Twitter Spaces AMA with the Panther team, Recap: 14 April 2022.

A surprise visit by our co-Founder and CTO Anish Mohammed, partnership strategy, macroeconomics, and much more on this bi-weekly AMA!

Twitter Spaces AMA with the Panther team, Recap: 14 April 2022.

Table of Contents:

Just like every two weeks, we hosted our latest AMA this April 14th. On this occasion, Content Manager Carlos Cano hosted Oliver Gale (CEO), Saif Akhtar (Head of Product), and co-Founder/CTO Anish Mohammed for a great conversation on the present and future of Panther.

Below, you can find our transcript of this event, which several members of the community joined. You can also find the Youtube video (our first audiovisual production of this kind!) if you prefer to listen and watch.

Our first video production for an AMA went smoothly. We had a great response from our community!

Transcript starts here

Carlos: How are you, Oliver? How has your conference tour been?

Oliver: I’m very good. Thank you, Carlos. The conferences were excellent, really. BTC Miami is always a very hectic event, a very large conference itself, with many, many events. It was another opportunity to spend time with some of the industry heavyweights and forge ahead with partnership discussions which are too early at this stage to discuss, but have been promising.

Carlos: That’s exciting to hear. Let’s move on to the public’s questions!

Question #1: ZK-proofs can confer not only privacy, but also a way of achieving consensus. Can Panther someday become a privacy-focused Layer-1?

Oliver: I would say it’s not out of the question… I mean, up to a couple of days ago, we had some conversation with an expert, I would argue, from one of the most competent teams in the industry building next generation L-1 and data assets, basically about the same question: “Is it technically feasible? Can we do so?” Yes, we can do so. And maybe at some point, strategically, that makes sense. With that said, our philosophy at Panther has always been that the network effects of existing L-1 and L-2 protocols are strong and will grow even stronger as they scale and build defensible moats, and that the better way to achieve liquidity and value for Panther protocol and within the market is through composability.

So, rather than betting on our own private, ZK-driven VM in an already crowded space, we’re betting on augmented existing VMs with privacy. I think there are analogies in other markets that you can compare to that make sense, so it’s not necessary to build all of that infrastructure. You know, if we have the resources, and we find that we have a unique competitive advantage to be able to maybe expand Panther into that, that’s something that’s certainly not off the table.

Carlos: Yeah, I think that’s very comprehensive. I see that Anish has joined as well on video. How are you Anish, would you like to add some color here?

Anish: I’m good! I mean, Oliver has mostly said what I normally say, but I would add this: In general, the way I think about it is that two sets of use cases are going to drive Panther the most. Number one is Layer-1s that don’t have native DeFi. That’s in the sense that, if you have some assets in a native Layer-1 which doesn’t have DeFi in it — there are quite a lot of them — and there on Ethereum you have a native DeFi, and you want to go across and do something private, right? Especially for non-EVM ones, Panther would definitely be a very, very useful tool.

The other thing is, when we build our DeFi adapters, again, providing access in private to DeFi protocols, both of those would actually allow accumulation of value for Panther. If you were to imagine, say, five or six protocols that we’ve been talking to, and sum them all up for the total TVL, they are close to about 60 to 100 billion TVL, depending on the day you’re talking. If we just assume one percent of that value going across from that side to Ethereum, or other protocols that actually have DeFi, that should actually be one billion TVL, or more. And that’s definitely something I’m looking forward to once we have all the other bridges for the other chains in place. This is what we’re aiming for, that’s what we are trying to build, this is what we hope to achieve.

Question #2: What does the Panther team know about the DeFi 2.0 trend of Protocol Owned Liquidity projects out there? What are the main pros and cons of Panther using them?

Oliver: Protocol owned liquidity is an interesting concept, and any protocol that has a Treasury does have protocol owned liquidity. It can be used in various ways, as incentives, or as insurance funds, for example in stablecoins against black swan events. We’ve had some discussions with Olympus DAO late last year about using their Olympus Pro bond program. The idea of selling $ZKP bonds to acquire other assets like Ethereum or stablecoins and putting them to work in Panther Shielded Pools or as liquidity is appealing in principle, but there are costs to consider.

The first are the transaction costs that are incurred by us utilizing something like Olympus Pro’s service, as an example, I think their fees are around 3%. That’s quite a heavy cost for protocol-owned liquidity. On the other side, one could say that it’s possible for the Panther DAO to build that functionality by ourselves and bypass that fee. However, our roadmap is extremely aggressive already, so then there’s the question of what we are trading off in order to acquire protocol-owned liquidity?

