform. There’s Fantom Opera and a whole bunch of different NFT platforms that are starting to generate more sales over time. People are creating more NFT collections like what you see on other chains. We’ve also got a few games we’re developing as well. The Foundation is investing in some NFT projects that we think are high quality and can help build the Fantom NFT ecosystem. We’ve also got a couple of metaverses, one of them being the 8BIT metaverse on Fantom that is getting traction.
We’re seeing quite a few land sales nowadays. The focus is more shifting towards NFTs on Fantom. We’re starting to see that traction pick-up. The Foundation is there open to supporting people with technical integration and launching on-chain and helping people with marketing and promoting on Twitter, Discord and other social media. On Twitter, for example, we have over 380,000 followers. We also have an NFT incentive program like the DeFi incentive program we have at the moment where your NFT project gets more traction. Let’s say it’s a game.
We want to help and support that by providing essentially an FTM grant, which you can use to help further build out your NFT application, for example, by staking or incentivizing users to join your platform. We’re offering a lot from the Foundation to help grow the NFT ecosystem on Fantom. People should try out Fantom for themselves. I talk about how it’s faster and cheaper than Ethereum. Don’t believe me. Go to MetaMask, connect with a Fantom network, do some transactions and see how fast it is and how much it costs. Hopefully, there’s a great user experience.
On that particular point, it’s faster and very similar in terms of the core functionalities of Ethereum. When people ask you how does it compare to Avalanche, Polygon and Solana, how do you differentiate Fantom in terms of its interoperability for NFT projects?
Compared to the other Layer 1s and Ethereum, the first thing to mention is that one big reason why a lot of these Layer 1 smart contract platforms have been gaining a lot of traction is that Ethereum is not scalable. The cost per transaction is based on supply and demand. It’s a pricing mechanism so the supply is the network throughput, how many transactions or how much computational power can you get from the network in a given period. On the demand side, it’s how much usage is there for the computational power of that same given period.
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Ethereum doesn’t have much network throughput but there’s a huge demand to use Ethereum. That has driven up the price of executing transactions tremendously. For example, on Ethereum, you can do smart contract transactions. I did some smart contract transactions. One of them was $400 and the other ones were $100 and $75. On Fantom, you’re paying the equivalent of $0.75, $0.50 or $0.25 for more basic transactions. It’s just a few cents. You transfer one asset to another on-chain. That’s the tremendous growth on Fantom as well as the other Layer 1s.
How does Fantom compare to the other alternative Layer 1s? I can go for the three names you listed there. In terms of Avalanche, with the technology that Fantom has, we can do the same number of transactions as Avalanche and have a fraction of the fees. For example, there are some times where you execute a smart contract on Avalanche and you’re paying a few dollars for that transaction. On Fantom, you may be paying 20% to 10% of the transaction fee compared to what you’re paying on Avalanche.
This is when Avalanche and Fantom are processing the same number of transactions. It’s not like I’m saying that Fantom was processing fewer transactions. That’s stupid. We’re processing the same amount. We have seen that empirically play out. It has to do with the asynchronous processing of transactions that we have done on-chain. That’s just what we have now. In the future, we’re going to have much better performance because we have performance improvements in consensus and minimizing the amount of data.
For example, we’ve got SnapSync coming out, which is a variation of how SnapSync works on Ethereum. From our testing, it can minimize data by a fact of 85% to 90% on-chain as well as improve performance when it comes to consensus. We’re also working on the new middleware execution stack that replaces the EVM. There are a lot of performance issues there. We have a lot of different technology stacks. Compared to Polygon, Polygon is honestly a Layer 2. It’s not a Layer 1. It’s a lot more centralized than Fantom is.
With Solana, I don’t know what’s going on with Solana’s technology. They have had 7 or 8 outages. Fantom hasn’t had any outages except for one that happened in February 2021. It went out for twelve hours because there was an edge case in consensus. It was very unlikely for that event to happen but given enough time. One of the nodes was trying to decide which transaction to pass through to another node ahead of another one. It stalled a bit, essentially. There was a bug in the consensus.
