Right before New Year’s Eve, Sommelier co-founders, Zaki Manian, Jack Zampolin, and Taariq Lewis decided it would be nice to review 2021 and offer a sneak peak at exciting things ahead in 2022.
Jack kicked off the highlights lookback:
“Thinking back on it over the holidays and having conversations with family and other folks, one of the biggest stories of this year that affected Sommelier and some of the stuff that we did this year was NFTs. When we are talking about mass adoption and more and more people using crypto, the value of NFTs as these art pieces to--in a soft way--help people come into the industry I think it has been huge. And, something that’s been tangential to what we’re working on. It’s been part of a lot of the conversations I’ve had over the holidays. Obviously, a lot of other things--the year approaching and IBC launching--but tons of things happening and NFTs was one of those topics that just kept bubbling up over the holidays.”
Taariq pulled a bit on the IBC thread: “You said something about IBC. I think IBC had a big year this year on Cosmos. Any highlights there that come to mind in terms of where we started off 2021 and where we end off with IBC, given also that Sommelier is an IBC active chain on mainnet?”
Absolutely. Jack says:
“Yeah. I think we’ve seen billions of dollars go over IBC. We’re doing roughly 2 million transfers a month between all those various Cosmos-enabled chains. I think there are around 28 to 30 different chains live now. We’ve got Dogmoney on IBC. It’s been a huge year for IBC in our community. And a lot of the work I’ve done this year has been relaying and helping to support that broader IBC community.”
Zaki jumps in with what he considers one of the most defining things about the year.
“When we started out the year it wasn’t really clear that the alt L1 thesis had any legs. And, by the end of the year the alt L1 thesis is the dominant thesis, and that means multichain, bridges, IBC, all have become incredibly important. And it seems like after years and years of people trying to ask the question: Is this like an ETH in its L2 world? or is this an internet of blockchains world? I think the main story of 2021 is definitively answering that.
“To relate back to what Jack was talking about: This is the year that I think in many ways mass adoption happened--what we would have called mass adoption for most of the history of blockchain happened in 2021. And, because of where we were in the technology cycle, where L2s were not really ready yet--and alt L1s were ready and have been ready--alt L1s became where mass adoption took place.”
Taariq asks what the L1 narrative means for Sommelier in 2022. “I presume that Sommelier fits neatly into the alt L1 space both on the Cosmos and Ethereum side. I’m guessing then that Sommelier plays well to a lot of what is happening and should participate in the onboarding activity as we head into 2022. Is that just luck, or did we plan that, or is that just the way the chips fell?”
Zaki describes the theme he is viewing:
“Right now the alt L1s narrative is still around ‘I want to do the same things, I just want a different way to do them that’s cheaper or better in some other way.’ So, we’re still seeing commoditization of settlement and transaction execution across the industry. Sommelier is not about that commoditization. Sommelier is about what happens after that commoditization.Which is: now you have all these L1s, you have complex protocols running on all of these L1s and people want an abstraction later for interacting with them, and that’s what Sommelier is about. I still think to one extent, we are skating to where the puck is going, which is good for where we are in our technology and lifecycle development, but you’re going to see in 2022 the commoditization of execution environments really accelerate. There are sort of some missing pieces to the alt L1 hypothesis, but I feel like all of those missing pieces start to come together in 2022.”
Many folks may not have been part of the Sommelier Journey from January 2021, so Taariq suggests chunking things out into quarters.
“January through March of 2021, Jack put onto paper (maybe even as early as Sept/Oct last year) the Uniswap v2 impermanent loss application, and he drew that up and that came to life in the first quarter 2021, where we were tracking APYs across all of Uniswap v2. We had amazing, rapid iteration and folks jumping on it as we were working on the protocol. Also, we were preparing for mainnet for the Sommelier chain. Anything springs to mind from those accomplishments or is it still a blur?”
Jack laughs a little when he says “It’s been an exciting year. The stuff that has been most exciting has I think most of the pay-per-platform stuff that we’ve been working on, finally getting the Gravity Bridge fixed--it’s also cool to see the Althea team launch that live--or be part of the early story of Sommelier and seeing that become a conduit for tokens into the Cosmos system from Ethereum is something I’m really excited about. Especially towards the end of this year we obviously did that fund raise, which was huge. And we’ve been spending a lot of time hiring and org building since then, which also I’m extremely excited about. I think we reached a point towards the end of summer, early fall, where we were all kind of rate limited and the only way we could move forward is to scale the company. So, I’m really excited about the team that we’re building and what we’re going to accomplish over the next year. That’s where my focus is.”
Taariq notes it was Jack’s idea that Sommelier started off with the impermanent loss, and now we’ve migrated into this new thing.
