Ep. 554 w/ Andrew Smith Founder at VRRB

Kevin Horek: Welcome back to the show.

Today we have Andrew Smith.

He's the founder at Verb.

Andrew, welcome to the

Andrew Smith: show.

Thanks so much for having me, Kevin.

Kevin Horek: Yeah, I'm excited
to have you on the show.

I think what you guys are doing is, is
actually really innovative and cool.

But before we get into all that, let's
get to know you a little bit better

Andrew Smith: and start
off with where you grew up.

Yeah, absolutely.

So I was born and raised
in Miami, Florida, which is

where, also where I live now.

Um, I did a couple of stints,
uh, across the country.

Spent a couple years in Denver,
Colorado, and then a couple, uh,

almost a decade, actually, just
over a decade in Los Angeles.

Uh, all over sort of the LA
metro area, everywhere from South

Orange County to North Valley,
uh, and couple stops in between.

Kevin Horek: Okay.

Very cool.

So walk us through.

Your education, what did you take and, and

Andrew Smith: why?

So, I'm largely self-educated, at
least as a programmer and engineer.

Um, when I was in seventh grade, my
technology teacher at the time at Cutler

Ridge Middle School, uh, which I believe
is now called Cutler Bay Middle School.


Um, handed me a book, the c
Programming language, and basically

told me, you should learn this.

Uh, I was, um, you
know, a very fast typer.

I was into technology.

I loved computers.

I loved mmo, rrp G games.

I loved first person shooter games.

Counterstrike was pretty big at the
time, um, you know, as was like Diablo

and, and, and some other very popular
games, uh, from when I was growing up.

So, you know, He kind of saw that
in me, saw that I was bored a lot in

school with kind of just your typical
curriculum and handed me this book

and basically told me to learn it
and said it was gonna be important.

So I did, um, yeah, I was I guess 14 years
old at the time, started programming.

Never really did much like interesting
stuff in c um, but did a lot of

like, you know, silly projects in it.


Kevin Horek: that's very cool.

Yeah, I, I got lucky too
cuz when I was in, I.

Uh, when I was 12, our teacher was
showing us like H T M L, and this was

like mid nineties, like very early, and
it was just like, wow, this is cool.


So I totally have like a similar story.

I think that's, that's cool.

So walk us through your career
up into Verb and then coming up

with the idea for it, and then

Andrew Smith: let's dive into that.


So I, uh, really kind of got my start
in the FinTech overlap, which really

isn't like, it's actually not accurate.

It's more of like the systematic
trading strategy side of things.

Oh, right.

Um, so when I was 19 years old, I, I
didn't wanna go to college anymore.

I dropped out.

Uh, I had a nice little portfolio.

I was mostly trading like foreign
exchange and, and commodity futures.


Um, You know, joined a couple of prop
groups, found them to be like, sort of,

kind of scammy and was like, okay, this is
not really like the path I wanna go down.

Uh, but had like done okay in trading,
or at least what I thought was, but just

wanted like more capital to work with.

So literally just started like
dialing and sending out resumes

to a bunch of hedge funds.

But I, I, a buddy of mine worked
for like a big hedge fund registry.


And he was like, look,
I'm gonna help you out.

And like, I'll, I'll give you
this list and then you can do

whatever you want with that.

So literally just started like dialing.

I finally got a job.

This is what took me to Denver with, uh,
smaller funds, like a hundred million

in assets under management, focused
on foreign exchange and commodities

called trade and asset management.

Uh, the founder was based out of
Connecticut, but I guess also at,

like had a house in Aspen, but I
wasn't gonna move to Aspen, so I was.

19 years old.

Um, wanted to be at
least somewhat in a city.

So ended up working it out,
moved to Denver, worked remotely.

So this is like way before
work from home was a thing.


I've been doing this
basically my whole career.

Um, did okay.

Made some money.

Lost some money.

Uh, eventually found it was
kind of time to move on.

Didn't want to be in such
like a volatile space.

Um, wanted to either do my own thing or
have at least some degree of stability.

So I ended up moving to Newport
Beach to work for a, what was

effectively a PIMCO offshoot.

It was a group of guys who who'd
worked at pimco, uh, called

Anfield Capital Management.

Uh, worked with them for a while.

I was sort of just a contractor, but
helping them with like the technological

side of, um, of managing their funds.

And then, uh, did that for like
a year and a half before I met my

co-founder at my first startup.

Kevin Horek: Okay.

So how did you come up with the
idea for VERB and what exactly is

Andrew Smith: it?

So the original idea for Verb started
in 2017 during the I C o boom.

Um, okay.

I know it sounds like, oh,
I just wanted to make money.

It was actually, uh, because like
Ethereum didn't scale and it was

obvious like fees would spike.

Uh, during the ico o boom, whenever
there was a big ICO that people

wanted in on, it just became unusable.

I owned a lot of eth at the time.

I became a big fan of Ethereum
and, and like, when I first heard

about it, it really spoke to me.

I got Bitcoin in a lot of ways.

I, I like sort of considered
myself an amateur economist, very

Austrian school sort of oriented.

Uh, and there's this theory in the
Austrian school called Regression

Theorem, which, uh, Ludwig Vais.

Wrote about, I guess in like the
twenties or thirties, which basically

states that all money comes from
originally a commodity use case.

So if you take gold and silver,
and even the US dollar, which was

backed by gold and silver, um, and
most monies that had any degree of

sustainability over time came from what
was originally a, a commodity use case.

Uh, I didn't see that
in Bitcoin, um, right.

And at the time there was really
no, no programmability layer.

Um, So it didn't quite click
for me, which I hate to admit

would've been great if it did.

Um, but yeah, just never
quite clicked for me.

I was like, it's cool.

It's interesting technology.

It's like at the time everybody
thought it was like a way to

remain anonymous and private.

Turns out it's like
actually quite the opposite.

Uh, everything's very public, so
it's very easy to trace and track.

Um, I thought there were like
some cool aspects to it, but,

but never clicked for me.

