In this episode, Mike Townsend speaks with Ramani 'Ram' Ramachandran, CEO of Router Protocol, an infrastructure layer enabling communication between blockchains. After graduating from MIT with an MBA from the Sloan School of Management, Ramani worked at Deloitte, Moody’s, and Schlumberger before moving into crypto in 2014. He built and ran Asia’s earliest crypto fund, returning 4x. Built Fordex - the world’s first stablecoin DEX and Qume, an institutional-grade crypto exchange. He also launched Asia’s first crypto-index token before founding Router Protocol which is solving the problem of blockchain interoperability.
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Mike: In this conversation Iinterview Ramani 'Ram' Ramachandran, or Ram for short. He is the CEO andco-founder of Router Protocol, and Router is solving the blockchaininteroperability problem, with mesh networks. We talked about bridges, wetalked about interoperability in blockchain, what those mean from a simple.
Explain it to me like 12 perspective. Wetalked about pricing and trading, although ROM is not a trader. We talked aboutsome psychological patterns or trends among traders. Then lastly, we wrapped itup with thoughts on the political landscape, the regulatory landscape wechatted about network states, the emergence of new countries funded by cryptocommunities and much more.
So I hope you enjoy this conversation.Here is Ram. If you do, please give us a thumbs up or share this podcast with afriend. It really does help us grow. Here you go.
Mike: All right, Ram Well,thank you for hopping on today. I'm excited to talk more with you. So, beingCEO and co-founder of Router Protocol, I, I'd love to just get a quick sense ofthe origins of why you started the business and what specifically you'reattempting to solve in the world.
Ram: Thank you. Thank you,Mike.
The opportunity pleasure to be on yourship. , great question. Maybe just give a bit of a background of what I wasdoing prior to Router. So that's a natural flow. Appeared in crypto for closeto a decade now. I first got into crypto trying to bring to the blockchainprivately traded securities.
Previously I was in innocent banking,asset management pure finance as these state is called trade five. on stratify.Oh. So, I did a bunch of things in crypto sometime in 2020. We built this tax,an automated market maker like Uniswap, but on Polygon. And it was a prettyinteresting experience because, polygon was much cheaper than the Ethereumblockchain.
It was faster, smoother, but we found.Not too many folks were using it privately because most of the crypto communitywas, at least at that point, very much on the Ethereum blockchain. Right. Andthat's when the light bulb went off. And I speak to Sandeep Al, the founder ofPolygon. And, the, the big outcome of the conversation was that, we need tostart building software that let's blockchain speak to each other.
From an interoperability perspective,and, and that's the genesis story, right? And then I'll expand more on the, thevarious details from that going forward.
Mike: Yeah. Maybe quicklyexplain like why,
what is Polygons primary use case? Whydid they create it, and then why were you building on it? Why is itinteresting?
Ram: Got it, got it. So,Ethereum blockchain is like New York City, right? It's super popular andeverybody likes, or, or like la just keep it closer to home for you. It, it'suh, it's, it's very popular. Everybody wants to get in there. It's a thrivingcommunity of. Trading platforms, NFT platforms, borrow lending and borrowingplatforms, what have you, right?
But then the thing gets more popular, itgets congested, right? And then so some people sort of upticks and they sort ofgo off the suburbs, right? So in New York City, you go to just City or Yonkersor upstate, wherever you go. If you have a lot of money, you gotta guessconnect a right? So, so a lot of blockchain.
Strung up around Ethereum, so you havepolygon being one of them. Right. And polygons essential thesis was, listen, Imean, we will run essentially what's like a layer two chain or a side chain forEthereum, right? And you can use Polygon to scoot round to get transactionssuper fast, super cheap, right?
And then periodically we will make surethat the accounting of the mother blockchain, the Ethereum is, is all. , right?So that's what polygon does essentially gives Ethereum uses a faster, cheaper,most scalable way to get things done. And now no, no, this is the thing, right?So you've built, let's say just city use New York analogy, that's what I spendmost of your time in the us.
So, and, and let's say you built reallycool pizza place or a nightclub just on this side of the Holland Tunnel, right?But there's no Holland Tunnel. So you two. Right. So, so the, the connectivityis not there. So you might have the coolest venue, trading venue or a lendingboring venue, whatever.
But unless you have a means tocommunicate with the main chain Ethereum, right, you can't really grow theseother platforms, other blockchains that you're building. And that problem getscompounded because since then, I think since 20. You've had a profusion ofchains, we call it the siloing of blockchains, right?
You have Ethereum, you have Polygon, youhave abru above lunch, you have psc and then you have the whole non VMuniverse, the cosmos chains, and then you have Valand. Then you have Pada,right? So all these are. akin to cities and communities, right? And, and, andcities with their own vibe and energy and communities and, and there's amillion reasons why somebody might want to choose one over the other, right?
So, whoever you are, there's a goodchance you might want to go to New York or London or Singapore, or Dubai,whatever. But you might not. The vast majority of those folks have primarilytourist they'll just go back to wherever they come from. Maybe it's lander, .So I think the essential idea is that there's gonna be a fragmentation of capitaland ideas and energy across these blockchains and this Need for these tocommunicate with each other.
So that, that's essentially what Routerdoes, provide a way for blockchains to communicate with each other.
Mike: And so what would be adescriptor for Router for Router protocol at the company? Would you call it a,a bridge? Would you call it a, how do you describe it in a conceptuallevel?
Ram: No, great question.
Right. So this, this has also been anevolution as with, especially with web three, the evolution. Super fast.Initially we were just a bridge, meaning you could take a token from Ethereumand take it to Polygram or you could go from Ethereum, Tolan, or Polygram tablelaunch or to Ben Banana chain or to Phantom.