There are other ways to achieve liquidity. I think, particularly for Panther, we’re looking at shielded pools, which are about enabling mass adoption, and the greater the usage and number of participants in transactions,the greater the privacy offered. So, it’s a bit counterintuitive for Panther to seek to accumulate and be the biggest user of its own protocol. You know, in that sense, sort of a permanently owned liquidity. But I do think protocol-owned liquidity has a place in the market, the same way that a business holding retained earnings has a place in the market. There’s a time and place when you want to have a treasury.

Carlos: Anish, is there anything you’d like to add to that?

Anish: I don’t have much to add. The reason is that the mechanics that we are thinking about are slightly different from traditional protocols. It is possible depending upon how the market evolves. To me, there are two separate but intersecting markets that exist. One market is retail, that goes all the way to family offices, to hedge funds, and institutions, as in traditional institutions that are very well regulated. As the transition happens, this liquidity that’s available in protocols might change. I don’t know when that would happen, and how it would happen, but my expectation is that if we are very successful, we get a lot of support from institutions.

There is also some noise created by some protocols in the sense of, some folks have actually said that there is a possibility for providing liquidity. We only know when we get it, right? That is possible. That external parties would come in and provide liquidity to our protocol. My preference would be that versus the protocol by itself providing liquidity. That’s kind of an awkward incentive mechanism, in one sense of speaking. A protocol shouldn’t incentivize itself, because a protocol has to be incentivized from the outside. Principles of token engineering, tokenomics, protocol engineering, however you call it, doesn’t really allow you to make such a decision.

It’s easy to fool yourself. If you close the loop, you can say to yourself you’re the smartest person on earth, but you could be the biggest idiot on Earth at the same time, because you’re just saying it to yourself. You’re looking into the mirror and saying that. That’s how I see ourselves providing liquidity for doing everything. Yes, it’s absolutely necessary to bootstrap, but the feedback for the protocol should come from the wider world. Effectively, what that means is liquidity should be provided by all the players in the ecosystem, including possibly institutions in the future.

Question #3: What’s the status of providing liquidity to a DEX? What are the obstacles that Panther is facing currently regarding this?

Oliver: The obstacles are not insignificant. And I can understand from the perspective of a community member, why there would be this question of “what’s difficult about transferring ERC-20 tokens to the Uniswap pool?” — that’s called providing liquidity. From a mechanical perspective, that may be the case. However, from our perspective, we are a Gibraltar-based company and a team. There are three sets of governance around the Panther ecosystem, there’s the Panther Ventures Board of Directors, there’s the Panther Foundation Council, and there’s the Panther DAO. Each of these have a different set of membership and a different way of managing their own treasuries. So, when the question is posed to Panther Ventures, as a Gibraltar-based company, we have to consider the position of the regulators, and the position of the regulators is that Panther Ventures or Panter Foundation providing liquidity to a DEX is Market Making, and that is an activity that requires a Virtual Asset Service Provider license.

Now, we are working on solutions to that. We are close to having one where we expect that some liquidity will very shortly be provided to the ZKP-Matic pool. The quantum is not yet decided. It’s also an endeavor that we don’t, nor did we design Panther with the expectation that liquidity management was our responsibility.

To Anish’s point around protocol-owned liquidity, the protocol that we’re building is designed to offer infrastructure to Web3, and to corporate or individual users. As part of that, and as part of the design of DEXs, and so forth, anyone can provide liquidity. We do see a role in bootstrapping, and so we’re working on both the means through which the Panther team can provide some liquidity to the DEX. We’re also working through the mechanics of a DAO proposal, which we expect to release to the community for $ZKP holders to vote on to create some incentives around DEX liquidity. And so there have been some hiccups and there are a number of hurdles that we have to pass through, but we’re almost on the other side of that.

What I would say is that the expectation should be that the Web3 users are ultimately the ones that drive liquidity and utility to Panther, and that our job is to build the infrastructure and ensure that the right environment exists for it to grow. That environment includes ensuring that the protocol is sufficiently decentralized, that it’s resistant to attacks of all kinds.

I know that there was a request yesterday about being very transparent around this matter. I think that this is us being transparent here. We were about to pull the trigger on an arrangement to provide liquidity to the Uniswap pool, we asked the question of our newly joined General Counsel, which ran up the ladder to our Gibraltar-based law firm, and we checked the Act, and the feedback was that the Act is all-encompassing, in terms of its restriction around providing Market Making services.