Ethereum clicked right away, like the idea
of this like decentralized computer, uh,

where you could program and like execute
programs on it, and you could have,

like, I kind of think of it very much
as sort of like functions as a service.

Like, uh, you know, event Dr.

Event triggered, uh, transfers
of, uh, tokens and, and

whatever kind of value you want.

And the native token had
a commodity use case.

It was a compute credit
effectively, uh, right.

You needed to use it.

It was the, the gas model that Ethereum
implements, uh, really spoke to me.

So, um, started buying
as early as I could.

I think my dollar cost average
ended up being about 12 bucks.

Did really, really well on that.

Did sell a lot of it at like 300, so
I paid paper, handed it a little bit.

Uh, but when you have a 30 x
return on something, you gotta

take some profits, right?

A hundred percent.

Um, Uh, yeah, like 30 x was my return.

I did, I did really, really
well on, on Ethereum.

I love Ethereum still, like, I think
everything in this space that's

building a smart contract platform,
and even to a degree like what

they're doing with Ordinals and,
and inscriptions is building on the

shoulders of, of a Ethereum in a way.

Um, so still a big fan.

It just doesn't scale.

And, and that's a problem if you
want it to be global and everybody

to use it and for it to be like,
people talk about Ethereum becoming

the global settlement layer.

Um, there's, yeah, it just,
basically that was the idea for

Barb is it is it didn't scale.

We needed something that offered this
similar type of platform, but that scaled.

And then it kind of evolved
a little bit over time.

A like Solana came out.

Salon obviously is somewhat scalable.

Uh, it has some potential,
you know, some issues.

They keep claiming they're gonna fix
it with the outages and all of that.

Uh, and they might, you know, and I
trust there's a lot of really, really

smart people that work at Solana.

I, I trust they will get it right.

But what effectively happened was as I
went down this rabbit hole of looking

into like, okay, like how can we build a
really scalable system, uh, in this space

and, and offer up the programmability
component that, that Ethereum does?

I started to realize like how poor
the developer experience was and like

coming from, so the data science,
ai, web two space, uh, It just there

you're chewing glass a lot, right?

So yeah, the developer experience
in web three is not great.

I wanted to solve that and that became
like a real big mission of mine.

And we can talk about,
you know, how we do that.

I'm sure we will.

Uh, but that was kind of
the evolution of verb.

It really started as an idea of like,
okay, we need something that scales

that's similar to Ethereum, but you
know, can handle global traffic.

Um, and, and evolved over time to,
yes, we need that, but we also need a

much better developer experience if we
wanna find killer, killer use cases.

Kevin Horek: Okay, so
let's dive into that.

How are you making that
developer experience easier?

Because as somebody that's done
some of this dev in some of the

chains you mentioned, Yeah, it's not

Andrew Smith: easy.

Yeah, it's chewing glass.

Um, so the first thing is we have a
language agnostic platform, so that knocks

down a huge barrier right off the bat.

You can come build in JavaScript,
build in Python building in go build

in cc plus plus rust if you're a
systems guy, um, you know, TypeScript

and, and eventually we'll add more.

Uh, we will make it
solidity compatible as well.

There's a little work left to do to, to.

Quite figure that out, but we've
got some really good ideas about

how we're gonna go about doing that.

Um, okay.

And the way that we do that is
with something called a unikernel.

And basically what a unikernel is,
is it's like a very, very small, uh,

virtual machine and operating system.

I like to refer to it as like a container
on steroids, um, which is not like

actually the most accurate description
of it, but it gets the picture across.


So you get a lot of the isolation benefits
that you get from containerization.

It's a lot faster though, to boot
up than a container would be.

Um, and you get, uh, you, you just
get a lot more flexibility from a

developer experience perspective because
you can effectively pull down from a

registry somewhere, all of the runtime
libraries to run that one program.

So basically what a unikernel means is
an operating system for one application.

That's really like at the core of
it, what the definition of it is.

It is, uh, all the very bare
minimum necessary runtime

libraries for one program.

Uh, and then you can automate
that process of pulling them

down and packaging them together.

So that's, that's step number one.

Um, there's a lot of other things
that we do to improve the developer

experience around tooling.

Uh, and around our, our S D K and,
and exposing APIs that just make the

process a lot more comfortable for
developers, uh, while without having

to burden them with security concerns.

So, because of both the unikernel and
then also like the way that, that we

compile and expose only certain system,
uh, system calls and, and certain system

interfaces, we're able to create much
greater isolation, much greater security.

In the design of our program,
our programs are also stateless.

So data goes in, data comes out, data does
nothing changes in the program, which also

reduces the the attack surface and lowers
the security burden on the developer.

So those are really like at
high level how we accomplish.

Uh, a much better developer experience.

It's also modular, so this is not
something that's gonna be just unique to

our chain, although the compute nodes in
our network will settle their, the fees

that they earn on our chain, and it'll be
the first place where this is deployed.

But this can in theory go anywhere
and be a part of any chain.

It can be a layer three on
top of layer twos on Ethereum.

It could be, you know, a layer two or
layer layer three on top of other chains.

It could be.

A part of the stack on all of
these various modular chains

coming out like Celestia Dimension.

Um, and we're very open to that.

We, we, we are not Max's here at
Verb, uh, even though we do believe

what we're building is, is better.

Uh, we don't like the sort of cultish
tribal, um, You know, uh, com you know

this weird like political affiliation
almost with a chain where like people get

angry if you're using a different chain.

And like, no, use whatever
chain best suits you.

What we wanna do is make it
easier to onboard developers.

That's our mission.

We don't have enough
developers in web three.


Kevin Horek: Interesting.

Okay, so, well, I guess,
why do you think I.

There's not enough developers in Web
three and, and maybe for people that

don't know, what does Web three mean?

Because it's,

Andrew Smith: there's
fragments of a buzzword.



It's a buzzword.


There's fragmented definitions.


So a lot of people look
at Web three like this.

Web one was read only.


Web two was read write.

Web three is read, write, own.


So that ownership component,
I don't necessarily agree with

that definition in in whole.

