Episode 471: Alan Chiu, Co-founder and CEO of Enya Labs

In this episode, Mike Townsend chats with Alan Chiu the co-founder and CEO of Enya Labs, a core contributor to Boba Network. With more than 20 years of experience in building and investing in enterprise and fintech startups, he leads the efforts at achieving Boba Network’s goal of bringing Ethereum to the next billion users worldwide.

Host: Mike Townsend

Guests: Alan Chiu

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Episode Transcript

Mike: Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Around The Coin. Today's guest is Alan Chiu, the co-founder and CEO of Enya Labs. Enya Labs is the development shop, the agency, the organization behind Boba Network and Boba has raised over 45 million in their series A from over 400 different investors around the world.

They did so earlier in the. And we talked about how the recent crash in the crypto world has impacted Boba. We talked about the lessons that Alan would instill on other founders leading, well funded and important crypto projects. Boba is primarily focused on hybrid computing. We're connecting the Web2 world in enterprise with blockchain decentralization Web3.

We talked about a few of the examples that they're working on today and a few that are coming down the pipeline in the future, and how they're managing cash and their employees and their general strategy going into the next few years. It was really interesting to hear Alan's perception on what has happened so far and what is.

Possibly anticipated for the future. We touched on some regulation, we touched on some strategy, really a well rounded conversation, and I hope you enjoy the show.  

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Here is Alan Chiu.

Mike: All right, Alan, I'm excited to chat with you. Thank you for hopping on the podcast today.  

Alan: How's the day going so far? Good to see you. Thanks. Thanks for having me. It's been a great day so far. Yeah. How's yours? Yeah.  

Mike: Good, good, good.  

So you're working on a few different projects here. Maybe I'll pass it to you to give me a quick overview of the different projects you're involved in, companies you're involved in, and we'll take it from there. Tell me just top of mind.  

Alan: Sure. Well, my primary focus right now is building Enya Labs and. Enya labs, is a software blockchain software company. And we're focused on building up Boba Network, which is a blockchain scaling platform that connects Web3 infrastructure with the Web2 and enterprise world.

So that's my main, main focus where my almost all of my energies go. I volunteer at Stanford. On the, the alumni board of the Stanford Business School. I'm also co-president of the Stanford angels and Entrepreneurs Network, and I've been doing that for quite some time now. Scale helped scale it from a local chapter in the Bay Area to now a global federation of, of chapters around the world.

Mike: When web3 and enterprise Web2 coming together. What does that look like today? What are, what are, what are the actual state of affairs in enterprise as far as blockchain and crypto adoption?  

Alan: Yeah, we we're going through a very interesting phase. I think the enterprise world went through a period where the primary focus was on permissioned blockchains and that actually took away a lot of the power that blockchains bring to the table.

Being bring permission is right. That was the breakthrough innovation. But enterprises legitimately have a lot of concerns about. Access to data, access control and data privacy. And so the permission to blockchain movement, I think there's still a few deployments out there actually in, in production and, and doing great work.

But by and large hasn't really taken the industry by storm. I think the next phase is gonna be what, what we are enabling, what we're focused on building out here, which is enabling existing enterprises to leverage their data assets, to leverage what they already. About their customers. You to leverage those insights to create a more personalized and more compelling on chain experience.

And we're gonna start seeing the emergence of, of applications that, that bring the best of both worlds together, such as, you know, DeFi protocols that offer on chain yielded some reflection of some real world assets. So where the protocol would actually go off chain and verify the option, the yield, the option yield of the real world.

And then adjust the on chain yield accordingly. We're also going to start seeing more personalized NFTs that are dynamically sync with the off chain behaviors of individual users or consumers or, or customers of these companies. The, the, the interplay between the off chain world and the auctioning world at a more granular, more person personalized level, it's gonna.

Help the enterprises leverage their strengths. They don't have to build Web3 applications from scratch, that's isolated from what they, what they already have done, but rather leverage their strengths to build something on, on chain that is even more compelling and differentiated and that the competitors can replicate.

And two, is also going to make blockchain's more relevant to the day to day lives of ordinary users because rather than asking them to jump to a lot of hoop, And build relationships with whole new applications and brands. We're talking about extending their relationships with companies that they already work with and know well into the blockchain world, and hopefully will get to a point where these users don't even think about blockchains at the end of the day, right?

Where the infrastructure and the technology phase into the background, and they're just simply enjoying the, the, the new benefits and the new powers that are enabled by the new te. Hmm.  

Mike: And Boba Boba Network, RA, I have a note here, raised 45 million in a series A earlier this year in April from 400 investors.

Can you tell me a little bit about how that deal was constructed and, and how those funds were? Just the general architecture of the deal?  

Alan: Yeah. The, the round actually came together in Q4 last year, but it wasn't announced until April. And the reason. We ended up with, with several hundred investors for the network.