So it was just the asset transfer, thetoken transfer function. But now the industry has had. Maybe 12 to 18 months ofa very fast iterative learning and feedback as is the web three is. And nowthere is a clear differentiation happening in the sense that there are pureplay bridges that just worry about getting a token across from point tier onechain to point B.
Another chain Essent. Swapping a tokenfrom one chain to another chain or transferring it that would be your basicbridging framework. But then there's this whole class of pure playinteroperability protocols, which is Router is one of them which concerns withthe genetic problem of cross blockchain messaging and communication.
And, and the whole asset transfer piece,token transfer piece is just one use case. Just going beyond that Router andthere are a few other solutions can solve for, of generic messaging. And that'simportant because you as an app developer might want to sort of, build an appthat uses Ethereum for its decentralization, but, Solana for scalability and,and maybe.
Prefer the new chain that's coming upfor a transaction speed or some, some other attribute, right. Of the, basicallythe three parts of the blockchain trial. So, a Router now basically is a coreinteroperability, primitive that enables generate cross chain messaging.That's, that would be a descriptive answer.
So there's now, would you say a consensus in,I guess, peop how people think about the differentiation of the businesses orthe, the offerings where you have bridges that are, are they actually movingcurrency tokens between, or are they just like a market maker that says, well,I.
Ethereum and I wanna move to Solana. Sothen there's someone on the other side who wants to move back and they makethat change, they make that, that trade or transaction.
Ram: No, it's a great,great point. Right. So what's, what is actually happening is it's, most ofthese bridges work on lock on one side and unlock on the other, unlock on theother.
So it's just like you walk up to oneside of the bridge and you, you basically tell the bridge, listen, I want tosend. Let's say you're going from Ethereum, tomatic, right? So, on, on thematicon the Ethereum side your e is basically locked up, right? And an equivalentamount of matic is released on the other side, right?
And, and, and in that process there is aliquidity requirement, right? And the experiment, it can be a market maker, butmore often than not, At the moment, it's platform liquidity, right? Whereplatforms just bootstrap the liquidity and, and, and, and which is actually thereason why a lot of bridges have gotten hacked, right?
It's a bit like, you have let's say youwant to move ton of value from, let's say, Brooklyn to Manna, right? It's likesomebody drives up. to Brooklyn Bridge. And then there are, but there's, thewhole Brooklyn Bridge is, is called a lot of armored trucks with a lot of gold,right? And then, so you give a message on the Brooklyn side, and then one armortruck goes into Manhattan.
That's, it's a very primitive design.And, and, and what that makes, what does, what that does is make BrooklynBridge very nice. Honeypot, right? Bridges have a lot of value stored in them.Right. So that's why you see more than 2.53 billion in hacks, targetingspecifically bridges in the, in the past couple of years.
Right. So, one of the things that Routerdid to address this problem early on was, we had this interesting balance inmechanism where we ran. At any given point in time, we had a specific number ofbalances on each. , right? And then we would sort of have an internalrebalancing algorithm that would sort of move this capital around through ourown bridge without completely exposing it to the external world so that theattack risk was minimized.
Right? But you see a lot of the versionone generation one bridges, right? You'll still see, they all tout how much TVis locked on them. And, and it's a very. Ugly metric, irrelevant metric almostbecause it, it just yeah. And, and it also leads me to believe that bridging islike the aviation industry.
And we are now between 19 0 5, 19 0 6 6and 1937. Between when the Wright brothers started their thing, I guess closeto where you currently live. Yeah. Yeah. And 1937 is where the Hindenburg thinghappened. Right. And then I think we, we still awaiting that one big Hindenburgmoment when a massive bridge blew up that happens.
And then after that, I guess, peopleslowly understand that the TV l game is not the right way to play and it'salready happening, right? When you have us DC Circle, they're basicallyimplementing their own version of liquidity provision across bridges. So a lotof bridges won't need to actually bootstrap or just have the liquidity exposedon their framework.
They can just tap into U sdc and indeed,I'm sure U S D. starts at the stable coins are also gonna follow suit in, you'llhave the liquidity problem solved pretty quickly.
Mike: Interesting. And so itjust takes some plane crashes to fall in order for us to have like a 99.99%,safe airline system.
So there's, you see, you don't see achange in how the structure of bridges work in Web three. It's more like wehave to iron out the technical details, which takes some casualties along theway.
Ram: Yes. Yes. And I guessthere's also one more, going back to your first point around the pure assettransfer bridges.
They'll always be important becausethat's gonna be a big use case. But then there's going to be this whole classof interoperability focused layers like routed Router and it's incumbentincoming blockchain, et cetera. And I'll tell you more about Route V one and V2and planning the roadmap, et cetera.
But effectively we have externallyverified bridges where, you know, in, in the case of rotor, the V2 is going bea full fledged blockchain on the Cosmos network. And, and the validation isgoing to be, A bunch of validators who are making sure that the message isvalid and alleged and, and has fidelity.
And, and, and that, that's obviously atwo by three plus one consensus. Right? And then you have the other end of thespectrum. You have natively verified bridges. These are. What notice is lightclient nodes, right? And, and these are, you basically use zero knowledgeproofs, et cetera, in some cases. But effectively these are very lightweightand, and sort of do not have the security risks of something like a pure playbridge.
And I would say even a slightly lessrisk than even a, a POS based bridge like Router, because the end of the day,theoretically any POS chain can be hijacked because right, all anyone needs todo. Captured two by three plus one amount of, purchasing power or token value.It's a theoretical possibility, but it's still a possibility.
So, so again, in the bridging space, youhave, pure play asset transfer bridges and messaging bridges and Router is theLA latter. Mm-hmm.
