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Web3 Galaxy Brain

What makes Polygon special with Hamzah Khan

7 February 2023


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Nicholas: Welcome to Web3 Galaxy Brain. My name is Nicholas. Each week I sit down with some of the brightest people building Web3 to talk about what they're working on right now. Today I'm joined by Hamza Khan, head of DeFi at Polygon. This episode is an inquiry into the secret internal dynamics that set Polygon apart in the blockchain ecosystem. Polygon is known for a run of incredible business development successes, including deep partnerships with Reddit, Starbucks, and OpenSea. But underlying this extraordinary BD is a unique ability to pragmatically manage multiple simultaneous projects. Polygon is an organization whose execution merits study. Together, Hamza and I try to figure out how Polygon is able to build a crypto network that spans several generations of blockchain scaling technology, while also appealing to the biggest brands in the world. This is one of my favorite episodes of the show so far. It's always a pleasure speaking with Hamza, who's direct, funny, and personable. I learned a lot in this conversation. I hope you enjoy the show. Love, Luv, how do I pronounce your first name?

Luv Kothari: You got it right the first time, Love. Since we're talking about NFTs, I'm curious to hear your take on how loyalty programs, how someone like Nike or Starbucks, they've done some dabbling in this with NFTs. How is that working? What are the core primitives through which this could actually help Web2 brands leverage Web3 to get more engagement or help in fandom, etc.?

Nicholas: Yeah, it's a great question. Actually, this is one of my questions for Hamza. I'm very curious, why is Starbucks doing this? What do they... It seems very early for them to make such a huge commitment to a specific blockchain. And I think part of the answer is they have this thing, Polygon Studios, which is run by, I noted his name down, Ryan Wyatt, who used to run YouTube Gaming, I believe. And I think the sense I get is that it must be a relationships thing, where they're building relationships and essentially telling people like Starbucks that they will handle it for them so they can have some... I think they also probably have... What surprises me is that I'm surprised that Starbucks, in one of the podcast appearances, Hamza refers to Starbucks as essentially a bank because of all the credits that they're managing in their rewards program system. And so it's a little surprising to me that they would go towards making them tradable. Of course, they could collect some fees or something. There's some interest there, but it seems like the kind of thing that these Web 2.0 companies typically shy away from because it's not worth the exposure and they want the control. So I'm curious to know if... I don't know if Hamza's going to have any direct insight into this, but loyalty rewards programs, it's interesting. The Reddit thing is cool, and I guess Starbucks also is an example of integrating the features directly into an app that the user maybe doesn't know is crypto under the hood, an integrated wallet experience where it just feels like a Web 2.0 app. I know that Polygon is also working on some kind of enterprise blockchain solutions, which we've seen before and I didn't get the sense where they went anywhere. Or at least I'm not aware of what the value is to folks. I know J.P. Morgan and others were trying, but I don't know what the... Why not just use a database? I don't really know. But I get the sense, and doing some research for this show, my feeling is that Polygon overall is basically a bet on the EVM and to an extent Solidity. But basically just a bet on the ecosystem. It's almost like Solana. It's almost like this TPS, originally a promise about increased transactions per second, but with a familiar developer environment that's friendly rather than competitive with Ethereum, and somehow non-threatening. And then they've pivoted from just being, from originally being a plasma chain, which was an old POS technology, to the proof of stake chain that we know and love, to now being a, we'll do anything. We'll do ZK, we'll do whatever technology. They've purchased optimistic roll-ups, they've done absolutely everything. So maybe the pitch to people like Starbucks involves this kind of, we're environmentally friendly, we have the business development and resources to do most of the tech side of this for you that you don't know how to do, don't want to do in-house. And I don't know, be prepared for the next bull run. It still surprises me that places like Reddit and Starbucks went forward with these projects, especially in the heat of the anti-NFT backlash during which those products were being built. So I'm not sure. For loyalty programs in particular, I don't have any great insights, I'm afraid. I could make something up if you like, though.

Luv Kothari: This is helpful. Thanks. Yeah, I'm curious to hear what Tom says to say, because what does Starbucks see in this or Reddit see in this? What thesis has to play out? I mean, this is great because this is a great way to get on board millions, if not billions of Web2 users without knowing, without all the UX challenges of Web3. But if I am running Nike, what do I see in this? How do I grow re-engagement with my users? One of the theses is that I'm hoping that this experiment will play out for me. So that's really top of mind for me to think about. And I'm sure Polygon PD has to solve that or at least think through.

Nicholas: Yeah, it's a great question. I look forward to hopefully getting some answers. I don't have the answer just yet. But I think this is the most incredible thing that they've really, because my understanding of the story is that it's like three dev founders in, I actually don't know which city, somewhere in India, who then exploded into this management brilliance, frankly. And I'm very curious, I know Hamza was about the 25th person there, so he's not going to have detailed insight into the original, original days. But I think he was there for a lot of the growth, the pivot from Matic to Polygon, the pivot from Plasma to POS to Matic Chain, and then rebranding all of it to Polygon to have this kind of multi-tentacle approach that is compatible with any technology you might want, has worked out really well. There's been tons of chains who have said that that's what they wanted to do, but Polygon has really succeeded and been kind of pragmatic in a way. I remember when Polygon, I am friendly with one of the founders of OpenSea, and I remember he told me that when OpenSea was looking at Matic and was very excited about integrating them, and if you recall, Polygon is the only other chain that OpenSea has supported in their interface, aside from Ethereum, for the longest time. I heard about it a little bit, not a lot, but a little bit before it actually launched. There were other protocols, Near famously, obviously Polkadot, other kinds of things that didn't have NFTs necessarily, but Near certainly did. And yet they chose to go with Polygon. I imagine for OpenSea, the pitch was something like, the same wallet is going to work, the users can bridge really easily, transaction fees are way lower, and all the same technology stack that you have today, you just change the chain ID essentially and it's going to work. And then I think over time they realized, well actually, the reduced costs are going to create a lot of spam. So they actually needed to do some UI changes to essentially hide most of the Polygon NFTs, all the ones that you receive without initiating the transaction. However, I imagine that something about the compatibility of the software and the developer environment made it an easier sell to them than integrating something like Tezos, which at the same time was doing something similar and had a more vibrant NFT scene, but would have required a whole bunch of backend changes. And then using that, despite the arguments at the time against it, Polygon POS as a side chain. Because they sold it as an L2 originally, and it wasn't an L2, it still isn't an L2, it's a side chain. And famously, Chris Black made fun of Polygon for having, I think, a five of nine or even less multi-sig controlling the, I believe the bridge contracts, which is pretty scary. And it's not a roll up, and it has never been a roll up. So they managed to, in this very pragmatic way, just survive the brutal critiques of real crypto heads on Twitter and deliver a product that, at least in one of the things I was listening to, Hamza mentioned, that they occasionally eclipse BSC in terms of volume traded in a 24 hour period. But certainly has become, there's Ethereum, Polygon, and BSC are the biggest by far. I guess, I don't keep track of Solana, but it seems to be up and down. But BSC has the advantage of being tied to the most popular centralized exchange. So to do that without having a centralized exchange that is pushing their particular chain is very, very impressive. So yeah, what do you do at Coinbase? I'm curious.

Luv Kothari: I'm a product manager on the developer team.

Nicholas: On the developer team, of which, any particular area of product?

Luv Kothari: Yeah, so I lead the Coinbase Node product. It's similar to Alchemy and Infura, and QuickNode and others. So basically, accessing blockchains and data indexes on top of that.

Nicholas: And is that used internally by all the other Coinbase services?

Luv Kothari: It's used both internally and externally, yeah.

Nicholas: Very cool. Do you have any insight into the NFT stuff at Coinbase?