It's because we felt that it, it was, the exercise wasn't really focused on fundraising per se. It was focused on building and alliance of folks who would be really helpful in building out the ecosystem around vulva and Beyond the num sheer number of investors. There are investors in Boba who are, who have really interesting networks, really helpful networks in key markets, a around the world, such as in Korea, Japan, and, and other countries.

There are investors who have who can help the network tap into really compelling talent flows, bringing, bringing marketers, and. To to the project and there are others with really deep technical knowledge around certain areas that could be providing us with great advice. And, and so the idea is really to bring together, it's more, it's like building an alliance where each individual member has something to bring to contribute to, to the mission.

And the fact that they also bring capital to the table, of course, is, is great as well. And it also helps align incentive where they have skin in the game and they care about the success of the project.  

Mike: Okay. And Boba network is a decentralized protocol. So when you raise a Series A for a decentralized protocol, are people contributing?

Are they wiring money to Enya? And then that's considered the Series A for Boba. Are they sending some kind of tokens, like what money flow is happening and what ownership is transpiring in that deal?  

Alan: So, These investors bought to, basically bought Boba tokens in a private sale. So the transactions happen between the Boba Foundation and the individual investors.

Mike: Got it. So they're buying Boba tokens, so they're going, they're taking their US dollar maybe, or whatever currency they're in. They're going to exchange buying Bitcoin or something, and then they're transferring Bitcoin for Boba tokens on some exchange.

Alan: So it's actually more straightforward than that.

Mm-hmm. , it gave the foundation stable Bitcoins and in exchange to Foundation gave them Boba tokens.  

Mike: Oh, okay. Got it, got it, got it.  

Alan: Yeah, it was a private sale.  

Mike: And why, why is that called a Series A as opposed to a. ICO or token sale?  

Alan: It's more a reference to the stage of development of of the project and also the size of the round, how much capital was raised.

Prior to that, there was only a tiny, tiny seed round that preceded in Series A just a couple months ago. So that's why it was called a series.  

Mike: And with I'd say we're now recording December 2nd. There's significant depression in the funding for crypto Web3, the whole thing. If you were to structure a Denovo deal, new deal, new company, how, or just advise another project on how to do it, how, how should crypto founders think about structuring deals now?

Cause with the caveat that it seems like tokens have been used, there is certainly an influence for governance. You know, based on how many tokens you have, you can vote on a community board and then that tells the development team what they have to work on. But it's also largely used for funding.

Do you think that will continue? Do you think there's a better way to, to conduct funding rounds where? Take ownership in some company that's building the core products on the protocol. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on what you've learned and maybe what you see going forward on, on funding structures.

Alan: Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. I think the, there's no one right answer. It really depends on what what you're building. So, for example, there are a lot of companies in in this space that are, even though they are in crypto or Web3 per se, but they are building software or providing services that.

Where it doesn't feel natural to have a token as part of the solution, and therefore they will be raising capital in the traditional startup way through equity sale, and, and that works up, that works perfectly fine. They just happen to be a service provider in the web space. So my suggestion is don't create a token for the sake of fundraising, right?

If, if the token has utility is part and parcel to the solution to what you're building. And if there's interest from investors to acquire those tokens, then, then go with that flow that then, you know, and legally have that set up there. Some jurisdictions jurisdiction, a lot of lawyers are great at that.

So make sure you work with great legal counsel to make sure that you're compliance with your local jurisdictions. But yeah, the higher the first order bit is don't create token for the sake of fundraising. Don't force it. Don't, don't commit any unnatural. Hmm.  

Mike: And how do you think about the practical use of tokens now?

It seems like people are more skeptical of the pragmatic function for tokens and on paper I can see a lot of use cases where tokens provide some incentive structure for people to take action within some ecosystem. And they also provide a mechanism for funding, for better or worse, and they provide governance.

Those, to me, seem like the three pillars governance funding. And incentives for action. I, I talk to some people and I get a full spectrum of opinions on this. Some people say, oh, it's, that's absolutely true, and this early stage of price speculation for the tokens is gonna die down, and then people are gonna perform.

Functions on the protocol based on the the incentive for the tokens. Other people completely doubt it altogether and say that tokens are just used to raise money. They're not actually incentivizing, and people just purchase the tokens with the hope that the price goes up. People aren't actually taking actions on the protocol as designed by the developers.

What are you seeing and what are you feeling? That to be true. The, the impact of tokens, either for real practical function or for price speculation.  

Alan: Well, I think all of the above are true, depending on the context. Right. Going back to, to my earlier point if the token doesn't have really inherent utility in the product that, that you, you're building or in the network, then yeah.

What. What are the uses that, other than for speculation, right? On the other hand, if the token has, has real use such as the ones that you've described, then it makes sense, which is why we, you've heard this, these differing opinions. It's because they, they have experienced the, they, they're reflective of their own experience with the tokens that they've worked with, and not all tokens

Were created with real utility in mind. And so that's why we're seeing that it's, it's kind this old story of you know, four blind folks feeling around an elephant and they all come away with different descriptions. It's one elephant. But you know how, whether you, you happen to have touched the leg or the trunk will give you a different flavor of what an elephant actually.