I think that's a part of it, the way I
look and, and both of us are old enough

to remember the old days of the internet.


So the way that I look at it is web.

Web one was decentralized with
low availability and slow.


Web two was centralized with
high availability and fast web

three is decentralized with
high availability and fast.

That's the way that I really look at
it, or at least where it should go.

We're not there yet.

No, but that's where it should go.

Kevin Horek: Okay.

So why do you think then there's
such a lack of developers?

Because no code's getting a lot easier.

So like myself as a designer, that's
been game changing for me, right.

And trying to figure out, and there's
some really good tools out there

that I can, I'm a terrible coder,
so like, The, the no-code tools

have been game changing for me.

So why do you think there's
been such a shortage?

Because, and then let's
talk about the AI stuff

Andrew Smith: kind of later.


So there's, uh, 20 million
developers in the world.

Um, you know, they're obviously
fragmented across different language.


Uh, and then, and then
different use cases.


But roughly 20 million
developers in the world.

There's about 30,000 in web three when
you include both part and full-time.

If you include one time developers
who just came and tried it, you could

probably boost that number up to
maybe close to a hundred thousand,

but that'd be really stretching at.


There's like people who like, Took
a U to B course and like built a

smart contract as part of a tutorial.


So, by the way, nothing against you, Tomy.

I've used it myself.

I, I love it and, and it's
a great way to learn things.


But you need to really be
like a Web three developer.

You need to be a little bit
more seasoned than that.

So part of it is just the
language barrier, right?

You step into web three and you
either need to know solidity or rust.

Or if you want to go with like fuel, you
need to learn sway or you wanna go with

sui or aptos, you need to learn, move.

It's like we're building the
freaking tower of Babylon over here.

Like everybody's got their own language.


And, and for some reason none of the
VCs that have funded any, any of these

have ever stopped and thought to ask.

Is there a actual legitimate reason
why you need another language?


They, they just don't ask that.

Like, cool, here's the money.

Go and build it.

So I think part of it is, is just
like this massive language barrier

and like fragmentation across.

All these various languages.

Uh, and where there solidity is not
necessarily a difficult language

to learn like syntactically or to
understand like how you build functions

or, or how you construct a contract.

Like I think you can pick
that up pretty quickly.

But there's a lot of foot guns in solidity
where you can either like under optimize

for gas and it becomes prohibitively
expensive to use your smart contract.

Or where you can do something wrong
and it becomes easily exploited and

we see lots of exploits in Ethereum.

So I think that's a part of it.

Then on the other side, like Rust
is probably the second most popular

language for smart contracting,
uh, across a variety of ecosystems.

Well, rust is a systems
language that I'm a huge fan of.


We're building verb in Rust, like the
back end of Verb is built in rust.

It's a very difficult language to learn.

Uh, there's a really steep learning
curve amongst the steepest learning

curves, if not the steepest.

I would even argue like.

Aside from the foot guns and c
rust is probably harder to learn.

I think C'S probably harder to master.


Rust is maybe more frustrating to learn
because of the borrow checker and the

compiler complaints and all of that stuff.

It does take a little bit
longer to get used to.

So like c will just let you
do stuff and then you'll find

out about it months later.


So, uh, like your program will just
crash and you'll have no clue why.

Then you have to go debug it.

So, uh, Russ won't.

Allow you to do some of those things.

So I think it's better in a lot of ways,
but, but maybe more difficult to learn.

There's about a quarter
million rust developers.

I would argue that maybe 90% of them are
systems guys working on like very low

level systems projects, converting what
used to be written in sea into rust.


Uh, And then, uh, a big chunk of those
are also like distributed systems guys.

The, the concurrency benefits you get
from rust really suits distributed

systems really, really well.

So that's, those aren't app people?

I'm not an app, yeah.




You're more of an app guy.

You're more of a ui ux, like
let's go high quality product

that people actually wanna use.

A lot of the people in web
three are systems people.

They're brilliant.



They're almost too brilliant for
their own good in a lot of ways.


And I think we've surrounded ourselves in
this echo chamber of geniuses who wanna do

things that like appeal to other geniuses.

Well, the fact of the matter is like
most people don't speak that language

and they're just never gonna get it.


Kevin Horek: That's interesting.


Okay, keep

Andrew Smith: going.



Yeah, so that, that's really kind of, I,
I think there's this language barrier,

there's a tooling barrier for sure.


Um, so like even when you learn the
language, you then need to learn like

all these frameworks around it for
how you actually deploy things, how

you test things, everything else,
which is not what you were using

when you're coming over from web two.


And then the third part of it
is, and I think you'll be able to

relate to this, is like, frankly,
like a lot of developers are, are.

Have good jobs and are lazy, right?

So why are they gonna go?

In their evenings, spend six, nine
months, a year like learning this other

thing when they're making a quarter
million dollars working at Google.

Like, you're just not gonna do it.

Why would you, and I don't
blame you for not doing it.

Um, if you could do it in a
weekend, hack something together,

now you have a prototype.

That's a different story.

And that's, and I think
that can potentially lead us

into like where AI is now.

Um, I've got a background in data science.

I would love to kind of talk
about that and, and Sure.

Make the comparison of the journeys.

Kevin Horek: Okay, let's, let's do that
cuz I have some thoughts, but let's

Andrew Smith: keep going.

So if you think back to like oh 6, 0 7.


Uh, data science was very difficult.


You had no, like Psyche
learn came out in oh seven.

I don't remember exactly
when tens are flowing.

Carrots came out, but uh, it was later.

And then, you know, open CV and
PyTorch and PI Spark and like all of

these Python libraries that made data
science, they didn't exist back then.


So, If you're trying to build something,
a machine learning algorithm, you had

to understand intimately the math,
the algorithms, and the programming.


Or you had to work amongst
a consortium that knew it,

Kevin Horek: which is
incredibly difficult to do.

Andrew Smith: Yes, yes.

And as a result, there were roughly
3000 data scientists in the world.




So, Fast forward half a decade,
seven years, all of these

tools have now come out, right?

And a lot of them are in the v1,
so they're not great, but you don't

need to know the math anymore.