Luv Kothari: No, I mean, as much as anybody else from the public view, not directly working with that. I know the NFT marketplace didn't go as we planned, I guess. I think we were betting more on the social aspect of it. And I feel the idea was right, but it was before its time in some ways. But also, the timing wasn't perfect. When it got launched and what was happening in the rest of the market. And yeah, that didn't work out in our favor. We were behind to begin with, and then the thesis didn't play out the way we were hoping it to play out. And then the markets started tanking. So a combination of all that didn't help a lot. I think what I am trying to figure out is, I guess back to my question earlier, is how do we get mainstream adoption of these things? And what different venues are you going to have? Gaming is one, and this loyalty program thing that I was asking about is probably the other one. And that's basically meeting users where they are in terms of, you just sort of introduce web 3 concepts and make those workflows that already exist better somehow. That might be the best thing. And maybe the third area in this segment could be social, decentralized social. So I'm curious how that's going to play out, what theses are. And I guess given Polygon's success, I'm curious how they have been able to convince and work with these big brands and get them on Polygon and what kind of traction and use cases they're seeing evolving coming out of that.

Nicholas: Totally. Great question. Okay, we'll make sure to get to that. Hamza, welcome.

Hamzah Khan: Sorry, bro. I am so, so, so sorry. So many things happened in the past 20 minutes. No problem. 15 minutes since I got the call. There was a kind of a fire alarm in my building. And I was kind of figuring out what the hell happened.

Nicholas: As long as the POS bridge is safe.

Hamzah Khan: That is true. Oh God, please. Touch wood. Nothing happens to that.

Nicholas: Let's not joke.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, if JD hears it, he'll shout at me in the most crazy things he'll hear from anyone. So, no jokes on that.

Nicholas: No, no. Okay. And touch wood. Touch wood. Welcome, welcome, welcome. We have a bunch of questions. Love was just chatting with me about some questions he had about how Polygon is making loyalty programs make sense to people. But before we get into all of that, I think there's a bunch of sort of introductory questions I want to ask. So we do this properly. So, Hamza, you are the head of DeFi at Polygon. What's the head of DeFi do? What does that job mean?

Hamzah Khan: I don't know. Just getting shouted on by the team members, by projects that want liquidity, that projects want new user base and stuff like that. Like I started the whole DeFi thing. I don't even know what head of DeFi is, to be honest. I started the whole DeFi thing two years ago. Today is two year anniversary or degen-iversary or whatever you want to call it. Yeah, thank you, thank you. I was like the fourth person on the business team. We were 20 people back then. It was very, very small.

Nicholas: Head of DeFi is a great Twitter bio. I think we can all agree.

Hamzah Khan: I know that I realize it now. It's kind of cool. Not going to lie. But I started the whole DeFi thing. It was just Pixo back then. If anyone used Polygon, we still called it Matic back then.

Nicholas: So you started February 3rd, 2021 at Polygon. Yes. And that was your, so I did some background research. And I know that you had spent some time thinking about crypto in the prior bull market, but sort of took some time off, right? You were in school.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, that was a big, bad mistake. I promised myself whatever happens, when GFDX crashed or even if Celsius Terra, whatever happened, I was like, no, no, I'm never leaving now. It's stupid. So I was back in college.

Nicholas: You had a background in mechanical engineering, right?

Hamzah Khan: Yes, yes. So mechanical and computers. So I did mechanical, did a bunch of like AI, ML stuff in college and started. my first job was at Citi out of college. I did a lot of research in the building, machine learning, AI, risk, all that kind of stuff. What city did you grow up in? In India, I grew up in Agra, the city of Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal, the 700.

Nicholas: Amazing. Yeah.

Hamzah Khan: You can see it from my roof. That is a flex I have.

Nicholas: That's cool. So you're still there or from your home?

Hamzah Khan: No, I moved to New York. I moved to New York like two years ago.

Nicholas: And where did the Polygon team get started? What city were they in?

Hamzah Khan: Bangalore. Bangalore.

Nicholas: And that's a tech hub city?

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, it's like the Silicon Valley of India.

Nicholas: And I don't want to ask too many questions about the original founding, even though I'm very curious because I know you weren't there for it. So it's maybe secondhand knowledge. But the background of the founding team was like tech startup type stuff?

Hamzah Khan: Yeah. So Sandeep was the business side of the co-founder, the founding team. Yeah, he had a bunch of stuff before that. JD was the technical co-founder, was working on multiple projects in the crypto space, was part of the Plasma Research Group in 2017 when Joseph Poon and all those things, even Plasma Cash and all these things were getting hot. So he was kind of like a core contributor back then to that thing. And that's how Polygon, Matic, Matic had started the Plasma chain. And even until last year or last year, I don't remember until when, even now the bridge, the Matic, if you move Matic token from Polygon to Ethereum, it is still the Plasma bridge. That's why it is 7D with the Dollar Tank on the Matic token, because that's how it is there. But I don't think in documentation it is still there, but practically it is there.

Nicholas: Yeah, I remember this, the Matic and, but ETH goes through the POS bridge nowadays?

Hamzah Khan: POS bridge, that's correct.

Nicholas: So already I'm like, how does Polygon, how many people work at Polygon right now?

Hamzah Khan: Now I think it's about like 500 something.

Nicholas: Oh my gosh, that's a lot.

Hamzah Khan: 500, 500, yeah.

Nicholas: It seems to me like the, I don't know, just from what you just said, it's like the tech, I don't know if you, maybe it's inappropriate to call it technical debt if all of the Matic that's on Matic is still working this way. But I mean, to be maintaining multiple chains, like to be maintaining a Plasma chain, even though none of the transactions are happening there, except for the bridging transactions as far as I understand. I don't understand how this is possible. This is like one of the elements of mystification around how Polygon functions to me.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, like I said, like I haven't been following it too much about, about like the doco documentation. I'm well aware of what's happening on the POS side of things. until like six, seven months ago I was following it. But then with ZK I've been started looking more into the ZK side of things. I think that's more interesting. But yeah, like the tech team is big for that same reason, because there are multiple, you know, the bridge is there, the security of the bridge is there, that's a big team. And a bunch of things are there, wallet and what else is there? Like the POS bridge, the Plasma bridge, and the main chain, then the validator network, then what else is there?

Nicholas: You mentioned the validator network. Where does the staking take place? Do you stake on Ethereum? Ethereum.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So if you go to wallet.polygon.technology now, when you stake MATIC, you pay ETH gas.

Nicholas: I see. And how many nodes are there who are staking? I guess I could pull this up. A hundred.

Hamzah Khan: Like a hundred, somewhere around a hundred, yeah.

Nicholas: And are they all on the same person's AWS account? Or are they...

Hamzah Khan: I hope not. I hope not. No, I'm pretty sure they're not. They are like, Luganodes runs some of them, which is part of the Tether Foundation. Then there is Binance. There is a few more we are onboarding. One very big hedge fund, not hedge fund, it's more of an investment fund that is running, that are actually incubating 3, 4, D5 protocols on Polygon. They are running, they're going to run one validator. Then Worldpay, which is the biggest fintech of the world. They practically settle some double-digit billion USD every year, more than that actually. Every year they are going to be running. I think they already started running a validator. So yeah, there are a bunch of big guys. Then there are also small, like the usual KURAs and I think Stake Capital also runs.

Nicholas: Yes, there is a core validator relationship team that maintains the relationship.

Hamzah Khan: Then there is a Discord, that kind of thing. Yeah, it's a complicated process. I wouldn't say complicated, but it's a detailed process that kind of manages those relationships because validators are what keeps the chain running. So yeah, there is a separate team. And there is of course outside people who contribute to the success as well, obviously. But yeah, there are a few people inside.

Nicholas: Well, we actually have Dimitri. Dimitri, yes. He just came up, who is, according to your bio, a validator of Polygon. Maybe you could explain a little what that experience has been like.

Dimitri: Yeah, absolutely. Also, just to go back to when you guys were talking about the funding team and all that, actually in the Telegram group, Hamza is in the group. It's our company, our validator in our company, and Polygon. I just scrolled up to the Telegram group and we have a group that we created May 26 in 2020. And the first message is me and Sandeep. And Sandeep is saying that Mainnet is launching live on the 31st. So we were there. We launched our validator node since back then. So we've been around space for a long time. And yeah, the company at the time, it was just a few of them, including Sandeep. And yeah, like Hamza said, now they're like 500, maybe plus now. It grew a lot. And going back to the validator stuff, yeah, we have a dedicated validator discord set up. When there's upgrades and all that stuff, we all synchronize. There's a dedicated team with all the validators and we all plan things when there's an upgrade to do over a certain date. We have meetings and all that stuff, which we call the office hours. And it's a nice little group of synergies there and we help each other when there's an upgrade or someone has trouble with something. So it's a very healthy group of Polygon validators on Discord, that's all.