Mike: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So true. So,

so how do you think, I guess, for maybe Enya or Boba specifically, what, what's the function of tokens? How, how do you think about going forward, investing in and furthering the incentive structure for tokens versus moving on from the idea of tokens? How do you sort of balance that or think about that?

Alan: Yeah. Tokens actually play a very important role. So in the case of Boba, right in, in, in go in resource allocation regardless of how scalable and blocking infrastructure or platform is, the compute resources, the storage resources are always limited. There's always a ceiling, right? So there has to be a way to, to meter the use of, of resources, and that's, that's why.

Ethereum has, has e as a fee token. So Boba is also the fee token for the B network. Boba also has a unique protocol called hybrid compute, where developers can write smart contracts using hybrid compute to call optioning APIs to interact with Web2 services, to query enterprise data stores, and to talk to off chain gaming engines and a lot of other users and every hybrid compute API call.

Also requires the use of Boba tokens, and it doesn't cost a lot, but it helps to prevent DDoS attacks, spamming and, and overuse of, of these finite resources. So tokens actually play a a real role in, in resource allocation when it comes to the operations of a network. And in terms of incentives Uber network.

Now, I had run an incentive program called WAGMI earlier this year. There's a proposal that, that a put forward around the tokenomics. But we've, we've been receiving feedback from the community that, you know, given the current market conditions, now, might not be the best time to roll out an incentive program.

But because you it's like pushing on a rope. Mm-hmm. so. The incentive would, would go a lot further and be lot more effective when market conditions are much better for the whole, for the whole space. So we as you, as you mentioned, Boba is a decentralized project and so whether any particular proposal goes forward or not really depends on, on the wishes of, of the community.

Mike: Mm. Got it. Yeah. So true. And what, what's an example? So what's an enterprise company that you can mention and how are they using it? And just to frame it out a little bit more in detail so I can picture what's happening.  

Alan: Yeah, yeah. So there's a top university that we've we're working with to. Well, nothing official yet.

Sorry, can't name, can't name names. But there's a top university that, that we've been working with to develop their official NFT degree NFTs. So these are non tradeable NFTs similar to so bound tokens. So let's say you are an alum of this university. You, you'd be. You'll receive one of these NFTs that represents your degree on chain.

And because of hybrid compute we're able to create these nf, make these NFTs, query that university's database to verify that you actually have certain degrees from that university. And as you, you may go back and get another degree and that will get reflected in your NFT as well. And if you extrap.

From that design pattern, what we're talking about here is one a, a self sovereign, decentralized identity on chain that leverages your off-chain data for verification, because we all still live in an off-chain world. And so making these connections so that. Folks have confidence and trust in the on chain identity that they see actually is valuable.

If you further extrapolate that out, what we're talking about is a personalized nft, or more broadly speaking, personalized on chain experience that's based on off-chain data owned and curated and verified by real world enterprises, companies. .  

Mike: Like a school, like a college, are there,  

Alan: it could be, it could be a association of some sort that, that would verify your membership. Right. We could use the same pattern to, to create an official NFT to show that, hey, you are licensed to practice medicine in the state of California, for example.  

Mike: Mm-hmm. . . Yeah. There's so many use cases that come to mind. I mean, everything in the government, your driver records everything on LinkedIn, like how do we know, right?

I could just put in any logo I want. Mm-hmm. ,  

what is the most functioning integration with an enterprise? You mentioned that's in beta and you can't mention the school or whatever, but are there actual companies utilizing this, this Boba network now or, or any. Connection to enterprise? Or is it still early days?

Alan: It's still early days. As with any new platform and new capabilities. But you know, these, these use and, and enterprises are cautious, right? We're talking about exposing some of their data or using some of the data for for on chain purposes. And one things go on chain. They are public. And so it takes time to, and, and, and it's, it's right to take time to be prudent and be cautious and thoughtful about.

Customer data users, user data, student data is gonna be used in a public setting.  

Mike: What have you learned? I mean, are the, did you go into this thinking enterprises were gonna be excited to, I mean, maybe let's talk about other examples, but I'm just picturing the diploma example. And did you learn that they are less excited or that they somehow look at the incentive structure differently?

If you were to give yourself advice two years ago, what would it be like? How do you sort of think about what you've learned so far about enterprise's incentive and desire to move on chain?

Alan: One of the things I've learned is that just, just like. The technology adoption cycle crossing this notion of causing crossing the chasm that Jeffrey Moore came up with more than a couple decades ago now still remains true. And that means identifying the part of the market that belongs to the, the early evangelists, the early adopters, the innovators.

It's really important. If you end up going after those who are the early majority or late majority who tend to follow the innovators and early adopters you're just gonna be wasting your time. But if you happen to be talking to the innovators and early adopters, they will actually show you the way they'll tell you, look, we've been thinking about this problem.

