Inside The Chef’s Jacket with Joseph Delong-san—Sushi NFT-Connoisseur & CTO

This post was originally published on SushiSwap


May 7 · 9 min read

How did you first hear about Sushi and get involved?

I heard about Sushi pretty early on, I guess right after it had launched. It was definitely center stage of the whole DeFi summer and I quickly got into farming it. So, before I started working at Sushi I had been a $SUSHI farmer and had held the tokens for quite some time. I was a fan of the project and was pretty vocal about it, which got me into contact pretty early with Maki. Early as in pre-Chef Nomi incident early. At that time, where I was working, I didn’t have the same amount of control over the product that I wanted. Coming over to Sushi enabled that autonomy, which really motivated me to accept the position and get me really excited about all the potential things we could build on the platform.

Since you’re one of the few team members who are not anonymous, tell us more about your background?

A while ago I was working at a bank, with a couple of people who are actually in crypto now, believe it or not. Specifically, I was at USAA, working in their blockchain lab, building stuff for them, particularly Coinbase integrations with our banking application. I also built an insurance subrogation system on smart contracts for them. For those who don’t know, subrogation is a very boring name for the cost recovery process after a claim incident. We built that on Quorum and built the set of smart contracts to negotiate between the two firms: USAA and Statefarm. That’s all public now and I think it’s going live soon.

Right around that time I met Joe Lubin and me and some friends were working on a Web3-ish platform and he asked us to do their Ethereum 2 client implementation. I went to Consensys and we built Teku, which is the Ethereum 2 client for Consensys written in Java. I left Consensys to go to Dapper Labs for a few months then I got the offer to come over to Sushi, so I took the opportunity.

What are the benefits of not being anonymous?

I don’t really mind not being anonymous, my whole career has been pretty out in the open, so didn’t feel the need to create a moniker when I joined. I think too that there’s a bit of a positive impact to Sushi and the community of having a known-commodity from the Ethereum ecosystem working here. I do think it benefits Sushi in a way.

Funny fact, our dear illustrator, Poison Hikari, had a hard time getting Joseph’s true likeness across in the illustration. The left is the original drawing, the right is the final. Which one do you prefer?

Within the Sushi internal meetings, you famously have a painting of a burning bank on the wall behind your setup. Do you actually believe that there is no saving the banks?

It’s funny that I worked at one because I think that the idea of a bank is ridiculous. What does a bank do for you? Protect your money? That’s what people say, right? Having seen it first hand, even good banks do a bad job of protecting people’s money, particularly poor people. It almost seems as if banks are designed to manipulate poor people into losing their money. I developed a mechanism to eliminate overdrafts for people and offered it to the bank I was working at, but banks aren’t interested in that, at all. Overdraft and the like are a huge part of their revenue stream.

The United States is a little different than other countries, presumedly, because our bribery is more out in the open since our corporations are so intertwined with politics. You’ll see that these laws are more geared to help them do the bad things that they want to do. Even regulations like free checking accounts have a stipulation that you need to hold a minimum of $1,500 in them for the account to remain free. If you don’t hold that minimum, what happens? You get charged a fee. Not only that, you’re charged a fee until all your money is gone.


So, what they’re basically saying is, you haven’t given us enough money to lend out and profit off of, so you have to pay us a fee because you’re not making us enough revenues. It’s absurd. That’s evidence to prove that thinking banks protect your money is absurd, actually. Many poor people would be better off putting their money under their mattress because you would have to get physically robbed for your money to get stolen. In that case, the thievery is obvious.

With banks, it’s a very subtle robbery.

As Sushi’s biggest NFT supporter, what are you most excited about in the space these days and which past release or launch really made an impact on you this year so far?

For NFTs the thing that I am most interested in solving is this idea of liquidity. A lot of people try to solve this through fractionalization. The underlying problem that a lot of people do not understand, however, is that even if you do fractionalize, say in a pool of 100 pumps and there are fractionalized shares of these 100 pumps. Say they are traded against an asset like ETH, the capability to trade them results in a high price impact when using the constant product formula because the trade size will be 1. So the fractionalization didn’t really change anything. The only thing it changed is that it introduced a level of fungibility into the asset, but it didn’t really improve the ability to enter and exit the asset. Whoever is able to solve that is going to win the NFT race.

Which NFT artist are you really into?