We fixed that. Since we fixed that, we have had no network outages. It has been up 100% of the time. For us, it’s always developer-focused and testing things tremendously, which is why we have been testing out SnapSync a lot. We don’t want anything to go wrong, people’s funds to be missing and the network to go down at all. For us, there’s a tremendous amount of testing. I want the developers to test as much as possible before launching something into the mainnet. That’s how we compare.
Thanks for sharing. It’s useful to have those specifics. People are looking at all sorts of options to launch their NFTs and do DeFi projects. Sometimes those simple questions don’t always have the clearest answers until you talk to somebody from the platform. We have heard of something that you like to call consensus-as-a-service for distributed ledgers. Could you tell us a little bit more about what that is and how that gets used?
An idea that we had is separating the consensus that we have and connecting it to multiple different chains. For example, we connected it to Cosmos SDK and EVM. We’re not focused so much on the consensus-as-a-service at the moment, to be honest. We’re just focusing on the main Fantom chain that we have, which is EVM-based. It allows you to process smart contracts in a similar manner to how it works in Ethereum. Technically speaking, the consensus that we have developed is a series of algorithms combined together that allows you to get the final order of transactions.
One of the key properties for all blockchains is that you need to have 100% certainty between all the nodes in the network from the very beginning of time to the most recent transaction. It can’t be 99.99% correct. It has to be exactly 100%. Otherwise, people are unaware of what assets they own on-chain and what transactions they have done in the past. There are some inconsistencies. You can’t have any of that. What the developers have spent a tremendous amount of time building and still developing is how do you get that final order of transactions across all the nodes.
It’s having it fault-tolerant so if a few nodes fail in the network, the consensus still continues. There are no network outages. That’s what I mean. Occasionally, computers in the network go off from time to time. You need to make sure that your consensus algorithm keeps running even with those sorts of failures as the nodes restart and participate in consensus once again. What we have built is a series of algorithms. This series of algorithms can be plugged into different software. Technically, it’s not even a blockchain in and of itself. We have chosen to integrate it with a DAG.
A blockchain is a type of DAG or network structure. You can connect it to different services. We have a limited amount of resources. We want to maintain a chain that was integrated with Cosmos as well as maintain the EVM chain and different chains. We narrowed down our focus to just having our consensus technology connected to the EVM. It’s the EVM for now but we’re going to switch that over to a different smart contract execution engine. We’re focusing on one chain, which is the mainnet that we’re in at the moment. It is a chain that everybody uses when they talk about the Fantom ecosystem.
Fantom Foundation: Developers spend a tremendous amount of time building and developing to get that final ordering of transactions across all the nodes.
There are so many different interesting aspects of the whole thing. I wanted to dig in on a particular one. Lachesis is an aBFT consensus mechanism. What are some of the key features around that and Fantom? What else can we elevate about how that piece of the puzzle works?
You have to follow a number of different steps when you’re doing your consensus to make sure that number one, you do get that consistency across all nodes and number two, that it’s fault-tolerant. If part of the network fails, it doesn’t bring the whole network down. As long as 1 or 2 nodes continue running the network, that’s good enough for consensus to keep working until the other nodes come online again. That’s at a high level how the consensus technology works.
That is a crash course in blockchain technology that someone could pay a lot of money for. Clearly, there’s some impressive technology here that folks need to take advantage of when it comes to minting NFTs and doing interesting NFT projects. You alluded to it. Fantom is doing some unique things to support that ecosystem and encourage folks to onboard and give Fantom a try. Could you elaborate on that a little bit more for us?
