Into The Chef’s Jacket with Ross-San: The Legal Engineer at the Core of Trident

This post was originally published on SushiSwap

ayoki

Aug 4 · 12 min read

What is your position at Sushi and what does your day to day usually look like?

Sure! I work as a Solidity developer at Sushi, so I research improvements to our current contracts as well as discover creative ways to build new contracts to support our product launches. That’s pretty much my day-to-day, focusing on optimization and also trying to build new things for SushiSwap. I’ve worked on researching and implementing the upgraded AMM contracts that we’re calling the Trident protocol. I’ve also been working on something called Inari, which allows for pretty easy zap in and zap out among different lending protocols, such as Compound, AAVE into Kashi, which is one of our BentoBox products. Otherwise, I’m generally helping with internal audit reviews of our contracts as we launch upgrades, such as MasterChef V2. Originally, when I joined, I worked on the launch of BentoBox and since then, we’ve been collectively trying to consolidate and integrate all of these different products seamlessly. As a final point, I’ve been thinking a lot about migration routers as of late.

How did you first to hear about Sushi and how did that transition into becoming a core team member?

I first heard about Sushi on crypto Twitter, like many people. I saw the blog posts and tweets from Chef Nomi. At the time, I just understood it as a fork from Uniswap, but then I learned more about Yam and what we’re calling yield farming, which led me to discover how SushiSwap was leveraging that in a really interesting way, as well as, giving network ownership to its LPs. So that seemed disruptive.

I liked the approach of the Sushi token economics as well. To this day I strongly believe that the “Vampire attack” will be something that is studied and analyzed for quite some time to come.

In terms of joining Sushi, I was just drawn to it because it felt like I could be a part of a really cool story. Building alongside this sort of “ragtag” group of developers that wanted to create something that the market needed, for partially selfish reasons as well, but, regardless, also maintaining the ethos behind open-source code all the way through, pleasantly surprised me. So, I started by joining some of the earlier Sushi community/team meeting calls and, from there, learnt more about the developers and the actual core team behind the protocol. Since I showed my interest, I was able to be introduced to the Sushi CTO, Joseph Delong, and he helped onboard me to join as a developer myself.

It seems like you were quite an early Sushi adopter. Could you tell us a bit more about your crypto background?

So, at the time I was working on DAOs with the company Open Law and we were launching a bunch of products related to these organizations. SushiSwap is a DAO — between the SUSHI token holders and the snapshot proposals and multisigs. So, it seemed like an interesting sort of crossover between DAOs and DeFi, which is now becoming more and more obvious. It’s quite a simple leap, when you think about it, to go from working on DAO smart contracts with Open Law and on its governance framework, to working on SushiSwap exchange. So, I would say that I have been working in and around crypto for about 2–3 years before I joined Sushi.

biswap

Since you have experience with DAOs, what is your take on the sudden spike in interest in the infrastructure?

What we’re seeing here, is what VCs call the “Ownership Economy,” which is an ecosystem where a lot of people add a lot of value online, in a setting that isn’t necessarily functioning traditionally, such as an employee or a contractor would for a traditional company. Our user, opposite of a traditional company’s customer, might be very enthusiastic and helpful, seemingly unknowingly, with marketing by tweeting and tagging our brand, etc. So, I think with DAOs, we’re able to more easily reward people for these discrete activities that are hard to account for in legacy finance, because it’s very structured, especially for these sort of fractional efforts by people all around the world. So, with blockchains, with tokens, and with DAO governance, we can give people ownership over the products they’re using in a more direct way.

With Sushi, I think you can see that quite obviously with how we reward people for staking LP tokens with the SUSHI token, that gives them a sort of status in this ownership economy. There’s no single DAO template solution. Right now, it’s just a way to think about how people are voting and owning things together online. It’s part of the story of the Internet and our part is figuring out: How do we get people ownership on the Internet? DAOs seem like the best solution right now.