How we gonna adapt in this new world? And, and we've been fishing for a solution. And, and those conversations are, are invaluable and only the innovators and early adopters of, in any particular space would be thinking that way. So my advice to, to other founders and entrepreneurs would be, you know, pay attention to how, when you're talking to a potential customer, to a prospect or a potential user, think about, pay attention to how they're describing that, the problems or desires and you want to, and if you are creating new technologies and enabling new possibilities.

Look for the ones that are, that are forward looking, like in this case, this, this school that is thinking about, you know, what will alumni engagement look like in the s going forward? How do we know when someone shows up at a school event that they are at a legitimate alum? How do we help alumni feel comfortable that someone that they're interacting with in the Metaverse is truly someone from the same alumni?

Right. So the way they're talking about the problem that's trying to solve is very forward looking, future oriented, and and that's always a good sign.  

Mike: A And do you feel Boba is focused on schools on specifically this problem of diploma, putting diplomas on chain?  

Alan: No, this, this particular problem is or use case is far along enough that we can talk about.

There are others that we, conversations that we're having there earlier stage that will probably let them cook for a little bit longer before we talk in more, in more specifics about them.  

Mike: And, but generally would that, would it be, what are other ideas like putting ticketing for baseball games? Jog my, my creativity here a little bit.

Alan: It would be, well, it would be, so it could be hypothetically speaking, right? Let's say Starbucks. They know a lot about their customer's purchase behaviors. I mean, the wallet actually is one of the largest mobile wallets in terms. Float the amount of money stored in, in those wallets. So they certainly know a lot about their customers purchase history, where they buy what, where they buy, what they buy when in exquisite detail.

Well, they can actually we can help them leverage that data set to create very personalized entities on, on chain. And they don't have to be entities. It could be just any. Personalize on chain experience based on every individual Starbucks customer's, purchase history and behavior, behavioral patterns over the years.

Mm-hmm. .  

Mike: Gotcha. And Starbucks wouldn't be able to do that themselves. They wouldn't be able to build their own app that does that.  

Alan: I mean, our code is open source. They can just take out code that works too. Not our code, Bob's code that's what ends contributed. But it would be so much easier to to partner with with Boba and Enya can help them build it and, and take advantage of, of hybrid compute because hybrid compute is really enabled by by Rollups.

We wouldn't have been able to do it on, on layer-1, which is why. B started as a layer-2. And so in order to enable this type of on chain, off chain interoperability and connectivity, you really need to become experts in layer-2s. You need to become experts in, in how hybrid bulbus hybrid compute protocol works and and also stay up with.

The, the latest innovations in this whole rollup space, because we're still early in, in the rollup game and there's a lot in innovation happening. And so for, for most companies where blockchain scaling is not their core business. Why, why expand resources in building out their whole foundation is much more makes much more sense for them to just partner.

Mike: And what is a rollup?  

Alan: A rollup is a a rollup is a, is a mechanism to, first of all, decouple the execution of small contract transactions from from chief from the consensus protocol, and it also aggregate. Multiple transactions into one block and there for makes more efficient use of block space of the block space on layer-1, and these attributes come together to deliver

one to two orders of magnitude going forward. Could be more of performance improvement and cost reduction compared to performing transactions on layer-1s directly. Mm-hmm. . And one of the reasons is because when execution happens on a, on the, on the base layer, on the layer-1 of, on the layer and blockchain, the, the transactions are replicated across the entire network.

So you're repeating the same work over and over again, right. As part of achieving consensus. But rollups allow execution to happen outside of layer-1. And, and so the ex, so you're only doing the transaction. But you're still leveraging the, the security that comes with the layer-1s consensus protocol to secure these transactions.

And as part of the design of rollups, there's also a mechanism for independent third parties to verify that the transactions. Are, have been executed correctly. And there are different approaches to doing that. General, generally it's called thought proving or for approving. And that's what's led to different forms of rollups, such as optimistic rollups or ZK rollup, because these different architectures validate transactions using different mechanisms.

Mike: And, and would you say rollups. The point of layer-2 so that they make the blockchain storage of data more efficient because they're packaging a thousand transactions together and then they're sending it to layer-1. So that's the, that's really the reason why people build layer-2.  

Alan: Yeah. And, and, and also to de to decouple execution from consensus so that you don't need to repeat it, execute the same transactions over and over again across the entire layer-1.

Mike: Got it, got it. Okay. That makes sense.  

Alan: And it saves compute, so it saves both on compute and, and storage.  

Mike: Got it. And then when people are building, so someone, so you'd have a layer, Boba is a layer-2, meaning that you have a set of tools that people can build an application on top of Boba so that it connects to your code base and your servers and you're, you're batching that those transactions and sending them to Ethereums layer-1.

Alan: Correct. Yeah. From the developer's perspective, it's just like building on Ethereum just the, yeah. Same m or Ethereum.  