Nicholas: Maybe let's take a little detour while we're talking about validation. Does validating the POS chain function something like Ethereum validating does? If people are more familiar with that, how much Matic do you need to stake? What are the rewards like? What are the rough hardware requirements?

Dimitri: Yeah, so on Ethereum, anybody can launch up a node. You need a minimum amount of ETH to be a producer of blocks, to be able to really produce blocks and sign transactions and validate transactions. So there's some requirements there. I don't remember the numbers. On Polygon, it's a fixed list of 100 nodes. The reason is, I mean, one of the main reasons is that when you launch a new node, a new blockchain, it's kind of good to have a fixed set because when you have upgrades, things get done fast. When you need to upgrade on Ethereum, you don't know what's happening, right? Like on Solana, there's thousands, so things can take longer. So especially as things change and software upgrades, it's nice to have a set list. But there's discussions on government proposals and down the road, things are going to be a little bit more decentralized. So it's a step-by-step approach, which is great. In terms of hardware, on average, validators, let's say ourselves, we have a bunch of servers on different data centers. So you can't just have everything on one data center. Something happens, you're done. So you want to spread it out and have a nice little decentralized internally infrastructure, if that makes sense.

Nicholas: So basically, you're running all this stuff on cloud services or you have your own on-prem stuff.

Dimitri: Yeah, so I think some people use some cloud services. Bare metal is what's recommended, bare metal servers, because from experience, Polygon, the network, the POS network, the chain activity is constantly growing and the disk usage of the chain data that comes in. Every time you create a transaction, when you mint an NFT, there's data on disk that's stored and that's growing. We did test on Amazon and other stuff, cloud services, virtual machines. It's not as performant from experience. And I think down the road, it'll be even worse. So I really recommend the dedicated metals, bare metal servers.

Nicholas: Got it. I'm just looking at the rewards calculator right now for reference. Matic's price today is $1.23 USD per Matic, $1.23. And if you stake 1,000 Matic for one year, you will get 17 Matic in return. So $25 or something like that. So interesting. I have never considered staking Matic. And one thing that's interesting about this also for people coming from an Ethereum perspective is there's no minimum staked requirement. You can stake one Matic if you want.

Dimitri: That's right, yeah. And the staking is the, like Hamza said, it's the ERC-20 version of the Matic token.

Nicholas: So, okay, staking in a contract on Ethereum is what you're saying?

Dimitri: That's right, yeah.

Nicholas: Very cool. Although I guess nobody can just go do this, even if they could do it with one Matic, because they need to be a special person to be one of those 100 people that's allowed currently.

Hamzah Khan: No, you can stake whoever can stake.

Nicholas: Oh, anybody can stake if the node operators are limited to the list of 100.

Hamzah Khan: Yes, right now it's mainly because of the, so you also have to understand that the bridge, that's why the bridge, and again, I can't touch whatever, everything is going well in the bridge, but you also have to understand the bridge is secured by the Ethereum, sorry, by those 100 validators. And I don't think any bridge, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any bridge right now between chains is as decentralized as the Polygon POS bridge. And the reason sometimes it takes a bit more time to go through the Polygon POS bridge is that you need to have majority consensus of those 100 validators when you move from Polygon to Ethereum or vice versa. And that's why it gets more secure, of course, on the relative terms, but that's why it takes some time, or it takes time that people, like if you go through Synapse or Hop or whatever, it instantly, I'm not saying that they're bad products, but it's just security trade-offs that anyone who goes through the Polygon POS bridge has to have, every transaction has to have a consensus of the 100 validators, and that's why it is the most decentralized bridge, at least right now in the market. Not really. So when I remember when the first discussion, although the ZK thing was happening for a while, this was 2021, August or something, July, June, August, something like that. When it became public to us internally, it got to us that, okay, we are going to acquire everything. I remember very clearly, there were like five people on the call, five, six, seven people on the call, and like Sandeep, Mihailo, and JD were there, and Mihailo said, yeah, we are like acquiring all the three protocols. Like Hermes was there for the EVM opcode side, then Plonky too, by the Zero team, MIR team back then, and then Myden for the VM side. So everyone was everywhere, like two, three people were there on the business side, and they were like, what the fuck, like why do we do that? And then we kind of explained like why it is important. Each one of those protocols are based in itself. And if we do that, then we really push the ZK space very ahead, and we become like totally the leader in that space. Otherwise, then, because the future is that, like it was very clear that optimistic rollups, yes, like the fraud proof. And then this again goes back to the story of Plasma, because if you ask any person who is like a core researcher in the optimistic rollup space, although now most of them have moved to ZK, but like even if you look at the story of where optimistic optimism came from, it was also from the Plasma research group back then. So then again, they have inherent problems of like the opcodes, and like you have to replicate all of that into an optimistic rollup, and then the seven day withdrawal times, Plasma also had the same problems, and there's a big UX issue. Like you always have to rely on other bridges for that. And that's the same problem you're seeing. I mean, I don't know if people would like to call it a problem or not, but it is still something to be addressed to, like even if you look at the optimism to Arbitrum to Ethereum bridging that is there, it's all through third party bridges, right? Like it's all through either centralized bridges, I'm not saying that they're bad products, it's just a security trade off is very different. You have to address those things. So that is becomes like, it's again the same problem as Plasma, the back in the day.

Nicholas: Essentially the fraud proof period and the interplay before you have finality is a UX problem.

Hamzah Khan: Yes, yes, yes. So that's why you always rely on the third party bridges for the success of your main chain, which is, I don't know how sustainable that is, but that became very clear to me. And the founding team was that, the future is ZK, for instance, finality and like the ZK finality should be there. So yeah, that became clear. And then the whole journey of the ZK first polygon started and now hopefully in the next few months we'll have, yeah.

Nicholas: Yeah, some news. So we talked a little bit about the three co-founders, Jainty, Anurag and Sandeep, who are CEO, CTO and COO respectively. There's also Mahalo.

Hamzah Khan: No, now there is, I don't know, it's been a while since we removed the C titles.

Nicholas: Okay, okay.

Hamzah Khan: It's been a while, yeah, yeah.

Nicholas: But do those roughly represent their functions in the organization or are they?

Hamzah Khan: Not really now, practically speaking, because I mean, yes, Sandeep and, so now there are multiple co-founders. you can see on the website. So every project has different co-founders, like how, so like how Poly, like Poly, like started, yes, like Sandeep, Anurag and Mahalo, Anurag and JD started it, but then Mahalo came in with, you know, the, the, this one I had joined, with the, with the rebrand that happened with Magic to Polygon. And then, then the ZK co-founders that come with, and Hermes, Myden and Zero, with each of the respective, and they're co-founders of each of those, those products. So like, it's a separation of concerns kind of a thing, like everyone is specific, focused on that particular success of that particular protocol or particular division.

Nicholas: Okay, so it's looking more like what I get the sense Alphabet was trying to do, rather than having a strict hierarchy where everything is controlled from the top, each team is responsible for its own product. What is Mahalo Bialik's role? Where did it come from?

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, Mahalo, oh, Mahalo is like this core, for people who don't know, Mahalo has this long history of core Ethereum research, of multi-chain Ethereum research. You can see him, you can find his posts on the ETH research website. If you go back, I used to read a lot back in 2021. Now also, now I don't have time, but back then, like, so Mahalo has this long history of Ethereum core, Ethereum blockchain research, and then also is a good, very good researcher. And like he's mainly now, the Supernets was his child, that's his brainchild about how to make Ethereum, how to bring, how to make Ethereum multi-chain, like that, that, that was his framework. And the Supernets, it's called Polygon Edge. Polygon Edge was his framework, Edge was his framework, not Polygon, Polygon Edge, which is now allows you to spin off your own Supernet, spin off your own chain, using the same validators or your own validators, depending on however you want. So that modular Ethereum framework was his thing. And then of course, he brought in a lot of expertise and research around, yeah, just core technology for Ethereum.

