A foundational year of grit, conviction, and strength
2023 was about conviction, investment, and hard work. It’s extremely rewarding to look back now on what we’ve accomplished in a short amount of time, but none of it happened overnight. In fact, 2023 is primarily about setting a foundation for the future growth of mrgn. We’re just getting started. Now, we have the benefit of being off to a great start.
This year I primarily grew as a leader within mrgn. Everyone at mrgn is a leader in their own domain. I’m incredibly inspired by that. I get the benefit of working with the smartest people in the room, everyday. It’s humbling, inspiring, and absolutely necessary for us to grow at the pace we benchmark ourselves to. The mrgn team enables the mrgn team to grow — we need each other. Everything I write below is a testament to the foundation we’ve built.
Places I’ve Been
It’s a blessing to be able to travel this planet we were given. I’ve gotten do that for both work and pleasure this year, and I’ve had the added benefit of doing it with friends. Here’s some spots I had a memorable time:
Ho Chi Minh City
Salt Lake City
Playa del Carmen
I’m excited to do more trips with friends in 2024. It’s already looking like I’ll get to revisit Singapore, Dubai, Vegas, and a few other places. I want to prioritize getting out to London and SF to visit good friends as well. I’m excited for the places 2024 has waiting for me.
Things I’ve Done
We launched mrgnlend this year. mrgnlend is the lending & leverage foundation for the marginfi protocol — it was critical to get this foundation right. In 2022, marginfi became crypto’s first-ever on-chain prime brokerage across derivative venues. marginfi had no application interface, it only served sophisticated traders. This was a groundbreaking protocol, but then FTX collapsed and the industry flipped on its head. Traders couldn’t run the same strategies they were running across DEXs on Solana. Liquidity was absent. The ecosystem needed to rebuild. A huge need for an over-collateralized, retail-friendly lending protocol on Solana emerged.
We stepped up and transformed marginfi to serve that need. We built out a frontend, started supported new assets outside of USDC, and put marginfi in the hands of a user base that needed passive lending and capital-efficient borrowing. Our vision didn’t change: we still are working towards a true, crypto-native prime brokerage. Our foundation changed: now we have 30+ assets and half a billion in liquidity to enable more efficient, scalable leverage as we start re-integrating new venues for traders to cross-margin.
Next, we launched LST. We found a lot of people use Solana to hold exposure to SOL the asset. However, just holding SOL has a variety of inefficiencies. You miss out on staking yields, you miss out on MEV capture, and you miss out on the ability to compound yield. LSTs came into play fixing this — you can stake to a validator, earn the rewards from staking, and hold a tokenized asset secured by the value you staked. The problem is that liquid staking providers can end up delegating your SOL to validators with high commissions and variable performance… so you’re still missing out on yield.
LST fixes this problem by staking to no-commission, high-performing mrgn validators running the Jito-Solana MEV client. LST itself takes no fees and has immediate liquidity through Sanctum. Now people can hold SOL exposure, earn the highest staking rewards, pay no fees, earn MEV capture, have immediate liquidity (instead of waiting for the epoch to end to unstake), and pursue on-chain trading opportunities using LST as collateral in marginfi. There’s already $30M secured in LST, but we’re just getting started. I’m excited to make a push on new, asset-backed tokens at mrgn in 2024.
One thing you may notice from the LST video is a reference to points. At mrgn, we pioneered a points incentive program for defi this year and it took our industry by storm. mrgn points launched in July. By August, teams around the industry were already implementing their own points programs. It’s a huge testament to the work we put in to our distribution efforts at mrgn to watch this happen. W really are just getting started on our efforts to grow marginfi into a global behemoth.
Points helped shape an incredibly strong mrgn community, something we’re proud of. I can’t wait to serve this awesome user base in 2024.
There’s one other major release we did this year — it actually just happened. Since this industry started, crypto has been confusing. People often deduce crypto to scams and gambling because they can’t make sense of the impactful things built here. A lending protocol is one of those things that actually benefits the world. Right now, there’s people in countries with poor banking infrastructure holding value in USDC (as opposed to their rapidly inflating currency), lending it into marginfi, and earning 5% yields. That’s magic.
They know exactly what their money is doing — everything is transparent and recorded on the blockchain. There’s no middleman, borrowers can’t run off with your money, the protocol can’t arbitrarily decide to shut down and freeze funds, there’s no obscene transfer fees. Most importantly, there’s nothing preventing anyone from anywhere in the world from getting the same access to financial tooling that you have.
marginfi is optimized finance, it’s the future, and there’s nothing you can do to convince me otherwise. With the new dapp launch we just made, anyone can use it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t hold crypto, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a crypto wallet, it doesn’t matter if you don’t want to hold tokens outside of USDC or USDT. Now, marginfi is for you.
