Audio Podcast

Saga’s Bogdan Alexandrescu on Making Web3 More Accessible to Builders

SAGA is focused on lowering the barrier of entry for building in Web3 so that developers can spin up a blockchain in a single click, and the company places emphasis on the metaverse. 

In this conversation, we dive deep into Bogdan’s departure from Apple after six years to work full-time in crypto, any advice that he has for anyone looking to make a similar switch, what the metaverse is, more about SAGA, and the current innovator program they’re running.

Listen to the interview in this week’s podcast episode here:

Watch the video here:

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What follows is a summary of the podcast episode between Tegan Kline and Bogdan Alexandrescu, Co-Founder & VP of Engineering at Saga.

Bogdan, can you give us a brief overview of your current focus at Saga?

Hi, Tegan. First of all, thank you for having me here. So Saga’s focus is on creating the infrastructure and, basically, the tooling and ecosystem benefits for developers for Web3 developers to easily and effortlessly focus on building applications without actually having to care about building and maintaining the underlying infrastructure for it.

We want to lower the barrier of entry for Web3 developers so that we can enable a lot more people to bring in ideas, innovation, and use cases. And with that, the entire ecosystem grows. So, at a very high level, that is the focus for Saga.

I want to chat a little bit about your previous experience. So you actually dedicated six years of your life to Apple, and while there, you were dabbling in crypto for a long time, but what finally made you make the switch?

I guess I have to start by discussing a bit of what I was doing in Web 3 before actually choosing to jump in a hundred percent.

As you said, I’ve been with Apple for six years. I’ve been in crypto for about six or seven years as well. And I’ve never actually dedicated my entire time and attention to Web3because my background is technical. I eventually switched into technical leadership in the big tech companies where I worked in Silicon Valley.

But at the same time, I’ve been very drawn to what was going on in Web3, and before that it was called blockchain, and before that it was just Bitcoin. There is an evolution of terminology here as well. But to cut it short, I’ve been mostly focused on investing and, in some cases, running infrastructure for different projects.

I’ve spent the majority of the last six or seven years as an angel investor assisting teams in getting off the ground. I support them financially, but also with technical advisory services and other types of resources that the team will need to actually get off the ground, get from zero to one, and grow.

So that was an activity that didn’t require my full time and attention. It was more of a part-time involvement. But there was always something missing. I was an observer looking at other people spending time building amazing use cases, and having fun while doing it.

And I can’t say I wasn’t a bit jealous of jumping in and actually creating something of my own. You know this very well. I’ve resisted that for a long time, for many reasons. Things at Apple were very exciting as well. Apple is building amazing things and is one of the most known and strongest tech companies out there. And that doesn’t come without a lot of brain power, not to mention the innovation going on there. It was definitely a great school for me, and in many ways, it was a place where I was able to grow and develop.

But it gets to a point where you have two passions, and sometimes they’re not 100 percent aligned. So this was the case with big tech, Web2, aka  Apple. I was on the leadership team, but I was focused on infrastructure. I saw what was happening in Web 3, and I saw the need for infrastructure. There were gaps that needed to be filled by projects and technology that were simply not there.

So, that made me look very carefully at the possibility of entering crypto, entering Web 3 full-time, and building.

Amazing. What specifically drew you to crypto? Was it the crypto ethos, the crypto values, or did you simply see an opportunity for innovation?

I think it was the opportunity for innovation. I think it was also the freedom of just discovering new ways to improve people’s lives, to improve society, and even to improve business processes. Starting with 2016 and then 2017, removing the middlemen, and then getting from that to the next level, where we are today, and have been for a few years already.

I think there is a lot of potential in this new technological wave. There’s a lot of room to grow, and I see a lot of smart people as well. So it attracts a lot of big brains, so to speak.

So it’s a place where you can restart your growth if you feel like you’re stalling or if you feel like you’ve gotten too comfortable. This has been my modus operandi, the way I function, for the past 20 years. I like to jump into new projects, new areas, or new industries and then learn, develop, grow, and potentially help if I can.

So this was yet another one of those. But I think it’s more than that. I think Web3 is not just a temporary thing. It is becoming the next evolution of digital, the internet as we know it, and this time I want to be there from the beginning, hopefully laying some foundational bricks.