Mike: Gotcha, gotcha. Andwhen you take the ladder approach that you did with Router, what, what is,what's the landscape look like? Like how many different.
Organizations are in this space. What'sthe, what is it technically doing underneath the hood? Like, yeah, maybe walkme through it almost like I'm 12. If you think about what you're doing from atechnical level, .
Ram: Yeah, absolutely. Ithink there's, there's a bunch of contracts that sit on the cosmos chain,right?
Mm-hmm. , and, and they have their ownsentinels or watched us, or listening points or gateways on multipleblockchains where the bridge has an endpoint on, and it's always listening forincoming requests. Hey, I will transfer a certain amount of failure. I want tosend a message saying this. This much amount of tokens are.
Or, or this app needs to be calledanother chain, right? So it, it can be an, as I said, asset transfer or amessage transfer. So these listeners sit on multiple chains and we set thecosmos chain and, and sort of monitor these results and the validators on thecosmos chain that we have sort of run the consensus layer and make sure that,if somebody wants to.
communicate something from chain tochain B that goes through in a manner where the fidelity is presented. .
Mike: Gotcha. And when youthink about the future, what's, what does, well maybe
I'm curious to hear your thoughts first onjust where we are today. Like just from a high level, there's been, I'd saymore turbulence in 2022 than any other year, arguably in crypto.
Where, where do you feel things havesort of settled as far as general sentiment among consumers and traders andmaybe builders regulat? Do you have any high level thoughts on where we aretoday? It's, we're recording this February 8th, 2023.
Ram: Absolutely. Yeah. Ithink it's know there are multiple, there are, there are a few. self-evidentfacts if you've been in this space. Facts slash opinions. I mean, even that is,again, there's a self-referential contradiction there. But I mean, at, at thefirst big change from, let's say until 2018, the narrative was Bitcoin, whichis proxy for crypto, is digital gold.
And therefore, when there is arecession, when, when, when the market cycle sort of, like right. What'shappening right now, then this tightening, et. Bitcoin gold, et cetera, sort ofbecome, start becoming more valuable, that that has changed now at this point,risk Bitcoin and crypto and, and they all, cryptos, they're all primarily riskacid.
So, they're all very much tied to thewhole risk on risk of trade, meaning when US Fed and the European central banksand central banks around the world. The money printers start cutting interestrates. There is an upsurge and, and vice versa. So funda, fundamentally it's amacro play it a trade from a pure institutional trading lens on from consumerlens on.
I think and actually I'll come to, cometo the consumer at the end from a builder, Lenson, I think it's very, verysoon. I guess all of us figure out if you want. Be the director of a movie,which means you're an investor, vc, you're a trader, or you wanna be a producer.Sorry. Producer is the investor.
The director is that're actually makingthe movie happen. Right. So most builders are directors. Right. And, and wewere build, I mean, it's so much fun. It's, it's, it's, it's just a verydifferent sort of Topman High, just it's shipping products and, taking thatattraction and trying to grow your baby and, just engaging in the the daily ebband.
and, and I think the core builderscontinue to build, right? I mean, you have had, every bull market. I think nowwe can see some of that, right? I've been increasingly getting a few morepitches. Eli, I'm trying to decentralize super, what do you think? And thingslike that. I mean, that comes around every beginning of a bull market.
But builders are building with the coreguys, especially in the bear market. It's, it's very good. You get the besttalent you get. The audit forms don't flee you. The service providers don'tflee you. It's actually a nice time to actually build and, and that's continuedand that will continue. Right? And, and I think if you sort of, sustainyourself through a couple of their markets, then you, you don't really worry.
You just need to make sure that you havea little bit of capital to make sure your ideas can be continuously tuned inthe lab and they hit the market. Now the interesting question about theconsumer perspective, right? I think consumers this retail traders and cryptousers, right? I think traders got burnt, right?
I mean, a lot of them, like with theequity markets traders rush at the top and they get completely hammered andthey sell at the bottom. That's a, that's a story as sold as the markets. Imean, that's happens every, every single time. And that's happened, I mean, allmy friends that I told them to buy crypto back in 20 15, 16, they all bought itin 2018, and then they were angry with me, and then I told them to buy again in2020.
They buy it in 22 peak and then boom.Right? I mean, that, that's, that's always the case, right? I mean, that'salways the guy, the, the devil always takes the Hein most, which unfortunatelythe end retailer trader now from a user perspective, right? It's, it'shappening. It's happen. in so many different ways that we are not even aware ofit.
Right. It just it's, it's like with theand there is know, there's so many different aspects to it. There has to be acertain amount of hustle and bubble narrative to it. Cause it happened in themid nineties I'm sure you're much younger. Dot com, you just put a.com thingand you sort of get it listed on Nasdaq and the thing would go up and nobodywould know.
The website did. Right? And then therewere like these projects that raised millions and millions of dollars even backthen, right? But then all that settled and settled down and, now all the infrathat was sort of built up and all the know-how led to what we later defined asweb two, right?
The the Facebooks of the world, theGoogles of the world, even Amazon is arguably right. I mean, it only startedbeing a profit in 2002, 2003. , you have a little bit of that with crypto aswell, right? You have, every cycle there'll be a champion who will be thedarling of crypto Twitter, and, and he'll be grandstanding and then, this issome big blowup and then the guy goes silent.
Everybody starts hitting on him. I mean,that's also fashionable, right? I mean, people. Just crypto Twitter is brutalthat day. One day sbf is everybody's best friend. The next day he's like theworst guy. I had always suspected this, yeah, yeah. People are fundamentally dishonestand self-serving in politics.