Nicholas: So it's kind of like this Polygon Supernets is something like Cosmos or Polkadot, but yeah, yeah, Ethereum.

Hamzah Khan: Ethereum, yes, yes. So yeah, you can weirdly call it like Cosmos on Ethereum or Polkadot on Ethereum, kind of a thing, yeah.

Nicholas: Is anybody using that yet?

Hamzah Khan: Oh yeah, yeah, there are a lot of fintechs. Two, three things, like there is the biggest Brazilian neobank, no, the biggest LATAM neobank called Nubank, N-U-B-A-N-K, they are like some 50 million users or something, and they are doing their loyalty points on that Supernet. So they're like in the process of designing, I think they're done with the tokenomics, no coin. they're doing for the loyalty points of their 50 million users, and they're going to have their own chain for that, because the kind of throughput that they require does not come through the main chain, any public chain.

Nicholas: I want to get back to the loyalty points in a second, but I think it's worth zooming out for a second. So two questions come to mind. The first one is, is Polygon essentially a bet on the EVM and the developer stack around the EVM, such as Solidity, that has grown to provide all of these other solutions, like ZK, et cetera, et cetera, with the thesis that the network effect of the EVM is here to stay, but Ethereum is not going to address it itself? Or is that an oversimplification of what Polygon is?

Hamzah Khan: It's a little bit of oversimplification. I mean, I'm not saying it's oversimplification. Yes, that part is true, but there are other things also that are true, which is, yes, the whole major chain, like whatever is coming soon is all EVM, because 90% is EVM in the market. Okay, maybe I don't know the exact numbers, but the lion's share is 80-90% is EVM. But clearly we have seen with product market fit of Cosmos, with product market fit of Solana and Fuel, move ecosystem, that there could be other VMs that support that. And I was explaining to someone yesterday, if you have to build the best TensorFlow framework, TensorFlow is a big machine learning framework, it's the most used practically, but it's all on Python, but it uses C++ on the backend. Bytecode level is all C++, because the performance level when you have on ground is just way better with C++. So you don't know what will come in the future. You don't, like, again, in machine learning, you have this, you had a lot of these frameworks, like proper and improper C++, there's OpenCV, there are many frameworks that are there. But then TensorFlow and other frameworks came with Python, and suddenly Python became the standard language of machine learning and like anything AI basically. So you don't know what is going to happen. So that is where Myden comes into the picture. And that is what is very, people should spend some time. if you have free time and are just staying at home like me and just reading through all the teaching stuff. Like I would really recommend to go to YouTube and watch Bobbin, who's the founder, his presentation at DEF CON last year. And he explains completely like how he's using the UTXO model and the account-based model in Myden so that anyone can build, there will be initially to launch, I think, don't quote me on this, but I was looking at internal documents. I think it will launch with Solana VM and Move VM. So you can like build, and this will be mid-year, this mid or Q3, mid Q3 this year. So you can build those things in a completely layer-2 environment with Ethereum security. So that is a ZK first, but non-VM. You can build on multiple VMs. So like Solana, sort of a project, I don't know, let's say Serum or whatever, FriXion or whatever project is there. On Solana, if you want to move to a, move to Polygon for whatever reason, that Solana has low liquidity or whatever, and they want to move here and they don't really need to convert Rust to Solidity and all that, they can just move from a Solana chain to a Solana VM, but on Polygon rollout. Does that make sense?

Nicholas: It does somewhat. So, okay, my second question is, how does an organization, because the answer you gave me to that question, what's interesting to me is that contrary to what you get in the hot takes from people on Twitter, is Polygon seems to be much more pragmatic than driven by a strict thesis about what is right or what will happen. Instead, it's trying multiple solutions at once, even when it knows that some of those solutions are suboptimal for the long term. And yet, typically when an organization is not choosing to focus on one thing, but instead accepting many different possibilities and simultaneously pursuing them, typically, especially when they're young, they become bogged down in this indecision and lack of focus, and fail to ship anything that shifts the market, or shifts the Overton window in their direction, because they're busy playing catch up with so many different ideas, threads of ideas. So, the two things that are interesting to me about Polygon in this respect are, one, this kind of pragmatic, it's not just about the EVM, it's not just about ZK or Optimistic, it's not about any particular technology choice, it's sort of about these pragmatic rolling decisions over time, as well as interleaving products that suit today and what might be the ultimate solution tomorrow. And simultaneously, it must require some incredible dev chops that most organizations don't seem to be able to hire sufficiently to, or merge, acquire, whatever, to be able to attack so many surface areas at once, and not just hypothetically, but successfully, at the very least, the POS chain is a great success. And I think the other topic we'll get to later is the BD part that is powering some of that success. But how is it that Polygon is able, unlike other organizations, to attack so many different surfaces at the same time and not lose focus and not become also ran in each category that it competes in?

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, I don't know the answer to that, honestly. But I'll try to answer it in the most good way I can. But I think this one thing I recall very, when anyone new joins, so I have now, I do DeFi, NFT, and FinTech, so there are like six, seven, eight people in the team, six people in the team now. And I always tell them, never have biases in this space. And we have to learn the hard way, especially even now I've joined, there are some bets that we took with BD, I'm just talking about BD, and I'll come back to your point. At least in the core people, no one knows what the fuck we are doing. It's so early in the space, and God knows what will happen, which technology comes up. We don't know if EVM really conquers everything and 99% of everything will be written in EVM, who knows? I hope that is the case, but you don't know, like JavaScript, yes, JavaScript came out of nowhere, but then conquered everything. Then Python came and Django became a big thing. So you really don't know what is the thing. And then this comes back to your question where why Polygon is very pragmatic about things. I think there was one, like JD had called me about something and it happened to be a 10-minute call, but it went to like one and a half hour. This was very early, like I was like two months into pragmatic back then. And some like it went from 11 o'clock at night to 12.30 or something. And we were just talking, I was asking some stupid, very stupid questions, like why did we move from Plasma to state channels to state channels to optimistic and then optimistic to like when, why are we dipping into ZK and all that? So he explained to me like, this is all our experiments and don't try to like trash anyone publicly. Always try to learn from any new experiments that are happening across the space. Learn from them. There will always be someone doing good. And we are also doing like all these are experiments and like, yes, Polygon is big. Yes, we have come this far, but like always be learning from whatever is happening in the space and not have your own biases stuck. No, no, no, we are Ethereum first thing and we'll not look outside any other ecosystem and everything is trash. That kind of mentality, I don't know. It's just that maximalism thing is not good. If you really have to make technology for the billion user and we should believe that DeFi is the future of finance and if NFTs are the future of culture and whatever. So like it just, no, you cannot have your biases anchor you down kind of a thing.

Nicholas: I think that's a really great perspective. Is that something that you associate particularly with JD or is it something that- No, I think everyone, no, no, no.

Hamzah Khan: It's been a long hour, hour long tech talk. So yes, I say that for JD, but like in general, I think even Sandeep and Mihailo and like everyone is like very objectively curious about what is happening outside. Because like some ecosystems, for example, like Aptos. Yes, like apart from the tokenomics, forget whatever is the price and everything. But if you look at it closely and even I didn't know about this, but then Mihailo explained it on some call and he was like, they're doing something very good in terms of, in which we implemented actually Polygon POS. There will be a new upgrade. I don't know when it is, to be honest. I don't know when it is, but that upgrade will have the main, the POS chain upgrade would have the, I think there is a blog out, it went out like two months ago or something, was about the parallelization of the block production. And if we can do that, I think the team has already done it internally and it will be shipped to production somewhere like Q3 or something. But the idea there is that on the app layer of the blockchain, there is still this Pareto principle, right? Like again, 20% of the apps bring 80% of the gas or whatever you want to call that, your volume traction on the chain. But then 20% will fight for that gas and like you'll have those 20% would spike up the gas. But what if there is an elastic, there is a parallelization of block that you can, so I don't want to get into too much detail, but like that was introduced by Aptos. But we were the first team to do that in EVM. Like we are literally the first team, not in Ethereum, not anything. And you know, roll up, no nothing. With Polygon, like we, the engineers understood that, okay, that is important. And if we can do that on Polygon, then it will be good for the space and then people can use it and build cool stuff on top and like the gas would be better and those things will be better. So that kind of a thing is just there in the culture. I don't know.

