Fantom Community Spotlight – FTM Alerts
After a start in the e-commerce space and later a stint selling medical equipment, Austin stumbled across a diverging and exciting path: the world of blockchain technology.
At first, the scattered pieces of information in isolation meant very little but, in aggregate, it became clear they constructed a map to financial freedom through DeFi.
To this day, recreating that path in a concise and accessible manner for all investors—newcomers and veterans alike—remains the mission of FTM Alerts and Austin’s crew.
Between hits from his oversized vape pen, nestled in a leather armchair and strapped into his headset, Austin remains poised in his responses, sure of his mission statement, and committed to the cause.
Even so, he reaffirms that Fantom DeFi is for everybody: he has no qualms in admitting that what he teaches today he may have learned yesterday, that by paying it forward you are paying your future self, and that the best way to master any subject is to find a way to articulate it clearly and with conviction to others.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself, how you got into crypto, and how you found your passion in Fantom?
I landed in crypto toward the end of 2017. Like many others, I bought XRP and Tron and a bunch of other tokens that aren’t really around anymore.
Then the bear market hit, and that was really a blessing in disguise— I took that as an opportunity to educate myself on the space. When March 2020 happened, I’d only been following Fantom for a little while, and I didn’t participate in the ICO.
It seemed like no matter where I turned, Fantom kept showing up. Back then, getting updates consisted of Michael Kong uploading to the Telegram group short videos he’d filmed on his phone. When the network launched, word spread fast and it was at that point that I started digging in.
Even though the biggest issues for Ethereum hadn’t yet begun to rear their head, analysts in the space knew that scaling issues were right around the corner, and that the pain of high gas costs would eventually prevent retail investors from being able to transact in any meaningful way.
And the truth is that in the early days, there wasn’t much to do on Fantom— we had access to fWallet, where you could stake your FTM, and that was about it. When you zoom out a bit, it’s really incredible what the Foundation and all of the builders that have come onto Fantom have built in such a short span of time.
It was around the time Andre released Yearn. Then everyone was looking forward to Fantom Finance. This was around April or May of 2020 when Roosh (aka The Rabbit) started connecting the dots in terms of the development going on between University of Sydney and Yonsei University: it became clear that FTM deserved a spot on everybody’s radar.
I don’t grip onto a lot of things but, when I find something I like, I really dive into it. I generally hate social media (ironic…don’t ya think?), but I find a ton of purpose in being able to be helpful in this space and I enjoy the relationships that I’ve been able to make along the way as a result.
With the amount of rapid development taking place on Fantom, how are you able to prioritize projects and sort through the noise?
At the beginning, everything was fair game. Those were the infancy stages, and it was difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
But now, Fantom, its community, and FTM Alerts have a wider reach, carry more responsibility, and have a reputation to uphold.
Only projects with true utility, proven advances in development, and, if they’re a fork—a clear differentiator—are given the opportunity to reach our audience.
Developer anonymity has recently been one of the hotly contested topics in the DeFi space, with Frog Nation’s Daniele Sesta tweeting that “Doxxed teams’ tokens will outperform anons ones. Pay attention.” What’s your take?
There’s a difference between public anonymity and complete anonymity.
For example, public anonymity might be necessary for developers operating in jurisdictions with draconian regulations, and some of the most well-respected developers in the Fantom ecosystem operate anonymously.
At the same time, rugs and scams are unfortunately rife in DeFi, and it becomes impossible to give a platform to developers who are entirely anonymous and without an existing track record.
As a safety measure, I’ve started to require any project that wants to be mentioned on FTM Alerts to hop on a video call with me beforehand. This is a requirement regardless of whether they are publicly anonymous or not.
The reason behind this is that we aren’t a business, nor are we paid marketers. We do all of this for free. So the only thing FTM Alerts really has is its reputation. Because of this I want to make sure I’m dealing with a serious project.
Ultimately, the primary beneficiary is the showcased project, and not FTM Alerts. So if we’re going to take a risk, then the projects are going to need to have some skin in the game as well.
When it comes to decentralization, where do we find ourselves at this moment in time for Fantom, and how do you hope to see us continue to evolve?
We’re still early, and we’ve got a long way to go. Once we’re at one of the more senior iterations of the network, decentralization will be the focus. But it’s imperative that the network grows and matures gradually, and that we don’t put the cart before the horse.
One of the things most people don’t think about is that there’s decentralization at the application level, and then there’s decentralization at the network level.
At the application level, that might mean being able to go to FTMscan to perform a transaction if a protocol’s front end goes down.
At the network level, it might mean having a meaningful number of nodes dispersed across a large enough number of entities, and what’s going to happen is that, when the time is right, the switch is going to be flipped, and nodes will start popping up.
Right now, there’s a barrier to rapid decentralization because every new user that arrives asks the question: “How much can I make on any of Fantom’s DeFi protocols vs how much can I make by delegating to a validator?” The answer right now is obvious: Fantom’s DeFi ecosystem offers higher yields. Part of the solution will be unlocking the true potential behind FUSD.
As the capital requirements for Fantom nodes decrease, we will see more validators.
Once FUSD begins liquidations and maintains its peg, it will free up a lot of that trapped liquidity. That’s when retail investors will be able to delegate their FTM, gain a secure annual yield with minimal risk exposure, and participate in securing their network while also participating in the DeFi space.
How has your perception of “Decentralized Finance” changed and evolved over time, and how does that connect to your mission on Fantom?