There’s the Fantom ecosystem, which consists of a lot of developers from the community building all sorts of different applications for Fantom. On Ethereum, you have applications related to DeFi and NFTs. You have users who are using those applications and trading with one another. It’s the same ecosystem that you have on Fantom and applications except it’s running on faster and cheaper consensus and being able to process transactions more efficiently. Separate to that, you’ve got the Fantom Foundation, which originally raised a bunch of money in the ICO. It has used those funds to build the platform that we have at the moment.
Its mandate is to support and grow the ecosystem by focusing first and foremost on continuous development to the consensus, improving the execution of smart contracts and also engaging directly with people in the community. We have been getting a lot of inbound leads these days because Fantom has been getting quite a bit of traction now. A lot of these leads have to do with NFTs as well because I’ve been coming on podcasts such as yourselves and others, which is great, spreading the word, talking about the Fantom ecosystem and telling people to come and try it out.
That has helped us get a lot of inbound leads for people who are thinking of developing NFT projects or who have already launched NFT projects and other chains and want to experiment on Fantom. What the Foundation offers is assistance in terms of technical integrations. If you need some help launching on the Fantom chain, we can help you with that. We have a team of developers that can help you launch on-chain and answer any technical questions that you have. We also have marketing support putting out links to NFT applications that are deploying on-chain new releases or announcements from those NFT projects.
We have an ecosystem or spotlight series of articles going out. This is where we interview particular projects, like an NFT project. They talk about themselves and the project that they’re doing. They’re linked to what they’re doing and what people can try out on that project. We have been doing a lot of technical integration help and marketing help as well as investing in some energy projects. The Foundation has been investing in a number of different projects on DeFi and NFTs. For example, we invested in a game that’s been launched by one of our validators called Tank Wars.
This is a tank-based game. It’s like World of Tanks where you battle one tank after the other. You can earn rewards, upgrade your tank and buy all sorts of different add-ons for your tank. All of this data is codified in NFTs. People can trade those NFTs directly with one another or use an existing NFT platform like a few of them I mentioned. The Fantom Foundation has invested in the token that runs in that ecosystem because we think first and foremost, it’s a great investment. Also, we want to help that project grow and gain traction for the Fantom ecosystem because if projects do well on the Fantom ecosystem then we’re achieving our objectives.
That helps it attracts more developers and users, which leads to this network growth that takes off. That’s exactly what happened at the beginning when it came to DeFi with SpiritSwap and SpookySwap. They kicked off a lot of growth that happens on-chain. We want to see the same thing on Fantom as well for NFTs and those killer games and applications that can turbocharge growth. Our incentives are directly aligned with projects succeeding on-chain. That’s why we want to work with the projects that are part of the ecosystem.
We have had Guild of Guardians on the show, Splinterlands and Alien Worlds. The amount of transaction volume of these play-to-earn games too is super impressive. I’m looking at Tank Wars. It looks like a fun game. I assume there are some good conversations happening with existing play-to-earn games and guilds and getting them over to the Fantom ecosystem. Are there any special partnerships that you can let us know about? We always love to get cutting-edge news if we can out of our guests.
You mentioned gaming guilds. That’s something that we’re also very much interested in for the Fantom ecosystem because gaming guilds are essential for helping games succeed on-chain like we have seen a lot with Axie. We have invested in the seed round for a gaming guild called Balthazar, which is this project that is backed by some people that I know from a big company in Australia that’s also based in New York called Finder.com. It is a consumer intelligence or consumer marketing-based application.
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It’s pretty famous in Australia. I know the Founder of that company, Fred. He has been very bullish on crypto and blockchain technology for years. One of the projects that he’s backing is that gaming guild called Balthazar, which has been active on Axie Infinity. We made a seed investment into them. There should be an article coming out profiling the Fantom ecosystem and what they want to do in the Fantom ecosystem.
Also, we’re going to be working with them hopefully, in the near future about how they deploy their gaming guilds to connect with games that exist on the Fantom ecosystem. To be honest, there’s a bit of traction for games on the Fantom ecosystem but it’s not that much at the moment. First, we need to grow the number of users on games like Tank Wars and others that are under development. Once we have more users using those platforms, gaming guilds can become a bit more useful in the Fantom ecosystem.