Just to give a little bit more detail, as it was asked for, for example, the SEC is trying to push an amendment to legislation right now that increases the definition of what Market Making is, from being limited to order book creation, to something that encompasses what AMMs do. In Gibraltar, the legislation is so broad that it covers arrangements or steps to facilitate in arrangements to provide liquidity directly or through communications protocols. That’s such a broad definition that it more or less says “if you take any steps to facilitate or provide liquidity directly, you fall under the Act. You need a license.”

And again, in the spirit of transparency, the Gibraltar regulator has given us the thumbs up to continue doing what we were doing and what we have done in Gibraltar, but they have thus far been unwilling to give us a license as a Virtual Asset Service Provider. And so we are exploring a different corporate structure, i.e. re-domiciling our development studio. It might look like “Why can’t you send a transaction on MetaMask to the address on Uniswap?” But there’s a lot of complexities behind that. And if you want to do things right, sometimes you have to do them slowly.

Carlos: And I think a great addition to that is to think of the main reason Panther is facing obstacles in this regard is because we’re aiming to do things in the most decentralized way possible. It just shows you how early we are in the history of these setups, that it’s just really hard to figure out the decentralized way to do this. Anish, I see you wish to add something to this?

Anish: Yeah, one of the things that I’ve been observing is, the regulators around the world haven’t really woken up to the dissimilarity between CeFi and DeFi, in a broader sense. And until the day that they clearly understand this, they will give us a hard time. For them, it’s easier to say no than to say yes. So we are caught in a place where a lot of the things we are doing are for the first time. We are probably the first protocol that actually says a lot of things: KYC, selective disclosures, a privacy tool for, you know, all these kinds of things in one go, right? For them to actually say, “This is integration, it’s going to enable us to have DEXes with regulation,” that would be the positive way of looking at things.

If you’re a regulator, you look at the glass and go, it’s half-full, or half-empty, they choose half empty, right? The way I think about it is this: for regulators, it’s easy for them to look at the empty glass and say it’s empty, whereas for the people who put in the effort, because we are putting in water drop by drop, we are staring at this glass for a very long period of time, for us, that half-full is a very big thing. For a regulator, “Oh, that’s half empty”. That’s so easy, you’re just looking at it now. This is how I think about it.

Oliver: I resonate with the point that we’ve been in this industry for decades, collectively, and if you look back on where it was, when we started, and where we are now, it’s tremendous progress. But still, there are the critics, and there are also the converted, who say, “Oh, well, this is now happening”. And our response typically is, “Yeah, we’ve been building it for the last 10+ years, and in the field of mathematics even longer, so… it takes time.”

Question #4: I think NEAR and AVAX are great products, but why did you choose them over Terra and Solana?

Anish: I’m going to be a bit personal on this and share my views. These are the somewhat “unqualified” views of mine. I would describe myself as somebody who has been in the business of building Layer-1s before all those people that are mentioned as those protocols’ founders founded them. I started in 2013, building Layer-1s. And I was one of the people who was involved in Ethereum. And I’ve built a couple of other ones. In total, I’ve designed or worked on design for half a dozen Layer-1s. So for me, in my head there are certain criteria I have.

Again, NEAR, I did have some input in their bridge design, I did talk to Illia and had a couple of conversations and a bunch of diagrams on NEAR’s Rainbow Bridge. I liked their strategy and what they’re trying to do. This is the question: is the team proposing something that’s incredibly difficult to achieve?

Going back to before I was working on crypto, I used to work on cloud. If you put my name into Google plus “cloud”, you will see a bunch of documents that I wrote. One of the things you will notice in the cloud space is that you have distributed databases. In distributed databases, you need to have consensus. Even there, there is a limit to how fast you can get consensus, right? If you are looking at Twitter, you will have a back-end, you actually have a minimum that you will be required to actually have consensus, for instance. You can only send a packet from one point to another point on earth only at the speed of light. If anybody were to say to me that something is faster than light, I, as a normal human being who believes in laws of physics, who doesn’t know anybody who could actually bend space and time, I would say, very interesting, right?

Our choices were very rational choices. It’s very simple. Look, me and Oliver are very rational people, as all of our tech team. I’m just going to give you a bunch of things just to give a notion of how much experience we have. In our team, most recently, somebody joined who has actually been working on this for six years, since 2016. I’ve known the person because I was supposed to join that particular team. That’s how long we have been doing ZKPs. And for building Layer-1s just know my experience, since 2013 I’ve been doing this business. Oliver has been doing more or less the same, and everybody in our team has been doing more or less the same.