You now still kind of need
to understand the algorithms.

You need some domain expertise on how
you like feature engineer and things

like that, but you definitely don't
need to know the math anymore, right?

You can just import the math interest.

So it just made life a lot easier.

It made it a lot quicker
to prototype things.

You could see very quickly
if you were onto something.

Fast forward to earlier this year.

Now you don't even need
to know any of that.

You need to know how to import a
Python package and save an API key

in your Dov file, and you can build
AI apps thanks to open AI and hugging

face and some of these others.

Kevin Horek: Yeah.

Well, and a lot of it you could
even, you could just like tell

it what you wanted it to write.

You just like, yeah, that's true.

Give me the, I want code
that does this generate.

Yeah, try it.

Oh, nope.

Generate, oh, this one works.


Andrew Smith: It's wild.


You can actually like, have the AI
self-generate for you next things that

you wanna build, which is really powerful.

Um, as a result of that, and I'm
sure you've seen, I'm sure you've

talked to some of these people,
uh, Everybody's in AI now, right?

So there's thousands of AI
startups popping up all over the

world because it became easy.

You could hack together
an AI app in a weekend.

Now, Right.

Whereas before it would take you months
and you had to go gather the data.

You had to train the models, and the
models might not be very good and you

gotta go back to the drawing board and
try something else and do it again.

It, it was a, there were major barriers
before, but just the tooling alone took

you from 3000 data scientists to roughly
a hundred thousand data scientists.


Now make it that much easier where, and
you're talking about you have a million

plus developers who are thinking in ai.

Now we wanna do the same
thing for web three.

We want to take it from where it's at now,
where it's very difficult, very expensive,

and the, the lead time on building
a prototype is really, really long.

There is no such thing as rapid
prototyping in web three unless you're

forking something that already exists.

If you're doing something innovative
in the space, you're starting from

scratch and you're chewing glass all
the way down and, and you may get

there, uh, you may get some funding
cuz it is still a hot space and there's

still dry powder that can go to work.

But it's a, it's tough.

So, It takes a lot.

And most people, and this is no offense to
them, I agree with them in a lot of ways.

Like they don't want to go through that.

They don't want to risk everything for
something that's like a pipe dream.


Make it easy.

Make it to where a couple guys can
get together in a coffee shop and

Silicon Valley and have an idea and
two weeks later they have a prototype.


Kevin Horek: Yeah.


So let's dive a little bit deeper
into how Verb actually is hoping

to solve what you just outlined.

Like how are you making
prototyping easier, and where

do you kind of fit in the stack?

Because there's, well, you know, there's a
million layers that you know from creating

something to actually getting it live.

And where does Verb fit in that?

Andrew Smith: Yeah.

So layers is a great word.

Cause obviously we, we call these
things layer one, layer two.

Um, So I'll start with how we're doing.

I think going back, we, this,
this unikernel technology, right?


It it's very, it's very powerful
and it's improved a lot.

So this is not a new idea.

This is something that originally kind
of popped up in the mid nineties, right?

Um, there just wasn't like a ton
of use cases for it back then.

Some people would use it on
like a private cloud or what was

called private cloud back then.

Basically like small scale data
centers, uh, that serviced, you know, an

educational facility or whatever it was.

So they've been around for a little while.

They were very sort of black boxy.

It was difficult to trace and,
and do debugging That's improved

pretty dramatically over the years.

They also sort of made a renaissance
with a, as a result of like a w s

Lambda and functions as a service, and
particularly when it, when it comes

to like iot and, and the iot movement.

Um, but then AWS released Firecracker,
which was actually specifically

built for AWS Lambda, that kind of
sur supplanted, uh, Colonel's there.

So there's this idea that's been around,
there's been some improvement on it,

but this really kind of is like the
perfect use case for it because it

does offer up the flexibility that we
want in a very small package and allows

us to ship it around pretty quickly
and, and distribute it and make it

very decentralized very, very quickly.

So, and, and because of some of the
restrictions you can build into,

What you're doing there and like how
you build those run times provides a

degree of security that you wouldn't
get with just your sort of traditional

monolithic VM that you see in this space.

So that's really the core
of how we're enabling this.

There's some other pieces in there,
there's some dev tooling to make it easy

for you to actually build these, and it's
to actually make it Docker compatible.

Uh, specifically and, and pod
man compatible so that you can

literally use Docker and Pod man.

A just change the runtime to our runtime
and you can build what you wanna build

with a Docker file and your source code.

So just making the DevOps
significantly better.

Um, well, yeah, and just the setup right.


So much.

You already have it easier already.



Kevin Horek: have it.


Yeah, yeah.


Andrew Smith: So, okay, keep going.


Yeah, so no, that's,
that's a big part of it.

Uh, I think it's also then about like
getting the word out there, so going

into where all of these various.

Developers live, which
we know where they live.

There's a Python subreddit with 5
million members, a JavaScript subreddit

with 8 million members, right?

There's a go with, uh, subreddit
with 250 mem thousand members.

Uh, we know that they're
using chat, G P T.

Let's build a plugin for chat, g p T to
make it easier to get up to speed and

educate yourself, and tutor yourself,
and correct your code and all that.

Um, and let's, let's train that
plugin on how, what the, on the

verb docs and what that looks like.

So that's really kind of like a full
service, full stack developer experience

improvement is what we're going after
with that Unikernel core, sort of at

the core of it, it's what enables it.

It's not the only piece though,
in terms of where we fit in.

Uh, I think there's two different
places where we fit in in this space.

One of them is as our
standalone layer one.

Where things can be built upon, that's
a scalable fast chain that enables much

higher volume, much higher throughput.

So for things like, uh, defi, this
is really, really important, uh, for,

you know, I think the D pin movement,
decentralized physical infrastructure

network, we're really well suited to
capture that world, uh, because of the

sort of iot device component of it.

And how unikernels have been
historically really well suited,

uh, for handling functions as a
service and, and with IOT devices.


So that's another area where I think,
and then the, the third one is over

time, moving this into more of like a
decentralized general compute world, uh,

where you can do things like decentralized
science, decentralized AI training.