I see. I mean, that you can't look forhonesty in crypto. Twitter. I mean, self-serving honesty is, but not completehonesty. Yeah. So, but, but there are applications getting built, ultimatelycrypto is. Who has control, right? I mean, if you look at, if you even gobeyond the narrative of, how Facebook and Google and all these guys extractedvalue out of view, right?
And captured a lot of value, right? Imean, you are getting a great experience, right? But eventually you realizeover a period of time that these guys were making millions of dollars purelybased on your data, right? And, and you have that even though, and, and, andright now chat, G P T for instance, people are opening up everything.
I mean, the other day my daughter washaving a fight with my mom, so she said, how does an 18 role apologize to hermom using, that's public data, right? So, and people are uploading models,uploading AI data, feeding algorithms, right? And all that is now, now open. AIhas not opened it up. Right? Open AI incentivizing, you sort of make that modelmore powerful, but they're not opening it up.
So, and. Every, it seems like for thelast 20 years, you see one large company that comes out and sort of tries tocapture value in ultimately what is an unfair manner. It's when seeking. Right.So crypto is fundamentally a pushback against that. Right. And obviouslythere's going to be no decentralized social network lenses coming up.
There's gonna be a bunch ofdecentralized. applications. The DeFi, for instance, right? I mean, it has hada rough spot, but it just went through the roof. But essentially, why would youhave a situation where you would want, it's, it's the old document for Bitcoin,right? Why do you want a bank sort of charging you for the privilege of storingyour money, right?
So that argument is still valid andusing the data and, and people are seeing that, okay, the first citation of Dfive 1.0 that as we. Has had its issues. There were a lot of obviously somethings worked, a lot of things did not work. You had 20 something who sittingon gazillion dollars and sort of dead funk, funky things with that.
So all that apart, the, the case forprivate control sort of, sorry, your individual control, self-sovereignidentity, that has never been stronger. Right. And, and there are, , you putthem all together. I think it's slowly happening and, and the next cycle you'llsee a ton of interesting applications that you can't even think of, right?
I mean, everybody thinks that, there'sgonna be one area that's gonna be the big thing in the next cycle, but it'sinvariably not what the smart guys say. It's something completely differentfrom the consensus, right? I mean, who would've thought that synthetics cameout? A way to incentivize liquidity using their liquidity farming program.
And, and that just blew up, right? Andthen it just became the foundation for DeFi. One point. Same way, who knowswhat's gonna happen in the next bull cycle. It could be move to order, it couldbe, know, something else that we are not even considering. Or it could be theNFTs on Bitcoin that's actually be a solution for bitcoin's.
In centralization problem. So, soNetNet, I think, cycles apart. It's from, as a, as a paradigm shift, it'sfundamentally going to design, it's gonna change the way products are designedand how they consumed. And I guess the one last thing on that is, the ui ux,the user experience needs to change, right?
I mean, the one big thing right now is,The meta mask wallet that you have, which is, and then, so typically thecurrent user experience is, you take a hardware wallet and then you plug intousb and then you type in a bunch of numbers and it's a nightmare. Right? So howdo you sort of.
Abstract that out. And even that is sortof changing big time with things like account extraction and, and interestingprojects like World Coin that just cancel your, and then sort of, attaches thetwo wallet, right? I know it's a good thing or a bad thing that are pros and cons,but fundamentally the point is user experience is fundamentally changing andthat's going be a big driver for the 80, 90% that's not already, not on webthree to move to Web3.
Mike: Hmm. Yeah, thatcertainly seems very accurate that different people have different ideal likelogin or privilege. UI interfaces, right? Like how I interface with my bank isdifferent, but also the fact that I have it on a thumbnail and if I lose thethumbnail, then it's all gone. Like that's, that doesn't work for most people.
And so finding that middle ground seemslike a potential big breakthrough.
Do you think that there is a, do youthink it's necessary or inevitable that there will be a theme to the next bullmarket in the same way that there seem to be these thematic rises in Bitcoininitially that was like the theme and then it's like Ethereum and then it'sDeFi protocols and then it's NFTs and everyone get kind of gets excited aroundthis one theme, uh mm-hmm.
and then, or do you think we're kind ofbeyond like all the themes have been all the. Cards are on the table, so tospeak. Like all the tools are there now. It's like this kind of gradualimprovement of the tools and the technology to the point where it reallybecomes valuable to people everywhere.
Ram: Hmm mm-hmm. , that's agood question. I mean, I guess you've been through a couple of cycles, and Iguess it might be that it's not just one theme that sort of becomes a dominanttheme, but I guess maybe a cluster of, themes. Mm-hmm. . As you said, UXimprovements or it could be like NFTs and Bitcoin, or it could be moved toearn, or it could be, could be a cluster of themes as well.
Absolutely. Yeah. But typically, moreoften than not, it, it's, there's always a chain involved. So as you said,maybe it's Bitcoin, Ethereum, it could be Cosmos, right? Or, or one of thosenon VM chains that that sort of have cosmos is interesting because it's.
it's, it's, it's it's an, it's ablockchain of blockchains, right? So unlike Ethereum, which sort of enables theproliferation of layer one site chains, which actually could end up becomingcompetitors, for instance, like, even polygon, arbitral optimism, they're alltechnically speeding of Ethereum.
But once people start using them, and ifthey have a token and it's, they start pumping, I mean, there's gonna be someelement. cannibalistic economic effect on Ethereum at some level. Right. So, somaybe, cosmos might be the next theme. So, but I think the, the broad point isstill valid. I mean, it might not be a narrow theme like it was in the last twocycles.