You partnered with Animoca Brands on that round from what I can tell. We announced that we’re part of Animoca Brands and Brinc’s Launchpad program. This is cutting-edge news. Yat Siu is going to be one of the keynote speakers at NFTLA. You’re in great company.
That’s great to hear. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to turn myself in person for NFTLA but there are 1 or 2 people from the Fantom team that will be there presenting, going around and meeting people. We’re looking forward to it towards the end of March 2022.
I’m looking forward to Yat Siu. We’re in this accelerator. We get to have some private sessions with a lot of different mentors and attend an AMA and also lecture with Yat. That guy goes even a way deeper than I ever thought. He’s a cool guy. Michael, you’ve talked about a lot. If I had to pick a theme and it’s a theme of ours here for what’s going on with Fantom and what you’re focused on, it’s co-creation and collaboration. You’re investing in the folks that are investing in Fantom and trying to build something together. I love hearing about all the stuff you’re doing in gaming and NFTs. I’m sure this is part of the answer to this upcoming question. Could you give a little more specific on what’s the agenda going forward with Fantom? What’s on your roadmap?
There are a lot of things in the roadmap. I like to pull what’s on the technology roadmap and ecosystem roadmap. On the technology roadmap, in the immediate future, we’ve got two things on the table. One of them is the launch of SnapSync for validated nodes. We have the same name for it as what exists for Ethereum. Essentially, you don’t need to have all the data related to a transaction in every single block to participate in the consensus. You only need to have the blocks themselves and the headers as well. Know which block came off the other one or the timestamps essentially of the blocks.
That’s all you need to confirm transactions. You can minimize the amount of data should you need for these nodes to confirm transactions. What we have been doing is working on our version of being able to do that on Fantom. We have had to build a lot of that from scratch because Ethereum’s consensus is synchronous, whereas Fantom is asynchronous. We have had to build our own consensus algorithms to work with this version of SnapSync. We call it the Lachesis Light Repeater or the LLR. That technology is already done and has been used on the testnet.
At the moment, we have been able to sync up nodes pretty fast and minimize the data storage by around 85% to 90%. That’s what’s happening in the testnet. After we do some further testing, we will do a release to the mainnet as well. We have opened that on the testnet for beta testing. Anybody can go to our repository and download the latest version to run on the testnet and see how it works. There will be a massive improvement because the chain’s data size is very big. It’s over 2.5 terabytes.
Having that amount of chain data is a limiting factor for the growth of the chain because the more transactions you have on-chain, the bigger it gets. If you’re not pruning it or somehow reducing that data load, it will become more unfeasible to be able to run a node. We have been able to reduce that down to around 250 to 300 gigabytes, which is a massive improvement. That’s one thing we’re working on in the immediate future. The other thing we’re working on is that as I’ve mentioned before in different presentations that we have been working with a research team at the University of Sydney.
We’re building our own in-house team to further this research and development in improving the execution of smart contracts. There are a lot of disadvantages with how the EVM works and how the smart contract execution works that we have, that Avalanche has and that Ethereum originally developed. It is a great smart contract execution engine, to begin with. It all started in 2014. They were the first ones to build it. It’s quite innovative. It does work but there are performance limitations.
One of the performance limitations has to do with your ability to read and write transactions from the EVM on-chain. As the chain grows, it takes longer to execute smart contracts. What we want to do is replace the data structure of how the reads and writes are done. We have what’s known as flat storage, which is a straightforward data structure with a key-value pair. This means that you’re able to do reads and writes quite fast because things are indexed. It’s like using an IG or when you’re looking through what’s in a big book.
Fantom Foundation: In asynchronous transactions, as soon as the transaction is confirmed in a single block, it becomes final.
