After returning from a successful trip to South America, the U.S., and the Middle East, MANTRA CEO & Co-Founder John Patrick Mullin sat down to engage with the community in a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) on March 2nd, 2023.
Through this conversation, he answered the community’s questions about how MANTRA weathered the storm from 2022, and gave a general ecosystem update on what the team has been working on and building, and what’s coming in the future.
Prefer watching videos over reading? Check out the full AMA video here.
On the other hand, if you would rather read the key points, scroll down to find the AMA highlights compiled just for you.
John Patrick Mullin had interesting stories to share with both Terra and FTX.
John mentioned being a supporter of Terra during the early days, as both him and the company had a large stake of $LUNA on MANTRA’s Terra node. In fact, MANTRA continues to run a validator and has $LUNA staked on the new Terra blockchain.
He shared that the sudden collapse of Terra was a tough and bitter pill to swallow. However, he and the team learned a lot of lessons. In fact, a lot of the things that the team is doing now are inspired by the events of Terra, such as ecosystem approvals, token economies, and tokenized reward assets.
“It was definitely something that made us stronger in the end. We built in more risk parameters and models, and prepared for how we deal with these types of situations in the future.”
John revealed that MANTRA had no direct exposure to FTX, partly due to the initial relationship with Alameda Research and FTX. In the early days, the companies were supposed to invest in MANTRA, and have $OM listed on FTX. However, due to FUD coming out at the time, Alameda and FTX went back on their word, leading to the MANTRA team discontinuing their professional relationship – which turned out to be a silver lining.
He also mentioned that MANTRA doesn’t keep assets, or treasury assets, on exchanges. Instead, they have multi-signature wallets and work with different custodians, such as Hex Trust and Fireblocks.
“It is a lot safer than a centralized exchange. It also plays into our whole narrative of creating decentralized products – DeFi products that are trusted, safe, compliant, and in certain cases, regulated.”
John Mullin stated that there are currently no plans for such listings. While the team could potentially be looking at Coinbase in the future for U.S. access, it’s not of high priority at the moment.
This is because $OM is being planned to be listed on the SOMA.finance DEX anyway. Additionally, MANTRA will also be launching its own DEX native to MANTRA Chain. Meanwhile, he said that Binance, being one of the biggest exchanges in the world, already gives them enough liquidity.
“MANTRA DAO and $OM will be the core of this whole ecosystem.”
The MANTRA CEO stated that all tokens spun out of the ecosystem – such as $SOMA, $HELI, and $AUM – will have value accrual back to $OM. Hence, $OM stakers and holders will be entitled to a portion of the token supply in the future. However, the users will have to bring value to the projects as well. This could be, for example, by performing KYC on the SOMA.finance platform or participating in the Hedera ecosystem.
“These allocations going to $OM stakers and participants are pretty significant. As the value of these other ecosystem projects improves, there will be even more reason to buy, stake, and hold $OM to be able to have a claim on future airdrops or claimdrops.”
He also revealed that the concept is borrowed from the Terra ecosystem model. Back in the day, $LUNA stakers were getting airdrops of ecosystem projects like Mirror Protocol, Mars Protocol, and Astroport, which ended becoming significantly valuable. Hence, that was a model the team wanted to replicate.
John said that, when MANTRA initially launched, the intention was to build within the Polkadot ecosystem. But as things developed slower than expected, and the team wanted to launch products and hit the roadmap, they ended up building on Ethereum, Polygon, and BSC (Now BNB Chain).
However, as they continued to develop their strategy and roadmap, they realized that it made more sense to build their own chain. Then, they found it pretty clear that the options that would make the sense to create a high performance, scalable, low cost, and modular blockchain would be either Polkadot or Cosmos SDK. With MANTRA’s vast experience of running Cosmos ecosystem nodes, such as $ATOM, $LUNA, $KAVA, and $BAND, they decided to build a Cosmos SDK chain.
He also commented on Coinbase’ recently announced Base Chain, saying that while Base Chain is calling itself a permissioned chain for permissionless applications, he thinks it should be the other way around. Therefore, the positioning MANTRA Chain is taking is as a permissionless chain for permissioned applications.
John Patrick Mullin stated that while ZENDITs made sense during peak bull market, as users wanted it and it gave $OM utility, they weren’t sustainable. The team thought that IDOs were going to be highly commoditized and easily replicable, and hence wanted to get away from the model.
That’s when they started considering combining the interesting tech they had built with the licensing Tritaurian Capital has in the U.S. to create a bridge between DeFi and regulated & licensed activity. That, he revealed, was the precursor to beginning to build SOMA.finance.
He also said that while he wouldn’t call them IDOs, they will do capital formations, token issuances, and future raises for projects through SOMA.finance, particularly in the U.S. market. This is because, in the U.S., they can offer these primary listings and issuances effectively to a U.S. retail audience – which, to his knowledge, no one else can do.
“In my mind, the product itself is a bit market cyclical and dependent, so we want to make sure that, particularly in the U.S. market, it’s just different. The model on the IDO launchpad was just “as many launches as you can”. On the U.S. side, it’s only about quality. It’s all about making sure that the quality of the project is high, and we know who’s involved.”
The MANTRA Co-Founder reminisced back to the times of launching MANTRA with Will Corkin and Rodrigo Quan Miranda more than two years ago. He admitted that in the beginning, they knew what they were doing, but didn’t at the same time – and that a lot of the journey was being figured out as they went. This also resulted in them learning a lot.
“We built technology and products. Some of them worked, some of them didn't. We failed and had success. But we grinded and learned the whole time. We'll be integrating all of that success and trial by fire into what we're doing going forward.”
John also mentioned that, throughout the years, the team has gained exposure to different networks. They have increased the caliber of people they work with – including the team and investors, as well as their access to capital, talent, and resources.
While he didn’t mention any names, John stated that the team has been talking to legitimate and larger financial institutions, banks, asset managers, and funds that are on a tier one, crème de la crème of the world.
In terms of listings, he added that MANTRA has a good network with Binance and other exchanges, so it’s already connected and plugged into a lot of ecosystems. He stated that some other ones in the future might be more on the traditional side.
John revealed that the team is planning to launch MANTRA Chain towards the end of 2023, and is currently working on finalizing the legal entity and setup of MANTRA Chain. He added that MANTRA Chain will be based out of Switzerland, and that $AUM will likely be offered via SOMAstarter – the U.S. launchpad on SOMA.finance.
He also said that MANTRA Finance and SOMA.finance will not be competitive. Instead, they will be collaborative and supportive of each other. Additionally, both of these platforms will be integrated on MANTRA Chain in the future.
SOMA.finance will be focused on the U.S. – a market where the SEC has a clear set of rules, guidance, and oversight. Therefore, it is one of the places where companies have to ask for permission, not forgiveness.
MANTRA Finance, on the other hand, will be focused internationally and will not have any U.S. people on it. Hence, it will be geared more towards scaling and building innovative and interesting products.
“They will have different product suites and assets on them. There'll be some that are the same, some that'll cross over, and there'll be a lot of cross-pollination between the two platforms that'll be really successful.”
When asked about what makes him happy, the MANTRA CEO & Co-Founder had the following to say:
“The happiness of the team is a core thing and something I think about a lot. In my position and helping to build and lead the team, it's really important to continue to see and show what our clear vision and path forward is. Fortunately, we've been blessed with a strong team and amazing people to work with, so I really just love going to the office every day and spending time with them. It makes it really exciting to build what we're building.”
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