Mike: Yeah. Ultimately, whenwe even talk about a thematic rise or a bull market, we're talking. Money inother currencies coming into crypto. So this is typically through institutionalfunds, kind of lead to charge like a 16 Z raises 300 million to deployingcrypto and that thus, For, for regular investors, people who are not looking atcrypto more than three hours a week, but they have a few thousand dollars tospend, they're kind of like the, they're kinda like the, the afterburners,they're like the fuel on the fire where they come in and all of a sudden it'slike, it's, it's jacking up the price and that the, the pricing of theseparticular assets becomes, it seems to become so , what would you call it?
Like inaccurate, like the actual, whatdo we, what is Bitcoin worth? Well, the market is, is trying to figure thatout. We don't, we don't quite know. And as these new coins arise, we're tryingto figure out what they're worth. One, one thing I wanted to get your opinionfeedback on, something you said earlier, which just had me thinking, was whenyou think about the.
the people that you may have told to buyBitcoin back in 2018, they bought it in 2020. Uh mm-hmm. , it seems like thathumans are, this is just a theory, but that people are, we're biased and we'refalling for almost a predictable bias where the more, more consensus, so themore, the greater the percentage of the population of people that I personallytrust, believe that something is a good.
The more likely than, than we are to becorrect. That's kind of the fundamental bedrock ideology of democracy, is thatpopulation votes and that by consensus of the masses, that's which way thecivilization goes. Should we build the building? Should we, invest inhealthcare? Should we, whatever the decision is of the society, it's, it'seffectively, we're gonna pull the population through various, levels ofabstract.
Representatives or whatever, butultimately, stocks are different and, and crypto is different because thesuccess of your decision individually.
The success of my vote, my roi and myvote is determined by whether people in the future will purchase that. So, right.It's like that. And that's the, that seems like the key difference is that yourfriends, you told to buy Bitcoin when you told them to buy Bitcoin.
No, people weren't buying. There wasn'tconsensus, but that's precisely why it's a good investment. And so I, I thinkthere's almost this like cognitive dissidence where people, they think it's agood investment when everyone else is buying it, but that's like precisely thedefinition of what's not a good investment.
Does that resonate with you
Ram: or, it it does, it issort of a, sort of reminder of something I read in, thinking fast, thinkingslow by one, and when Eddie keeps using the analogy where, you know 5 8600years ago, or even right now if you're a deer or, or, or some sort of a fourleg beast in a hood.
And, and you see your other, friends,dear friends, running, there's a lion in the bushes, something you run, right?You don't, and lis and you let me try and go against the cons. There's a puresurvival thing, right? I mean, you're on a ship and you see everybody jumpingoff. You jump, I mean, something coming into your, so I guess, I guess thereare simple problem frameworks, but I guess investment is fundamentally a farmore complex problem framework.
Right? And I guess you're you're betteroff. Like classic example, even one month ago than the stock forio of Bitcoinwas screaming by, that is 1415. I mean, absent any other major shock, like U SD T going down, or signature bank going down, or some crazy stuff happening. Itwas patently evident that, Bitcoin is gonna go back from 15 to, 25, 35 what,what the number is in the next few months.
Right. But you just couldn't bringyourself to buy, because in all groups, watch single Telegram. People areshitting about, oh my God, are we gonna see 12 K? Are we gonna see eight K?Right. I mean, but I. Maybe the way to do this is, and this is all the bestinvestors, I guess, do it, they have a framework, they have a process, right?
as long as they stick to the process,the, the way they arrived at the decision, they're more worried about thechecking off all the boxes in that decision making framework rather than,actually getting worried about, if it's a flip of a Coin, did they make moneyor not? And I guess once they stick to the process, no, seven times out of 10,6, 10 out of 10, they probably make money.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And, anddo you, do you feel like either personally you have a good process or do youknow people who have a good process or is it generally more of like, Hey, thisis a good asset, I think, and it's, on the spectrum of gut decisions to hyperanalytical, where do you feel like you personally lie, or people that yourespect lie on that spectrum?
Ram: Crypto ing, right? So,so I'm a builder, right? I mean, I'm not an investor, so I don't have aprocess. I'm very much yeah, yeah, sure. fancy of the popular news store. SoCatherine No, far says, Bitcoin is a million dollars. Boom. Let me go and buysome Bitcoin . All
Mike: right. All right.Yeah. Appreciate the,
Ram: It's not that, but Imean, it's, when you're building, you don't have time to Yeah, it's anopportunity cost. I mean, you're better off playing in your core, whatever areaof strength is. But I know a ton of investors who and then, and, and I knowfolks that, that are not on Twitter. I mean, nobody knows about them, but theseguys have been very methodically buying stuff.
And I know this one guy who's very underthe radar. . He went to the Solana Breakpoint conference in Portugal and he sawa bunch of 20 something showing off their lamb and Ferraris, and he, us, youknow what? This is not going end well. Mm-hmm. , he, he immediately sold offhis whole crypto stash, all his Bitcoin and Ethereum, like 4k, 60 k, what werethe price for us for Ethereum, Bitcoin.
And then he started buying distressassets, real estate factories and stuff, and, and, , he's divesting from that.He's coming back and buying some more Bitcoin Ethereum. So there are guys that,that are able to do it and I wish they would share the magic sauce. I mean, butI guess. Well, it's gonna be tough.
Mike: Well, I think, I feellike the magic sauce there is actually quite simple, which is that when peopleare greedy, be stingy. When people are stingy be like the Warren Buffet idea.The greed. Yeah. Yeah. So let's, let's talk.
Let's talk about building. So, tell mewhat it means to, to, to you to think about where Router goes in the future.
Like what gets you really excited aboutbuilding this, this tool? Yeah, let's just start there. What do you, what doyou look at the future, what you're building?
