You’re a bit more behind the scenes these days, so before we get to the usual first question, what were you doing before Sushi?
I was creating a crypto lending service on L2 actually. For people who don’t understand what that means, something similar to Compound or Kashi, where people borrow crypto to trade it and make more profit than they could from the amount they could afford to buy to trade with. It was not on Ethereum, because my goal was to build a platform that could gain traction and be quickly adopted by the masses, so I chose an L2 option, whose block confirmation is 1 to 3 seconds. That’s fast. The reason why I’m here now, is the major obstacle that L2 poses, which is that users have to wait roughly 10 minutes for their funds to transfer from Ethereum to L2. That’s not fast. Particularly not fast enough for mass adoption, so here we are.
What do you do for Sushi?
I’m a full stack dev, which means that I do solidity code work. I’m really good at building products, fast! Also, listening to feedback from the community to improve the products and meet public demand.
And how did you get the moniker LevX? What’s the meaning?
The project that I was making before joining was technically a leveraged exchange, so the name of the project was LevX. I thought that was a cool name and that it was a pity to throw away even though the product didn’t really work out as planned.
How did you first get involved with Sushi?
After wrapping up that lending project, once I knew it wasn’t feasible, I built a smart contract-based wallet, which is safer and more convenient than Metamask’s wallet. The reason why that is, is because even if your private key is stolen, your funds remain in your contract-based wallet, so you can replace your private key with a new one via your social media account, eg. Google, Facebook, etc. It is a perfect balance of usability and security. So, to push that project forward, I needed the money to pay for the smart contract audits. I first heard about Sushi on Twitter from Chef Nomi’s tweet that said that: “Whoever builds the front end for SushiSwap will receive 10,000 SUSHI,” which was, at that time, $80,000.
The timing was so perfect. So I built the Lite UI, which, at first, sadly, no one cared about.
After building the Lite UI and getting to really know Chef Nomi’s vision and the Sushi community, I put my wallet project on hold, indefinitely and turned my focus to Sushi. However, when I released Lite, people on the Discord kept accusing me of being a potential scammer. Even one of the early Sushi core team members, Ctrl (Control), kept saying, “How can we trust this guy’s code?” So I determined myself to build and solidify my reputation in the community, prove that I was really on Sushi’s side and that I genuinely wanted to help build this amazing platform.
At the beginning, I made myself a permanent figure in the #engineering and #support channels on the Discord, with the goal of trying to get people to understand the benefits and the workings of SushiSwap. Then after about 3 weeks of meetings with the core team, they were able to see my true intentions for Lite and the Sushi community as a whole. It took some time, but slowly the users started trickling in to the Lite UI and people really started thinking it was a cool product, even so far as to impress some of the OGs who had been uncertain about it. So that’s how it all started!
What do you think made Lite stand out?
It wasn’t a fork of any other source code. I built it from scratch and with a couple projects under my belt, some successful, others not, I finally learned what people really wanted… Dark mode. Just kidding, but that is something people still talk about in the Discord until fairly recently, isn’t it? But in all seriousness, in my experience creating platforms, users tend to want multiple language support, very simplistic UX/UI and mobile versions to everything, so I built it for them!
The cool thing about the Lite UI, that many people probably don’t know, is that it’s completely reliant on decentralized technology, so even if the main UI breaks, it will still be functional.
Did Lite hit any milestones for you?
It reached over 30,000 monthly active users (MAU) at one point, with more than half of them from China. As a builder you have no idea what it means to see the usership numbers grow and grow and people in the Discord giving feedback, positive feedback, and enjoying using the platform you created. It’s the most fulfilling feeling for developers.
There was a time when you were 1 of 4 full time Sushi employees. Can you describe that time and the difference in the Sushi of today?
At that time, Sushi was more, not hippie, but kind of? Everyone gave off a very laidback, power to the people attitude. The Sushi of today is the same community powerhouse, but with more organizational focus to bring the platform to the next level. The core team has a lot more implemented structures than it did in the past, to say the least. Everyone else there, at Sushi’s beginning stage, would agree that even without the structures, everything somehow all fell into place, but we couldn’t rely on that system forever.