A lot of these things will be possible,
not necessarily directly on chain, but

off chain using the same compute stack.

And then proving some result on chain.


So, and there's a bunch of
different ways that you can do this.

Uh, right now there's some other platforms
that are doing this with like ZK proofs.

I don't know if we'll use ZK proofs to
do this, but there's a variety of ways

that you could actually chew that off.

Um, so we do see that it going there
in the future of, of more just general

compute and what people refer to
as a decentralized cloud, although

not a huge fan of that language.

Cloud is something very, very specific.

It's centralized in a data center.

It that's what a cloud is.

Uh, but I get the concept like
it's a good mental model, right?

That you get the benefits of a
cloud and decentralized network.

Kevin Horek: Okay?

So, And then I, I'm sure I know the
answer to this, but I, I'm curious anyway,

is how does a designer fit into this?

Does it not matter?

I can design whatever I want on top
of this, obviously because of the

programming language or, or how does

Andrew Smith: that work?

Yeah, so you can design and host
decentralized front ends now too.




So you can deploy that front end
as a kernel that communicates.

With the blockchain as a backend,
and it won't run, it won't.

We don't need that front end to be run
by every single node in the network.


So it'll be run by a node.

It'll have longer lifetime, a longer
life cycle as it's running, and then when

it's done running, it just shuts down.


But when somebody else wants
to run it, it boots up.

Boot times on kernels are
three to 40 milliseconds.

They're lightning fast.


So we don't need it just sitting there
running in the background all the time.

Um, so you're only paying as the
designer or whoever's interacting with

it, preferably you as the designer.

But we could talk about economic models
of how you wanna accomplish this.

You're only paying for the
compute time where somebody's

actually pinging it, right.

Where somebody's actually
using your front end.


Um, so we can keep costs
down for developers as well.

Uh, and there's.

Sort of some, some economic models here
that we could, I don't know if we have

the time to go into it on this one,
but the, I think over time we're gonna

actually be cheaper than AWS for that.

So, uh, bringing that cost down across the
board for, for any kind of hosting, for

any kind of, um, you know, cloud computer
or in our case decentralized compute.

We'll actually be able to make it
cheaper because where Amazon kind of

has to maintain that server over time.

Uh, you know, we have independent,
effectively independent business

people running these nodes, right,
who they can compete on margin, they

just need to squeak out a little
bit of a profit, and they're okay

and they'll do it, and then they can
scale up their, their small scale, uh,

compute, you know, compute offering.

Um, so there's a lot of benefits to this.

And yeah, as a designer right now,
you don't have a lot of options for

decentralized front end hosting.


Um, So, you know, we wanna
offer that right now.

You know, a lot of DAPs are sort
of decentralized in name only.

Uh, they have a decentralized
component in their smart contract,

but their front end is hosted on aws.

And if OFAC comes knocking and
says, Hey, you gotta take this

down, what's AWS gonna do?

They're gonna take it down.



Never of choice.

And so a lot of them do offer like a cli,
but most of their users use their gooeys.

So yeah.

Are you gonna expect 90% of people
all of a sudden to become like

c I Warriors and learn how to
use the c l I to use your app?

Like it's not gonna happen.

Uh, you need, we need to decentralize
this space if we wanna make it like, The

old Bitcoiners, which I love about them.

If we wanna make it unstoppable,
if we wanna make this unstoppable

and truly censorship resistant, we
have to decentralize front end for

people to be able to access user
interfaces that are friendly and

are not at risk of being censored.

Kevin Horek: Interesting that you, yeah.

Oh, I understand.


Like I think that's the one thing that
I find the number one complaint, well,

maybe not the number one complaint, but
one of the complaints from the design side

of web three is, Look, let's be honest
here, there's a bunch of ways you can do

like a payment system or smart contracts.

I'm talking just from like a look and feel
flow wise, not from a coding perspective.

Like why can't I just say like I want a
payment system that's been user tested,

that's been well-designed, that drops
in, that automatically puts everything on

a blockchain and or I pick what I want.

On a chain, so I can keep track
of that because I need to for

whatever business reasons.


And why can't I just cherry pick
like five or six modules, kind of

slap 'em together, have a prototype,
and then go from there, right?

And so like that whole design
layer is kind of missing from Web

2.0, but you can kind of get that.

But from like 3.0 that I could
just actually have the code, that

it's not like a Figma file, right?

That I could just drop in.

Seems to be like a big
kind of hole in the space.

What are your thoughts around that?

Am I

Andrew Smith: out in left field on that?

No, you're not at all.

I a hundred percent agree.

Uh, right now, you basically have to
build, like, you have to know how to

build like a React app that taps into
the different, the different APIs that

are offered and every, uh, and usually
using art, some form of rpc, which is

again, like not the ideal scenario.

Um, I'm a big fan of
like the Unix tradition.


And the Unix, in the Unix tradition,
they really always warned against R P C.

We do use R pc, we use Js o
rpc, so it's very text based.

It's, it's a lot easier to debug.

Uh, and we are gonna offer a direct
web, a p I, so Ethereum does have one.

This is actually like, I don't know
if a lot of people know this, but

this was the first time I ever heard
the term web three, is that there's

an a p I called the web three api.

That you use to tap into, that you can
use to tap into the Ethereum, uh, network.

So I, I don't know if
that's where it came from.

I, that was the first time
I, I ever heard of it.

Uh, so you can use that api,
but then you still gotta build

everything else out around it.

Um, it's.

I've done it.

It's, it's kind of chewing glass.

It's not the best experience.

It's okay though.

It's not terrible.

The problem there really is just that like
you're not actually using Web three tools.

You're just using Web two tools and
tapping into a Web three API that gets

you some information from the blockchain.


That gets you access to a smart contract
that allows you, when you press a button

to transfer, it'll, allows you to.

Hook into various wallet
applications or whatever it is.

Um, right now the wallet is kind of the
center of web three, and you need your

wallet, you need to connect to a wallet.

