Ren x Alameda AMA | ANSWERS
What does Alameda find most exciting about RenVM, particularly in the long-term contexts of (1) interoperability vs. privacy and (2) Alameda’s other products and services?
Some areas of interest include:
a) Interoperability: market-making and promotion of ten tokens in Serum, Blockfolio as a non-custodial -Wallet and retail trading app powered by Serum and RenVM
b) Privacy: Alameda OTC + RenVM dark pools
Ultimately, we envision a world where multiple blockchains co-exist each with their own unique features each suited for its own category of use-cases. In this potential end-state, we see interoperability between chains as a critical piece of infrastructure, and seeing the strong growth in adoption for REN and it’s cross-chain assets to date has given us confidence in its long-term utility. We also see it as complementary to some of our efforts in decentralised exchanges such as Serum.
Question meant for SBF - is there intention to implement a RenVM bridge to eth, bsc, solana, and dot on FTX and Serum? Would you incentivize usage of the bridge with FTT/SRM tokens? Would you refrain from having the trading pair of BTC <> renBTC on FTX in order to push bridge usage?
The acquisition is meant to expand the ecosystem of Solana and Ren. Ren will be focused more within the Solana ecosystem than others. However, a “Login with FTX” integration is currently being built to allow minting/burning directly from an FTX account. The Solana ecosystem is also providing support by developing interfaces for bridging and will be working with ecosystem projects to integrate/adopt renBTC and other ren assets.
A few collaborations in the immediate term:
- RenVM going live on Solana with the 0.4 release
- Solana team to develop a front-end post 0.4 release
- Integration with Phantom wallet
Because it is well-capitalized, Alameda’s investment strategy seems to be “spread our bets and see what works out best”, in the area of blockchain interoperability (from an outsider’s perspective). It has invested in a number of different potential solutions and Ren appears to be just one of them.
Can the team describe the investment thesis behind its interoperability plays and how Ren fits within this strategy?
Alameda has taken a position into various protocols that may or may not be strategic. However, in Ren’s case, it is an acquisition on company level whereby both Alameda and Ren team communicate very closely on a weekly basis. Ren team and its founders have a proven track record in shipping decentralized products and it is one of the most utilized bridges in Defi. With the investment, we like to strengthen the relationship between Alameda, Ren and Solana, and enable interoperability of Solana to other chains by using Ren.
What level of involvement does Alameda have in the development of the RenVM, are they actively contributing to the code, marketing and direction?
No, outside of the commitment to Solana, the Ren team and protocol will remain independent. Marketing efforts will follow the same precedence as always, by disseminating integrations and products once they go live within the ecosystems.
How many Darknodes does Alamada intend to operate from the token allocation that they were given, and what kind of timeframe will they deploy them?
While we can not provide specific numbers, the Alameda Team will run a set of public nodes along with Greycore nodes to support the network on all fronts.
In terms of development, do the REN team and community have freedom to decide the path they want to follow? If yes, how does the Alameda group contribute to the development? E.g. developers, financial help, other? If no, what are the terms?
Yes, the Ren team and Ren community will remain independent and be able to decide the path they want to follow. Alameda would be in its best effort to assist that path, such as providing financial support and resources for expansion.
How can darknode operators, who now each have a minimum of $100k at risk, be made confident that this relationship will not create conflicts of interest between us, the devs and Alameda. Personally, I run the darknode to acquire bitcoin and help facilitate its usage. Most else that accumulates in it is noise to me. Development direction that does not promote renBTC (or the core promise of decentralization) sounds like noise to me. Why should operators like me not be concerned, when a major backer of an infant blockchain buys out our devs?
Ultimately the interests of both parties - Alameda and REN - are aligned with current and future operators of darknodes. All want to increase the adoption of more trustless interoperability solutions and that includes broader accessibility and integration of Ren into more ecosystems, dApps, and DEXs.
Once supported, will Alameda push for adoption in Serum of inter-host chain interoperability (ie Ethereum <> Solana) via RenVM as much as it will for origin <> host chain interoperability (ie Bitcoin <> Solana)? “Will Push” can include market making of renERC20s in Serum, prioritizing RenJS for all inter-host transfers and trades, lobbying and campaigning with Circle and Tether to recognize or support RenVM as a “recommended” decentralized stablecoin bridge for DeFi, etc.?
There are already other bridges which offer inter-host chain interoperability (e.g multichain.xyz & wormhole). Instead of competing with them, the focus will be on origin <> host chain interoperability (i.e. Bitcoin <> Solana, etc). In the foreseeable future this will be the only method of bridging these assets across to Solana. This, combined with the deprecation of the Sollet bridge means that RenVM will be the sole origin <> host chain interoperability solution for Serum.
There is no intention to lobby for RenVM more than others. We along with the Ren team believe at the end of the day the users will converge on the best solution, so our focus is to ensure RenVM becomes as valuable as possible.
How does Alameda plan to expand REN integration efforts to expand usage of RenVM? Can you delve into a little bit more apart from hiring?
Alameda will provide the necessary budget to hire and scale the team in a sustainable faison. There are 7 positions open at the moment so both Alameda and Ren encourage those who are qualified to apply here.
Staffing the integration and front-end team will be foundational to streamlining, supporting, and ultimately automating the integration process. Alameda also has expertise and experience with the regulatory landscape of crypto, which helps the Ren team as it continues the decentralisation of the project, and looks to develop additional features and use-cases.