So when we come to a consensus, we discuss, we are very open. My team has, as the CTO, no need to just respect me, they could just challenge me. We did a whole bunch of analysis. And at the end of the analysis, we came to a conclusion. Okay, we have a criteria. And I’m pretty sure if Saif is on the call, he can explain the criteria to anybody. We looked at the criteria, we looked at who are in our network that we could reach out to. And literally, we talked to all of them, and then we ended up with this selection set. It was mostly driven by, you know, “is it real?”

That’s one of the very important things, we are not interested in taking money and trying to create vaporware. For everything we said, we’ve delivered more than what we said. Just to let everybody know, look at the whitepaper, we didn’t say anything about LaunchDAO. We have a private voting mechanism that’s already here. And we didn’t say much about Layer-2s, we’re working to deliver that. Concrete to most people, we are delivering more than what we said. And we are actually spending a lot of effort in understanding how we deliver and where we deliver.

The end situation was, okay, we had a bunch of choices, how do we narrow the choices? Narrowing the choices has to be pragmatic, so we can actually take some money, deliver it, and it’ll work. That was a very important thing. Two, is the security margin. We can’t connect to something whose security margin actually lowers the overall security margin of the ecosystem. I wouldn’t say anything beyond that, but it’s up to people to figure out what it means.

And thirdly, EVM, versus non-EVM. We, you know, like kids growing up, we want to sit up, we want to crawl, then stand, walk, and then run. We’re not going to go from all four to running straight away. Okay, so we’re going to do EVM first, and then we will do non-EVM. We’ll probably start up the team to do some looking at non-EVM. That’s what we plan to do. But the first bridge to hit will be an easier one.

So, these were the criteria that we actually had to decide what we’re going to go for and how we’re going to go for, and how we ended up where we ended up. And we’ve had conversations with a lot of the teams that we mentioned. We can’t go into details, because I don’t think it’s appropriate, but in general, we’ve talked to all of them. You know, some of the later ones that we talked to absolutely don’t have the features we offer, they could absolutely benefit. Going back to my previous answer, a lot of them literally are going to benefit from having Panther. Panther is not a rent-seeking protocol, Panther is actually adding value to the ecosystem. If you think about it, Panther will at best take up a tiny portion of the total chain’s value, the Layer-1 will still retain 99% of it.

So, Layer-1s have to actually appreciate what we are trying to do. And we need to get the right shape of Layer-1s that meet our requirements. Right now, EVMs, having an appropriate security margin, having support for the right kind of zero-knowledge libraries. The consensus mechanism should be the right kind of thing. These are the kinds of criteria we have. If these things are there, we can do it if they don’t have the zero-knowledge libraries, if they don’t have the right kind of security margin for those, it’s a risk that we probably don’t want to take. I, as a CTO and the chief scientist, honestly wouldn’t take it. I’m pretty sure the broader architecture team and Oliver wouldn’t want to take it either. That’s how I think about it.

Oliver: Thanks a lot for that, Anish. Just to add on, as Anish alluded to it, there’s also a commercial conversation there. Panther protocol is the type of infrastructure that adds a lot of value to DeFi ecosystems. So there’s a question of who’s financing the cost of the bridge, who’s financing the cost of the deployment of the shielded pool, which entity provides the liquidity to bootstrap?

We look for collaboration. In L-1 and L-2s, that’s our primary concern after the technical merits and security merits. Are these players acting like partners? And it’s not to say that, who we haven’t partnered with yet is not collaborative or nor supportive. It’s that every business case has a different set of counterparties, different conditions, and a different path to forming a relationship, whether it’s personal or commercial, and so forth.

So we’re working through these things, and the Panther vision is that we will have a private bridge to every dominant L-1 and L-2 protocol in the space. Dominant is the keyword. We’re prepared to take bets on protocols which have great technology and great teams, and have a lot of promise before they reach that position, Flare would be such an example as is Songbird. So it’s not to say that we need the protocol to already be large. NEAR is another example, in that we partnered with them and they’ve probably grown four or five times larger in that time.