Mike: And the advantage of using Boba is that it's faster,  

Alan: it's faster, it's cheaper, and it gives you this additional power to connect with Web2.0 services or enterprise data stores or off chain gaming engines that are not available on on layer-1s or other layer-2s.

Mike: Gotcha. And then, when Boba is building what you're building, you're, you're, you're building all this complicated, amazing technology.  

Are you primarily focused on selling new developers to come build on top of Boba or are you focused on a sales team that's gonna go out and pitch Stanford and Harvard and another in Starbucks and other companies to develop their tokenization or Web3 products like, and those are, am I right in understanding that that's a significantly different sales funnel?  

Alan: Yeah, those are different. So with. Developer evangelization is always gonna be important. When it comes to introducing new capabilities. It takes time for developers to learn what they can do with these new powers.

And, and that's an ongoing effort. It takes patience. So, and we're starting to see some of the, the early signs early fruits of, of those adverses especially men scheme develop. . Because hybrid compute allows smart contracts to talk to off chain APIs, including APIs of gaming engines. It also makes things like random number generations so much easier for, for developers.

So we're starting as a game developers use hyper compute for within their, what, three games. Beyond that would be the next phase would be, would be approaching the, the enterprise market such as what we've been discussing. In those conversations the focus is less on developer evangelization because these enterprises themselves are, are in different business, right?

They, they're not what we native to begin with. And what they care about is how do they deliver a better customer experience? How do they stay ahead of their competition? And so the work that that, so in this case, Enya is, is more involved. And working side by side with these companies to figure out what makes the most sense for their users and customers and and building these solutions for them as opposed to evangelizing their own internal developers to build.

Mike: Gotcha. Okay. And so Enya basically keeps the lights on. Enya is a development agency.

Alan: A software development company.  

Mike: Gotcha. And it's a core development.. It's a core group of people that help to build out the Boba network. Yes. Gotcha. Gotcha. And

how do, so given where we are today, the both, like FTX has collapsed and people are skeptical of putting their money in exchanges, and I would imagine funding to projects is declined sharply.

How is that, how have you managed that internally as a leader and. What steps have you taken? And when you describe those I'm curious to hear your description, particularly as it relates to other people who may be in a similar position. Like what, what, what, what are people generally doing in leadership positions that are managing a similar structure where you've raised a bunch of money, you have a development shop, you have an external protocol that you want to build in the future, but you kinda have to weigh, weigh the impacts of like, How do we generate cash in the short term?

Do we go and build stuff here? Do do like, how, how do you sort of, you're in the boardroom, you're in the, the war room. How do you think about managing the current climate with the tools and teams you have?  

Alan: Yeah. I mean, we're fortunate that there's several years of runway in, in our situation, so at least we're not dealing with any sort of existential crisis for ourselves. But certainly,  

Mike: Quick que quick question, sorry to interrupt you on that. Is that because you have it in US dollars as opposed to the, the reserve currency being in tokens?

Alan: Yeah. Okay, got it. Oh, there's, there's a, the foundation has a treasury denominated in Boba as well, but like when we're talking about runway, we're not talking about tapping into that part of the treasury.

Got it. So at least we're not dealing with any existential crisis ourselves, but the ecosystem is badly hurt. Right. And a lot of other projects are dealing with funding issues or resource constraints. That will impede their ability to deploy, to execute or to survive in some cases. So that, that certainly affects us indirectly as well.

And we're doing everything we can to help. For example internally we're working on, on a data product to help developers more easily identify the most active users so that they can target their incentives more more effectively. in terms of what leaders do. So first of all, you have to acknowledge and, and recognize the reality which sounds straightforward, but for, for founders is actually one of the most common traps is to fall into wishful thinking.

Mm-hmm. . Because founders have strong conviction about future state that they have envisioned and they're working towards creating. Right. So you have to. Always, always think about the future and live in the future, but at the same time that that brings with, at the risk of wishful thinking, wish, wishing the reality were different than it is today.

And so first, first task is to. , make sure as families we don't fall into that trap of wishful thinking and looking at reality as it is. And looking at reality also means not being overly pessimistic. When a cata bless you, when a CATA event such as the implosion of Fdx happens media loves to jump on these stories and and the mess and, and the sentiment is almost always the sky's.

Well, and it is bad, but it doesn't mean that the world is ending. So looking at things, reality as it is also means not getting too pessimistic either. It also means calmly assessing the situation and identifying, okay, what are the assets that we have? What are the strengths that we still have?

Where are the, the new elements of the new reality? Will impact us. Let's identify all of them. And let's also figure out are what are the new opportunities that might be enabled by the new reality and, and putting together. So in, in couple of weeks we actually bringing the leadership team of EN together for an onsite.

We're a distributed team, so we don't have a lot of opportunities to get together in person, but we're actually getting together in person. to bring everyone's thoughts and observations and insights together to make sure that we are looking at the new reality as comprehensively from all perspectives as possible.

Mike: Got it.  

