As the crypto world patiently awaits the fabled “Merge”, the final upgrade in a set up upgrades that will complete the Ethereum network’s transition from Proof-Of-Work to Proof-Of Stake, we’ve decided to sit down for a chat with Justin Drake – researcher at the Ethereum Foundation.
While his involvement in Ethereum goes way back, most recently he received media attention for this tweets about post-merge Ethereum staking rewards and his prediction of what he thinks the numbers are going to be.
With that in mind, in this quick interview we decided to ask Justin about some of the latest numbers he’s been crunching, his prediction for a post-merge network, and get some insight into a life dedicated to Ethereum.
Justin, many of our readers know you simply as “Justin Drake from Ethereum”. Before we jump into the techy stuff, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Justin: “Sure! I’m a geek and optimist. Imagine a teenager attending Mathcamp – a 5-week summer camp – three times. Imagine a writer of Wikipedia articles, pumped by the idea of mass-scale cooperation without a central coordinator.”
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Justin: “At this point Ethereum and my family have taken over my life. I wake up every day for them.”
When and how did you first become involved with crypto?
Justin: “My first material involvement with crypto is timestamped December 27, 2013 when I founded the Cambridge Bitcoin Meetup group.”
How does your current work in the Ethereum Foundation look like? Can you give us a sneak peak into your day?
Justin: “Part of my time is simply staying up to date with the firehose of internal and public conversations. A bunch of Telegram chats, plenty of Twitter, a handful of emails, a bit of Discord and Reddit, one or two Zoom calls per day.
Another part of my time is technical research and coordination. I’m working on incremental security updates to the beacon chain such as Single Secret Leader Election (SSLE) and Verifiable Delay Fundations (VDFs). I’m also doing a deep dive into the intersection of Maximal Extractable Value (MEV) and consensus.
I also need to prepare for a bunch of presentations, podcasts, and panels. I have 5 scheduled this month alone.”
What is one of your achievements in crypto that you’re most proud of?
Justin: “It’s easy to be proud of technical contributions that make it to production but inspiring others and growing the research team is possibly even more impactful. Recruiting folks like Antonio, Dankrad, David, Dmitry, Francesco, Proto is a form of leverage—I’m just one guy and there’s only so many direct contributions I can make. Reach out to email@example.com if you are interested in Ethereum research!”
What do you think are some of the main challenges Ethereum is going to face post-merge?
Justin: “There’s a variety of attacks that Ethereum could be subject to post-merge: proposer DDoS, fork choice attacks, randomness bias, 0-day exploits on clients. The scary thing is that MEV incentivises these attacks so we need to stay vigilant and continuously push the R&D of security upgrades. We still have a few years of intense R&D to make Ethereum WW3 resistant.”
How do you imagine the future of DeFi, and staking in particular for Ethereum? Do you see staking becoming a dominant force in future economy, not just in crypto?
Justin: “I expect the amount of ETH staked to roughly double in the year following the merge, from about 10M ETH to 20M ETH staked.
Longer-term, over the process of a few decades, the ETH supply will shrink well below 100M ETH and I expect most of the ETH supply to be used as collateral – so-called pristine collateral – for staking and DeFi.
It wouldn’t surprise me if eventually ~50% of the ETH supply goes to staking and ~25% of the ETH supply gets locked in DeFi.”
One of your hottest pieces was the Ethereum “post-merge” staking rewards spreadsheet. Can you give us some interesting numbers about Ethereum that you’ve recently been working on?
Justin: “I think that the 120M ETH supply peak is the most interesting number right now.”
Do you think mainstream adoption of DeFi and concepts like crypto staking is going to be tied to a significant event, or slow, incremental adoption across various industries?
Justin: “Slow, incremental adoption.”
You get to display a huge billboard and everyone in the world sees it, what do you write?
Justin: “Ultra Sound Money”
Who would win in a death match between BTC and ETH maximalists?
Justin: “Some Ethereans are decentralization maxis but virtually no one is an ETH maxi. In any case, when it comes to physical violence, BTC maxi gun culture crushes Ethereum’s unicorns and rainbows culture. So… I’m gonna go with BTC maxis here.”
Best person to follow on crypto twitter?
Justin: “I’m trying to distance myself from Twitter because it’s addictive and not super healthy. But… For wholesome crypto content I would suggest podcasts like Bankless, Into the Ether, The Daily Gwei.”
Are NFTs here to stay?
Justin: “Yes, obviously. NFTs go far beyond art. Think of domains, passports, deeds, tickets, diplomas, badges, trademarks, patents, certificates, stamps. Tokenization will eat the world.”
Who’s going to accept crypto first, Apple or Starbucks?