I like Sgt Slaughtermelon. I like his work cause he’s in the Based community, which is where I’m from, and his work is very interesting.

In the time you’ve been with Sushi, what technological advances have you seen from the team that have really impressed you?

I mean Kashi is amazing. It is an amazing project that is still in progress in many ways. There are a few more features that are on their way before I would say that it is feature-complete. One of these being, TWAP oracles. When those are ready, what they are going to do is they are going to create a money market for any new token. So right now, I can’t take bets against new tokens. I have to wait for them to mature enough to meet the criteria to get on Compound, etc. Those protocols, because they are worried about insolvency for the entire protocol, have to be very conservative about which tokens they add. So, they’re never going to add these long-tail tokens, because there is an insolvency risk for the entire protocol. With Kashi, and its risk-isolated lending infrastructure, the risk is carried in an individual pool. This is really impressive in the lending space.

Is there something really creative about the code that makes this risk-isolation unique or was it something just from the ideation stage that started everything with Kashi?

It’s definitely not just a conceptual marvel, there are so many things that I like about that code. The architecture, for example, I like that BentoBox is the base layer that Kashi sits on top of. It’s one huge benefit in terms of capital efficiency because the underlying tokens are then taken and exercised in strategies rather than being locked into whatever they’re doing because any actions you give your tokens are being done virtually. It’s actually just like a bank in a sense. You deposit money into a bank and your account says you have $300, for example, but there are underlying mechanisms that use that money to lend out for mortgages, personal loans, etc.

You mentioned that there are still some features yet to come for Kashi. Can you drop some hints?

TWAP. That’s the time-weighted average price oracle and what it is, is that we’re looking at these pools, like ETH — BTC and that’s what we’re getting our price from. Instead of getting extra oracles to come in and trusting them, we’re looking directly at chain data and pulling that information as the price for liquidations. This helps us create those long-tail token money markets I was talking about and people will be able to short, long and lever on these new tokens.

By the way guys, if you didn’t know ^ This went live just yesterday.

This might make the previous question feel like a setup, but if TWAP is the most exciting feature, why wasn’t it implemented at the beginning? More of a personal follow-up question, but I think it might be interesting to the audience.

Kashi ended up being a much bigger project than we expected. We thought that a lot of these pieces like oracles and TWAP would just, sort of fall into place when we got to them in the development process. With the UI/UX as well, we thought that it would be a quick implementation but ended up being a big project in itself, which we’re still working to perfect. Kashi was and is a learning experience with all of the underlying features as well, like strategies, etc.

Kashi is just so ******* big. It’s basically like we launched an AAVE or a Uniswap with our original implementation in itself, that’s how big it is.

The TWAP oracle part is just another feature in a list of many. We’re even going to do one that’s in between what we have and TWAP, where it takes the oracle feed into consideration as well to create a hybrid price in order to do price comparisons and include more tokens for lending, before we fully implement TWAP.

TWAP is a little harder to implement than you’d expect because we have to verify the individual tokens so that there’s proper depth for a trade. Imagine you’re basing an oracle on an AMM and the total liquidity for that pair is $1,000. You wouldn’t want to base a money market pair that is $1,000,000 off of data from only a $1,000 depth of liquidity. So all these little hurdles came up in our development process that we didn’t really anticipate. It’s a learning experience, but myself and the team are really proud of what we’ve launched and we hope the community sees the benefits too.

At this point, I think it’s just a matter of time before Kashi really catches on, but it’s just so new that it’s also a bit scary and new things take some time to digest, so, we’re in no rush.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on Twitter so far this year?

I really like my interactions with Dan Robinson over Twitter. They’re really funny to me. Keeping up this facade of being fake competitors… It’s like pro wrestling. I know he’s not enthused about us or anything, but it’s not like a negative relationship, just banter.

There’s actually a proposal in the forum to hire Dan Robinson, did you know?

Haha no way. I didn’t know that actually. He’s brilliant. I have a lot of respect for the work he’s put in. He’s enabled us to grow in many ways.

What are your hobbies outside of Sushi?

Outside of sushi, I go to watch the Spurs games here in San Antonio. I actually went to the game last night actually. In case you don’t know, that’s the NBA (basketball) team here where I’m from.

What is your favorite sushi?

Salmon sashimi.

A fitting choice, as Joseph’s profile illustration is based on this gem of a photo.

Keep on the look out for more weekly Sushi core team interviews!

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