And so what does that mean? I mean, what, where, what does that entail in detail? Does that mean like, Hey, funding is not gonna be available for 12 months? Do you Yeah. What would.  

Alan: We're assuming no external funding for at least two years. That's what we're planning for. Definitely have a preference for pursuing opportunities that will bring in revenue sooner rather than later.

We are still growing, still hiring, but you know, in a very cautious way. But there are a lot of great talents out there that are available now that weren't available even just a few months. And we don't want to miss the opportunity of working with them. . So yeah, that this is what we're doing.

Mike: And how many development shops that are building on their protocols are shifting to like, like just develop, just software development. Hey, I'm going to, you know, you have Enya, there's, you know, other development shops out there that are building primarily focused on building that protocol. But like you say, you have to balance the realistic role we're in. Are you seeing other dev shops start to just take on client projects for. Okay. You know, a car company, something just, you know, Hey, we, we got a bridge, we gotta survive.

We're gonna do something totally outta blockchain. We're gonna help a, you know, a food delivery service. Build out their mobile app. Like, is that what, what's, what's happening? Like how bad, not bad. I don't like good or bad, but how far off from. Core missions are dev shops going at this point.

Alan: Hard to speak for others right? In, in our case, we're certainly staying very focused on our core mission. What we're doing is really helping get going into the direction of helping more Web2 or like the, the non Web3 native companies take advantage of the platform that we have built which is going to help build out the ecosystem around Boba.

So we're still very much focused on our core. But in terms of some of the teams that we've spoken with, you know, I survive surviving is winning in, in, in an environment like this, right? So if, if. if the environment is so challenging, that driving adoption for your protocol right now is very difficult, and regardless of how many marketing dollars or incentives you throw at it is not gonna make a difference.

There's no shame in doing something else to generate revenue and survive in the meantime and wait until the market gets better and then, and then come back to building continuing building the protocol again. And in the meantime, maybe put it in maintenance mode. It doesn't mean you abandon it, you still maintain a community.

But, but you're not, you're not just throwing resources away. Hoping for the. So I don't think there's any shame in doing something else to generate revenue and survive in the meantime when investors are all walking away.  

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So I have a note here that says a few weeks ago, community witnessed 120 m I assume million Boba being transferred to  

FTX, which is a vast majority of circulation.

Can you explain a little bit about. Relationship between the Boba tokens or users, what may have happened there and FTX and the impact on what you're working on.  

Alan: So there are few misunderstandings in that statement. Fair. So, yeah, one of them is assuming that those tokens came out of the circulating supply which is not true.

Actually, those tokens were lost token. Set aside for investors and current and future team members. And the reason they were sent to FTX was because FTX so first of all, FTX was the first exchange to list Boba when the token launched last year. And they offered to be the custodian for these locked tokens.

And they, they also offer. Implement the gradual and locked schedule for these lock tokens over, over the next few years at no cost. So that was why the the foundation decided to let FTX do that work and be the custodian. And at that time, FTX one of the top three Yeah, top five exchanges. And everybody trusted them.

Nobody expected this to happen. So that's why. And, and so these tokens were not part of the circling supply at all. They were never in circulation. They were lost of tokens and. Now we are working on a exploring different options to help these investors and team members recover the allocations.

Mike: So, just so I'm understanding, so 120 million Boba tokens were in FTX that were staked and owned by the foundation or owned by individual investors that participated in that 45 million series  

Alan: Some of them were so basically these are locked tokens set aside for, for investors and team members.

They were not part of the the circling supply, not part of the, the treasury that was meant to provide incentives for ecosystem growth and, and other purposes. .  

Mike: Okay. So they're not, so the Boba's treasury didn't lose anything. It was, that's right. People who had,  

how do treasury store their tokens? How does Boba store their tokens?  

Alan: In a Multisig on chain, those are safe, just like most projects.  

Mike: And is that through a company that does that or are you keeping it in like some, you know, you figure out some way to do it yourself?

Alan: That's through the Boba Foundation.  

Mike: So Boba Foundation is a couple people that have access to the Multisig Wallet.

So each of them, I mean, stop me if this, like, I don't wanna compromise any security stuff, but just trying to understand general architecture of how foundations secure their funds are is Boba giving it to, oh, what's that company? A company to manage the funds or they're each of the board members. Protocol will store, like they'll have a hardware wallet and they're safe in their house. Like what, what's actually happening?  

Alan: So I'm not gonna go into the specifics of BOA's arrangement, but in general, this is what most projects do, is to have several trusted individuals who, whose interests are aligned with the.

To be MultiTech signers and you need x out of Y signatures in order to move any funds around. And and of course everyone needs to be using a hardware wallet that's just non-negotiable.

Mike: And Okay. Got it. And how, what do you think about that structure? So I, I'm kind of at a point where I'm like just questioning everything, trying to boil things down to first principles.