DeFi didn’t even exist when I got into crypto in 2017. Then protocols like Compound and Aave and Yearn started cropping up, and it was confusing as hell to me at the beginning.
Once I got the basic mechanics down, then I just started ripping into it. It wasn’t until six months ago that I stopped and took note of how much knowledge I had actually gained over that amount of time. I didn’t realize that it would be something of value to share.
That’s really how the videos came to be. It was a suggestion from a community member that really caught on. I’m continuing to try to refine different ways of making this content accessible to everybody, teaching new investors how to protect their capital, and giving them the information necessary to take advantage of the life-changing opportunities Fantom has to offer.
For me, a successful day is one in which you give me a DeFi concept that’s jamming someone up, and I manage to teach it to myself and make a video that breaks the topic down in a way that’s simple to understand.
What are a few of your favorite projects on Fantom and why?
First, let me say that it’s hard to pick favorites, especially because there are so many talented teams building on Fantom.
But that’s the underlying reason I stand behind all of them— the teams that are building the project. I’m a guy that bets on the team, and things seem to fall into place after.
I’m deeply involved with the Spirit guys, and I get to see firsthand just how hard they’re churning in the background.
Soon, they’ll be releasing SpiritSwap V2, which will be a big boost to compete with other protocols from a user-experience perspective. I don’t think anyone really grasps how big SpiritSwap is going to be in as little as 6 months from now.
While they are one of the anonymous teams on Fantom, everything they put out is high quality.
The level of talent and care that they have for their platform really shines through. I’m a huge fan of EerieEight and crew. Tons of respect for this team.
This is another team that I’m a huge fan of. These guys are super talented and have put together an amazing platform.
I love seeing all of the success that they have been having lately. They really deserve it.
This is a project that you’ve got to love. They started in one direction and pivoted (once Sushi didn’t show them any love).
They have grown to be one of the best projects on FTM with over 200m in TVL.
Tigris is one of my favorite devs on Fantom. He is super talented.
When he was building out Tarot he was giving us play by play updates on the FTM Alerts discord. Kinda made us feel like we were a part of it before it even launched. I’m a huge Tarot fan.
I’m one of the advisors to the team. It was around Episode 3 of Fantom Unchained, and I was talking to Reaper’s Bebis, and he kept saying how Fantom really needed a Balancer fork.
Shortly thereafter, Beethoven made a post, the Balancer team reviewed their code and gave them the “Friendly-fork” blessing, and the rest is history. This team is incredibly qualified and talented. Beets is gonna be a whale.
This is really a story of the phoenix rising from the ashes. At first it was just an OHM fork where the lead dev bailed, and the community took it over.
It was a team of 3 or 4 people that took over, and that quickly turned into a team of 10-20 volunteers. A passionate community that actively contributes is more often than not one of the primary factors that determines a project’s success.
Rather than dilute existing stakers in an attempt to attract new users with unsustainable APYs, the team kept a sustainable APY and sustainable bond settings.
They’re one of the projects that will be integrating gOHM into their bonding mechanism, and that liquidity will be held in Beethoven.
I’m a sucker for a comeback story, especially a community led one. So Exodia is on my list for that reason.
Finally, I’ve gotta shout out the Revenant guys. From a growth perspective, they have become one of the best teams on Fantom.
Creditum is gonna be a beast and I’m so happy (and proud) to see them come back and kick ass. Not to mention they are just all-around awesome people. Really a huge fan.
Are also about to take over the world. But that might be a story for 6 months from now 🙂
What trends do you see taking precedence on Fantom in the coming months?
We’re at an interesting stage of growth in DeFi where all of the brightest minds are tackling similar problems from different angles.
We’re quite literally seeing multiple versions of the same technology being built at the same time, such as Exodia, Andre Cronje + Daniele Sesta, and the Byte Masons team all innovating around how token locking, bonding etc, will be done.
We’re going to see more protocol-owned-liquidity (POL), and I expect this will lead to shortened bear cycles for these tokens. In other words, the cycle that consists of a sharp price drop after initial token emissions, a price bottom, and then a rise in price corresponding to the token’s utility will be shortened and volatility will be reduced as mercenary liquidity providers are squeezed out more quickly
I don’t see this being one big project that all of these different teams come together to resolve together, either.
The information sharing we’re seeing is asynchronous, where devs working on one project might learn of similar things other teams are building, and will react accordingly.
What are some small steps that anyone in the Fantom community can take to further democratize finance for all?
Twitter is a great medium for this sort of thing.
Right now it’s very fertile ground for people to gain a following. And that’s not to say that we need more Twitter personas trying to game algorithms.
What we need is community members to put their ear to the ground, report on what’s going on in the Fantom ecosystem, and make it easy for others to join.
Once you provide value that way, people will naturally want to start sharing information with you, and through teaching others you’ll realize that so far, you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Working together, we’ll see the whole thing.
Anything else you’d like to say to the Fantom community?
Absolutely! From the beginning I never really knew what the next day of doing this was going to entail.
I can honestly tell you that I wake up every single day excited and grateful that I get to do this sort of work. The best part of all of it is the community and the amazing people that I’ve gotten to meet along the way. There are a lot of very special people who are the unsung heroes pulling the weight behind the scenes.
I absolutely love the Fantom community. Watching us all grow together and help the new people is just amazing. Where we are heading is anyone’s guess but I can tell you that we are just getting started.
2022 and beyond is going to be something very special!