And so we’re prepared to underwrite the risk of a strong partnership. But we are not prepared to pay to deliver a valuable product to L-1 and L-2 ecosystems where those teams should be seeing our value. And, as is natural in any product that hits the market, sometimes it’s better to crawl, i.e. deploy it, prove it, and then return to the conversation later and say, “Look, now the proof sits in front of you, you can see it, let’s pick this conversation and establish this private interchain bridge and composable DeFi solution. That’s where we are in terms of partnerships, and rest assured there are a number of very promising and active negotiations and discussions happening.

Question #5: Oliver mentioned a significant grant from Flare Networks to integrate into Songbird and Flare. How is the project progressing, and do you have an ETA for deployment?

Anish: Just to let you know, I’ll give you some context and I will let Oliver and Saif fill in. I met Hugo yesterday. We’ve had a wonderful conversation, so we are way closer, so that we could actually be seeing something starting out on Songbird very soon. I will let Saif and Oliver do it for the rest because we are still in conversations about when to start, how to start, there are certain key points that the Flare team would like us to consider.

They’re building infrastructure, a framework to manage consensus. It’s called State Connectors. One of the things they want us to consider is using State Connectors for the protocol as such, and we are exploring how best to do that. But the bridge is still on, we will definitely be starting on it very soon, Oliver and Saif, will be able to tell us exactly where they are with both.

Oliver: I almost interrupted you, sorry, to say that Hugo is the CEO and one of the founders of Flare, for those that don’t know.

So, from the strategic perspective, the Flare grant is significant, and the idea is to build a dedicated team to build out the bridge and the infrastructure, and make sure that we deliver a robust solution for the Flare and Songbird network. We will roll on Songbird first as the canary network and then deploy the Flare bridge. Thereafter, there are a lot of opportunities around that bridge on the institutional DeFi side as Flare also has a model for FUSD, which is a synthetic stablecoin that, Flare being closely associated to Ripple and Ripple being a bank-to-bank institutional payment network, there’s this natural synergy around dollar transfers, and things like Private Institutional Dark Pools, and ZK Reveals and so forth. This type of project is a long-term project. Technologically, I think Saif would comment on the timeline, but what I would say is, from our technical roadmap, the objective is to deploy a bridge.

Saif: I mean, Flare is definitely a very strategic and very important integration for us. We are, right now, trying to prove ourselves, deploy the technology and the initial Panther Core on Polygon. From a timeline perspective, Q2 is when we start with Flare. We are going to start in Q2 doing due diligence, project planning, all of the initial discovery and all of that, and we are on time hiring resources to start working on implementation, beginning at the end of Q2 or beginning of Q3.

Question #6: What importance could Flare have in the Panther Ecosystem, once it’s at its final form or this integration has reached a final stage?

Anish: I don’t mind saying a couple of words. In my view, every Layer-1 has its own rules. Imagine, if you were to ask me ten years ago, ten years from when I started, a lot of the Layer-1s that we see now weren’t there. Right? If you had asked me at that point in time, what would be the lay of the land in five years' time, or ten years' time? My answer would have been that I don’t have a crystal ball. So I would say the same now.

I don’t know what will be the rule of Flare in five years' time. That is something that we wouldn’t know. But we make some optimistic assumptions based on what we know of Flare. So Flare would definitely be a very strong L-1 bridge for us. Will that replace Ethereum? I don’t think so. Not in the immediate future.

But definitely, that is a thesis. The theses are, one of them says we will have Ethereum and a bunch of so-called “Ethereum Pillars.” On the other end of it, we have a bunch of Layer-1s that have a lot of value locked there. And we allow people to build multi-pronged strategies, right? So multi-pronged strategies are something Flare really wants to support. So we might end up actually working deeply with them. But again, one could never say where any Layer-1 would be in two years from now, three years from now. They definitely seem to have a strong team, they have a strong vision, they want to do the right thing. We absolutely think about working with them, but the market is the market.

Question #7: Each month, millions of private investor tokens get released and there’s a lack of volume. Are there plans to change the tokenomics?

Anish: Since I joined this conversation, until now, I’ve been talking on a macro level, right? Between me and Oliver, I’m responsible for designing the protocol itself, and me and Oliver simultaneously for designing the token model.

We’ve built a lot of models, and we threw so many models under the bus. And this wasn’t an easy task. We took a bounded risk, this was something we knew to be a lot of challenge, we were hoping by now we would have native use of the token, and that would actually drive all these things. So, we still are hopeful that as soon as our MVP, which has a Shielded Pool, goes into the Ethereum mainnet, people will be able to use it, and organic use of $ZKP is coming. If we manage to gain traction at the same time, game over. Literally, whatever they have to put in would just drive it straight up. That’s the macroeconomics of the situation.