“We’ve gone through Uniswap v3 iterations and are now getting ready to launch liquidity and, of course, grow the organization. Looking back on the journey. We were all rate limited. We have about 4,000 Telegram users now, we have about $10 million in liquidity for the year. Any other accomplishments or milestones? Gravity was a huge one. Mainnet was another. I know that was a big push. Any thoughts there on coming to mainnet in October. I know you were a big part of that refactoring. Any thoughts there or is it kind of blur and we just came out the other end?”
“Obviously,” Jack said, “getting mainnet live was huge. That was a massive milestone. The product that we initially set out to build, which was this end-to-end protocol which moves data, uses the Cosmos chain to manage stuff on Ethereum, we’re still not live yet with. (This is my mind focusing on the things that we haven’t done.) So, that’s what sticks in my mind. I’m really looking forward to getting that piece of it live and seeing it in production. I think that we’ll be standing up a test net for it tomorrow.”
In case you haven’t heard about Sommelier: “The mainnet is live, the SOMM token and the chain is live.
“I think a lot of folks are writing to hear more about activity,” Taariq says. “I think Zaki would say ‘liquidity needs to flow.’”
This year we also had the airdrop proposal pass. Taariq continues:
“Thank you to the community for getting involved and proposing and making that happen. If you go to community.Sommelier.finance you’ll see there was a new proposal that went up on December 29 at 6:03 for starting to move funds from the community pool to the airdrop. So, those faithful Sommelier users and community members who have been waiting to hear what’s happening should definitely go to community.sommelier.finance and take a look at these SIPs that are now launching that will highlight the movement of funds for the airdrop of tokens and, as well I think, other proposals will be coming for the upgrade, in particular upgrade of the Gravity Bridge. So, a lot of great work by a lot of great people at Sommelier.
“Zaki, any thoughts about some of these milestones so far and your ideas on how to get ready for next year?”
Zaki thinks that the ongoing message should be that decentralized, multichain technology is still very much the frontier.
“The whole story of this year has been how to get the Gravity Bridge technology. The core thesis of Sommelier is that the Gravity Bridge technology has a lot of untapped power, but how do you actually realize that untapped power has been a big part of what we have been working on this year. One of the metrics that we have set for ourselves is to not get liquidity into the network until we can fully deploy that technology and fully realize that potential. As always, these things are a difficult-to-predict and a difficult-to-understand engineering process that has taken us through audits and audit findings and forks and various implementations launching and there are all of these complex, moving pieces, but progress has been significant and I think it’s pretty exciting where all of this lands in 2022 and beyond.”
As far as the decentralized multichain stuff, Jack notes that Sommelier has made significant progress this year and learned a lot from seeing these systems live in production. I think we started talking about we’ve obviously got this ETH use case and I think there’s tons and tons of ETH use cases. But when we started talking about this, the Cosmos use cases were blocked for a couple of reasons: One, the tech wasn’t there yet, and then two, there wasn’t anything to do on Cosmos at the beginning of the year. With the launch of Osmosis, Terra coming online, Juno as well, another smart contracting chain, Agora about to come live, and many more, there is a lot of economic activity happening on Cosmos-based chain in the tech in terms of interchain accounts and a bunch of really exciting pieces are basically there and will be coming live first quarter of next year, so that’s all really, really exciting too. And, this team --Zaki, me, and our engineering team are on the cutting edge of that in a lot of ways, too, and that’s been a really, really great part about this year.”
Taariq kicked off some shoutouts and thanks to folks who have touched and really had an impact on the Sommelier protocol.
“A shout out to Zaki and Jack, thank you for an amazing year. We started out this journey, not sure where it would end up. And now the promise of the alt L1s puts Sommelier in a place where, again, a lot of awesome things are coming, especially with the Gravity Bridge upgrades and release. Great job, congrats on the year. I look forward to the year in 2022.
“I’d also like to thank Kevin Kennis. Kevin was instrumental in bringing on rock star team members, Lucky Odisetti, Elliot, as well as Joshua the team that brought us Pairings -- just rock stars who were able to get thousands of users into Sommelier ahead of the mainnet launch. So, this great team worked tirelessly to make sure that we had something and we could build a community based on use cases for Sommelier in the vision that Jack had.
“Special thanks to Federico Kunze. Federico started off the Gravity refactoring, did a lot of work and eventually was able to launch and bring us Evmos, which is an exciting protocol that I’m sure we will continue to partner with in 2022. Congratulations and thank you, Federico.
“Of course, the Althea team. We wouldn’t have Gravity without the Althea team. We started this journey last year, and the Gravity Bridge has spun off in different directions but Justin Kilpatrick, Deb Simpier, and Jehan Tremback, were really instrumental in the first half of the year in nurturing and making sure that we were all aligned and continuing to progress through the promise of the Gravity Bridge. So, we thank them for an awesome year.”