I have been invested in RenVM since the ICO, currently run DarkNodes and have great faith in the Ren team. I much prefer Ren’s approach of not having announcements of announcements of announcements (thinking of a certain project being with an R…) and delivering well above expectations. However, from an optics perspective, I do find it concerning that the figurehead from the company that ‘acqui-hired’ Ren doesn’t even acknowledge Ren’s existence as a Bridge to Solana (see supporting screenshot taken from Twitter):
Based Karbon has been a big Ren supporter previously, so this was obviously (in my eyes) a leading question. Can the Ren Team comment/elaborate on at what capacity Ren will act as a bridge to the Solana ecosystem, taking into consideration the bridges that already exist? Do Ren’s expectations align with Alameda’s on this?
The RenVM Solana support is pending an audit and per answer #8 the focus will be on origin <> host chain interoperability (i.e. Bitcoin <> Solana, etc). Once complete the Ren Bridge to Solana will go live and the marketing apparatus of both organizations will be used to bring proper attention to the bridges and products that come out of it.
Question for both parties - If you cannot share financial details of the deal, can you share any background and other key terms of the deal? Such as:
- How did this deal come to be,
- What were the high-level business agreements
- What specific tangible benefits/“resources” does alameda research provide the Ren team that the Ren team did not have access to prior?
All in all, how does Ren fit into SBF’s grand strategy for building out his ecosystem?
The deal and subsequent strategy is straightforward.
- Ren to bring more adoption to the Solana ecosystem.
- Ren remains independent with some degree of priority to Solana integration.
- Solana Foundation will be offering grants and coordinating with ecosystem projects to help facilitate the integration and adoption of RenVM within its ecosystem (i.e. bringing trading pairs against renBTC on Serum and renBTC/X pairs to AMM’s).
- Financial, compliance, and ecosystem support (Solana, direct login with FTX on Renbridge to begin with, potential grants, bridge fork, etc).
The nature of traditional startup acquisitions usually leads to the product being maintained for a bit or shortly abandoned, incentive structure changing and the team leaving after their earnout now far richer than they were before. Crypto acquisitions are still very early and unknown, so they may be a bit different. What’s consistent here is that the team made a fair amount of money from the deal and to the community the structure has been opaque.
Both parties can confirm that all employees remain on board and dedicated to delivering on the roadmap originally outlined. All prior incentives continue, and new incentives are being put in place, ensuring that the team continues to be fully aligned with the success of interoperability. This deal was a consolidation of resources that helps both parties execute on their larger visions.
Ultimately, the direction and leadership of the team remain intact. This situation will not impact or facilitate the movement of team members, outside of the natural turn over all organizations deal with.
As a darknode operator, someone with at least 100K invested in this project, can you make me feel more confident than I do now that REN will be in a better place in 3-5 years because of this acquisition or will have Tai, Loong, Michael, and the rest have long moved on by that point and REN will just be another high potential project that could have been?
The direction and leadership of the team remain intact. Incentives that existed prior to the deal continue to exist, with additional ones too.This deal bolsters Ren’s long-term ability to thrive, and remain sustainable, especially when needing to navigate regulatory landscapes, build new products on top of RenVM, continue to expand MPC features and use-cases beyond interoperability, and ultimately execute on its mission.
What do you see as the top 3-5 reasons (ideally ranked from most important to least important) for making (SBF and team) or accepting (Ren team) this investment? How will you objectively define success of this investment, ideally looking back in 2-3 years?
- Generate more volume on Serum: 1B daily volume on Serum
- Broader assets selection for Serum: Access to all major tokens traded on centralised exchanges and more.
- Bringing greater interoperability to Solana: Bridged to all major L1/L2’s.
- Longer-term: Backing the Ren team’s larger vision and dedication to the opportunities for MPC that fall outside of its current use case (interoperability). More generic uses of MPC tech/private compute use cases that provide revenue for the protocol regardless of market cycle.
What were the terms of the agreement (that you can share)? Was it an “acquisition,” an “acqui-hire” (?), etc.? How would you best describe it (ideally with 1-2 words)? And can you share resource time commitments that were agreed to as part of this deal, e.g. core team members remaining at Ren for X months/years, etc., if any?
The term “acquisition” is best for this circumstance. Commitments are unchanged from what they were prior to the acquisition. Acqui-hire is not applicable in the traditional sense as the team, direction, and products remain unchanged.
Thank you for submitting your questions to the Ren x Alameda AMA. We look forward to seeing what our teams can accomplish together.
Welcome to Ren’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread! This thread has been launched for our supporters to submit questions regarding the Ren x Alameda Merger.
1. This AMA session will stay unlocked until April 14th, 2021 EOB EST, so please submit your questions prior to that time.
2. At which point the fifteen (15) most upvoted/liked questions will be answered in detail and posted on this thread on April 27th, 2021 EOB EDT (New York).
3. Please submit one question per post. In case of multiple questions in the thread, the initial question will be answered.
4. This AMA is designed to cover the Ren x Alameda Merger and what it means strategically for both organizations and their daily operations. Please keep in mind that neither team can speak to specific financial details, so any questions on that topic will be skipped.
5. Before asking questions, read this blog so you have a good understanding of the dynamic: Ren + Alameda. Today, we’re excited to announce that… | by Taiyang Zhang | Ren Project | Medium
We look forward to your questions!