If you wanna use a Web three app, I think
we can abstract a lot of that, that away.


I think we're not the only
ones that are thinking of this.

There's a lot of other platforms that are
thinking about ways that you can abstract

the wallet away, um, or make it more of
like a, so like, I've heard like, oh,

the wallet is the browser of web three.

I don't know if that's the case.

I hope not.

I think that would be more
experience that is, yeah.


Um, I've heard others that
fail, like the wallet's gonna

become the website in web three.

That makes more sense.

Uh, there's one called
Backpack who I'm a big fan of.

Uh, I know, I know.

I've met the guys out in
Chicago when I was at the pit.

They're really smart.

They had a really successful
N F T launch recently.

They're really gritty.

Um, great, great story.

If you wanna ever wanna have somebody who
like has a great story on Yeah, totally.


I think that they lost like
14 million when ftx Oh wow.

Or some, something like that.

It was a big chunk of
what they had raised.

And like gritted it out and got to launch.

So like, really I'm impressed by them.

Um, that's a very impressive story to me.

I love those kinds of stories.

So Backpack kind of is the first I've seen
that really has like this feel of like,

it's actually more of like a website.

Um, their focus were like executable
NFTs, which you can click on

and then something will happen.

Beyond just the picture.

So you could have a game
on the back end of it.

When you click on it, it'll load up
this game, you can play the game.

Um, some of 'em have like chat
rooms that you can communicate

with other holders of the N F T.

So there's some really
interesting things going on there.

Uh, and I can see that happening.

But I do think we need to
abstract the away this concept

of a wallet and the wallet.


In the center of interacting with
the chain and find ways to embed,

like you put it like you want
payments that are blockchain.

Where the backend is a blockchain
without needing a wallet, right?


I wanna click a button and I
wanna be able to send tokens or

even just OnRamp and send tokens.

I don't need to know what's
happening on the backend.

Kevin Horek: Slash don't care really.


Arguably, I don't care.

I just want

Andrew Smith: it to work.

You just want it to work.



And and I, I agree with
you a hundred percent.

I think there's debates going on.

There's a lot of people who think
you will know what blockchain

you're using and it will matter.

There's other people, which
I'm more on the side of that.

All of that stuff is
gonna be abstracted away.

You're gonna use an application,
you may know that it's on a

blockchain, you may care, you may not.


Um, the maxi culture that we have right
now, I think will be abstracted away.

People will use different chains and,
and move assets across chains, and it'll

become a lot easier to do that over time.

Um, you'll use applications that do
communicate with more than one chain.

So I, I, I have no doubt that
that's gonna happen in the future.

And it's already starting to happen.

This is not something that like,
that's like way off in the future.

This is, people are already
doing this and thinking about it.

There are people who are like
hardcore maxis who are like,

no, that'll never exist.

Like you'll either, you'll know
you're using Ethereum, you'll

know you're using Solana.

Um, I don't think that's
gonna be the case.

I think it, it, you don't know
that you're using aws and I know

it's not a one-to-one comparison.

I get it.

Yeah, but you, you don't
need to like, I don't know.

Goo we're on Google Meet, so there's
like Yeah, probably using Google, right?

Probably, yeah.

I don't think they're hosting Google
Meet on aws, but I don't know what

Zoom is hosted on, nor do I care.

Yeah, you don't care.

Well, and that's

Kevin Horek: the other thing
too, is I always explain like

cuz people are like, oh, I don't
think crypto's gonna be a thing.

It's like whether, just because
it's going through a downtime, it's

like, do you have a Starbucks card?

Because like that is
basically a cryptocurrency.

You can use your card, different
locations across the country in the

globe, but different Starbucks locations.


It's not a, to your point, like, it's not
like a one-to-one comparison, but it's

the closest thing that I can think of.

It's like, that's basic.

I'll give

Andrew Smith: you a much better one.

Okay, sure.

Go ahead.

Have you ever tried to swap airline
miles from one airline to another?

Well, it's not even possible is it?

It it is it?


I didn't know that.

It's a huge pain in the ass though.

I can imagine.

Um, it's.

It, it's extremely difficult.

If they're not affiliated,
it becomes even harder.

There are still ways that you could do it.


Uh, this is a perfect example.

Right now.

The one side of it is like, we need,
we need some clarity from, at least

here in the us, the, the US government,
because airline miles are not taxable.

Um, so that, that becomes
like a whole scenario.

If they do that, they
probably don't wanna do that.

Uh, there, there's some issues around it,
regulatory from a regulatory perspective,

but if we could solve those, yeah.

This is an obvious improvement
in user experience.


If you, if I have United Airline miles,
I want some American miles, cause I've,

I've, I gotta book a flight that's on
American, why can't I just swap those

easily and a couple clicks of a button?

There's no reason other, other
than the fact that you can't, and

blockchain enables this immediately.

Like this is not, this is saying that
within a, if we got clarity, From a

regulatory perspective, within months,
this would be realistic, right?

And would, would proliferate society.

Um, every, every single store
that you go to now has some

form of brand loyalty points.

Most of them you're never gonna use.

Why can't I swap them all into one that
I'm going to use and other people get,

get the ones that they want to use.

And between decentralized exchanges
and, and the swap technology

that's there and tokenization, this
enables that almost immediately

and would not take very much to do.

Uh, I think interesting.

We're particularly well suited to
do it because of our technology and

porting over some of the existing
infrastructure for all those services.

Two verb would be a lot easier than hiring
a team of Solidity developers to do it.

Um, in solidity.

To your point about like your
Starbucks card, Starbucks did

do like a NFT based gift card or
something like that on Polygon.

It didn't go great, but imagine if your
Starbucks points were tied to that.

Now this is a different story.


Um, so, and, and I do think there's
ways to do like N F T gift cards.

I don't know.

I, I, I'm a big fan of sub sandwiches.

I don't know why I'm saying this is
like, it is like a really good example of

like where N F T could have like really
high quality utility if you've got your

favorite sub shop and the issue, an N F T.

And every time you remember, like the
sub shops would give you like a Yep.



And for the 10th one you get one free.