That’s exciting, and I know you alluded to some of the stuff that’s happening within Apple, and I want to get to that in a minute. But before we do, I want to double-click into your role as VP of Engineering. What made you choose to go from being an engineer to a manager? That’s a big switch. What is it about managing that you like?

That happened a long time ago. I would say engineering is fun, and you can do so much as an engineer. Regardless of how far you can go on the engineering ladder, eventually, two heads are better than one.

Alone, you can go faster, but together, you can go further. I know it sounds like a buzzword, but it’s true. I’ve seen this in practice many times. And I like to work with people. I like to help others grow. And through their growth, the company and the organization in which you function or lead also grow.

That was another episode in my life—another area in which I lacked experience and wanted to learn more. That made me choose to basically take that step forward and go into management with the goal of bettering myself, helping others around me get better, and also creating more impact. and basically do more than I was doing by myself as an individual. That was part of the motivation.

Apple controls their app market, which is a big thing.
They have the app store and decide who gets on it and who doesn’t. And I think personally that a decentralized App store is a huge need within the industry. And we need, of course, a moderation protocol on top of that decentralized App store, of which Apple could be one of many moderators. So is there a world where you could have stayed within Apple and worked on some of these initiatives? Do you think they would’ve been open to it?

A hundred percent. And I believe that Apple is heading in that direction. We don’t have that visible right now. It’s not, I would say, yet released, but if you look at the public information that’s out there, because I’m not going to be able to disclose anything internal, but if you look at the public information that’s out there, we already are seeing some signs of where Apple is taking its products and services next.

And we were going to be talking about Web3, the metaverse, the next version of cyberspace, and whatnot. But it’s already becoming visible that Apple is moving towards integration with blockchain and bringing AR and VR into their product lines.

Even trademarks and patents pertaining to Reality One and Reality Pro. We all know where this is going. I think Apple has always strived for quality and being the best at what they do, even if they’re not necessarily the first.

And I think the world is moving in one direction. Apple is eventually going to lead in that direction. 

I think you have to question if there are patents in Web3—is it really Web3? But I guess with that, why did you decide to leave and not stay within Apple?

I think that’s a very good question.

The speed at which things happened. I think I wanted to do things faster. and maybe also the focus. I wanted to build infrastructure, and I wanted to build an infrastructure that is open, free, available, and basically ready to use for everyone, not necessarily just one company.

Apple is building great-quality products and services, and they want control over that quality. That is sometimes more difficult to enforce and ensure its existence in an open market, in an open environment. And we can see from what has happened in Web 3 over the last few months that some checks and balances are sometimes necessary for a variety of reasons, including customer security, safety, and privacy.

So Apple is putting in a lot of effort to protect user privacy while also ensuring that their services and products are of the highest quality in the industry. I think they’re going to end up having to eventually find a balance, especially when they start getting more and more into this Web3 space. They’re going to have to find a balance between control and openness. and I think that’s coming.

I think Web 3 at its core is really about giving that control to the users, but we will need bridges to that world. And so I think Apple can play a really great role in that. And then, and I understand this too, when I left Barclays, I left for the same reason. Even though Barclays was doing sandbox stuff within the blockchain space, I really wanted to move quickly and build from the inside. But with that, do you think others will follow in our footsteps by leaving big tech and finance and joining the crypto space? And what advice do you have for anyone thinking about it?

This is a question that I myself was asked a few years ago before I actually decided to join. And I was asking myself as well, “When is the right time?” And I’ve learned that over the years, the right time is now. If you’re thinking about it and you think that you’re going to be able to provide significant contributions and that the space is going to help you grow and better yourself as well, then it’s the right time to join.

Now, of course, it’s very important to choose where you go as well. You have to look at what’s available and choose wisely. You can just go to the first company or the first web project that is hiring, right? So there is a need to do a bit of due diligence. Try to do some market research, do research on the companies that are hiring, and figure out what is the right fit for you.

Look at their mission; what are they trying to achieve? What are they trying to change? What’s their vision? Is that vision aligned with your goals? Is that vision aligned with your values? And if that’s the case, then start looking at the team. Is that the right team you want to work with? Do you think you’re going to be able to do amazing things together?

And at the end of the day, are you going to feel fulfilled about what you’re working on? It’s a very fast pace. And I like that some people like that. Some people don’t like that. Some people like to be comfortable, and some people like to be challenged. So, once again, it really depends on whether it makes sense for you.