You might have all these volumes. You can’t search for all of them by turning one page after the other. That’s slow. You could also be able to categorize them in different ways where you have to follow a trade-based structure. You could have an index where you know exactly what to look up from the beginning. You can go to that book and that specific page in that specific volume. That’s what we have done. We’re replacing how reads and writes are done with the EVM.
That thing is done and in our private testnet. We also want to make improvements on the performance of reads and writes on-chain. We can get a performance of about four times faster during these reads and writes compared to smart contracts using EVM in the standard setting, which means that more complicated smart contracts that do more reads and writes will have better performance improvements compared to the existing systems. That’s something on the testing and development that we want to make improvements to as well.
In terms of future development, we’re starting to explore ideas around charting and how maybe we should break up the Fantom chain into different types of chains where one is focused on EVM execution or smart contract execution. Another chain is focusing on account-to-account proceeds from transactions because that is ten times faster when you don’t have to use the EVM. We’re also thinking about ideas on charting. Ethereum talked about bringing up their computation across different nodes.
Not all nodes in the network have to process all transactions because that’s the limiting factor on blockchain scalability, which is the Holy Grail of blockchain scalability if someone can solve it. Nobody has solved it yet. It’s very experimental but we’re actively looking into it as well. On the ecosystem roadmap, it’s continuing the growth that we’re seeing on-chain. We’ve got a lot of momentum behind us and a lot of growth on DeFi. We’re starting to get more traction on NFTs.
For us, it’s engaging on the business development side of things with more projects, getting out there, doing more marketing and PR like these sorts of podcasts, trying to encourage as many people to use Fantom as possible, trying to help onboard as many people on Fantom as possible and focusing on specific categories like you see on Ethereum, metaverses, gaming, interesting NFT collections and some interesting sponsorships as well. It’s nothing sophisticated or anything like that. It’s all a pretty straightforward strategy. It’s just a matter of execution and patience in our opinion.
There’s a whole heck of a lot in there.
That roadmap is beautiful and beautifully complex like the New York City subway system. I’m imagining a roadmap with some very clear destinations that have many lanes.
There’s a lot to it. There’s so much goodness in there. Michael, thanks so much for sharing all of that with us and the level of detail that you did. I don’t think there’s an easy way for folks to access that information so clearly as you’ve articulated it. Thank you. We want to take a moment and shift gears a smidge at this point in the episode. We like to do this every time and ask a set of ten questions called Edge Quick Hitters. It’s a fun and quick way to get to know you a little bit better. We’re looking for short single-word or few-word responses. We can dive in a little deeper if we want. Let’s have some fun with it. Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
It’s a Game Boy Color.
Question number two, what is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
It’s probably a pen to someone else at school at a bit of an inflated price.
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Were you selling them because they don’t have pens and you’re exploiting that need?
Yeah. This was when I was 7 or 8 years old, “Do you need a pen? I have a collection of pens. Do you want one? Can I have your lunch money so I can go out and buy a meat pie?”
Question number three, what is the most recent thing you purchased?
I don’t buy many things. It’s probably new clothes when I was in Miami.
Question four, what is the most recent thing you sold?
I don’t sell stuff these days. I just yield farm and work with Fantom. My life is boring.
We need to focus there. Question five, what is your most prized possession?
Apart from my girlfriend, in physical items, it’s my phone because I’m depending on my phone. I’m always answering messages. It’s a big part of my life.
As it is for so many people. Question number six, if you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service and experience that’s currently for sale, what would that be?
If I had enough money, it would be a trip to space. That’s something very unique and that not many people have done before. When you listen to people who have gone to space, it gives you another perspective. It’s a unique experience. That is something that I would love to do at least some point in my life.
I saw a headline about how a trip to space changes people’s brain chemistry in some interesting way. I didn’t read the article yet but I saw that float by on Apple News or something like that.