So I appreciate you entertaining me with these super simple questions. If it is that, the way that it carries on, cause I just for reference, right? It's. Six months ago, even a few weeks ago, it's like, oh yeah, keep all your money out in exchange. You know, there was some people who say that wasn't smart, but like, Coinbase, FTX, these companies you can trust.

Are, is this process the right way to do it five years from now, do you think there'll be you know, four human beings that are the board of a large token project storing hardware wallets, like in their garage? Sa I mean, what. Is that, or do you think there's a company that kind of manages that?  

Alan: Like I would hope that the, the, the setup actually become more decentralized rather than more centralized.

But it's, there's always gonna be this dynamic tension because having a centralized energy manager is more convenient and human nature tends to work more, a more convenient solution, all else being equal. Mm-hmm. , a decentralized solution takes more coordination. But it's also more robust, more secure, no single points of failure.

And so I would hope that we actually trend towards a more decentralized solution. Than less.  

Mike: Mm-hmm. .  

And what, what have you learned? So if you were to, you know, ride the clock a year, what would you tell yourself? What, what do you think you maybe in terms of like base expectations that either storing tokens, building the way that people build projects that way, that people raise money.

Like where, how is Alan wiser now than you were a year ago from all the shit that's been going on in the world?

Alan: It's important to keep in mind the reason that we're building what we're building in the first place, the benefits of a transparent, permissionless, immutable, blockchain infrastructure. Right? If there's a reason why the kind of fraud that hap that we have seen at FTX Alaa and various other actors that.

That kind of those kinds of actions just simply would not have been possible in an open, transparent protocol, decentralized protocol, because everything would've been out in the open. There's no place to hide. As soon as something that virus happens, people would've noticed. Right. And, and we have to keep these principles in mind as we continue to build forward.

And the key lesson that, that we are taking to heart is we gotta make it as easy as possible for developers to adopt these solutions because human nature is human nature. If you don't make it easy, people will use it. And we have to start with the developers because unless it is easy for them, they won't build on it.

Mike: Mm. . So you would, and you would've gone back a year ago, you would've said, I wish I made it easier for developers to build on Boba. Is that  

Alan: Well, well, so, so tactically we will always focus on, on, on ease of adoption by developers, but there's a lot more we can do tactically. I also wish that the lock tokens for investors and team members weren't being custody by FTX.

Mike: Right. Yeah, totally.  

And where do you think that this goes? Do you think regulation becomes super clamped down? Do you have a more optimistic take that it becomes like US regulation around crypto exchanges in particular becomes more clear and. Obviously the strong negative take would be that there's a strong reaction from the federal government to clamp down, block everything, ban Bitcoin, ban exchanges, say, Hey, we're not effing around anymore.

This, we can't be sending money to North Korea. We can't be having billions of customers lose their money. We need a timeout. And we've seen this in. Other industries. You know, I, I mentioned this previously, but this psychedelic world had kind of an explosive era in the late sixties, and there was a lot of promising research happening around that.

However, the abuse that was happening in the, in the public was so strong, and it co, it presented a strong opposing narrative to the federal government to send people to Vietnam. And so the federal government said, no more schedule one, everything. Zero sales, zero research for 50 years and just now, just in the last few years, it's now possible to research these mine medicines and they're incredibly beneficial.

So we have a 50 year gap of nothing happening because of, in my mind, a similar kind of abuse in the public. And then a strong clamp down where the government specifically recognized the threat of the technology to the establishment. And in my view, the government, if they're smart, they recognize Bitcoin as a threat for a global reserve currency to the US dollar.

And I wonder like what's, are we about to witness a clap down that just says Zero tolerance, ban it, public Enemy number one is, is Bitcoin? Or do you think it's like, Hey guys, I know you made a mistake. I know everyone's not. But we gotta put some smart rules in place and then things just kind of go on as they go on, even in a better way.

Like what, what's your realistic take as to what we're about to see?  

Alan: Well, certainly policy makers are gonna have a strong reaction to to what happened recently. And based on, and it's hard to predict the future, but based on the, the latest. Conversations that we're following in DC it does seem like the, the conversations actually are pretty reasonable and sensible.

Hmm. There's recognition that amongst some, not all policy makers, that this was not a failure of crypto of blockchain itself. Right. This was a failure of, first of all, FTX was not even a US company. Right. , US regulators can do whatever they wanted and still wouldn't have prevented this from happening.

But this was a failure of, of the traditional opaque model of running financial institutions coupled with a space that, that, and also geography that happens to be unregulated. So we got the worst of both worlds, actually, between crypto and tri. Trapi is opaque, but it's heavily regulated, so it mitigates some of the, the downsides of opacity.

Oy. But in, in the case of FTX, is run as a trapi, so it's completely opaque. Nobody knew what they were doing behind the scenes. At the same time they unregulated so that no oversight whatsoever because as opposed to DeFi, which is transparent on chain. Should, it's unregulated, but the whole world can watch.