But I think when it comes to the right time to join, there hasn’t been a better time to join, to be honest. And even if there are some naysayers who say we’re in the bear market, it’s harder in the bear market because you don’t see crazy valuations going up left and right.

I actually tend to disagree with that. I think that’s the best time to join because there are fewer distractions and you can actually focus on building the right things. It’s the right time to hire as well. And as we have seen over the past few months, there’s a lot of talent on the market.

So some of that talent will look into Web3, and again, it’s the right time to join. 

I agree. I believe that joining during a downturn is the best time to do so because projects are still hiring. They just get a lot more selective about who they hire, and oftentimes the roles that they’re hiring for are key roles where you’re providing fundamental value. So you actually have a lot more job security if you join during a bear market than if you join during a bull market. 

And there’s significant upside, or potential upside,for some of these projects, rather than joining at the top of the market. That’s similar to Web2 as well.

If we look at what happened to companies like Meta, Amazon, and Google, the whole market is down 40%, right? It wasn’t the best time to join at the top of the market, but now it’s a great time to join some of these startups in Web3.

Absolutely. And then there’s the recent explosion in centralized finance that we’ve seen—not just one but many—with FTX, Alameda, 3 Arrows Capital, Celsius, Voyager, and so on. What do you say to those watching who are currently discouraged by these events that have unfolded?

First of all, this is going to sound a bit controversial. I do not consider those entities to be part of Web3. Let me explain why. Technically, they’re not Web3 projects. They’re Web2 companies, FinTech companies that are providing services for Web3.

They’re centralized entities with a centralized governing structure. They have a CEO, there’s no community that governs those projects, and there’s no transparency. There hasn’t been one. So that’s definitely not an attribute of Web 3. It’s definitely an attribute of Web 2. Most of these companies that you just mentioned were, without our knowledge, functioning more in a gray zone than being completely clean and honest with their customers.

So, looking at these four or five different events that occurred over the last few months, I would say it’s unfortunate. I think we need more regulation in the space to protect against this type of business going into the market and attracting a lot of user funds and managing them the way they do. There is regulation for this in traditional finance, but it is viewed as a gray area where people with power and visibility can take advantage.

So I think more regulation, more focus on protecting user rights, privacy, and I guess financial wellness will be needed, and I think they will actually come to fruition.

We’ve seen this in traditional finance as well. If you look back in history, the same exact things happened just 50, 60, 70 years ago, or even further in time. We’re seeing the same thing here again. And as a result of natural evolution, some things will be regulated.

Now, another way of looking at it is that it’s also eye-opening. More and more Web3 users are recognizing these entities for what they truly are: non-Web3 projects. They’re not in Web3. They’re centralized entities, and users can see more and more of the advantages of Web3.

If you look at the DeFi protocols or DeFi projects out there that provide exchanges, provide financial services, and whatnot, the level of transparency is unmatched. And some of these centralized exchanges are now looking for proof of transparency and proof of reserves, and what has been happening with Binance and a few other exchanges that are attempting to lead this effort moving forward.

So in a way, it’s painful. This is literally the definition of “growing pains”, but I think we’re moving in the right direction. People are going to be more careful with lending money to centralized entities that don’t have any auditing or transparency. And they’re going to most likely move towards decentralized protocols for finance as well.

So overall, I’m actually bullish for the entire Web3 ecosystem because, again, it filters out the scammers and the thieves. I’m not going to name names, but everyone knows who they are. It’s very disappointing. But at the same time, we all learn and move forward, and we’re going to be better on the other side of this.

Maybe everyone except the New York Times, but I digress.

Someone needs to look for another job over there, or the editorial staff needs to do better due diligence on what they’re actually pushing out.

Totally. But I do agree that it is a great lesson on decentralization and self-custody. And when it comes to regulations, a lot of the regulators were focused on DeFi, but DeFi was fine, right? You have Uniswap; it runs and is very transparent. It doesn’t hold client funds. Meanwhile, CeFi has this big issue. As a result, I believe regulators should shift their focus to centralized entities, where things are murky.

But with that, six years into crypto, you finally just made the leap full-time into crypto. You left Apple to co-found Saga. Can you tell us a little bit more about Saga, and since you really could have gone anywhere, why Saga?