But you know, I said, I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know which Layer-1 will have that demand for us that goes through Panther and just sucks out all the $ZKP that’s being released completely. Oliver, would you please complement that for me?

Oliver: Yeah, sure. When you think about it from a macroeconomics perspective, tokens being released has an inflationary effect. In and of itself, there’s no value creation in the release of a token, the same amount of value that the protocol contains will be split amongst more units.

There is a huge misconception that happens all across almost every DeFi protocol, there’s this idea that if you create a lockup mechanism, or change the tokenomics, or reduce the supply, that this actually has some sort of impact upon the value creation, or value retention mechanism within a protocol, and it doesn’t. The only thing that drives value to a protocol is its utility. And utility is measured in Panther in the services that the protocol makes available, Shielded Pools, ZK Reveals, private interchain bridges, and so forth. Of course, value is built upon utility. There’s intrinsic value, as well as there’s speculative value, which can be augmented by marketing. Generally, there’s a premium or a discount attached to a project based upon speculation on what it will be worth.

We do question our assumptions, we do collect data and look at what has been happening and ask whether or not some mechanic should be changed, or augmented. Panther is significantly different today from what was proposed in 2020, when the project began. And it has to be we. We don’t take an approach of planning out one year at a time. We plan quarter by quarter, and we have a roadmap which is longer than that.

And so, at this stage to change the tokenomics, before we’ve launched Shielded Pools, would be an entirely premature exercise, and the expectation is that the utility of shielded pools will drive value and the utility of bridges will drive value and drive use cases. And in the meantime, we’re focused on partnerships to bring greater utility to the Panther Ecosystem through DeFi integrations, through bridges, and Shielded Pools on multiple chains.

I think it needs to be remembered that we’re in the earliest innings for the project in Mainnet. We can stimulate demand, or rather liquidity, for $ZKP now, and we do think it’s important that we provide access. To be clear, us working on solutions to provide DEX liquidity is not about us trying to support the price. It’s got nothing to do with price. It has to do with, can we provide greater access so that they’re more $ZKP holders. So Panther has a greater degree of decentralization.

Anish: I want to add something important there just to be sure we cover both pieces. The moment we actually have our bridges and our Shielded Pool, the dynamic need to swap becomes real. In the protocol, you will have to swap things out. That is something we need to support. So then integration to a DEX becomes a key thing.

Right now, for doing anything, as a protocol, we actually don’t need to be on a DEX. The moment you have all these things that Oliver was describing, like Shielded Pools, bridges, you would need $ZKP as ERC-20 being consumed internally. So that is when it really needs to be available on a DEX

Right now, we are delivering it so people have access to it. But the real, real need, and I say real need like, you need it, you can’t do without it, that will happen the moment the protocol is in the Mainnet. Then, the protocol will consume $ZKP. And as a protocol, to consume $ZKP, you have to go on a DEX. Oliver, back to you.

Oliver: In that sense, privacy is going to bootstrap DEX liquidity, and not the other way around. DEX liquidity is a byproduct and will support it.

And on changing the economics. I’ll just expand on that point as well. When we think about changing the economics we’re not thinking about rewiring token utility. If anything, what we think about is different ways in which the protocol treasury, 45% of our supply, can be used to create incentives towards adoption and utility within the protocol. This type of analysis is taking place. But even within that context, there is no question of, you know, should we increase that percentage or reduce that percentage or burn that percentage — that’s not on the table.

We are always happy to answer any questions and entertain debate and so forth. But I would say, Anish and I have spent a lot of time having some healthy, rationally bounded debates around what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense. And we’ve expressed it to what is now a large team, and community of investors. So we feel very confident in what we’ve designed, and there’s no plans to change that.

Question #8: What’s the status of listings in major CEXs?

Oliver: To the point of DEX liquidity and US purchasers, that was, again, a point around access and making sure that there’s access and visibility to the protocol, that’s important. And it is intrinsically useful to the project.

On centralized exchange listings… We have great relationships with a number of what you would call top-tier exchanges that we can list on. The bottom line is that the drivers of liquidity are not in production as of yet. Some of these listing fees are expensive. It’s our belief that $ZKP is dramatically underpriced, and that it’s just not economically optimal to prematurely pull the trigger on expanding liquidity.