As a person with an extensive background in law, how do you feel about the regulatory horizon for crypto as a whole?

Yeah, I mean, I think whenever there is a lot of market activity like we’re seeing right now, particularly in this market that could be described as both bear and bull simultaneously, I think regulators pay attention because they’re worried about the retail investor. It’s a lot easier for scammers to disguise themselves during these volatile periods. I do think that regulators will try and find companies that aren’t actually building decentralized products, but that are selling traditional securities rebranded as a token or some sort of a governance instrument.

I think this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as it promotes actual true decentralization. Actual DAOs should not be threatened by this. If you have true flat ownership over these protocols, it doesn’t have the same sort of counterparty problems that we try to solve through regulation. So, I’m very optimistic about crypto doing self-regulation, you know, where you try to rank protocols based on the activity or the actual distribution of power.

Asking questions, such as: How reliant is this protocol on a couple of people versus a true DAO?, are important. We should be able to find good projects amongst ourselves and raise the signal.

Hopefully that provides this sense of crypto that, if used properly and if the systems are actually distributed, is a great thing. Regulators should embrace it. But people that are trying to hide centralized or sketchy products under crypto should be rooted out.

I think, too, there is this idea of code-based compliance that is pretty compelling right now. You can provide whitelisting based on identity and other KYC, and you can then present to regulators that you can launch a product with smart contracts that have hyper-efficiency of capital and transactions, but it also can be sort of malleable to what they want to see. So I think that’s kind of how can the regulators can meet halfway with developers. Using smart contracts, I think we can easily provide the controls that are necessary to meet compliance by creating this massive map that can open any doors to accredited people that are qualified to buy certain tokens.

I speak for the audience here, and for myself, when I say that we would love to know how a lawyer gets to be a developer. It is not your typical career change. So we would love to know more about how that came about.

I think that the path makes a lot more sense when you think of the development of contracts and what’s happening with these so-called smart contracts. When I would draft legal agreements, I often had to think about very similar variables: The parties to the agreement, the value exchange, the timeline of what kind of permissions and powers these parties have agreed to, and so on. So that kind of mindset and also the high stakes of doing this for corporate finance and legal work, I think is good conditioning for what it takes to build smart contracts. I don’t think lawyers necessarily are primed to build front-ends or websites or that sort of work.

Significant correlation? According to Ross, you bet!

So my journey, I think, was a practical one, that I needed to learn more contracts to do what I wanted to do, since my earlier work in the space was more as an attorney. Being exposed to the code and trying to think about it and use it myself, I think really helped me understand that it isn’t that different from what I was doing before as a lawyer.

So are you saying that you recommend other lawyers to make the same jump as you?

I would say that it definitely adds a new kind of stress to the work, in that there is real-time discovery of the mistakes you made. If you draft a bad legal agreement, it might not be exposed until several years down the line and you might have left your firm by then, plus it gets paid out by insurance. But as a smart contract developer, you’re in this direct relationship with the world that you can post a smart contract and anyone with an internet connection can start playing with what you built and put money into it even.

So, I think lawyers, even though they might be intrigued by smart contracts, should understand the native risks of immutability. The mistakes will be obvious and public and they’ll be irreversible, for most of the time. Be that as it may, I think lawyers should try to learn this kind of thing, because, at the very least, they can provide better advice about crypto if they tried to code or work with smart contracts.

I think there’s an extra edge to lawyers that can design a smart contract as well as design a sort of legal framework or set of agreements that are catered to that smart contract. This is more of what I call a Legal Engineer. I think that’s a value add to a lot of organizations and the economy is ready for lawyers to do a bit more to take more control of deals.

People are curious to get to know Sushi’s Trident team. Is it correct to say that you are the “Main Developer” of this Next Generation AMM?