I’ve been asked this question many times, and I asked this question myself first, like, why would I choose Saga versus a handful of other options I had at the time when I was looking at moving into Web3.

And, by the way, this is not the first time I have looked into moving into Web 3. There was also the 2017–2018–2019 era of blockchain, where some of my best and closest friends made the jump and I decided to stay on the sidelines and just watch what was going on. I just think I wasn’t ready. I think I still had some growing to do, which I did over the past five years.

Looking at Saga, I can tell you right off the bat that it was the people. It was the team. I like the fact that it was an infrastructure project. I like how it is right now, and even when I looked at it from the standpoint of its vision and mission and what the plan is, I felt like it was filling a gap that we currently have in the entire ecosystem and that no one is building. No one is actually tackling it the way we are planning to do it. But, in the end, it wasn’t the product or the vision that failed; it was the team, because things change, right? The market changes.

You need to be able to adjust. If you’re working with the right team, the right group of people, surrounded by strong leaders with a lot of experience who work well together, you can pivot and find ways to provide value to the ecosystem, even if the initial product idea or vision isn’t necessarily what you end up building.

Going back to why I chose Saga, it was the founding team. I spent two and a half months with them before actually choosing to join officially. So it’s been, for me, a long due diligence process. Maybe a little longer than most people, but I wanted to make sure I was making the right choice.

Leaving Apple was a big choice to make. And I am not regretting one minute of making that decision. It’s been an amazing ride so far. And I’m surrounded by strong leaders that are basically taking the charge—I would say holding the banner—and moving things forward, not just for Saga but for the entire ecosystem we are operating in.

I think that decentralized infrastructure is probably one of the biggest needs that people need to be focusing on right now. So it’s great that you identified that need. One segment of Web 3 is the metaverse, and the Saga whitepaper talks a lot about the metaverse and the multiverse. There are a lot of different ideas out there about what the metaverse is. Facebook calls itself the metaverse. What’s your high-level vision for the metaverse? 

High-level vision? I can tell you one thing, and I will be brutally honest. No one knows what the metaverse is, but there are many definitions out there of what the metaverse could be.

This is not the first time this has happened. If you look back in the 1990s, people were calling it cyberspace. And again, people didn’t know what cyberspace was. Was it the ability to send an email over two very distant remote machines, or did you have a website that could now potentially link to other websites?

All of that was being developed, and at that point, we didn’t know what cyberspace would look like. If you look at what is right now, the world wide web has changed so much and in ways that we would not have imagined back in the 90s it would, so when people say, “So what is the metaverse?”

We don’t know what the metaverse will look like in ten years, but I can tell you that there are a few hints, and they’re all pretty exciting. Some could call metaverses the games we have today. In some ways, their worlds are their virtual worlds, in which people can meet all over the world and interact with each other.

So in a way, it increases the way we interact in cyberspace from just clicking, texting, and potentially video calling to actually interacting in a virtual space. But that’s not stopping there. Other people are looking at the metaverse as potentially bringing the digital world into your real world.

So, for example, Apple—as you mentioned earlier—is focused on another area where I believe there will be a lot of discussion moving forward.

You’re saying Facebook is focused on AR.

Facebook is mostly focused on VR. I would say they’re building their own set of worlds, focusing more on productivity.

Apple will most likely focus on AR (augmented reality) and how to integrate the digital and physical worlds. You can also see that Gemini, Microsoft, other companies, and Google are all working on their own versions of the metaverse.

Some people are defining the metaverse as we saw it in “Ready Player One”. A huge digital world where everyone basically functions in the same kind of world and it’s all controlled by one entity? I don’t think that’s the future. I don’t think that’s going to be where it’s at.

It’s almost like saying that the internet is Google. The internet is not Google. Google is a major player in the world wide web, creating infrastructure, tooling, interfaces, and experiences for its users. This is going to be similar for the future of Web3 as well.

We’ll have big players who will create experiences that are potentially very different and very focused. Maybe some for productivity and work-life experience. Some might focus on entertainment. Imagine a world where, instead of going to the movies and seeing a 3D movie, you’re going to the movies and you’re actually part of it.