The whole world is watching. And so the, the, the transparency takes the role of of a, of a regulator in, in the case of Strati. So when there's no transparency and no regulation, that's the worst of both worlds.  

Mike: Yeah. How are you doing? I mean, with having 120 million of the Boba tokens lost at FTX in a, in a pretty sharp down market after raising a ton of money last year, d are you and you and the team feeling kind of business as usual, just keep on going.

Is it, is it difficult? Like, is it, are, are you having a tough time parsing the future and. I I, I'm curious to hear what, what's like, what it's like, you know, what is it, is it hard or do you feel like you just kind of methodically walk through all the steps and.

Alan: Well, anyone that tells you is business as usual is lying.

Mike: Yeah. Okay. Good . Right.  

Alan: At the same time, it's not, like I said before, we're not, we like, It's not as if we are going through a existential crisis. That's true. Project. That's true. Is one. The team is strong. We're still hiring. Yeah. We're growing, like we're building up transaction volume. We've caught multi change, so there are a lot of good things going on.

And we're working on, on, on a plan to you know, make the investors and team members whole that were affected by the, the downfall of FTX. Mm-hmm. so. I'm feeling actually cautiously optimistic. Certainly there's a sense of agency, like the actions that we're taking to you know, deal with, you know, the tokens that were locked at FTX deal with the changed broader environment.

You know, things are never as good or as bad as people think they are.  

Mike: Yeah, that's a good line. . Yeah.  

How about people? Are you following any people in particular that you're learning from? Any books or blogs that you pay attention to regularly that impact your thinking?  

Alan: Well yeah, a lot. In our space, for example, when it comes to reflections on the state of rollups, where the technology will go. I really like Polynya on, on Twitter. They, they maintain a a blog as well. And the writings are, are really thoughtful, the posts in terms of someone who. Been reflecting on the recent events and, and lessons learned from actually not just fdx, but Three Arrows and other blowups this year.

I really love Jason Troy on, on he's been sharing his thoughts on Twitter as well. And then in terms of, in terms of books actually think that like, Maybe your more recent audience may not know him. Andy Grove, the legendary CEO of, of Intel. He's passed away for a while now. But what he's written about leadership and management, a lot of it remains true.

Those ideas may not have been communicated in most, politically correct ways by today's standards. He's very hard driving. But he also inspired tremendous loyalty amongst his his teams and deliver amazing results and change in industry. And by extension the world, I mean, Intel without microprocessors, where would we be?

So yeah, a lot. I read his books many years ago and a lot of those lessons still ring true. And I still aspire to live up to a lot of. And I also read a lot of poetry. Do you, I write poetry myself too. And that helps to not just bring balance to, to my work and my life, but also helps to become more creative and helps center myself and, and bring to a more zen centered calm state. Which helps with everything that I do.  

Mike: How do you, what do you do to get into a state of, before you begin to write any poetry, what would you do to get into that state?

Alan: Take a few deep, deep breaths, look around and pay attention to what's beautiful in the world and pay attention to. in your thoughts and feelings that are bubbling up in that moment, and then just stop writing. Don't overthink it. Mm. It's a good line. The words will come.  

Mike: Yeah. I heard a quote recently that was it said beauty is a, beauty is a call to awakening, which I really liked. So, so simple. But it's so, it's like, oh yeah, it is.  

Alan: That actually reminded me of a book that I, that I'm reading right now, actually. It's called Beauty And invisible embrace. Check that out. It's so rich that I can only read two to three pages at a time and I have to stop and digest.  

Mike: Yeah. That's how, you know, it's, it's one of good books. Yeah. Yeah. Any other particular writers that you find yourself coming back to?  

Alan: John O'Donahue. So he's the author of Beauty. Amazing. Writer and philosopher.  

Mike: An orator, an amazing voice. The Irish accent.  

Alan: Oh my gosh, yeah. Yes. Also like David White, they happen to be great friends of each other. David White's poetry penetrating words.

Mike: Mm, mm-hmm. ,  

it's. Alan, where are you? Do you, first of all, do you publish any of that? Do you write any of your poetry online? And then where are you personally? Are you sharing anything on Twitter or any personal usernames you wanna throw out there?  

Alan: Sure. My, I'm Alan Chiu on Twitter, a l a n c h I U. Happy to engage and interact with anyone on Twitter.

I publish some of my poems on, on Instagram just to share with friends. That's all. Mm-hmm. , I haven't really published anything in, in, in more serious format yet.  

Mike: That's awesome. Good for you. It's a good way to balance it. You can't have all crypto all the time. You'll go crazy and you also won't be, you won't be as good at it.

I, I'm convinced. The best, the best developers, the best founders. I know they have a strong balance of some other artistic expression that helps 'em get into the flow state. So Alan, thanks so much man. Congrats on all the progress you guys have made. I wish you the absolute best through all this. Thank you shit storm that we're in, and I'm sure you'll come out the other side shining. Appreciate your time, man.  

Alan: Thank you. Really enjoyed this shot. Thanks for having me.