I mean, I think there’s people like Mudit and Gasper and others who are part of the Trident team. I don’t think we necessarily had a lead, other than Joe, who was kind of architecting how we’re bringing all these contracts together. I am part of the Trident team, but shouldn’t take too much credit, it was definitely a team effort.

What are your thoughts on the overall announcement of Trident? Were you happy with the reaction?

I think that people are ready to see a one-stop exchange, because we can save people a lot of time by bringing all these different products together, like limit orders, different pool types, zappers, etc. Not to mention, all the incentives and these other products that we’re trying to build to sort of “Conquer DeFi.”

So, I think the reception was positive and I’m glad that people can understand how we’re starting to really bring everything home.

I think that’s kind of exciting as a developer, to not only say to people, we’re getting you better rates on the transaction fees with these new contracts, but for the overall product that we’re offering, we’re also saving you time by providing you with all the tools under one dashboard. It’s exciting to be a part of that! Now’s the time to deliver and deploy and to also get more people involved. It’s going to be completely open-source, so we welcome people to support and use the code and sort of progress the overall crypto horizon.

What aspects of Trident would you say are original?

Our new Tines router system also really help users uncover the best prices for their trades. Overall I think we’ve really shaved the code down to make things extremely gas efficient. So I think people find, like I said, capital efficiency, but also just generally the benefits of low cost and also gasless transactions.

Overall, we really tried to incorporate the latest and greatest ideas to create this capital-efficient AMM and I think the originality is there, particularly with the use of a yield-bearing vault as its infrastructure and the very innovative router system. For the more general innovation, I think it’s very important to standardize and that’s the approach we’re trying to present to the space.

What is your response to the naysayers who claim that Trident is just copying existing features?

I think it’s it’s fair to criticize open source developers. The most immediate step to improving the experience of users on SushiSwap is to incorporate the best AMM patterns battletested on the market as we research our own pool types and other product ideas. It’s the assimilation strategy, which isn’t the most glorious, but it’s very effective, and as an exchange, it seems most logical. We built this in a couple of months versus each of these AMM teams that have spent years researching, developing their signature products. In the open, they should expect to integrate, exchange ideas, as we should as well, not to just focus on any single perk.

What do you find interesting about working at Sushi in general?

I think working for a DAO should be every developer’s dream right now. It’s just fun to get to work with people from all over the world on these problems and it kind of reinforces that there is a need for a global workforce and solution. And I think that’s pretty cool to be a part of. But in terms of more low-key stuff, I think the attitude of the fellow developers is really great because people are pretty honest about what they’re able to do, in the time they’re able to do it in. So I think it’s just a good development environment, not to mention, the developers are very inspiring.

People at Sushi care about doing the work and doing it well. Core team or not there is a focus on being there and participating in the community, which is of the most importance.

The Sushi team has been using Gather Town as our virtual office.

If you could choose the place in the world where you could get all the Sushi team together for a vacation, where would it be?

I love Ireland. I just think the energy of the grass, the rocky shores, the drizzle, that’s kind of more my vibe, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily a Sushi vibe. They have really good live music, I mean, you go into any bar and someone will be playing. People there are generally kind of zany and quick, so it’s a very interesting place to wander.

Anywhere specific in Ireland?

The Dingle Peninsula is kind of fun, there is like a huge hiking trail around the peninsula that would be really refreshing.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

It’s hard to think of hobbies outside of crypto sometimes, but I would say, I do play loud music. It really helps to refresh my mind. I like playing the piano, guitar, the banjo. I used to be more into recording music, but I don’t have time for that anymore. I’m also on Twitter too much. Is that a hobby?

(Follow Ross on Twitter, here: https://twitter.com/r_ross_campbell)

CT will love that answer. Then I think the last thing is, what’s your favorite sushi?

Unagi, which is the eel roll! I used to love eating that when I lived in Japan.

Oh, tell us a bit more about your time in Sushi’s home country!

I lived in Japan for a year and taught English and guitar at a hair salon close to Osaka in a town called Hirakata.

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