There’s this misconception that a market maker or an AMM pair is going to all of a sudden transform liquidity. Now, to the extent that it provides access to new buyers and sellers who didn’t previously have access, we don’t contest that. We completely agree, and that’s why we’re pursuing liquidity. But if you look at the order books today on Huobi, which is where most of our trading happens, what you see is that there’s not a huge degree of unmet supply and demand.

The books are liquid enough to support purchasers and sellers, and we’re seeing organic activity happen, but it’s still at a very small scale. And I think that is to be expected, given that, as Anish said, the protocol will be a consumer of $ZKP. And users will be consumers of the services. We’re not quite there. From our perspective, there are other priorities, like getting there.

And on the centralized exchange side of the arena, we don’t see a huge sense of value creation in listing on small exchanges whose volumes have dried up as well, given that market sentiment is largely changed. There are really only, say, ten exchanges which are relevant in the conversation. And when we’re talking about each of these exchanges having a $ZKP listing fee, which is six figures minimum, sometimes high six figures.

We think that it’s in the best interest of the protocol to focus on delivering technology, improving our community engagement, delivering on partnerships, ensuring our messaging is correct, making sure we’re present on the international stage… These types of things drive real value to Panther, and we’re talking about a delta in time of a couple of months before we’re in a position to say, Panther Core is preparing for mainnet and partnerships are being announced.

Anish: I want to make sure that everybody who is in the audience really understands how you and I, Oliver, are thinking about this. Panther is a ZKP protocol, and Panther has significant expertise in security. There’s a lot of value that we are adding as a protocol. And also there’s value that we bring in as a member of the ZKP ecosystem. There are different ways to accrue this value in Panther, let’s put it that way.

We have been thinking about this, and we have been splitting our hairs about this, we want to do the right thing. And that’s one of the things that actually makes it very hard. It’s not like we don’t agree, it’s just that we agree, and then we come across some very strange legal constraints that don’t allow us to do what we want to do, then we have to find a way to get around it, and then think through the whole thing, reengineer the whole thing. This has been the struggle of Panther all the time.

Panther has been continually evolving, because of the fact that the regulatory landscape has been ever-evolving. At the same time, the ZKP ecosystem has become more and more valuable, an enormous amount of value. If you just think of Panther as just a ZKP ecosystem player, we would have had a very different valuation as a protocol, versus what we’re really trying to do just by real value being added to everybody in the ecosystem. In some sense, the people who are a part of the ecosystem should recognize that there are two layers of value being added by Panther. The value that is actually being accrued on the protocol layer, as value provided to the users of it, which will definitely be coming in, it will be definitely increasing in a couple of months time.

And there is also the value as a ZKP team. As a ZKP team, if you have been watching what has been happening around the world, there is a real value for having a ZKP team. We absolutely have a world-class ZKP team, and we could add more people to it. And there is that value that’s already been accrued that’s enabling what Panther does. Somehow, we need to find a way to actually get both sources of value into Panther so everybody who actually is part of this larger community gets some of it. Oliver, back to you.

Oliver: You know, I don’t have anything further to add on that point. But here’s what the listeners and viewers can think of when they’re contemplating where we’re positioned.

Think of it as such, where it relates to things like centralized exchanges, and L-1s, L-2s. We have a pipeline for all of them. And we intend to ultimately have Panther listed or bridged to all that are commercially viable, both to themselves and to the Panther ecosystem, in the long term.

In the short and medium-term, we’re optimizing our resources and delivering a way that makes sense with a real focus on delivering the technology. So I think that it might be frustrating in the short term, if you’re looking at what’s required to succeed in the long term. You can’t market a rocket and never build one. And so, our priority is in building. And the capital that was raised, was raised to support the build, come hell or high water. Bear market, bull market, it’s irrelevant. We are building the protocol, we’re delivering on the protocol. The protocol is designed to drive long-term value, and it will.

My final words on that subject would be to encourage the community to adjust their time horizons to our time horizons. And you are listening. And we are addressing some pain points, such as DEX liquidity, in ways that we can. So please keep the communication channels open. Great feedback and initiatives are coming through and we intend to continue to foster and develop and expand the Panther community. And it’s very much an us thing. It’s not, it’s not Panther ventures versus the community. We are a part of the community as much as everyone else. That’s what I’d say on that.

Question #9: What is the timeline for advanced staking?

