Interview with Derek Yoo of PureStake, Moonbeam and Moonriver

      Moonbeam and Moonriver are generalized EMV-compatible parachains on Polkadot and Kusama respectively. 

      It’s our great honor to have invited Derek Yoo, Founder and CEO of PureStake, Moonbeam and Moonriver, for this exclusive interview hosted by Staking Rewards’ Mirko Schmiedl and Kenneth Garofalo. 

      The highlights of the interview include Derek’s unique view on:

      • Staking
      • What makes Moonbeam unique on Polkadot
      • Moonriver and Moonbeam’s ecosystems
      • Multi-chain dApps
      • How Moonbeam offers superior scaling compared to Ethereum
      • Smart contracts on Moonbeam

      In this written summary of the conversation, we recap the key takeaways concisely.

      If you would like to experience the nuances of the conversation, make sure to watch the full 0.50hr video interview on Youtube. Alternatively, catch the full 0.50hr podcast on RSS or Spotify.

      Lightning Round Questions for Derek

      First experience in crypto?

      Infrastructure work, including staking, for PureStake

      Most exciting crypto projects?

      New cross-chain use cases on Moonbeam.

      Sector in crypto that will create the most upside surprise in the next 24 months?

      DeFi and NFT games.

      Inspiration in crypto?

      Avalanche. 

      Staking for token holders?

      Derek shares that, for technical reasons, staking is needed to secure proof of stake blockchains. However, it’s also about engagement because the systems that these protocols work on are only as valuable as the community around them believes them.

      Activity to relax from the wild NFT and crypto markets?

      Reading novels, fiction and short stories. Derek recommends The Sinking of the Lusitania as an interesting read. 

      Deep Dive Questions for Derek

      Overview of Moonbeam, its relationship with Polkadot, and the product-market fit?

      Derek describes Moonbeam as a smart contract platform that has built in cross-chain interoperability features. This optimization is what makes Moonbeam different from other smart contract chains. It has also led to a lot of decision making around the project and why they went to Polkadot; because of their particular point of view on cross-chain interoperabilitas. 

      Their framework is built out to be compatible with Ethereum so that developers can use a lot of the tools and infrastructure that already exists. 

      Interoperability within the Polkadot and Cosmos ecosystems?

      Generic Message Passing Solutions (GMPS) is a category of technologies that have different domains, scopes, and technical approaches. The way Derek sees this, is that multiple of these solutions will coexist and form special kinds of domains in the Polkadot and Cosmos ecosystems. 

      Polkadot has a highly secure cross-chain (IBC) and Cosmos’ cross-chain has some similar properties. These two domains have the engineering ability to speak with other chains. 

      There are, however, many other chains outside of those ecosystems that Moonbeam are trying to integrate with, to give optionality to developers.

      Staking use-cases on Moonbeam and other interesting dApps?

      Moonbeam’s main network went live in January. Beyond this launch, Derek says that the last few months have largely focused on infrastructure deployment. About 200 projects have already deployed and majority of their use cases are DeFi orientated.

      An area that continues to attract a lot of attention is NFTs and gaming. 

      Are these teams exclusively burning on Moonbeam or are they teams from other blockchains?

      Moonbeam occupies a special place just by virtue of the fact that they are on Polkadot and that they are known as the EVM of Polkadot. 

      A lot of cross-chain teams are pursuing multichain deployment strategies and, in Derek’s perspective, it makes sense for teams like that to work with Moonbeam. They have the ability to move any Polkadot based asset onto their EVM as an ERC. 20. It’s a way for teams to get a footprint into Polkadot without using the same code base, but still with the ability to work together with assets and DeFi protocols. 

      Derek also shares that the newer teams are native and that there are a lot of gaming projects.

      What is it about Moonbeam that makes its staking solutions or dApp user experiences better than other smart-contract L1 blockchain?

      • The use of interoperability can inform and improve the user experience for any use case and not only for staking.
      • The Polkadot main chain that houses (DOT) does not have any smart contract functionality. 
      • Smart contracts on Moonbeam can perform remote calls to the relay chain to perform staking operations. 
      • Moonbeam combines the functionality of two specialized chains into one dApp, creating one user experience whilst hiding the complexity behind the scenes. 

      In terms of adoption and traction, what are some of the metrics that you’re looking at?

      For Moonbeam, it’s first and foremost the number of great development teams and the number of deployments. Other metrics include transactions and the size of the ecosystem. 

      What differentiates Moonbeam from other multichain solutions? 

      • Moonbeam’s focus on the Ethereum developer tools. 
      • A lot of the integrations that Moonbeam has comes in the form of pre-compiled contracts that allow you to access advanced functionality. 
      • These pre-compiled contracts look like smart contracts and that means that you don’t have to break compatibility to use all the same tools. 

      How much does it cost to place a transaction on Moonbeam?

      The fees are in the one to two cent range. Relatively inexpensive. With an EVM model, it will move to a free market once the blocks are full. 

      The longer term, scaling strategy is around offloading work from the main EVM to other specialized chains (calling out and leveraging other systems to run parts of the workload). 

      It’s like a para-thread technology that’s going to be released by Parity this year. What this allows is the ability to create snippets of substrate based logic that you can run on demand. You will be able to connect smart contracts on Moonbeams to this blockchain logic and offloading part of the work to these para-threads. 

      The benefit of this approach is that it will have the same interoperability characteristics that Moonbeam’s main network has. 

      Specializing in any particular niche use cases?

      DeFi is still a dominant use case on Moonbeam’s chain. Some development teams are using branch locations on remote chains to connect the network with general messages so that it feels like you’re interacting with one system even though they are present on multiple chains; this is one major use case or DeFi architecture that Moonbeam is able to power.   

