Interview with stake.fish founder, Wang Chun

Nick Sawinyh on 18 Sep 2019

Wang Chun, founder of stake.fish talks about PoS staking, security-first mindset, and where is an intersection of DeFi and staking-as-a-service providers.

Hello! What’s your background, and what are you working on?

My name is Wang Chun. I am the founder of stake.fish. I’ve been around this space ever since coming across someone discussing “Bitcoin” on Slashdot in 2011. I started to mine with machines purchased at the local market. I then co-founded one of the biggest mining pools, f2pool, in 2013. With the rise of Proof of Stake blockchains, I founded stake.fish in 2018 to support a broader range of projects in the blockchain ecosystem.

Stake.fish is a validator and node operator for blockchain projects that are using Proof of Stake or some form of staking in their mechanism. These projects will incentivize token holders to lock up (or stake) their tokens to contribute to the overall security of their network.

Let me explain this from our prospective users’ point of view. If you are holding any tokens of Proof of Stake protocols for the long term, you rationally want to contribute to the network security, and also protect the network share that your tokens represent. You can participate in staking through two options:

  1. run your own validator, or
  2. delegate to another validator.

Running own validator is not an easy task for an individual, since the validator server needs to be online 24 hours a day and every day of the year, and have sufficient security setups around it. This is where a professional validator like stake.fish steps in.

What’s stake.fish backstory?

I first thought of creating stake.fish after discussing the prospects of Proof of Stake with Vitalik Buterin in 2017. Vitalik and some of the Ethereum people recommended to me to look into building out staking pools. Coming from the mining world, I saw similarities between mining pools and validators/staking pools. Both were closely involved with the generation of new blocks. I wanted to contribute to the security of Proof of Stake networks leveraging my experience of creating and operating f2pool.

In addition to running staking pools and validators, we also do a lot of community-building activities for various projects.

stake.fish is now a node operator or validator on EOS, Cosmos, Tezos, Chainlink, Algorand, Loom Network, and IRIS Network with many more in the works.

What went into building the stake.fish?

I operated f2pool for the past six years. A mining pool deals with machines that never sleeps. So unlike traditional websites or exchanges, a mining pool cannot close for maintenance. It needs to be always online and operational. Similar standards apply to a validator. A validator could be slashed for being down for an extended time. I have seen the importance of people in creating a service that requires high availability. The people in charge of building and operating the validator are the core competency of stake.fish. We look for top talent regardless of whether they are inside or outside the crypto scene.

The second core part of stake.fish is the infrastructure setup with a “security-first” mindset. We use our own bare-metal servers combined with cloud services. This infrastructure serves as our core layer, which we then customize and adapt for different protocols.

We consider support for each project as a separate product. Typically going from doing our due diligence to launching support for projects will take anywhere from a few days to 1 month. One of the challenges of our due diligence process is understanding how different each Proof of Stake mechanisms are. We believe many of the design and terminology will eventually converge, but since we are still in the early days of Proof of Stake, many project teams opt to experiment based on their tests and research.

What’s your business model?

Our main revenue source comes from the fees we charge our delegators for providing validating services. We spend a lot of time researching each project and even more time spinning up and maintaining a validator with proper security features and supporting infrastructure. We do this so that token holders do not have to go through the same process to earn staking rewards. However, we take care to set a fee that is reasonable and fair for our delegators regardless of the size of their holdings. We are focused on scaling and seeking other business models and reduce our reliance on these fees as our primary revenue source.

We also have revenue coming from running validators for other people. Some holders will determine that the fees we charge on our validators are higher than the costs of retaining our white-labeled validator service. However, this applies to a tiny portion of token holders.

So far, with our approach to fair fees and our performance during Game of Stakes (Cosmos’ incentivized testnet), we have been getting a good amount of delegations from the community across different protocols. We consider every holder of Proof of Stake network as our prospective users. We will always keep them in mind first and listen to their feedback on our services. We hope our approach resonates with the community and solidifies our position as a top validator across different protocols.

What’s your position on the regulatory landscape today?

It is good to see regulators providing more guidelines and commentary on the blockchain space. It will still take time for proper legislation to be created around blockchain, but having some regulatory oversight will dissuade some of the illegal actors in this space. However, given how novel Proof of Stake is (compared to Proof of Work), understandably it will take a bit more time to create the proper regulatory guidance around staking. Thankfully, some of the stakeholders in the staking industry has gotten together to form the Proof of Stake Alliance (POSA) to engage with policymakers.

What are your goals for the future?

We will continuously expand our brand and presence in the staking space. We will be the go-to validator for all projects that use staking. We are focused on offering our services at competitive prices. We aim to support at least 15 different projects by the end of this year. We are targeting to be a top validator for every one of them.

On top of expanding our portfolio of staking projects we support, we have begun to launch tools that help delegators better understand each protocol and the staking ecosystem around it. We are targeting to launch at least five different tools and features for the top staking projects by the end of this year.

We are currently hiring talented developers, infrastructure engineers, researchers, business developers, and marketers to help us reach our goals. If you are interested in staking as we are, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your CV. Let us work together on building out the staking ecosystem!

What are your future thoughts for the DeFi market?

We have seen interest around Decentralized Finance (DeFi) exploding as the total number of ETH that is locked up on lending platforms keeps increasing. The number of DeFi products is only growing as well. It is hard to keep track of all the developments in DeFi at this point. Information aggregators like Defiprime.com play a crucial role in helping industry insiders stay on top of progress and new entrants to learn more about DeFi. I really appreciate these platforms and the efforts that teams put into building them.

Staking will also play a part in the DeFi space. Once you consider the total amount of cryptocurrencies that will be locked in staking in the upcoming years, then you can see how DeFi products will evolve around staking. I expect to see the first DeFi products on staking to be focused on providing liquidity to staked cryptocurrencies. Please keep your eyes out on how staking and DeFi will evolve together.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about us on the following links:

DeFi is coming. Don't get left behind

About the author
Nick Sawinyh
Nick Sawinyh is an LA-based crypto entrepreneur. After having spent over three years in the blockchain industry, Nick founded DeFiprime in 2019, with the idea to provide information about emerging DeFi ecosystem. He owns modest amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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