Fantom Foundation: When transactions are processed right away, you have more network capacity, which means you have lower average transaction prices.
There are all these changes that happen to you when you’re a few hundred miles in space looking at blackness.
There’s something special about it. Question number seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
It would be persistence. I learned in my life nothing is ever easy or straightforward. People joke about it when it comes to investing. People think that it’s a straight line up when in reality, it’s a big rollercoaster. Life is a big rollercoaster. You have to deal with it and realize that sometimes there are going to be bad moments. It could be unlocking moments in your life or something related to work or relationships. You need to persevere. Otherwise, you won’t achieve anything.
Bumps in the road make you stronger for sure. Question number eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would that be?
I’m not getting enough sleep. Since I was a teenager, I’ve been terrible at trying to get up early in the morning. That’s pretty bad for your health. People should sleep a decent amount.
Now, do you wake up too early or you’re not good at waking up early and you stay up too late?
I’m not good at waking up too early. I get taken in by work or whatever I’m doing at the time. I don’t sleep, which is not good. It messes you up.
It does indeed. You got to keep those circadian rhythms consistent. Question number nine, what did you do before joining us on the show?
I made a cup of tea.
Here’s the last one. Question ten, what are you going to do next after the show?
Go back, do some more work and answer some messages.
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That’s Edge Quick Hitters. Those are the ten questions. Thanks so much for indulging us there a little bit. The word on the street is we got a couple of hot topics to cover as well. Eathan has got the line on those.
Let’s chat about it. The first one is, “OpenSea probes NFT phishing attack, Cofounder says. The NFT marketplace is investigating a phishing attack, which doesn’t appear to be active.” Devin Finzer said, “We don’t believe it’s connected to the OpenSea website.” He’s also the Chief Executive Officer. He did say that on Twitter. He said, “It appears 32 users thus far that have signed a malicious payload from an attacker and some of their NFTs were stolen.” There was some phishing attack but it seems like it’s over now. It’s scary.
There are those rumors spreading around, “You’re going to lose your NFTs.” It’s always awkward. There have been situations like this a few times and I have friends. You have some token or NFT and this rumor is circulating that says you got to change the contract somehow. People end up losing tokens or things that they have already invested in. There’s a connection between these two things. There’s OpenSea saying, “There’s a contract switch going on,” and some phishing attack is going along with that.
Clearly, there was a calculated move here around this big migration event. Anytime you’re dealing with migration, that’s a lot, especially with the scale of activity and the number of users on OpenSea. It certainly compounds the risk level and the appetite of potential nefarious actors. This is one of those situations that it’s not great for the ecosystem. I hope that OpenSea is able to thwart efforts like these in the future and learn from this experience. My sense is they’re going to do their best to take care of folks that were impacted by it. It’s a very complex situation. I’m sure, Michael you can appreciate the puts-and-takes there. What are your thoughts there?
The great power but also the great responsibility of blockchain technology is that you control your own funds, digital assets or NFTs. It’s not like a third party controls it. For example, when you deposit money into a bank. That being said, it does mean that there’s a lot more responsibility that you have to take as well. In this case, there were phishing attacks and other attacks where people will get you to sign malicious approvals. Unbeknownst to you, you’re giving approval for them to take assets out of your wallet without you knowing it.
You have to be careful of what you sign, for example, on MetaMask. To all the readers out there, first of all, make sure that you’re on legitimate sites, bookmark it, double-check it with somebody else and check it against the official Twitter to make sure you’re already on it. Second of all, before you give your approval to something, you also check to see what data you’re approving like how many tokens you’re approving to this contract to interact with your wallet.
I also suggest that you remove approval so you’re not using it anymore. There are a few websites that do this. One of the good websites that do it is DBank. DBank is one of these aggregators of wallets that give you an overview of all the digital assets you have on multiple different chains, including Fantom. They also have an approvals tab on that website. On that website, you can see all the smart contracts that you’ve given approvals for, edit those approvals and remove those approvals.