      On the NFT side, similar ideas apply. By using general messages, development teams can build a consolidated marketplace.

      Overall, Derek is quite bullish on message passing enabled scenarios to create multichain architectures.

      How do you envision consolidated liquidity across networks operating?

      Derek shares that the verdict is still out on what the form is. 

      One pattern that he’s seen is the need to execute cross-chain values down to single value transfers or assets and that the exchange will take place right before the point of action on the remote chain. A lot of general message passing systems are incorporating this idea and partnering with liquidity routing protocols to try to facilitate this trend.

      Under explored smart contract use cases that you think could be the next big thing for smart contracts?

      For Moonbeam, DeFi, NFTs and gaming are three use cases where most development teams are building. Derek shares that they’re trying to facilitate the change in thinking around some of these existing use cases that have traction, and that they’re not entirely focused on undiscovered use cases.

      Smart contract execution on Moonbeam compared to Centrifuge?

      Derek shares that Centrifuge is in the process of proving to be a parachain, and that Moonbeam will be collaborating with them. For a lot of use cases, they share the same kind of integrations because they are both Polkadot parachains; therefore, they can use FCM which is known as the gold standard in terms of security when you have engineered in messaging capability. 

      In terms of cost, it would be much less for this smart contract execution but it comes back to the idea of a single app that spans multiple chains so that you can create an effect where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

      What does the world look like a decade from now if you’re wildly successful?

      Derek makes reference to the evolution of computers. The history of computing evolved and computers got cheaper and more specialized at different functions. He sees that blockchains will have a similar outcome. 

      The building frameworks already exist, and Moonbeam are an infrastructure people. They are interested in infrastructure chains of different kinds. That could be smart contracts moving to Moonbeam, a lot of other specialized infrastructure chains that focus on storage, identity or message routing. 

      Derek’s vision is to offer something similar to AWS, where developers are offered a whole menu of different services that they can use as building blocks. But instead of a centralized service, it will be decentralized services and specialized blockchains that you can use to construct your application. 

      Incentives for developers to start building on Moonbeam?

      Moonbeam is known as a place where development teams have a very strong community. It’s a growing ecosystem with a more grassroots, builder-like feel to it. They also have a grants programme that’s quite active with many grant applicants and high quality teams coming in for support. 

      Derek also mentions that a lot of their development efforts are geared towards building out teams that are interested in exploring native cross-chain functionality. They are also positioning themselves to be the best place for multichain use-cases. 

      Use cases for staking within Moonbeam?

      Moonbeam has developed a staking system that has properties that were informed by the team’s own work, in providing validators for proof of stake networks. 

      In Polkadot, it’s a bit more unique in the sense that, as a parachain, you actually get part of your security from renting time from the relay chain validators. Derek feels that having a decentralized system for this is important even if, ultimately, security is being verified by the relay chain validators.

      The co-leaders are in a position to decide which transactions can enter into a block or not, and in what order. The censorship resistance property is important to maintain and Moonbeam wanted to ensure that there was an open and permissionless system where folks could come in to serve this role of being a co-leader. This is also where staking Moonbeam comes in. 

      As participants in other acoustic networks, Moonbeam saw this kind of race to the bottom idea, where you’re able to set a variable fee as a staker on the network. There’s always someone who’s willing to come in at zero or help subsidize it to try to get market share. However, it’s difficult for a small team to bootstrap themselves or to have a sustainable business in that way. 

      To that end, Moonbeam put aside a fixed amount of rewards to go to anyone who’s providing a coalition service. If you can assemble the support to get in then you would get a fixed reward for occupying one of those slots. 

      How important is the success of Polkadot for the success of Moonbeam?

      Moonbeam is an onramp that’s familiar to users. They can serve this function of drawing in new developers and onboarding them to Polkadot. 

      A lot of the market underappreciated the extreme level of detail in Polkadot’s infrastructure and, in some way, it forms part of a larger cycle. Users need to educate themselves on what cross-chain technologies look like, and the different security properties that are better or worse for different use cases. 

      Moonbeam comes in to provide a better understanding of that. 

      How does technology like Chainlinks CCIP fit into your concept?

      Moonbeam is uniquely positioned to provide XCM, similar to Polkadot’s interoperability technology to developers. They are integrating this with as many general message passing solutions as they can. Having done quite a bit of work with the team, they’ve found that XLR was an excellent solution. 

      Ultimately, Moonbeam wants to provide as much optionality to developers as possible and they want to integrate with as many general mastercraftsman solutions as possible. 

      For certain kinds of use cases, it may be the case that more than one will be used. Just like for certain critical apps, users might like to have multiple network connections in case one goes down. Similarly, you may actually have apps that integrate more than one message passing system to ensure availability and reliability to do cross checking to make sure that you get the same answer both ways. 

      This is Moonbeam’s strategy and where CCIP would likely fall. 

      Projects competing with Moonbeam?

      Moonbeam is known as the EVM of Polkadot and in this framing, there’s a lot of competing smart contract platforms. 

      However, their niche is to specialize in cross-chain use cases and there’s a lot less competition in this. Moonbeam is trying to be the best place for developers to deploy native cross-chain use cases. 

      Market adoption?

      Derek has leveraged his previous experience in building companies in the Web2 space. Learnings from marketing, going to market, having a PD team, and tracking KPIs have been integrated into running Moonbeam successfully. They plan to continue expanding. 

      Want To Follow or Learn More About What Derek Is Working On?

      Derek’s Twitter Account: @derekyoo

      Moonbeam’s Twitter Account: @MoonbeamNetwork

      Moonriver’s Twitter Account: @MoonriverNW

      PureStake’s Twitter Account: @purestakeco

      About The Author

      Mia Adriaens

      is Communications Manager at Staking Rewards.