Perhaps as an observer, but within a scene, or perhaps interacting with and altering the plot of the film you’re watching. So all of that could potentially be where the metaverse is going to go. I believe it will be exciting. It also opens up entirely new markets, entirely new ways to create revenue for companies, for people to engage with each other, even from across the world, over long distances, or in new ways to entertain ourselves or learn. For children or adults to work, to do our jobs. Again, very vague, as it should be, because if anyone claims right now that they know what the metaverse is, they’re most likely wrong.

I think that the metaverse should be built on decentralized infrastructure so that it can be composable and modular across all of these different ecosystems. Trying to control the metaverse is a losing proposition for me.

If you think about the internet, the internet was meant to be a decentralized, attack-proof, self-sustaining computer network. It did get there to some extent. But then you have these huge corporations that have taken over and created, I guess, subnetworks that are under their control. But overall, there is no one entity that controls the worldwide web, and I think that’s going to be the same with Web3.

I think the problem with the current internet is that we didn’t think through the incentive structures before creating the internet, and then we had to do it as a second task. The great thing about Web3 is that we’re really thinking about the incentive models before building decentralized protocols, which I think is powerful.

You mentioned earlier that Saga is very developer-friendly and that it’s really lowering the barrier to entry so that developers can launch their own chain. Can you talk to us a little bit about what that experience is like currently?

A few months ago, we launched our first release called AlphaNet ‘Andromeda,’ which is a developer tool that allows developers to spin up chains in a few seconds. It’s extremely fast, and right now it supports EVM. So anything that can run on Ethereum, Polygon, or Avalanche, for example, can run instantly on the Saga chain. It is a hundred percent compatible.

The current release lets developers set up their chains and then deploy and build their Web 3 experiences on top of them in a way that can be shared with, for example, teams that are not centralized and are spread out in different places.

So they can basically spin out their infrastructure and start actually focusing on building the Web 3 use case. It may be a game, it may be a metaverse world, it may be an entertainment use case, or even DeFi for that matter, which is not necessarily our primary focus, but we are there to support all Web 3 developers.

We see more and more games, game developers, and metaverse developers coming in. They are asking for this type of infrastructure or service because the nature of their use cases requires them to have either dedicated block space, high throughput control over their infrastructure cost, or potentially a custom economic model that current Layer 1 shared blockchains do not offer.

So going back to what Saga is currently offering, it’s the first release that allows you to actually get familiarized with how having your own chain and building an application on your own chain will look like and test it, get the flavor of it, test that workflow, and, of course, the advantages that come with it.

I want to talk about the tooling that you plan to add around Saga in a moment. So how I understand it is that developers spin up these chain nets that act as a chain that’s secured by the Saga main net.

They’re basically full-layer-1 chains.

So it’s similar to a Polkadot or the ATOM 2.0 proposal in Cosmos in that regard. So what is the advantage that you see in building this yourself instead of using ATOM 2.0?

When you compare, you would have to compare each one individually, to be honest, because the Polkadot and ATOM ecosystems are pretty different. The shared security model in both of them is actually pretty different.

I would say we are closely related to the ATOM shared security model, which is called interchain security. And Saga’s shared security is going to be built on top. The difference between the hub and its shared security and what Saga provides is that we do not need a governance process to add a new chain to a shared valid set in order to allow a consumer chain to register with a provider chain and borrow security from the hub or other chains. That takes a long time. It’s a long process. It’s a sometimes costly process.

As we just saw yesterday, the ATOM 2.0 proposal was actually rejected. which is unfortunate. But that comes with decentralized governance and with participation, or lack thereof, in the voting process. So if you look from that perspective, there are still huge barriers to entry for developers that are building Web3 use cases to get their own chain.

Like I said earlier, part of our vision is to lower the barrier of entry for developers and get them to be able to spin up their own chain as easily as it is to fire a transaction or click on a button. And that’s only going to be possible if we add innovation—a few layers of innovation—to the orchestration automation of spinning up new chains.

On the ATOM 2.0 proposal being rejected, from my understanding, it wasn’t because of the concept of shared security. It was more due to the proposal’s subjective language and the fact that it gave centralized powers far too much power. Can you double-click into that? Do you think it’ll revive itself?

I definitely think it’s going to come back. It will almost certainly be reworded and put to a vote again. I think they, as well as the Cosmos community, will want to incentivize more people to actually take part in the voting process because there was a lot of lack of participation from the community side.