There were some other massive wins we had at mrgn this year. We completed an important step most startups never reach in 2023. You can probably guess what that is, but it’s not announced yet. Guess you’ll have to wait to 2024 to see who was involved :)
We also made some hires. We got to welcome Adam to the team at mrgn labs, and Kevin to the team at mrgn research. It’s incredible to work with both of these individuals. I can’t wait to keep building cool stuff with them in 2024.
That leads me to our work at mrgn research. mrgn research is a proprietary trading firm we started in 2022 as we saw market-makers flee on-chain trading in the wake of FTX. We made a bet on crypto a long time ago, and the actions of FTX didn’t change that. This year we dramatically expanded our trading footprint, and now we’re setting the stage for our next big push. 2023 was the year mrgn research started working with teams on their liquidity provisioning needs, and we’ll be doubling down on that in 2024.
The market-makers we’ve grown used to in this industry aren’t set up to help on Solana — we are. In 2024 I can’t wait to work with more teams with liquidity needs on-chain. This is an optimized place to trade and the growth ahead is massive. There’s great supporting teams and infrastructure in place, and more development is coming.
This year we’ve also gotten to work closely with the Solana Foundation, Sui Foundation, and dYdX Foundation. We can’t wait to work with more large foundations and teams solving difficult problems in 2024… There’s already a few on the list in which we’re extra excited ;)
None of the above is possible without the team we have at mrgn labs and mrgn research. I’m grateful every day for Edgar, Jakob, Ben, Anders, Cyrill, Kevin, and Adam. The team we have at mrgn is everything — we have an incredible, incredible group of guys that I’m immensely proud of. I can’t wait to expand the mafia in 2024.
Friends I’ve Spent Time With
I deeply love the friends I have in my life. I’m extra lucky in that I have a group of incredibly inspiring friends who are talented and successful in their respective, different domains. I want to thank everyone below for the joy they are to me. I’m at my happiest when I see the guys below succeed and be happy. My number one wish for 2024 is that these guys continue to kill it and enjoy the ride.
Japan & Vietnam was a blast. Excited for Vegas.
Inspired by your work at Verci. Glad you’re around in NYC.
Lucky to be part of your life. Excited for what 2024 has in store for you.
Massive fan of how you think about things. Excited for what happens in 2024.
Hudson Yards is the premier NYC spot. We know this.
Thank you for dealing with me.
Thank you for also dealing with me.
(Edgar and Anders get a second s/o cause we live by/with each other in NYC. I love everyone on mrgn.)
Things I’m Looking Forward To
There’s some exciting things we’ll be launching in 2024 at mrgn. One of the most important products is YBX. The US Dollar is highly sought after all over the world, and in the crypto-native age we’re moving towards, holding value pegged to the USD has become more accessible. This should be celebrated. People in countries with hyper-inflating currencies, poor financial infrastructure, and harsh restrictions on their personal finances need something that can help them persevere. We’re making that more accessible through YBX.
YBX will not only give users stable value pegged to the USD, it will also give users the compounded staking yield of SOL, the MEV rewards attributed to the Solana network, and the lending yields generated by marginfi. YBX will also be decentralized — it won’t be backed by centralized assets, only LSTs (like our very own, LST). Everything will be on-chain, transparent, and accessible.
After YBX is live, mrgn will be launching a few new, very big things. Each product will be bigger than the last. You’re going to want to be a part of our journey in 2024.
On the personal side, I did some very fulfilling things this year. A highlight was reading the Dark Forest trilogy. I’ve found a deep love for science fiction, inspired by the Dune series, and want to continue to invest efforts in this direction in 2024. I was also able to dive back into the focused study of math and science this year. I want to go deeper in 2024, and add focuses in chemistry, physics, and maybe a bit of biology. In general, I want to have a deeper level of knowledge across a variety of domains so that I can use AI with deeper context across fields.
I’d also love to find time this year to invest in learning a new language. I’m missing a great deal of human context by just being limited to English. Perhaps 2024 is the year where I start to change that.
In 2024, I want to double down on mental and physical health. I deeply love what I do, but it’s stressful and taxing. It’s non-negotiable that I counter the weight I hold by building my body and mind. I’m ready to invest more in this in 2024 — here’s to a year of new PRs and deep mindfulness.
Traveling with friends is the best. In 2024, I want to prioritize traveling with (and to) friends at least once a quarter. My work life is all around the world, I have no excuse to miss out on seeing friends (or bringing friends) with me wherever I go.
Finally, in 2024 I want to write more. I really enjoy writing a lot, I’m constantly working with incredible people and ideas, and mrgn has cultivated a strong community of users who care what I have to say. I’d love to produce more written work for them in 2024, and maybe also add in some more visual content too. Time to find some time to write in the new year.
This has been a hard-fought year. I’m proud of what was accomplished. However, this is only just the foundation. Here’s to 2024, a year of convexity, speed, and compounding investment.
Peace out 2023, I enjoyed the lessons you had for me.