Nicholas: It's just a thing. It seems like to enable that, you need to have a deep bench of incredible tech talent, which is exactly the thing that almost every other project seems to lack. Even very famous and successful projects have a real hard time attracting, for instance, solidity developers, but even more so I imagine deeper tech, like protocol development, staking technology, whatever you're talking about, block construction, parallel block construction, to execute those things at a level that is high enough quality that you can put it into production with a high volume blockchain or sell it to Starbucks. I mean, you can't just be trying. These may be experiments, but at the same time they are sort of professional production level experiments. Is there some secret that Polygon has? And is it perhaps its origins in India that it's able to attract a developer audience that is not available to companies that are focusing exclusively on developers?

Hamzah Khan: No, no, no. I don't think that is the case. I think you look at the tech team, it's pretty diverse. Like it's the US. There are a lot of people. The person who I speak with mostly about, like if you have any questions, like strategic questions about the POS chain is called Matthew. Matthew Rossi is based in New York itself. And I think he joined us from Chainalysis, if I'm not wrong. He's a really, really nice, really smart person who joined us. And he understands the core EVM side of things very, very well. A lot of people forget the ZK, forget the core research side, but pure engineering talent. There's a lot of good people, even from the US, a lot of from Europe, Spain, Eastern Europe as well, India. Yeah, India. I mean, I'm proud to say, of course I'm Indian, but there are some very good people based in India. But I think it's, I don't know what the answer to that is. It's just that core focus is that, yeah, people say that Polygon's BD team is the best in the industry, but I really think that we have the best tech team in the industry and research team in the industry. I think especially with the ZK, even if you remove the ZK part, but core EVM research, I think we will see, especially with this parallelization thing, once it goes and then optimizing the reorg. Nowadays, if you look at the chain on Polygon scan, there's hardly a double digit reorg since the fork, since the Delhi fork that happened a couple of weeks ago. And you can check it yourself. There's hardly once a while there is a double digit fork. That's great.

Nicholas: Because previously there were triple digit reorgs. Yeah, yeah.

Hamzah Khan: I don't know if there was a triple digit, but I definitely seen the 50-60 block. But right now it's like four, five, nine, maybe sometime 10. But again, you have to keep in mind that there's a two seconds block. So like not like a KM block. So there are very small blocks just to be, just for relative terms.

Nicholas: But I presume that the reorgs, I mean, I have seen, I remember seeing several over a hundred block reorgs. Could be, could be, could be. But those, you're saying no more, but those, I assume they are the same sort of MEV style, DeFi incentivized reorgs.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. Like gains guys were literally shouting at me the whole day.

Nicholas: And what was this, what was the fork that happened recently?

Hamzah Khan: The Delhi fork, basically, yeah, it was about removing these, reducing these reorgs and changing the consensus model. A bunch of things were there. It happened like, it went pretty cool. No one even noticed it, but the reorgs have been, have reduced completely, not completely, but like 90% of 90% has reduced.

Nicholas: So there is a POS team that is still actively developing the POS chain. And I've heard you in other interviews say that the P, even post ZK POS chain is here to stay. It's not going away.

Hamzah Khan: Yes, because it will be a ZK rollup.

Nicholas: Oh, okay. All right. And that's, has that been announced yet? or is this a alpha leak?

Hamzah Khan: I mean, it's kind of an alpha leak. Maybe some people shouted at me, but yeah, it is. It kind of is like, I mean, Sandeep has said it multiple times publicly, a few times, not multiple times, a few times publicly, but yeah, like we are working actively to attach, not attach, but to integrate the, the Plonky to, the Prover to the POS chain. So that POS chain becomes a decentralized, Validium I would say. Maybe. Yeah. It would be in that space. Yeah. So it will be, it will roll up to Ethereum.

Nicholas: So from a user experience perspective, I'm just using a Polygon POS chain as, as normal, but actually it's ZK under the hood.

Hamzah Khan: Yes, it is Pro. It is. So again, like those are, that is a complete new design space that if you can prove everything that happens back on Ethereum, I think that would be very cool. And even the bridge, even the bridge, even the bridge, like there are ZK client bridges. I don't know if you have seen like projects like Sucint Labs are doing something really cool in that space. And I think that is, that will be the part of the future where, where you can have like ZK, how do I call it? What's the exact term? ZK proof bridges. I don't know what the exact term is. Like I've been researching it very recently myself.

Nicholas: Very cool. So basically the idea is that the validation technology that's being used today will be migrated to like the same validators will be relevant in a post ZK.

Hamzah Khan: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That, that is not a problem.

Nicholas: So it sounds like the summary of this meandering answer to my question, which I very much appreciate.

Hamzah Khan: Polygon Tech is good. That's all.

Nicholas: Polygon Tech is as good or maybe even better than the BD, but also there's a kind of open-mindedness to seeking information. Inspiration from others rather than being overly biased in your words towards any particular solution that allows the team, the combination of a deep tech bench and this open-mindedness and not getting into fights with people over implementation preferences, but instead, or you know, philosophical preferences or predictions over what the future will be. Instead trying to serve all of these and find partners for the ones that make the most sense, acquire them, integrate them and have each team run its own project. It still, it still baffles me that this is really possible because it seems like if Polygon is able to do it, other people should be able to do it. However, everybody else who runs around saying that the next billion people is the purpose of their EVM fork are not actually able to execute at this level. So it does still seem like there's some magic at Polygon that I don't fully understand.

Hamzah Khan: I don't know what the magic is. I don't know. Interesting. Is this something that we spoke when we last met in New York NFT NYC two years ago, no, almost a year and a half ago.

Nicholas: Yeah.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah. Like, I don't know. It's just, we're good. I don't know why we're good.

Nicholas: Incredible. Do you think there's someone who does know who I should invite next?

Hamzah Khan: If you ask me, we'll say the same thing. It'd be like, it's just like something, if you're good at something, you don't know what that exactly. I think just being pragmatic and not biased. I think that's yeah.

Nicholas: Open-minded.

Hamzah Khan: I think that's it.

Nicholas: Pragmatic, open-minded and sort of optimistic that you, not in the technical sense, but that you will be able to, like, I can't imagine when they launched the POS chain that they had any, it sounds like they didn't even yet have the vision over the ZK integration. They just went with what made sense at the time.

Hamzah Khan: I think it's just getting it big yet. One thing, which is very, yeah. If you ask me what is one thing that is good about Polygon is like, we, we believe that and every chain will say every project should say this should say this. I believe that we want like not 90% projects building on Polygon, but like 99, a hundred percent projects building on Polygon. Like that is the, that is the goal. And then everything, everything tickles down from that. I think.

Nicholas: Very interesting. Okay. I hope you don't have to run, but I have to read out an ad. The sponsor of this show, this episode of Web3 Galaxy Brain is brought to you by Rainbow Kit. The best way to connect a wallet in your Web3 project. Rainbow Kit is built for developers and designed for everyone. Try it today at rainbowkit.com. My thanks to Rainbow Kit for sponsoring this episode of Web3 Galaxy Brain. If you are interested in sponsoring a future episode of the show, please visit juicebox.money. Slash at Web3 Galaxy Brain, or you can just search on juicebox.money for Web3 Galaxy Brain. And it'll come up. You buy an NFT, it entitles you to five second ad spot. You can buy a month, a bunch of them. Tell me what you want me to read off in the message at checkout. So again, my thanks to rainbowkit.com for sponsoring this episode. Okay. So we've learned a little bit about the special sauce of Polygon. It still remains mysterious. And we've talked about this deep tech bench, but the other half of the equation is Polygon's acumen for business development. And we had love in here a little earlier on in the show, asking about the loyalty programs, what the benefits of putting your loyalty program like Starbucks has done on Polygon might be. And to me, the big question is how is Polygon able to convince these triple A brands that they should be going to Polygon? And I feel like part of the answer might be Ryan Wyatt at Polygon studios, who was previously working on YouTube gaming, if I'm not mistaken, stewarding these players into the space and giving them a white glove service that they can believe in. Am I right about that assumption? or what is it about Polygon that attracts these big brands?