I strongly suggest if you aren’t using a smart contract anymore, you’ve used it in the past and you’re not interested in using it anymore, remove those permissions because it’s good to only give permissions when you need to use a smart contract. For example, after you use a smart contract, if you don’t need to give your permissions anymore and you only use them sometimes, you can remove those permissions. As long as the smart contract doesn’t have permission to access your wallet, it can’t do anything to your wallet. That’s what I recommend people do as a practical measure.
Being aware in general, to your point and having that accountability for your actions is a central part of it. There are not a lot of easy buttons that include fail-safes within crypto yet. That awareness is key.
There are tools out there like I mentioned with DBank that make it easier over time. In the end, it is your responsibility. You do have to check it yourself. You got to be careful about what you do.
Should we hit this next hot topic?
Fantom Foundation: You don’t need to have all the data related to a transaction in every block to confirm and participate in consensus.
Let’s do it.
“How an NFT pivot turned a tiny mobile game company into a multibillion-dollar powerhouse. Already this future ruled by non-fungible tokens and blockchain technology has been Yat Siu’s salvation.” He’s the Chairman of Animoca Brands, “Years ago, that group was struggling. Revenues at the tiny mobile game business, which he had cofounded with David Kim, a former SoftBank partner and ex-CEO of early internet success Mail.com, in January 2014 had fallen 25% to $5.2 million.”
“Its market capitalization, improbably was public trading on the Australian Stock Exchange, was less than $6 million.” We talked about this a little bit before the show and during the show. We’re in the Animoca Brands accelerator program and working with them. Michael, you have some overlap with Animoca Brands as well. How long has Animoca been on your radar? Have you been keeping an eye on what they’re doing?
I don’t know the people at Animoca Brands, to be honest but I have friends or contacts that know them pretty well. Animoca Brands has always been there since NFTs have taken off. Animoca Brands a few years ago wasn’t doing very good. I remember that we’re not doing good to such an extent. Maybe they missed out on some compliance requirements to stay on ASX or the Australian Securities Exchange that they end up getting delisted. There are these articles in the Australian press where it’s like, “Does the ASX regret that they delisted Animoca Brands?” They’re not going to want to come back.
They’re not going to get the trading volume, traction and attention for the ASX, which is a privately-run exchange in Australia. It is privately run but it’s still quite heavily regulated. They’re doing well now. They have been one of the biggest investors in the NFT space, riding the boom of the metaverses, gaming and that sort of thing. Kudos to them for being ahead of the game and the curve by several years. Maybe they’re a little bit too early, to begin with, but they have capitalized on it. It’s great that they’re investing in Balthazar. Fantom is investing in the Balthazar gaming guild. It’s great to be working alongside them. I hope I can do more stuff with them in the future at some point.
I mentioned this talk that I got to attend. This investment in NFTs and blockchain clearly wasn’t a, “Let’s throw something out there as a Hail Mary or something.” It was interesting to hear Yat specifically talk about his philosophy and how he watched the intersection of communism and capitalism growing up and all these centralized systems develop. If you get a chance to listen to him and we will see if this comes out at all at NFTLA, he’s very passionate about this topic of decentralization and the power it can have to bring more distributed power in a deserving way to more people, which is what’s beautiful about Animoca Brands.
It goes to that personality trait that you would pass on, Michael. It’s persistence. They had a vision. They were getting after it a little too early even but stayed with it and have built one of the most influential brands and companies in the space. Some of the most impactful projects are coming out of relationships that they have helped to nurture over time, fund or support in other ways. Kudos to them. This article was interesting.
It highlights how quickly these companies are making a difference in the space and not just with vaporware. This is real value, revenue and opportunity being created for the users of various products of theirs whether it’s people playing Axie Infinity or doing other things. It’s a different value creation that’s a lot more stable and frankly, more traditional that has happened. There’s real revenue and value that you can point to, not just an idea and a multibillion-dollar valuation.