Ram: Yeah, actually I thinkit's, it's, it's, I, I guess we all build mental models and narratives and,and, . you One model that's really resonated with me especially I'm havingconversations with folks like you is, if you go back 20 years imagine 19 nine,2000, you had you had Linux, you had Apple, you had Microsoft, you hadEnterprise Sun, Solaris, all these different variations.
And even within Linux you had Susi andyou had Red Hat, had a bunch of D exhibitions and. And this is a beast. Ifyou're, if you're a boat doc and, and you're using a MacBook and if you send itto me on my Microsoft pump pilot or whatever, it would be complete nightmare,right? You couldn't really have seamless editing, right?
I would send it to you, the format wouldbe all messed up and then you let it download a piece of software. It's anightmare, right? Mm-hmm. , and then along came AWS along came Google Docs,right? And then that changed two things. If you are an end user, you just openup a Google Doc and then you type in, and it doesn't matter if it's an Androidor iPhone or whatever, you could have, Chromebook or whatever, but we, we seethe same thing, same user experience, same document, and you can do it live,right?
Thanks for the bandwidth improvements.It's an app developer, right? I mean, you have build once, deploy anywhere,frameworks everywhere. So you, you don't need to separately build for Microsoftor Apple or whatever. You just need to solve for your AWS Docker instance. And., you have adapt that is working. I mean, obviously you need some UI tweaks, soit's not exactly fair energy, but the the developer experience is completelytransformed after aws.
The user experience is completelytransformed after Google Docs, right? Where we are in the blockchain space, asyou have, going back to the first thing we're discussing, we have a siloing ofblockchains and therefore a siloing of user experience and a siloing ofdeveloper experience. If I were to build a text, I need to sort of, pop overthe, let's say I want go to avalanche, right?
I need to pop up the avalanche guys, gettheir BD team involved, get their marketing team involved, and tell them, wegot the Avalanche system. And, and, and if I'm a developer and if I'm end useragain, right? I need to sort of figure out, okay, this yield farm is onPolygram, therefore I need Polygon rpc, so I need to move my server, right?
So there's a lot of complexity around.Using various apps on various blockchains, right? So, what I would like tobelieve that Router and indeed some of the other projects out there in the interoperabilityspace are doing is abstracting out the complexity and building out the AWS andthe Google Docs equivalent, right?
Is basically you have a website, youcome in and you want to do something, you want to trade, you want to find thebest trade for your e. It doesn't matter what chain that's available on. Right.You should have an interface that spits it out. Right. So, and if you're adeveloper, right, you build an app, right?
And, and that should work on any chainbasically. It's important because that's the only way you can attract usersfrom all the different chains, right? So I think that's what we are trying tosolve, sort of masking the underlying complexity that is inherent at thecurrent phase of the blockchain. E.
Mike: Interesting. Okay. Andthen when that happens, what will be the implications? So if it is
Ram: Yeah. Yeah, so it'sgonna be like, the the underlying blockchains are just a middle layer, right?You don't need to, it's like, you want book a ticket, you go to Expedia or, oror priceline.com, and you see, right, you're gonna go.
Portland to New York. And you want tofly in the state and you want to window seat and you want business glass of .What thing? And under the hood, what Priceline is doing is segregating acrossmultiple ticket airlines, ticketing, reservation systems, multiple agencies,right? It's doing all the complicated processing, right?
And, and sort of spitting back a priceto you right now. The web three version of Priceline would be, okay, you wannago from Portland to New York? Alright, so I need to pay my, my airplane has tofly over Chicago, so it, it has to sort of pay a tax there. Okay? I need toaccount for that. And then that's $50 and then it's got gate fee in New York.
So let me calculate that. Okay? That'sunder the $20. So literally you gotta pay for all those fees when you go fromchain to chain, right? So, mm-hmm. If web was the airline flight ticket bookingexperience, that's what you had, right? But that's all abstracted away from you.So I think that's what you're gonna have, right?
You're gonna have some sort of a frontend, maybe you gonna chat GD style interface where you go in and say, Heylisten, I wanna buy Bitcoin Toyota buys some random, okay, Shiva Coin today,because I have a hint that you. Ilan is going to tweet out something aboutDodge or Shah something and then so the, it is gonna sort of do all the hardwork and the number crunching and the rooting and the, the, all the complexanalysis.
And then it's gonna spit out, alright,go here, click here and three faster, and then boom, this thing Shibauniversal. So I think that's, that's the end goal. Maybe we get there in twoyears, maybe we get there in five years, but ultimately it's. Abstracting outthe complexity and aggregating all that through a nice front end.
Mike: It's interesting.
And what do you think is the biggestchallenge today? with with the actual coins and tokens themselves. I mean, one,one thing I'll throw out there to you is that I hear frequently that things areslow and things are expensive to move. And that for crypto to, to really havea, a massive impact on the internet, there needs to be fast and inexpensivetransaction capability.
Yet for some reason we're fixated onBitcoin that does not have that capability. And so, It, it seems to me likethere's a, some people I talk to that are in the camp of like Bitcoin, somefork of Bitcoin, Bitcoin, sv or something is like, this is, this is the onebecause it's fast and cheap, it could do a hundred thousand transactions asecond Bitcoin slow and whatnot.
And then once it's fast and cheap, thenyou could actually have a bunch of really. products that people can use, like,you can have microtransactions and all these things that feel like they shouldbe part of the internet that just don't exist today. Does that resonate withyou or do you think there's some other big problem that we're seeing?
Ram: No, I think it's, it'sa problem, but I think that the technical aspect of the problem, I believe hasbeen solved to a very large extent. Right. I mean, Bitcoin. Transfers are,they're still slow, but they're not, they're probably much faster than banktransfers. Scalability is an issue.