So imagine if you had an FT and you
got a new feature, like your NFT got

a new tattoo or you got a hat, or you
got like a different shirt, right?

Or like some other
thing that you could do.

And on that 10th one, it that 10th feature
you earn, you get a uh, you know, you

get a free sub or something like that.

So there's all these ways that
you can incorporate brand loyalty.

On chain in a much better
way than what we do now.

Um, so I'm a big fan of that space and,
and it's coming, it's a matter of time.


Kevin Horek: Well, and do you think
that just goes back to our conversation

about the dev tools and the devs work?

Like there's not enough dev tools
and devs working on the, these

problems because you're right.

Like it's, it's not that hard to
actually do, but if you don't have the

people that understand the technologies
to do it well, it'll never get done.

Or it takes

Andrew Smith: forever to get done.

Yeah, I think that's a huge chunk of it.

Uh, I think another chunk of it is
like the way a lot of these corp

corporations work, like you're talking,
I think small business would probably

be a better entry point for that.

At, at a corporation level, a lot of
the, they work through consultants.


So finding ways to work with the
consultants to, to find preferred

dev shops that they would work
with to integrate it and all of

that is probably how that would go.

So it's just like, there's bureaucracy
and corporations the same way.

There's bureaucracy and governments,
it's, it's usually not quite as bad.

But that's sort of what's holding us
back right now is that there's a way

that you do things as a corporation.

Um, So, and then, yes, a part of
it is like, are we really gonna

trash all of this stuff that we
built over the past 8, 10, 15 years?

Uh, and our dev shop that we worked
with, or like our internal dev team

that built this, do we have to like,
fire them all and hire a new dev team?

They don't wanna do that.

So making it easier for them where
their existing dev team or the

existing dev shop that they work with
can actually accomplish this and do

so in a timely manner will improve
the probability that we actually.

Land, these kinds of use cases.

I have no doubt about that.

Um, and we're working on that already.

We're, we're starting to try to have some
of those conversations with the consulting

firms, uh, and with the corporations.

So, uh, there's a combination of, I,
I think you gotta take both paths.

You gotta talk to the cor corporations
and the consulting firms and have

a meeting of the minds there.

Uh, so there's a biz dev component
of it, but yes, the dev component

of it itself is a barrier.


Kevin Horek: Okay.


So, So I'm curious, where are
you at in the verb development?

Like, what can people actually
start playing with right now today?

Andrew Smith: So, as of right now, they
can basically play with their GitHub,

uh, our GitHub's completely open source.

They can track it there,
they can follow along there.

We've got one more high level
feature that we've gotta complete

before we launch our first test net.


So that'll be within the
next couple of weeks.

Um, I, I, I put my foot in my mouth a
couple times saying it was gonna be sooner

than, than it actually ended up being,
uh, something always comes up a hundred

as somebody who's deployed product before.

I'm sure you know this.

Oh, yes.

Oh yes.

So we are very close.

We're, we're making a lot of strides.

We're a small team.

Um, I can't speak highly enough
about the guys on our team.

Uh, they, they grind.

They work late, uh, with each one of them.

When I hired them, I said, like, your
goal should be to try to outwork me.

It's never gonna happen,
but you should try.

And I'll tell you, like in some cases they
actually have, like, it's pretty cool.


Well, that's awesome.

So, um, not most of the time
I, I still put my work in,

but th they're, they're great.

They love what we're building.

There's o obvious passion
for what we're doing.

Um, So we'll, we'll get there
pretty, pretty shortly here.

And then in terms of a DevNet where people
could actually build on it, we're probably

about five or six months away from that.


Um, so there's still some
work to be done there.

We'll probably have like an Alpha or
M v P version of it with like four

or five languages enabled in August.

But the actual full, like that's
opened up to the public, we'll

probably be five, six months away.

And then in terms of going live to
main net, I'd say like the technology

will be done sometime this year.

Uh, in terms of.

When we actually go live to Maine
net, that also depends on like

what the ecosystem looks like.

Uh, so if we boost up our ecosystem
really quickly, it could be as early

as like January, February, next year.

I expect and anticipate it'll probably
be around this time next year.


Kevin Horek: So are you looking.

Obviously you have a team of
people can like open source, for

lack of a better term for it,
contribute to the development?

Or how does

Andrew Smith: that kind of work?



If you're, if you're a rust programmer or
you're building, or you're a TypeScript,

uh, programmer and you want to contribute
to like some of our user interface stuff,

um, if you're a DevOps guy and want
to help us with our C I C D, like we.

Absolutely a hundred percent.

We are a hundred percent open source.

You can come, you can either fork
or you can submit a poll request,

um, 100% or it's a m i t license.

If you wanna just copy pasta it and
work on something on your own off of

it, you're welcome to do that as well.

Uh, you, you have an open license
to, to use our software, so we're

a hundred percent open source.

We welcome open source contribution.

We'd love more of it.

We, we've had a couple, uh,
a couple of very small ones.

Uh, we, I don't know that we, I
think we still have some good first

issues up on, on our GitHub, so that
that'd be sort of a place to start.

But yeah, we welcome open source
contributors and, and would

love to have more of them.

Um, it'll be a big push of ours after
we close this next round, we will

have a bounty pool and, and we'll be
doing some, some small hackathons,

virtual hackathons and stuff like that.

We haven't done that quite yet, uh,
but that'll be a big effort of ours,

uh, after we close this next round.


Kevin Horek: That, that
makes a lot of sense.

So I'm, I'm curious.

Because there's still a lot of kind of
like doom and gloom right now in tech.

What are your thoughts on
the industry right now?

You've kind of covered a little
bit, but I want to get your

thoughts as somebody's kind of in
the trenches building this stuff.

Andrew Smith: It's a great time to build,
um, head down, focus on the product.

Don't worry too much
about the outside noise.

Uh, so that's sort of at
a high level what I think.

I think that the way that we
improve humanity is through tools.

This has been the case since we
first started walking upright.


Um, yeah.

This is how humanity advances.