Hamzah Khan: No, for sure. I think Ryan certainly has helped a lot in terms of, in terms of streamlining the org and making a bit more mainstream. for sure. For sure. Like you know how Polygon has changed. Like I can't even recall what happened, what was happening like two years ago, one year ago. Like everything was so fast, so fast paced, what was happening. But yes, certainly Ryan has helped with this connection in the industry. And I clearly think that he's like super, super smart in terms of like, in terms of the right mix of web two and web three. Like he's pretty deep in himself. Like he just keeps minting NFTs and like he asked me a bunch of, keep DMing, keep DMing me. We keep chatting about like what games are we playing, what NFTs are we playing, NFTs are we buying and stuff like that. I also, Sheldon Mathcastle, shout out. I see, I see 113 here. I was explaining him why it is important to pick this kind of like niche art to exist on chain and like that kind of thing he understands. But then on the other side, he's very like. he come, he was the CEO of YouTube gaming and he started the whole vertical. Like he was telling me like, like how I started DeFi here. Like that's how I had started gaming back at YouTube when YouTube was pure content, like just video content. So yeah, like I understand like the solution engineering, he understands the partner success, he understands legal HR, like all those things which, which where you need to go from one to a hundred as an org. I think he's very, very, very, very good at that. And I learn every day something new from him. But coming back to the loyalty point, is like, yeah, like the business decisions, like all these, all these, all these projects, they, oh sorry, not projects, all these companies, they want to use open, open blockchains for some reason, for some sort of reason, either it is better distribution, whether monetization, whether better user retention, and these three, four, these three, four KPIs you usually have when they sell a product internally or review a product internally, forget web three, that's like proper web. two. When you do something, you have to be profitable, you have to have a user retention, you have to have better marketing or something like that. so that's how, that's how they've been using.

Nicholas: It shocks me that they would go to Polygon for this because I mean, how many people really have an Ethereum wallet, like a million?

Hamzah Khan: True. A couple million.

Nicholas: Here's some of the companies. So the first one that comes to mind, which I think is easy to forget is OpenSea, which deeply integrated Polygon POS chain before anybody else did, or at least in the big consumer space. And it remains, I believe the only other chain that is deeply integrated into the front end, despite them promising Tezos around the same time. So OpenSea made an enormous bet on Polygon as opposed to any of the other EVM forks that they could have gone with or Solana, et cetera. Although I think maybe now they support Solana, but regardless, Polygon is obviously the biggest. Others include Meta, Reddit, which has probably is the single biggest issuer of NFTs to individuals, humans, 6.5 million, something like that. Deeply integrated into their app, which has become a sort of a crypto in the, in the sense of a secret, secret wallet, the Reddit app, I guess to issue the PFPs that you're doing it directly from the Reddit app, I presume. So. Yes. Something like that.

Hamzah Khan: No, it's like, it's, I don't know what to call it. It's like a semi custodial or quasi custodial wallet. It's like, you can take your private key when you want. Like right now, if I, if I like, I have made it a bunch of NFTs from my Reddit wallet. If I go to my Reddit, no, I'm saying Reddit app. If I go to my Reddit app and I go to the vault. So there's something called the vault and that, and the Reddit team is like, they were fantastic in there, in that approach, very, very pragmatic. And they were like, the user should never even think of seed phrase and all that. But you can transfer your, your content, your NFTs avatars outside of your wallet and to your, to your open CE account. Like I've done that to other wide and you can even withdraw your private key from your account.

Nicholas: I see what you mean. It's semi custodial in the sense that you can get the private key, but you shouldn't presume that nobody has seen the private key. Reddit definitely has your private has seen the private key. It's not on device because I don't know.

Hamzah Khan: I don't know if they see the private key. I don't, they must.

Nicholas: I can't imagine they would build into their app an affordance where if you log out of Reddit, you just lose the NFTs. They must have it on. Okay.

Hamzah Khan: Okay.

Nicholas: But nonetheless, the point is taken that you, although it's maybe custodial, you can get the private key if you want to use it in a different wallet. And at the same time, you can just transfer the NFTs out. So it is like a legitimate NFT wallet in custodial, but legitimate in the sense that you're not stuck with them. Other ones. And that also reminds me of on a, your podcast appearance on, I can't remember the name of the show. You talked about the Robin hood integration, which had come out at the time. Yeah. Robin hood created a second app, a wallet app for essentially transitioning their customers who like to buy custodial crypto into a non-cash or semi again, semi custodial. No, no.

Hamzah Khan: It's a proper non-custodial. Again, like I don't know if it's like what definition we are going into. Maybe it's a food for thought. Yeah. So to answer your question, yes, Robin hood will be launching a non-custodial or semi custodial wallet. That definition we'll talk about later, but like non-custodial on chain wallet. Let's say it's an on chain wallet that, that is using seed phrase less basically, and using MPC and other things for, for all on chain swaps and NFTs and everything. So they're using zero X protocol on Polygon to route all their transactions and swaps and everything through Polygon.

Nicholas: This integration makes more sense to me because they obviously can tell from their data. They have tons of people who are custodially trading crypto and it would make sense to.

Hamzah Khan: They make a shit ton of money with crypto. You can look at the balance sheet. They make a lot of money.

Nicholas: Right. It's interesting this and not to dwell too much on it, but the semi custodial question, like it makes me wonder, let's just say that the wallets are, I don't know how these apps are working directly, but let's just say that the private key is on device, but backed up to iCloud. Well, rainbow does that too. Rainbow offers that too. You can back your private key up through iCloud. Rainbow doesn't see it, but Apple could if they wanted to, which is kind of interesting. I don't know how it plays with their recent move to encrypt the iCloud, the option to further encrypt your iCloud data, but I would presume that none of it is truly, truly end to end encrypted. Some other partners, Disney, what is Disney doing with Polygon?

Hamzah Khan: Disney has recently launched their incubation platform, incubation program that, sorry, accelerator program where like Disney is the biggest media company practically in the world. A lot of IP, they have a lot of, like they are practically the most IP in the world. In terms of art and all the movies and movies.

Nicholas: So they're thinking about it. they're still experimenting.

Hamzah Khan: They're experimenting in a lot of like. pilot projects are coming up. And to be honest, I am not too familiar with that side because I don't, I don't, the web two business. I don't take care. I don't dwell too much into that. I'm more into the DJ and shit.

Nicholas: So I'll speed through the others. Stripe is another one. Starbucks. Yeah.

Hamzah Khan: Stripe, I personally took care of that. So Stripe is doing this USD to USDC integration where you can go from your bank account. And that's what Reddit uses to go from bank account to NFT directly.

Nicholas: And sorry, sorry, you're saying Reddit uses the Stripe integration to do that.

Hamzah Khan: Yes, yes, yes. Many businesses use that. Yes.

Nicholas: Okay. And the Stripe integration is you swipe a credit card virtually and USDC is transferred on chain. Yeah.

Hamzah Khan: Just go from, I did from Apple pay. I just went from Apple pay to NFT.

Nicholas: And the NFT issuer receives USDC on polygon POS chain.

Hamzah Khan: Yes. Yes.

Nicholas: Pretty cool. Who pays the gas?

Hamzah Khan: So that is where meta transactions come into picture. So Reddit pays that practically.

Nicholas: Reddit pays it.

Hamzah Khan: So like how Polymarket, if you use Polymarket on polygon, Polymarket pays for the gas through the, through the by economy relay. By economy is another meta transaction provider where they have their relayed infrastructure that, that the app basically pays for the transaction fees, not the user.

Nicholas: Very cool. I don't know too much about by economy. Why did they choose to build that for polygon?

Hamzah Khan: I mean, this multi-chain, but they started on polygon. I think, I think just because of user base and all that. And they're, they're on BSC, they're on multiple chains. But yeah, the sheer amount of volume and user base.

Nicholas: I have three more on my list of partners, Starbucks.