That's why Ethereum came. And Ethereumactually probably is, not as, is probably definitely scalable than Bitcoin.But, and then you have Polygon and all these other chains, and even Bitcoin hasits own Ethereum version, wtc, right? And then you have stable coins, s dt,sdc, et cetera. So right now, if you wanna send me a thousand usdc, I can justsend you a.
Two minutes, you can send it to me. It'sprobably faster than I need back. So I think that from a technologyperspective, and there are change that focal and scalability, so et cetera, Imean, there are criticisms on whether they're truly centralized or not, butthat part technically to a large extent, I think we have solved it.
I think the key issues, the regulationthat's required for adoption, right? I think. The narrative of the Web threecommunity. We need to get the narrative right. I think because, there is no onecoherent narrative that sort of tries to understand regulator's concerns whilealso being fair to folks that really need decentralization in, in farling partsof the world.
Right? I think, I think it's a narrativeissue and I think it's gonna take time and I, I believe it's gonna. way longerthan people assume it's gonna be, I think it's gonna be a generational shift. Ithink the, as boomers sort of move out of the center stage and mm-hmm. , get toa Les spa and you have the twenties and thirties, they sort of are nativeBitcoin.
And I mean if you look at, I was readingfrom statistic which said that almost 50 to 60% of under thirties in the USAhave some form of crypto. Right. So given around the 10, 15 years, they'regonna be, in positions of Par and Wall Street and Silicon Valley and all that,and they're gonna be far.
Receptive to ideas around web three andhow it should be regulated and so on and so forth. So I think, these thingsthat the narrative and the acceptance is probably a generational thing. I mean,boomers are not gonna change. I mean, they are. They want their retire fund,they want two, three, and yeah, they have no interest in asset application.
They just want, they want assetpreservation, right?
Mike: Yeah, exactly.Yeah.
They want to keep US dollar in theirbank account and that's it. Yeah. What what contrarian beliefs do you hold?What things do you think are true that most people would disagree with you? Itcould be in crypto, it could be in regulatory policy.
It could be in anything you, you thatcomes to.
Ram: Well, I think regulatorypolicy is a good one, right? I think that, a lot of governments are veryworried about, I mean, I can tell you the Indian government, for instance, I'msure the US government as well. Right. There's a lot of misinformation.
There's a lot of fear about how crypto'sgonna come in and, and sort of be used by terrorists and money launders andpornographers and so on and so forth. Right? Now the reality of the matter isthese guys are already ahead of the game. They using us dollar and secrecy coins,and they're already doing it, right?
So, if you are a regulatory. Agency orgovernment official listening to this? I guess the one point I'd like to submitto you is that, by opening it up, you're actually. Sort of laying it all outthere and making the system stronger, more efficient. Right. And making surethat the good guys have a chance to fight the battle.
I mean, if you remember the mid ninetieswhen the internet consortium, the guys behind the modern internet, theyproposed the ssl, the secure Socket. Which was the foundation for HTPs andmodern e-commerce. Right. The used government was very against it. Theybelieved, no, this is going to be misused.
Right? That was their big thinking,right? I mean, the, the edge case sort of was front and center for them. Theycouldn't see the big potential that we, the HTPs and, the secure socket labeledEnglish, but then the industry sort of. Worked together. The Netscapes andMicrosofts and which were companies that were big at that point in time, sort ofdecided that, they were engaged with regulators in dc They were engaged withother key stakeholders and they made sure that there was some form of communityself istic.
in the sense that if they, like ifsomebody uploaded a crappy website with PAW or some sort of, fraudulentactivities or something, the community would come together and sort of flag itoff and maybe report them to the authorities or whatever. And I think. Thatinsight is, it's, that's again, sort of going back to a previous point.
I don't know, that leap of faith issomething that regulators have to make and sort of understand. The technologyinherently is good to engage with, and at the very least, they should providesandboxes for all these technologies. And the funny thing is, Singapore, India,all these governments provide sandbox.
But they just, just for, for the sakeof, it's nothing, no real innovation happening there. Mm-hmm. The moment youtry to push the barrier and this start, come and clamped on you, right. I mean,the Indian government for instance, right? I mean, India is the largestrecipient of remittance is globally right from blue collar labor.
The girl from the valley, from aroundthe world, I mean, this is 1.5 billion Indians. The them were outside and theysent a ton of money. every single day. I would imagine now almost 10 to 12% ofthat, of that many billions is lost in, in transaction costs right? Now.Imagine if the Indian government wants to sort of figure out just with the USgovernment some sort of web three mechanism where, you know, a stable Coin orsome sort of far more efficient mechanism, right?
That would, that would save many, manybillions of. Right now, it's not inconceivable. Technically there's a solution.All it needs is the regulators to sort of sit down, cooperate, and make surethat massage system gets built and, and everybody wins because the dollar thatyou save, a good chunk of that can be used in making sure the bad gas areoccurred.
Mm-hmm. Right. So, so there is there's aneed for regulators to understand that the crypto is actually good becauseblockchain is very, very public,
Mike: Right, right. No,that's a very good point. Ram last thing I wanna ask you about. You mentionedearlier that you can see the analogy of these different cryptocurrencies likeSolana and Ethereum, Bitcoin, they're like cities.
You say, okay, this is New York, LAPortland.
Have you followed B Network states bookand concept, and do you see, do you have any high level thoughts on that? Anddo you see the. , the, that, that being the inevitability of the direction.When I say that, I mean specifically that people are, are exiting the currentgovernments and that there is a pool of money happening from some online cryptocommunity that is purchasing land.
People are moving to that location andstarting new countries. Is that something that you resonate with or you, do youhave issues with that?
Ram: No, I think, I've sortof been following, I've been read the book, but I've been listening to someblog posts and, sorry, to some podcasts and blog post.