There’s no such thing as instant success. It’s not like that at all.
You always peel the layers of the onion back and you get to see the real story behind there, including yours. We do appreciate you sharing it. There are a lot of interesting parallels when you look at some of the most successful companies in the space.
Let’s move on from hot topics.
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We hit the biggies. We appreciate your sharing all the insights there across the board and every segment of this conversation, Michael. It’s super interesting stuff for our readers. We have a couple of little shout-outs too for some of our fans and readers. Do you want to hit that?
Let’s start this and do a little bit of a fan and reader shout-out. First of all, there’s Colorful Carl from Discord. I want to call this guy out. He’s a huge fan of the show. He launched his own NFT collection, creating art of his deceased father, Teddy. It’s a beautiful story and also beautiful art. Carl told his father on his deathbed he was determined to do something powerful with his art. After listening to our episode with Niftify, he used their technology to launch his collection. If you’re interested in Colorful Carl, go to ColorfulCarl.com, find out more about what he’s up to and some cool stuff.
Second is a Spirit Seeds holder that I’m fascinated with. She got a shout-out in the newsletter also if you want to check that out. Sheila Darcey during a difficult time in her life found the act of sketching and freestyle drawing. Giving a physical form for her thoughts, emotion and ideas was an impactful way to process what she was feeling. She’s a published author and has a lot of people in her community. She goes by SketchPoetic. Look her up on socials. You will see some incredible art but also an incredible person and someone we can celebrate as a Spirit Seeds holder in our community. That’s for our reader and fan shout-outs.
Thanks for including that. We love engaging with all of our fans. On that note, Michael, where can our fans and readers go to follow you? What’s the best place for them to track all this amazing progress that you’re making?
The thing that has the most resource out there and links to all about the Fantom ecosystem is our official website, which is Fantom.Foundation. On that website, you can have a look at some of the core team members and a much bigger description of the technology and ecosystem. You can look on the front page at the different applications that we have on Fantom and some of the more popular ones when it comes to DeFi, NFTs and different tooling. There’s also a lot more technical documentation on there if you like. There are also links to our GitHub, Twitter, Discord and Telegram.
The place that puts all that information together is the Fantom.Foundation website. Also, please follow us on Twitter @FantomFDN. We have quite a few followers there. That’s where we put out the latest news. We tweet out to everyone there. Twitter is our biggest social media outlet. We repost what we announced on Twitter on Telegram, Discord and other channels as well. The number one source to go for the latest news or breaking announcements is going to be on Twitter @FantomFDN.
The word on the street is we’re going to do a fun giveaway. Watch our socials for details on that. Keep an eye out. We will do something fun here in conjunction with the crew at Fantom. Thanks for agreeing to do something good with us there, Michael. We will share deets soon. We have reached the outer limit at the show. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes, rate us and say something awesome.
Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Remember, we always invite you to co-create and build with us at the show. We’re unlocking a whole new way to connect and collaborate with us through our own NFT drops, Spirit Seeds, leading to Living Tree NFTs, which will light the way to our event NFTLA, a one of a kind immersive and unforgettable experience at LA live in Los Angeles on March 28th, 2022 to the 31st. Check it out at NFTLA.live and move quickly as early tickets are moving fast. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.
- ANZ Bank
- Andre Cronje
- Fantom Opera
- Cosmos SDK
- Tank Wars
- World of Tanks
- Guild of Guardians
- Alien Worlds
- Animoca Brands
- Yat Siu
- OpenSea probes NFT phishing attack, Cofounder says
- How an NFT pivot turned a tiny mobile game company into a multibillion-dollar powerhouse
- David Kim
- Spirit Seeds
- GitHub – Fantom
- Discord – Fantom
- Telegram – Fantom
- @FantomFDN – Twitter
- Spotify – Edge of NFT
- iTunes – Edge of NFT