Hamzah Khan: Starbucks. They, like the meta transactions thing, I think is the meta transaction thing is very cool. Like in my opinion, I think people should expect.

Nicholas: How do you convince Starbucks? I don't understand why a centralized organization that has a, I mean, distribution Fiat, but they don't need polygon for distribution. They have the Starbucks app on everyone's phone already.

Hamzah Khan: True. But like NFTs, they also want to be relevant in this space, Like Starbucks is one of the best people don't completely understanding Starbucks. I was just debating this internally with Ryan and a couple other people is like, Starbucks is more of a bank slash FinTech than a coffee thing.

Nicholas: Like if you look at the, sorry, the airlines, the airlines that like flying planes around the world is lost. There's a great YouTube video about this. I presume is true.

Hamzah Khan: You mean like the tech and everything?

Nicholas: No, just like the airplanes are a loss leader for the points programs, which they sell to companies like Costco and Amazon to encourage people to, and they really make all the money on the points. They don't make money on the flights. Oh yeah.

Hamzah Khan: They don't make money. If you look from a cost to cost basis, yeah. Running airlines is a loss business. It's a loss making business, but yeah, you make money on the other side of, on the value added quote unquote services that you have. And same thing with Starbucks. I mean, Starbucks, yes. Like the, the IRL stores make money too. I mean, they pay rent and all that, but like coffee does pay, it does pay off. But like you have experience of the points and like the, the Starbucks is a brand and loyalty points. I think they, they saw and saw like loyalty points in itself is a very big business, right? Like all the retailers have loyalty points all. I mean, in the U S and India, everywhere, like Costco points, Costco loyalty points, like support target points. All of them are pretty big.

Nicholas: But it is interesting that they would choose to go to polygon. I mean, especially at the time, they were developing the project.

Hamzah Khan: Low gas. I think we have a team internally that kind of, that is a partner success quote unquote team. that kind of explains the end to end process of what do I say? Of like, how do you start to the end? Like handholding white glove thing. And this is like what Ryan and through his experiences at YouTube and like, how do you do that? How do you replicate that kind of a white glove thing on chain or in this new business basically. So I think that was really cool. And which we learned also, like how do you do that? Because we could get in them and in the door or like, what do we do next? So I think this is just like, even before that, I think even before Ryan and everyone had come like a link, Facebook meta had already been closed. I remember January. I remember one day I was sitting on a table, Cindy, me and one other person in our team. I was closing. I think Robin Hood. Cindy was speaking with Meta for like two hours and I don't know the teams on K3 was speaking with, I think it was Reddit. So like, is this? like this understanding of the core tech and using everything and understanding and being on top of like the basic VIP and like what are the core tech product features that can be baked into the, into the blockchain? And yeah, I think, I think that that helps, that helps them understand. And then to be fair, like these guys, like I was surprised that I didn't, I didn't speak much to the Meta team, but Cindy was telling us that the Meta team understood, understands blockchains more than, more than our DeFi protocol engineers. For, yeah, for sure.

Nicholas: Like from a user journey perspective or from a technical perspective?

Hamzah Khan: no, no. From core tech point of view.

Nicholas: Better, better than who? Better than DeFi protocols?

Hamzah Khan: Better than most DeFi. Better than, okay, maybe not most, but better than, better than like 50% actual protocol engineers, like DeFi engineers. Wow.

Nicholas: So. And who's doing the convincing in these relations, Reddit, Starbucks, Meta, who, I understand the customer success angle, but they have to first have the idea that it would be good. Yeah.

Hamzah Khan: So like, correct, correct. So like I took care of a lot of like this FinTech, FinTech and anything finance side of things was me because I strongly believe that like payments and FinTech and, and these are like the best product market for top blockchains right now. Because like, if you can send money across the world in like five seconds, I think there's nothing more powerful than that. So I, I've like philosophically very aligned and like I took care of like the Robin Hood stripe and all of these things together.

Nicholas: Financial access is the big raison d'etre for you, right?

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, correct for me. But like, then also like we understand as a, as like, so for us, like I didn't send the photo, Cindy did a lot of like the, the big ones, like the meta, the date and I don't know who, who recently, who, who did a lot of like getting ready to do it. And then Ryan and Ryan came on for Starbucks, I think. And then Disney's like, yeah, divide and conquer.

Nicholas: It's interesting to me because we should move on to more questions, but it's interesting that you managed to pull off meta Starbucks stripe, Robin Hood, Reddit. I didn't mention yet draft Kings and Adidas also.

Hamzah Khan: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nicholas: But during the period of time when the hate, this is pre merge, the maximum hate for NFTs moment when you know, apes were worth a hundred thousand dollars or more and people, everyone was apoplectic about the environmental angle of the Ethereum critique, which was applied broadly regardless of the facts. And yet you were pulling off these deals with these companies who have a lot to lose, frankly, like Disney announcing a part, even a tentative partnership seems like a much more or Starbucks. If I picture the, you know, customer profile of a Starbucks customer, it's not someone who was interested in NFTs in the middle of 2021 or early. So it's interesting that there, that through the relationships and through the attention to their like four key metrics that these large companies are interested in, you were able to successfully convince all of them. The financial ones, I somewhat understand because there was a lot of speculation, a lot of money to be made for Robinhood, but for something like Starbucks, it seems like a much further, yeah, it's not, it's not as obvious, but I guess, I guess it probably comes more from their loyalty team than from whatever the people doing the photos that are on the walls. So, okay. So, so I don't know if we have any, I guess there is a whole other direction to this, which is projects like lens where you're convincing these big initiatives. And I guess this maybe comes out of your experience with Ave on Polygon. I'd be curious to know, but convincing these large initiatives that they should, instead of putting some, some such project on Solana or Cosmos or Polkadot or I don't know, BSC even, which is a very popular chain instead of choosing or, or, or perhaps even building their own app specific chain or launching even an enterprise solution. Projects like lens are choosing to go onto Polygon. Do you, can you explain why? I mean, I guess lens. there's some history between the two projects.

Hamzah Khan: Yes, like we are, we are, obviously we work very closely with project partners. I think anyone who builds on Polygon will always build on Polygon. That kind of thing is there with like just a user base. even if you look today, Polygon with zero incentive with zero LM with zero, there's no airdrop incentive or they got the token incentives. still volume and liquidity is in top three. Always in top three. And at once it was like even bigger than BSC and a lot of, a lot of metrics. So there is clearly organic user base and that, that's what we, that's what we strive for, strive towards. And I think that is the goal. where, where, where these team, where these projects they have, they, of course, like you said, they have a lot more to lose and for them it's more of a de-risking thing. Of course, like they understand the technology and everything, but they, they understand, they understand they want to be the skin like polygons, a sustainable, sustainable roadmap and like a more progressive roadmap towards the future of like the tech and ZK and all those things is just like convincing and explaining them from like first principles. Like what is the, what is, what does the blockchain actually have to do? And it's, it's all about like adoption and getting, getting projects that, that touch a billion users five years from now probably. It's like a bunch of things to explain it to them.

Nicholas: Were you there for the launch of the Matic token? No, that, that launched before.

Hamzah Khan: No, that was way, way early. No.

Nicholas: Because you, you raised an interesting point, which is no liquidity mining, no, no sophisticated tactics as far as I'm aware for pumping the price of Matic. And yet it is a very interesting token. It doesn't have any governance power, does it?

Hamzah Khan: Not yet, but being worked on, there's being worked on. Not yet, but.

Nicholas: And do you know what the, like the distribution is, how much of it is, is liquid and, and in the public's hands, and how much of it belongs to the team?

Hamzah Khan: I don't want to say any wrong numbers. I'd have to check. I mean, it's publicly, you can check it up.

Nicholas: I'll take a look. But it's interesting that the token has managed to become, I mean, a very relevant token without any specific, I don't know if there's, in your recollection, are there any specific mechanics that make Matic a relevant token aside from the staking for the POS chain? I guess it's, it's. affordability is very attractive for a lot of people.

Hamzah Khan: Affordability means?

Nicholas: Just the, this idea of like shifting what an ether is like dividing by a thousand might actually help people cognitively.