It, it's, it's interesting and I'm surenot the first time in history at various points in history, some forwardthinking folks have tried to do this. And I think at, of all those points, if,if at any point in history something like that might happen, it's probably nowbecause you.
information, which is mm-hmm. flowingfreely, which is, and we have money that's freeing flow, flowing freely, right?So you have biology and 10 of his buddies on a WhatsApp group decide to buy abig chunk of island somewhere. And, I guess the, again, the technical part issolve for the logistics part is solve for what I think is a big issue, isregulation, right?
All you need is some small randomfishing boat or some fisherman in a nearby town. Runs and drift and gets introuble or whatever, right? I think so at that point, nation states are alwaysgoing to be preserving the par and that includes currency, that includesgeography, that includes whatever.
So there's always gonna be somefriction. And, and that acceptance of something like that, especially in thephysical form, will only come with the narrative shift happens as, as wediscussed. I mean, it's just perfectly, I mean, water stopping biology frombuying a small island and and then even apart from the physical part of it,right?
I mean, Taos are probably a nice apretty interesting way where people are coming together and collectively takingdecisions in, channeling economics towards a common and go right, but evenDallas and now coming under the purview regulation, right? Because, andsometimes it dows themselves to that because that gives them more leeway tooperate within the current fiat framework.
Yeah, I think it's a fascinatingquestion. I don't know how to answer your question. I mean, the more I thinkabout it, the pros and cons come .
Mike: Yeah, no, it iscomplicated, but it is fascinating. Yeah. I, I saw the stat that over 50% ofthe countries in the United Nations have under 10 million people. And if youthink about 10 million people, like you can go on Twitter and find accountswith more than 10 million, to to, yes, yes.
The GDPs of of these countries aresmaller than. B and 10 of his friends, like, not, not him specifically, butjust the, the capability to raise money, crypto graphically in a community isjust super powerful. Yeah. So interesting to see where it goes, but Imean,
Ram: yeah, but I mean, atthe end of the day, right, I mean, far is fear available because the USgovernment or some government has guns and helicopters and gunships, right?
So at some point when it comes down tothe end, And his friends end up owning Gunships and . Okay. You could make acase that you know it's gonna be cyber warfare and you're gonna hire a bunch ofactors and bring all systems down, but the end of the day it becomes who hasmore force? Right? I mean, it's not about who is ideologically right or who isfinancially more powerful, but who is more comes of, was more force.
Right. Well, that's the. .
Mike: Yeah. It may, in somecases it does. In the case where you have a large centralized country, then youcan see like China us, large centralized countries. So it makes sense to have amilitary if you're very decentralized. Like if you had an archipelago of abunch of locations or you had city states all over the place, even like aBitcoin network.
Like if the US government wanted totake. Bitcoin and they wanted to get, if they wanted to get ROMs Bitcoin, theycould do that. Cuz they have one target. Yep. But if they wanted to get 10,000Bitcoins Bitcoin holders, they have to come to my house with guns. It's justvery expensive. So it's difficult for centralized militaries to deploy theirarms in across a decentralized front.
That's why the US effectively lostagainst Iraq. Lost against Vietnam. It wasn't, cuz they had stronger militariesbecause there was more decentralized in their re. .
Ram: Fair, fair point. ButI think, do you think that, given the DARPA and the brain power they have, themoney they have, if they were to bring down Ethereum or, or, or Bitcoin, Imean, they wouldn't need to sort of come off to you technically, right?
They would just call it Goldman Sachsand JP Morgan and funds and tell them, you know what? Right. This go and justshot these guys. Right. I mean, there. There ways to bring down financialnetworks though, right?
Mike: I would argue thatthat's not going to bring it down. It's Bitcoin. Like if they, if all banks inthe US stopped allowing Bitcoin transfers to exchanges, bitcoin's still gonnaexist.
I'm still gonna have it in my account.It's just the, the bridge is gonna be blown up. And so that's effectively adeclaration of war. Now it's like, okay, everyone needs to make a decision.What side of the bridge do you, which side of the river do you wanna be on? Doyou wanna put, keep your money in Bitcoin?
Do you wanna keep in a US dollar? Andthat's effectively your vote, right? Towards, it's like, so I think it's, it's,to me, this is where I'm like, it's hard to see it as much as I absolutely lovethe US government being very supportive of crypto. It is against theirinterests in the, especially the Federal Reserve as crypto becomes morepowerful.
And so, right. There's like an eventualconflict of. Especially as it pertains to international countries using USdollar and the global reserve currency. So
Ram: Right. It's literallythrowing a question mark at the concept of what a nation is because it devicespower from money and, and actually if any government supports crypto should beus because what U s DT and SDC are doing are, are, are dollarizing the globaleconomy.
Right. , any part of the world to buySingapore. India. The crypto community uses U S D T. They're not using a cryptoversion of the rub or the, or the whatever, right? I think so US governmentshould actually missing a trick there. I mean, they should just go all out andthe stable coins and . Yeah. Make sure the U S D.
Mike: Yeah. But even then,even then us, I look at U SDC and Tether and those stablecoin as just a, alayer on top of the fiat. I mean, there's still fiat because ultimately likewho controls the The money press, right? Like still the Federal Reserve. Yes,yes. Which is where the
Ram: true, true, true,true. Yeah. Absolutely.
But that's one more level of, I think,yeah, there's some ways from there though, I think. Yeah, .
Mike: Well, listen, I don'twanna take too much of your time Ram congrats on all the progress with Router.It's been a really fun conversation. I hope to have you back on someday. Sothank you for coming.
Ram: Thank you. Thank you,Mike. And yeah, thank you for your time and speak again soon.