“In the second half of the year, we have new folks, thanks to Stephen and William on the Viper contracts that we used in the Sommelier Pairings app.
Thank you Mario Digital for our community. There’s someone who always talks to folks both in Telegram and Discord and makes sure that every day, every week we have multiple blog posts up. Mario, great job.
“Special thanks to, of course, the marketing team, Bryan Colligan and team who kept essentially getting us on Twitter, our events hosted. We hosted approximately, maybe 12-15 events with some of the top players in the active management space in Uniswap v3. We were able to get audiences because of them.
“Also, thanks to the newest team members, Unique Divine, Sun Raghupathi, and Joseph Terrigno on the data science side who helped us work on getting ready for the new Uniswap v3 active management on Sommelier and beyond.
“Thank you, Joyce Hermosilla for our front end. Thank you Josh for our front ends as well. You guys did amazing work bringing and maintaining a face for Sommelier to work on.
“Thank you Tony Arcieri who helped us with a lot of dev ops problems that we had.
“Also, thanks to the graph protocol team. We had a million dollar graph grant this year and it allowed us to really figure out how to leverage the graph.
“And, of course, thanks to our investors who believe in us--everybody from Planet Crypto, MultiCoin, Polychain and others who understand the promise of the unleashed power of both the alt L1s, Cosmos and the Gravity Bridge.
Anyone else to share thanks with for an awesome year?
Zaki jumps in to add thanks: “The whole Inclusion team has played a big role in getting everything done, as well as the Strangelove team-- it’s really been exciting to see Strangelove come into its own this year. Jack, want to talk a little bit about the emergence of Strangelove as a major contributor in the DAOs of the interchain.
Guess what Jack’s been up to?
“Folks who know me know I’ve been doing a lot of this work for quite a while at this point. And I needed to kind of scale myself. Last year I spent a lot of time just working with a bunch of other organizations. And it became really, really clear to me this year that I needed to build my own organization to help order and scale my contribution to the broader Cosmos--Strangelove is that. My partner, Tyler Schmidt, has been working in crypto for a while. He’s most recently been at a company called Ubisoft working on user experience for their front end website, but is coming back to work fulltime in crypto again. We’ve been hiring engineers and bringing a bunch of people online. So, that’s going to be really exciting this year. We’re going to be doing a lot of Sommelier work moving forward as well as other things throughout the interchain, the existing relayer work that I’ve been doing is now organized through Strangelove. Justin has been fantastic helping me out this year. We’ve got a couple more folks coming online early in 2022 and we’re going to be contributing mainly to the frontend side of Sommelier as well as to the backend server-hosting side of Sommelier. That’s going to be our big contribution moving forward.”
“Welcome Strangelove. Continued growth and continued success. This is definitely promising for Sommelier in 2022,” says Taariq.
Finally, Jack says: “I’m thankful for Zaki. We’ve got to embarrass him now and then. I told Zaki I’ve taken some time over the holidays to play a terrible video game called Solaris…”
“It is not a terrible video game!” teases Zaki.
“It’s terrible because it ends up taking a ton of my time,” Jack lobs back, and continues: “But Zaki responded “I haven’t played Idiot’s Liar since the break. Zaki’s been on an absolute tear with the code lately, so just want to call that out too.”
Question from the community
Zaki thinks the question on everyone’s mind is: “When token?”
“So, let’s answer that concretely. The plan for the token is a simultaneous airdrop into Osmosis and Uniswap v3. And, the requirement to make this simultaneous has increased the engineering complexity, which is why we didn’t make our end of the year deadline. So, this governance proposal today to move funds into a staging address is one of the first things we can do before an upgrade. One of the things that we spent a bunch of time engineering towards the latter half of the year is a change in the way Gravity ERC-20 tokens work so that we could actually migrate to a new Gravity Bridge in the future and keep the same ERC-20 representation of the SOMM and the other Cosmos tokens that come over the bridge. And, so, we’re going to do the staging, then, early next year we’re going to do this upgrade to a new Gravity contract on mainnet, and then we are going to be able to achieve the goal of simultaneous release.”
Taariq replies: “Boom! Mic drop. Love it. I think the community will love to hear that. That’s exciting. And if you are here you can see on community.sommelier.finance activities moving forward. And, yes, early this year, we’re going to see more progress towards proposals to ensure that these upgrades are happening.”
Thank you to the community! Please join our Telegram. Again, thanks to our backend team, the protocol team, Strangelove, all of the Inclusion team, and all of the other Volume folks here for their contributions in 2021 to Sommelier, looking forward to 2022.
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