Mario Laul

At the end of 2017, I started providing research support to Placeholder. It was a part-time role and I never took the opportunity to officially introduce myself via the blog. Better late than never!

I am happy to announce that I’ve now joined the team full time. In addition to supporting investment due diligence, my research efforts will focus primarily on the topic of cryptonetwork governance.

My background can broadly be described as social sciences. A few years ago, I completed my graduate degree in technology governance which translates to a mix of development economics, innovation studies, and public administration. Prior to my current role at Placeholder, I worked as a research assistant to Carlota Perez, focusing on the modern history of financial innovation and public policy in the UK, Germany, and the US. More recently, I had the opportunity to hone my analytical skills at the European Commission where I mainly worked with investment and financial data on one of the EU’s largest grant portfolios.

I’ve always had a keen interest in sociological theory, and each fall, I teach an introductory course on the sociology of culture to undergraduate art students in my home country of Estonia. I'm excited to leverage this background in my approach to decentralized networks, as I’ve previously done here.

Maker Network Overview

Since launching Single-Collateral Dai (SCD) in December 2017, Maker has become one of the most widely used protocols on Ethereum. A diverse ecosystem of borrowers, currency users, keepers, and speculators continues to drive rapid growth of the system. This report presents Maker as a network of heterogenous actors, examining the activity of each of its key stakeholders in an attempt to isolate the key economic drivers of the system. The focus will be on analyzing SCD’s first fourteen months of operation, while providing a few projections on the network’s future. The analysis is broken down by stakeholder group: CDP Creators, Keepers, MKR holders, and dai users.

This is not intended as an introduction to the inner workings of the Maker system. Readers unfamiliar with the Maker system should consult the MakerDAO Whitepaper and Placeholder’s Maker Investment Thesis prior to reading this report.

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FOAM Investment Thesis

Location services are critical to the global economy, but GPS infrastructure is surprisingly fragile, the data layer is effectively a Google monopoly, and personal location data logged and sold without user consent. To help solve these problems, FOAM is building a decentralized location services network which (1) reduces our reliance on GPS satellites, (2) provides open access to key metadata such as geocoding and points-of-interest, and (3) guarantees permissionless access and user agency through the use of open standards.

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Cryptonetwork Governance as Capital

Capital is, in essence, the power to organize the economic resources of a social system, and its worth a function of how much of those resources can be directed to the holder’s benefit. This understanding reveals the inherent value of cryptonetwork governance as capital, and helps us understand tokens with governance rights as new kinds of capital assets.

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The Defensibility of Middleware Protocols

Interoperability of state and value is likely to place downward price pressure on layer-1 blockchains that have no monetary premium, while enabling strong middleware protocols to achieve cross-chain, winner-takes-most dominance in their respective services. While not a perfect mapping to traditional use of the term middleware, these protocols can be thought of as anything sitting just below the interface layer (i.e., the applications the end user interacts with), but leveraging the lower-level functionality provided by layer-1 blockchains and interoperability protocols.

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