It's how, uh, society becomes more
productive, is that we, we build tools

that make our labor more productive.

Uh, I think AI is, is gonna
be a big part of that.

Um, ai, I view it as a tool.

I, I'm not an AI dor, uh, a lot.

I have a lot of friends who are, so
they'll probably hammer me for this.

I'm not at all.

Uh, I think, yeah, I'd like put a guy
with a jug of water next to the data

center where you're hosting it and if
it goes rogue, pour the water on it.

Like there's ways to solve these doom
and gloom problems pretty easily.

Um, I am a big fan of, uh,
technology, dramatically reducing.

Uh, the cost of living and dramatically
increasing the productivity.

Um, I am not a Luddite in any way.

I think we need more technology.

I do think we we're very adaptable
as a species and will adapt to it.

Does it mean that some people will
lose their jobs to, uh, automation?


I also think it means they'll
end up getting jobs that are

much better suited for them.

And where they're going to make more
money and have more leisure time.

That's the course of history.

Throughout history, as we invent better
and better tools people, the amount of

time people spend on labor goes down,
the amount of money they make goes up,

and the amount of time they get to spend
with their family and their friends and

enjoying sporting events and going to
the beach and taking vacations goes up.

That's a good thing.

We want more of that.

We want more people to be able to
spend more time enjoying themselves.

So that's where I see us going long term.

Now, in the short term, I think there
are absolutely economic headwinds.

Um, there's no doubt about it.

Inflation is still very high.

Um, we're lied to about it.

By our own government because for
political purposes, everybody who

goes shopping at the grocery store
can see that inflation is going up.

Um, so that, that's a problem.

We need to get that under control.

I do think long-term crypto is
one of the solutions to that.

Moving away from government
controlled money is important.

It's one of our missions.

I think it's at the core ethos
of crypto and needs to continue

to be, uh, you don't hear as many
people talking about it anymore.

I still think that that's important.

So that will help, I think long term.

Um, in terms of like where I see the
general tech industry going, I think

it's gonna become more fragmented.

A lot of people think
it's gonna consolidate.

I actually think the
opposite's gonna happen.

It's gonna become more open source,
it's gonna become more fragmented.

It's go gonna become easier
than ever before to become a

entrepreneur in the tech space.

Uh, some of the things you
mentioned about no code AI being

able to generate code for you.

It's gonna make it easier than
ever to take an idea from zero

to, to at least prototype or mvp.

And as a result of that, you're gonna
get more people who do go out on their

own and try to start their own business.

And that's a good thing.

Com competition will make
all our lives better.

So that's where I see it going.

I, I, I don't see this trend
of like consolidation to the

largest companies continuing.

Uh, there is one thing that I
think, you know, could derail

that, and that's access to data.

I think the big, Microsoft and Google
obviously have better access and

are willing to pay more for data.

And if we wanna have
open source trained ai.

Um, we need, we need to find a way
to compete with that if we want this

fragmentation to continue to happen.

So that's sort of the big moat that
Open AI has, that Google Bard will have.

The other sort of big, large
scale AI companies will have

is just the access to the data.

Um, but I think we can get 95%
of the way their open source.

So that's where I see this going.

I think it'll be co, there will
be a lot more kind of like.

Public goods mentality around
technology and open source,

which I think is a good thing.

Uh, it'll make it a lot easier.

I think moving away from sort of
strict intellectual property, uh,

and more towards open source, uh, is,
is in our future and will make the

world a much better place as a result.

Oh, interesting.

Kevin Horek: Um, very cool.

But sadly, we're outta time, so
how about we close with mentioning,

oh, Where people can get more
information about yourself, verb, and

any other links you wanna mention.


Andrew Smith: absolutely.

So all my plugs, let's see.

It's at v r Rrb Labs, V
R R B labs on Twitter.

That's really sort of our hub.

From there, you can find our website.

Our website is vr rrb.io.

Go check out our website.

It's very, very cool.

Uh, it's very different.

It is very cool

Kevin Horek: and very different, but I'll

Andrew Smith: leave it there.

I won't spoil it for people.

Yeah, so go check that out.

Uh, once you're on our website, you
can find links to our Telegram channel,

which is, which is open to the public.

Join our Telegram channel.

Our Discord is still currently private.

Uh, there'll be some announcements
about that soon, but our Discord

channel's still currently private.

But if you're in our Telegram
group, you'll get first

access to our Discord channel.

So go to our Telegram group first.

Follow me on Twitter.

It's at vrb Founder.

So at vrb Founder, that's my, my Twitter.

That's really kind of where I'm at.

I do have a LinkedIn.

I really don't use it very much.

Um, you know, the Web three
space is mostly on Twitter, so

that's mostly where I hang out.

Uh, and then read our medium post.

So medium, it's medium.com/at vrb dash io.

Is our medium.

And uh, yeah, we've got some
great articles on there.

We've got some sort of distillations
of our white paper, uh, that make

it a little bit more digestible.

Uh, we're still working through that
and, and working on that series.

Um, had an op-ed go out through Block
Works on the 25th of May, uh, which is.

Today when we're recording this.

Um, so that was, you know, I, I think
that's a really good piece to read.

It really kind of distills our
vision for the future of Web three.

Uh, some similar concepts to what
we talked about here, although we're

able to go into a lot more depth here
than you are in a 500 word op-ed.



Uh, I appreciate the opportunity, Kevin.

This was fantastic.

I had a really good time talking about
all these, all these things, both verb

and like where we're going in the future.

I think it's, Uh, really exciting
time to be alive, frankly.

I think we're gonna have ups and downs.

Uh, that's the, that's the,
the nature of our species.

Uh, but at the end of the day, I
think we're gonna be all better off

10 years from now than we are today.


Kevin Horek: I agree with you.

Well, Andrew, I really appreciate
you taking the time outta your day

to be on the show and look forward
to keeping in touch with you and

have a good rest of your day, man.

Andrew Smith: Absolutely.

Thank you so much.


Kevin Horek: you.

Okay, bye.

Ep. 554 w/ Andrew Smith Founder at VRRB
Broadcast by