Saif: There’s no change in timeline as we are seeing. We were a bit delayed with the Polygon bug, but we are working hard to get the advanced staking out of the shelf. We have been talking about what if there is a delay of a week or two, should there be another program for sort of a staking reward program for that period, and we are considering that. Having said that, we are still pushing very hard to get advanced staking on time when Classic staking ends so that there is no gap.

Oliver: Saif, I don’t know if you mentioned whether we are extending Classic staking and when we would be announcing that?

Saif: Right now, like I said, we don’t have a very serious indication that we will be delayed. If we are delayed for two days or three days, it probably does not make a case for a new program. But if we are delayed further, then we will announce a short-term program that would release some rewards in that interim period.

Question #10: What else is coming for the protocol?

Oliver: It’s not going to be one update, it’s going to be multiple updates.

In 2022, the TGE took place. That was going into another era of the business, exiting this mindset of, building a community, capitalizing the protocol, and getting it ready to launch, to we’re actually launching the protocol, manage it, listings, integrations, etc.

There have also been a number of hires that community members would have seen, a real hiring drive to improve our existing expertise and expand the team. And this is where Anish is flying to zkSummit, I was at BTC Miami, I’ll be at FTX’s and SALT’s Crypto Bahamas next week. So now is the phase where, whilst the tech team is doubling down on delivering the protocol’s core, what we are doing, Anish, myself, the business development team, is really going around activating, augmenting, and securing partnerships. When we have, so to speak, all of our ducks in a row, that’s when we’re going to really begin beating the Panther drums to say “Mainnet is around the corner.”

I can think of any number of initiatives from foundation announcements to website overhauls, institutional partnerships, L-1 & L-2 partnerships, we have targets this year around building the Panther Ecosystem, fundraising initiatives, and so forth. There are a number of things and they’re all interrelated. We are not sitting on a single partnership or announcement as if that is going to drive change. Change is not driven by singular events. Change is a process. And ecosystems are built step by step.

If you’re looking to understand what the value is around Panther, then what you need to be doing is looking at the tell-tale signs. Look at the level of organization and communication, look at the caliber of our team. You know, look at small things. Look, we’ve got Panther swag, we’ve got Carlos, who’s brilliantly moderating our Telegram AMAs, we’ve got Mike in the community, actively responding and ensuring that we have an underground presence in marketing. We’ve just hired seven new team members, two architects, one ZK cryptographer. The co-founder just said he’s going to zkSummit, and we’re hiring more. I’m going to meet with Solana and FTX. One plus one equals what? Do the math. Yes, we’ll have an announcement certainly, but just do the math. See where we’re going?

I would say if you want to have confidence in anything, have confidence in the team. The team was always a world-class team, but It had some weak points. This team that we have now doesn’t have any weak points. What this team is doing now is building strength upon strength. But we’re at a point where, when the baton is passed from one hand to another, all hands are safe hands.

So look for the string of announcements, not the single announcement, and look at the detail of what we’re doing. And be active. We have heard some great proposals coming from the community. Private debit cards was one such proposal, we have feedback that comes in around things such as, let me give an example.

Yesterday a community member said, hey, what about a zZKP pool when you launch Core, and making zZKP the highest rewards instrument in the ecosystem? That would drive value. I took that forward to the tech and product team. So, rest assured, we’re listening. Many ideas and concepts have come up in the community.

Zork is working with us. Zork started off as an evangelist and expressed interest in working more closely with us, and he’s been a huge asset to the project and the team. We need more like that. This is not Panther Ventures’ protocol. We have no proprietary ownership over it. This is our protocol. So get involved in the community and let’s build this thing.

Carlos: Well said, I’d like to echo that point. If you’re passionate about Panther like Zork was and like a lot of folks are, just hit us up. We’re always hiring, we’re looking to expand the team, and it’s just great to see so many things boiling up in the background. Thank you very much to everyone who joined. Thank you very much to Oliver, to Anish, Saif, and to everyone behind the scenes.

I think it’s a good time to wrap up. I really want to thank everyone behind the scenes making sure that this looks great. To Chris, to Mike, that have also been running like their own little AMA on the Telegram chat, answering some questions and moderating some comments. Thank you very much, guys. We’ll see you next time, guys!

About Panther

Panther is a decentralized protocol that enables interoperable privacy in DeFi using zero-knowledge proofs.

Users can mint fully-collateralized, composable tokens called zAssets, which can be used to execute private, trusted DeFi transactions across multiple blockchains.

Panther helps investors protect their personal financial data and trading strategies, and provides financial institutions with a clear path to compliantly participate in DeFi.

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