Hamzah Khan: Oh, you mean the unit token?

Nicholas: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Just it's, it's psychologically easier to handle and also emerged at a time like Ethereum had had all these years to appreciate in price. Whereas as Matic, as the NFT bubble hit us in 2020, late 2020, Matic was still relatively affordable token that had not experienced the same kind of price increases that Ethereum had through its long history. So it, although it did not experience the same kind of surge of interest that something like Solana did, I don't think like it's had a more sustained stable trajectory. Nevertheless, it is something that I think people from all over the world can feel like they can get involved in and not be priced out of like they are on Ethereum. Yeah.

Hamzah Khan: I, I don't like to like, we don't like to like talk too much about the price and all that, but no, definitely one thing, which is, which kind of also pissed us off, pissed me off personally during the bull market was like, there were a lot of these, these Twitter gods or Twitter main characters as people call them pumping their own ecosystems, right? Like without any names, if you know, you know, yeah, correct. So, so a lot of people were doing that, right? Like, and, but what happens like? it's the, like even for Bitcoin, there was no, there was no central figure. There was for Ethereum, there was no central figure. It's the community that, that would fight for it. It's the projects that build on Polygon. A lot of projects have financially made a lot of money because they were running validators because they owned a lot of magic as gas or for either through the meta transaction treasury that they had. A lot of them had a lot of magic and that they appreciated in price and they became our advocates. So this whole point of separation of concerns and like, and, and like having, not having like God, like having a garden instead of a cathedral, the whole, the whole concept of Ethereum right in the yellow paper that has, that has this, like I think something around these lines, like Cindy talks about it a lot and, and it's something along these lines that, you have to have third party outside people talking more, not just talking, but like supporting you rather than you just shouting it on that, like that kind of thing. It does not, it does not, it's not the ethos, it's not the culture and the space. and we think that we can easily be, if not already, but I think we are already top three protocol by impact, by impact as in like, like you said, like the web two deals and the web two user base coming in like Starbucks right now, you can see that you're doing a lot of user base, but Android and all that. And I think we did more volume on Ethereum, sorry, more volume on, on OpenSea than Ethereum OpenSea. or was it some transactions on open? I do. some metric was there by block works just yesterday or day before yesterday. I don't remember. Yeah. Some, something that had come up.

Nicholas: I definitely agree. I mean, it's clear that polygon is, has found an incredible niche for being a POS chain. I mean, at present, a side chain, but a POS chain that is somehow more reputable than all the rest and does seem to have like a promising future and is pretty clearly the place where if you want to deploy your L1 protocol, it's, it's probably the first other place you want to go aside from maybe L2s, but even the L2s, the optimistics, the volume is, isn't really there. And the, the use case in terms of the price for transactions isn't really there. Polygon does seem like the natural place to go after you've been successful on L1 or it first, if you don't think your application is suitable for L1. So it's, it's a pretty incredible story. Well, I think that's all the questions that I had. Do you have any questions for me?

Hamzah Khan: No, any, any suggestions, what we can do better or what you don't like about polygon? I always ask this question, you know, to be honest, like what, what other, any feedback that, that should be there that can be improved, anything.

Nicholas: I mean, that's a good question. I have always found this is a sort of a knit kind of thing, but I found, I find the wallet interface, the website, the wallet.polygon.technology, the, especially when I first started paying more attention to polygon in there's like a bunch of different, there was like matic.technology or something.

Hamzah Khan: And back then, yeah. Yes.

Nicholas: I think there's some other polygon dot unusual TLDs and they always felt a little sketchy to me, but maybe this has been improved. I haven't been spending so much time on that particular.

Hamzah Khan: No, there's only one, there's only one, there's only one wallet that we maintain. So to say it's like polygon wallet.polygon.technology, everything else. I don't know.

Nicholas: I don't know. The V1, V2 distinction is gone in the wallets.

Hamzah Khan: Oh yeah. Everything is gone. If you just go to wallet.polygon.technology, that's it. That is the only thing that you, that is maintained by us.

Nicholas: Got it. I, you know, honestly I don't, I interact. I basically use polygon to, to do occasional payments to folks, but I don't do too much else on polygon lately, but my experience of it has been pretty good. And I think the only thing that I might want improved is there's just a lot of things coming in the future. And it's a little difficult to know what, what all of those are relevant, all the enterprise solutions and some of the things we talked about, but I imagine that's just the reality of pushing out a lot of new stuff that people don't know what it is yet. But no, I don't have any, any criticisms at present. I guess the, the main thing would be the decentralization of the bridges and the operation of the POS chain is probably my biggest concern. I remember that some time ago it was like a multi-sig that was controlling the bridge. I don't know if that's still the case.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, that is still the case for all practical purposes. And these are all like public people of the community and the founding team that are people from the, from the DeFi ecosystem. I mean, we don't want to talk about like who it is, but like there's some of the biggest DeFi protocol people. And yes, like for all practical purposes, because I remember there are multiple times has happened that, that some, I mean, it's because the bridge we, we want security more than, no more than this like trustlessness right now for now. And if anything goes wrong with the good bridge, God forbid, And so you can easily, if it is, you don't have to wait. Correct, correct. Or if you do, there were, I remember in 2021, this was like when people, Polygon had become a thing. This was 2021, August, September or something like that. I remember very clearly was like, because if you're having like, everyone was having discussion with JDs and AP, a lot of people were having discussion about, should we put a, should we put a compound governance? What is it? Bravo? Yeah. Yeah. The seven day thing on, on the, on the boat, but then, but then JD was like, no, no, no, no, this is too much. I don't remember who it was, but a lot of people said that for all practical purposes, it doesn't make sense.

Nicholas: If anything goes bad, then you know, I think compound some months later experienced this or sometime last year, Compact had a problem and wasn't able to remedy the problem for several days, seven days.

Hamzah Khan: Something was like, I mean, it's a great, the compound is a great protocol.

Nicholas: no, no, it's just a reality of governance.

Hamzah Khan: Yes, yes, yes.

Nicholas: It does make me wonder about the, some legal questions around operating that thing or having control over it. Or I think the, the main criticism that Chris black made back in the day was people could be compelled. Like a crypto is not, at least at the time was not strictly permitted in India and people could be compelled to do things that they might not otherwise want to do by legal force. So there is some argument for not being on a multi-sig in that respect. And also for the legal liability of such things, but it seems to be working so far. And it is that I think that is the main concern for me with moving a lot of assets over to polygon. or it does worry me that something could happen and it doesn't feel like something could happen of the same nature on L one. I guess that's the main thing. But again, I think this kind of pragmatic pragmatic approach has served polygon. well, if anything were to happen, it would probably be better to have a safe that could control it than any of the alternatives that people might suggest currently. I think that's the end of all my questions. I don't know if anyone in the audience wanted to jump in with a question, comment, remark, insult, heckle, a nice word, pep talk. All right. It seems everyone is chilling. Hamza thank you so much for coming on the show today. This was extremely interesting and I appreciate you elegantly dealing with my grilling. Oh yeah.

Hamzah Khan: No, we have been chatting for a long time. You know, I'm always happy to come in and like, yeah, for sure. Happy, happy to come in.

Nicholas: It was great having you for everyone listening. I'll be recording another episode of the show next week. Actually there's going to be a special episode with Matchbox DAO who are productizing the zero X Monaco solidity dev competition. That'll be 10 AM on Wednesday, 10 AM Eastern time. But the typical time for the show is 5 PM Eastern on Fridays. And so next week on Wednesday morning I'll be talking to Matchbox DAO who are doing this zero X Monaco product. And on Friday the 10th of February at 5 PM I'll be talking to Harpy which is a service for protecting your wallet against nasty transactions that are manipulating you through, I don't know, malicious websites. I haven't done all the research. I will be doing it before Friday next week. So if you're around, please come through. If you'd like to sponsor the show, juicebox.money search web three galaxy brain on the site and buy one of those NFTs and let me know what you'd like advertised. Hamza, thanks so much. And I'll talk to you on DM soon.

Hamzah Khan: Yeah, thank you. Thank you everyone. Thank you. All right.

Nicholas: See everybody. Yeah.

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