It’s not that the ATOM 2.0 proposal and the white paper don’t have value. It’s extremely valuable. I think it’s the next evolution of the Cosmos ecosystem as a whole. But that also tells you and it gives you an idea of some of the struggles and some of the downsides of having a governance process to get access to shares.

That is something that will continue to exist. It’s not going away. And it’s meant to be this way because of the hub’s proposed model versus Saga’s proposed model.

How is Saga thinking about governance, and how are you implementing that?

So for Saga, I would say we will have a governance process when it comes to what types of chains can be run on top of the Saga platform. Just to reiterate, let me go back a bit. Saga is meant to be a chain to launch chains that provide guaranteed dedicated block space but also come with a swappable execution environment.

We’re talking about EVMs here. It’s going to be a multi-EVM environment where you can spin up EVM or potentially Solana, JavaScript, and whatnot. We’re going to basically look at providing infrastructure for all developers out there, not just for a subsection of developers that know how to code in Solidity.

I wanted to share this because I think it is important for the next part of my answer. In order for these chain-net stacks to be available on the Saga platform, they have to go through an audit process and a government proposal.

You can think of this as very similar to how the Apple App Store works. But the governance part is actually decentralized and not decided by, say, a committee of reviewers hired by Apple internally. So with Saga, that’s where governance comes into play. The difference from how the hub runs things is that once a chain net stack is vetted, there is no real security risk for spinning up incentives from that chain net stack across the Saga platform. Whereas with every single chain that you add to the hub, there has to be a governance proposal and there has to be a clear audit because every single one of those app chains in the hub has different code and different logic.

They can run different types of potentially malicious code as well. There is a need to gate that onboarding through a review process and a governance vote. That’s where Saga actually changes things. Once you have a stack that’s approved, you can support an entire ecosystem automatically. That’s where I think the lowering of the barrier of entry comes in.

Got it. And then there’s Polkadot.

So the Polkadot model—this might sound a bit controversial, but I don’t think it’s scalable. Similar to how other Ethereum side chains, such as, say, Avalanche or Binance smart chains, have built these ecosystems on shared public chains. Polkadot basically does the same with the relay chain. There are different levels of scalability with Polkadot that can be addressed.

First of all, you only have a hundred patching slots. Then you can say, “yeah, but you have parathreads”. Sure, you have parathreads, but parathreads compete for block space. They compete to get their unsealed blocks eventually sealed and stored on the relay chain. But at the core of the Polkadot ecosystem stands the relay chain, and the relay chain is basically a public, shared blockchain.

At the core of it, it’s still a public, shared blockchain. The more use cases you throw at it, the more you’re going to have to pay to run on it, and eventually that will not scale to support things like high-throughput use cases like gaming, or metaverses, which are basically where our focus is.

If you look at Saga, it has horizontal scalability for blockchain. Every single chain is actually a new dedicated block space added to the platform. And technically, it can have unlimited scalability. You can get unlimited blockchain space or block space, basically. That’s where things differ.

When you decided to co-found Saga and announce that to the community, a lot of people within the ETH community had some things to say about it. So why not build on Layer 2 within the Ethereum community? What made you choose to go down a different path?

We are supporting Ethereum developers.

Actually, that’s a good point. We chose to go with our first execution layer being the EVM. So all of the use cases that currently run on top of Ethereum can be supported on top of Saga as well. That being said, we’re not competing with Ethereum. We’re actually looking at providing an extendable block space for a project that could run, for example, on Ethereum, Polygon, Avalanche, or any other EVM-compatible chain.

Another thing that we looked at in order to support and extend support for the Ethereum ecosystem and other similar ecosystems, is the economic model that we support on top of the Saga platform.

I didn’t go into that, but I think we’re one of the only ones who have this model, in which we decided to decouple infrastructure costs from the user and the developer. We have a two-tier system. You can call it a two-tier model, but basically, you have something that we call a front-end economic model and fee structure and then a back-end or infrastructure economic model. 

In Saga, the developer pays for the infrastructure costs, not the end user. So as an end user having to interact with a Web 3 application in the current world, you have to pay for every single transaction you do to interact with that Web 3 application.