That time feels like episode 1 . The Sushi price was around $1 for around one month, which so many people joked about. Like: “Is Sushi a stablecoin?” I think the biggest proponent of that meme might have been our Discord sloth, Extr0pia. Regardless of price, I felt like Sushi was and is the one and only project that values developers’ talents fairly. Unlike other AMMs, 10% of the newly minted tokens are provided to the developers, which is innovative and fresh, even ground breaking, and that was the reason why Sushi was able to attract many talented developers.
With LITE as a well-oiled machine, what’s next for you in the Sushiverse?
Lite was meant to be deprecated but until very recently it solved a subgraph issue that was making other UIs unusable for our Chinese community members. There is still no alternative mobile version for Sushi either, so I think Lite serves some purpose in the Sushi ecosystem for now. It’s first target was mobile devices, after all, so we wouldn’t want to lose any users who enjoy mobile-based trading.
For what’s next, I proposed MIRIN, AMM V3, in late December of last year and it’s about attracting the many “sleeping” funds sitting on centralized exchanges to our liquidity providing program, through “Franchised Pools.” I think this kind of innovation will give Sushi the edge over other DeFi protocols.
Most people would think that whether or not an exchange is centralized or decentralized, they are, at their core, both exchanges and, therefore, are in competition. I believe that there is more opportunity for growth for Sushi by collaborating with centralized exchanges, rather than pitting ourselves against them.
Mirin, AMM V3, will be the answer to not limiting Sushi to only DeFi and will be the core differentiating factor from competitors such as PancakeSwap. I want to see Sushi become the most popular financial tool in the cryptocurrency space and I’m sure our community feels the same. With these innovations, our team of talents and our community support system, I am confident that we can achieve this.
Can you reveal a bit more about Shoyu? Just a little teaser of your progress after your initial proposal?
Shoyu is a really collaborative effort with artists from around the world and from various artistic mediums. I think a lot of people will be surprised when more information comes out. What I can say is that 2.5% of every transaction will go to our xSUSHI holders, so really the value of xSUSHI is only getting started when we see all these innovative products being rolled out. It also supports migrate functionality of the Uniswap V3 LP. This is exciting because Uniswap doesn’t give UNI governance tokens to LPs anymore, but we do… In SUSHI, that is.
To be a part of the Sushi team or just be involved in DeFi in general, what kind of traits do you think someone needs?
Flexibility and adaptability, which may come as no surprise, based on the speed of information becoming outdated and obsolete. The stress in DeFi can be enormous, with everything changing so fast and so much information to retain and analyze. So if he or she cannot imagine the future return to be enough to get excited about, pressing on might not be worth it. And if you can’t imagine that return, it might mean that you don’t believe in DeFi’s future and what do they say about people who aren’t passionate about the business they are in?
What is something no one would expect about working at Sushi?
I guess for complete cryptocurrency industry outsiders they tend to be so shocked that there is no physical headquarters. It’s fun to explain, but it still hasn’t gotten easier, I still have to figure out how to package that into something more bite sized. What I mean is, I’m not sure how to explain how it works as well as it does, because it is such an enigma. We are not bound to any country, so it is a truly decentralized organization. For me it’s utopic, but for others it’s a little too far from the norm for comfort.
For our Sushi community members they might think it’s funny to know that all the team bought Oculus VR headsets because we were supposed to have weekly team building VR parties to get to know each other better outside of only professional settings. Unfortunately, no one has had the time to actually set a meet time up since we’re all busy building pretty much 7 days a week. I guess there are at least a couple headsets, like mine, still sitting in their boxes. I’m sure we’ll get to it someday, but yeah, if you have an Oculus, maybe you can join a Sushi VR party one day.
Even with your busy work weeks, you must still have some hobbies, so tell us: What do you like to do outside of Sushi?
I really like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I’m pretty big into gaming, so that’s one. I like trying new alcohol, too. Pretty fun to taste new whiskey, although, ironically, I have yet to try many Japanese varieties.
Makes sense why your proposal was called Mirin then 🙂 Last, but not least, what’s your favourite sushi?