It’s a model that doesn’t work in Web 2, and most likely a model that doesn’t work in real life when we look at worldwide adoption. You wouldn’t want to pay, for example, a transaction fee for opening your Uber app or for doing a search on Amazon. Similar to that, you wouldn’t want to pay for interacting with a Web application just because you are doing, let’s say, a query, sending a message to someone, or ordering a service.

So we are applying the same model and principles that we’re used to in Web 2. So in this case, if Uber, for example, wants to go into Web 3, they can apply the same model that they’ve gotten their customers used to in the past six or seven years, where they support the infrastructure costs, and we make sure that they have not just control over the infrastructure costs but also predictable costs because they have dedicated block space. You, me, and all the users who are actually interacting with their products can control the user experience.

They don’t have to be tied into a world or a model where the user has to pay for the actual infrastructure at variable rates. So that’s kind of like the difference that makes Saga appealing to so many game developers and metaverse developers alike: the fact that they can choose the economic model they want to apply to their chains.

In this case, for example, suppose they still want to charge a fee for each transaction that occurs on the chain for various reasons. They can choose what token that is. They can use Ethereum if they want to. They can use USDC, USDT, or simply dollars if they prefer. We don’t enforce what token will be used on a specific chain or app chain that’s running on top of Saga. That’s the developer’s choice. 

Okay. But the thing is, with Web 2, we didn’t pay because we were the product. And then we paid with our data, and then they made billions of dollars just selling ads. So, I guess with Saga, how are you thinking about that? Will there be a Saga token to help you pay for the security and the validation? What do you think about that?

Yes. We’re basically a Web 3 company, so we are going to have a utility token that’s going to power the platform, and it’s going to secure the Saga platform itself. It’s going to be what Saga validators are going to be paid to run the infrastructure. It’s going to be used for governance as well. For example, governance proposals and whatnot are similar to what is happening right now with the Atom Hub and other blockchain projects like Ethereum and whatnot. 

Very similar model there. On the front end, we are just providing more flexibility to the developer and the users to employ more types of economic models than what is currently available on Layer 1, the shared public block. 

Talk a little bit about tooling. So a lot of the established Layer 1 blockchains are still light years behind the tooling within Ethereum. It manifests itself in wallets, decentralized indexing, and the adoption of only infrastructure on these centralized finance platforms. How are you planning to tackle tooling within Saga? 

So some of the efforts at Saga and our engineering team that I run at Saga are focusing on, of course, developer tooling. Like I said, Andromeda is a developer tool. And we are focusing on building not just the platform but also developer tooling around it. Again, going to the same vision, lowering the barrier of entry for developers, and leading the space in that direction, you can imagine seeing tooling for game developers in the next few months and over the next year. For example, Unity plugins and Unreal Engine plugins, integration with indexing services, RPC providers, and building makes integration with a Saga chain as simple as an import. There is a lot of thought and effort going into researching and then applying that to the actual products or services that Saga is building for developers.

It’s not just the actual platform that you need to build. At the core of it, it’s the platform and the infrastructure we’re providing, but we also need to provide the gateways into that and even the training in the developer community to use that as well. So we’re looking at many ways to lower that barrier of entry for developers.

Do you think you’ll activate and empower the community to help build some of that tooling?

Yes, one hundred percent. 

Innovators in our innovator program—blockchain companies, blockchain projects, and game developers—meet developers that are joining and building on Saga. Some of them are actually already providing some of this tooling to the blockchain community. And they’re joining the innovators program and working with Saga so that they can build those same products with Saga or on top of Saga.

So yes, we’re working with the ecosystem and with third-party providers to build that. We’re not just doing it ourselves, it’s more of a community wide effort. 

Can you tell us a little bit about that innovator program? Who should join? What’s the benefit of joining? Perhaps there are some listeners who would be interested.

The innovative program is basically a community of builders and innovators in Web3. It’s mostly, but not only, focused on game developers, metaverse builders, and entertainment use case builders, but it’s now limited to that. Like I said, we have companies that are in the area of building developer tooling and services and other types of products that are not necessarily games and metaverses.

But it’s a community of builders. It’s a community of innovators. The benefits are:

  1. Access to our technology before anyone else. So our innovators get access to control and availability releases that are not necessarily public releases, but they get to taste our technology and onboard it faster than everyone else in the ecosystem.
  2. They can also do that, which also helps us to test some of our ideas and basically get fast feedback so that we can iterate over our products and deliver a better overall experience for our developers.
  3. They have access to potential grants.
  4. They have access to other innovators.
  5. They have access to investors. We now have close calls with investors nearly twice a month, and they have a chance to pitch their idea to get additional support either from the Saga team or from our community of investors or advisors as well.
  6. Co-marketing opportunities. We basically help each other a lot. And it’s a community that’s basically now working to help each other grow. So it has been extremely interesting to see how fast this community has grown over the past three months.

It’s literally breathtaking. But it’s really rewarding to see how many people are joining in, helping each other, and collaborating.

The network effect of decentralized protocols is pretty powerful. And I think one of the great things about Web 3 is that the early adopters actually get rewarded for early contributions, unlike Web 2, whereas if you were early to TikTok or Twitter, you didn’t really get anything for being early there.

Will there be a token that’s dropped to the innovator program?

Will there be a token? Oh, like an airdrop. We don’t have a plan for that at this point. 

So I can’t tell you if there’s going to be an airdrop, but we’re definitely looking at many different options to have a wider participation in the entire ecosystem and have more people actually onboarded to the ecosystem, onboarded to the token, trying it out, and so on.

We’re looking at having more and more developers on the Saga platform, running app chains and Web3 use cases. So we’re definitely going to look at how to better support that. Maybe it’s not going to be an airdrop. Maybe it’s going to be an earn drop. Maybe it’s going to be some sort of contribution-based drop. We’re looking at many different options. Definitely, we’re going to look at ways to have a higher adoption rate.

I think “earn tokens” over “free tokens” any day it’s much more appreciated. And then, with that, we spoke a lot about the relationship between Saga and Cosmos. Do you consider Saga to be part of the Cosmos interchange ecosystem, or do you view it as a separate ecosystem that connects to Cosmos?

So, in some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. As previously stated, we are both consumers and contributors to the ecosystem of innovation and open-source software.

We are using the Cosmos stack as well. We are not reinventing the wheel; we’re not building things from scratch. We have been using building blocks that already exist in the ecosystem. And the layers of innovation that we add on top will also contribute back to the ecosystem.

In some areas, we’re actually taking the lead on innovating some of the aspects of the Cosmo stack, IBC, and relaying, and other areas that are like the core of our platform and technology that will have to be improved and will have to be potentially made more scalable. That is going to go back into the broad Cosmos ecosystem.

We are part of the Cosmos family. So we are definitely supporting and engaging with many people in the Cosmo ecosystem. Cosmos works. 

I think the great thing about Cosmos is that everyone is a part of that family, and they’re very welcoming to EVM chains and Ethereum, which is really refreshing. As some of the godfathers of the multichain future, I think they really live and breathe the values of that. 

So the final question is just, “How are you defiant in your life?”. If we define that as open resistance or bold disobedience, how would you say you’re defiant?

I never actually thought about that. I feel like I’ve always been a bit defiant of the norm. I never liked to be comfortable; I always wanted to challenge myself and the people around me. So maybe in that sense, that gives you an idea of defiance.

I feel that if there are areas where we can do better, I’m going to try to push myself and my team to go there and do better. I’m not necessarily a fan of the status quo. I feel like things can or should be better in terms of transparency, freedom, inclusion, or whatever you want to call it. 

I will defy the norm. This is gonna be my nature. I will try to see where we can do better, where we need to put more effort, and where we need leadership where it might not exist or it might be, let’s say, even now, looking at what the situation is in the market.

I think we need stronger leadership. I believe we will need to bring in experienced leaders to help us move forward. I think Saga is doing that. And I’m really fortunate to have such an experienced executive team to work with. That is unquestionably driving the change in Web 3.

I love that. I think that crypto is a countercultural movement. So you’re among many other rebels in this industry as well.

Yeah. If you look at it from that angle, if you’re in Web3, you’re already defiant. You’re defiant of the norm. You’re defiant of the common ways of doing things.

Absolutely. Thank you so much for coming on The Defiant. This was a great conversation, and I hope to chat with you again soon.

Thanks so much. Yeah, no, thank you again for having me, and it was a pleasure chatting with you.

And yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing where things go. But yeah, thanks again.

Thank you so much. Cheers.



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