DigiFinex AMA Recap | How is Akash Network building the future of the cloud?
Feb 18th, 2021
Hello everyone! Welcome to our 13rd episode of DigiFinex AMA. A while before Lunar New Year, DigiFinex has held an AMA live with the CFO of AKT, Cheng Wang, to share with us Akash’s current Mainnet testing progress and what kinds of challenges the token AKT has been facing alongside the construction of the ecosystem. Not only is this an exciting project with diverse products, it’s also the longest AMA live that we have held so far! So scroll down to learn about what Kiana and Cheng discussed!
Guest of the night, Cheng Wang, CFO of AKT
Akash CFO Cheng Wang has spent nearly a decade of his career in traditional finance with extended tenures at Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs before joining WRKSHP, a high-growth gaming startup, and Refereum, a premier blockchain startup.
Host of the night, Kiana Shek, DigiFinex CXO
Previously working for Baidu as Assistant General Manager, Kiana has had advanced education in the financial field, also obtaining a rich background in Big data, AI, international businesses. In 2017, she founded DigiFinex as a Co-Founder, and dedicated to provide a safer, convenient, transparent digital asset exchange platform for the people. She is also responsible for promoting brand values globally on behalf of DigiFinex, and actively takes part in various Blockchain summits around the world.
Below is a highlight of our Live Session:
Kiana Shek (Left) & Cheng Wang (Bottom)
# Kiana & Cheng’s Personal interview
Kiana: Hello Cheng, welcome to participate in DigiFinex’s 13rd AMA. AKT is a great project! You may first greet our global users and introduce yourself briefly!
Cheng: My name is Cheng Wang, and I am Akash Network’s CFO. I’ve spent nearly a decade of my career in traditional finance with extended tenures with Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs before joining WRKSHP, a high growth gaming startup with my foray into the blockchain world starting in 2018 with Refereum, a premier blockchain startup.
Kiana: Can you please introduce Akash, its team, and its vision?
Cheng: We wanted to create an alternative to the pricing inefficiency, inflexibility, and anti-competitive practices of centralized cloud service providers (Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba Cloud) that dominate 71% market share of what’s projected to be a $370B market by 2023.
Akash’s mission is to break this oligopoly using a decentralized network of computing clusters (data centers), and offering resources in a peer-to-peer marketplace to build a resilient and unstoppable cloud marketplace at 2–3x less cost than what you would pay in the market today.
Our founding team has a legacy of successfully implementing developer-focused and SaaS go-to-market strategies that scale and we decided to tackle the problem directly.
Akash was founded by Greg Osuri and Adam Bozanich, globally recognized open source developers and among the top 20 programmers worldwide for authoring open-source libraries adopted by organizations including Ubuntu, HashiCorp, and Kubernetes; together, they lead our team of open source developers and talented engineers.
With limited options for developers/organizations, we envision a world where cloud computing is permission-less, sovereign, and open, where developers and organizations can have greater freedom, flexibility, and sovereignty to create and grow, becoming truly unstoppable.
Kiana: What are some of the major competitors in the space, how do you see your competitive advantage among your peers?
Cheng: Akash offers a unique set of value propositions that are specifically attractive to high growth companies, startups and the decentralized ecosystem:
- Lower cost: Akash users set the price, providers compete to win the work at that price. This way the price is always lower because it’s naturally driven by the laws of demand and supply.
- Unstoppable: an application running on Akash can only be stopped by its owner. This ensures resiliency against censorship.
- Private and Permissionless: The application is secured even with someone who has physical access to the server and no one can stop you from using Akash
- Improved productivity: A human centric design that lets developers do more with less.
Unlike other decentralized cloud platforms like Dfinity, Golem, Ankr, and iExec, Akash supports cloud-native applications today — if it’s running on the cloud right now, it’ll run on Akash.
Dfinity focuses more on smart contracts, and while their PoS improves the throughput of executions, smart contracts have limitations.
Golem has on-chain computing and is essentially a supercomputer, which requires supercomputer problems; it is more optimized for batch jobs, where Akash focuses on hosting long running and high availability applications.
Ankr as it currently stands is not permission-less or non-custodial like Akash.
iExec allows you to run containers, like Akash; however, you’re limited to running short-running jobs. These short running jobs, or one time tasks, do not include a broad set of use cases such as web or API based applications. This limitation is imposed by their verifiable compute consensus mechanism. There is no such limitation on Akash.
Kiana: How does “DeCloud” — Decentralized Cloud Computing work and what does it mean for DeFi applications.
Cheng: Akash will be a faster, more efficient, and lower cost cloud built for DeFi, decentralized projects, and high growth companies, that will be providing scale, flexibility, and price performance. Our platform is compatible with cloud-native applications that run on the cloud today.
DeFi stakeholders (Traders, Protocol Developers, and Validators) face challenges and risks including:
- Censorship Risk
- Prohibitive Costs
- Scalability Challenges
A rising trend with the DeFi boom is Stateless (such as Uniswap or Aave) interfaces. These interfaces improve user experience exponentially while ensuring sovereignty, but risk censorship as they are hosted on a centralized cloud provider with a DNS name. Currently, DeFi development is very expensive for example a full Ethereum node alone costs $25,000. This is passed back on to the users as Gas Fees.
Akash DeCloud will accelerate DeFi:
- Unstoppable DeFi: Cloud applications hosted on Akash are censorship resistant, meaning the applications can be controlled only by the owner of the key-pair.
- Lower Costs: Leveraging the 85% of underutilized cloud capacity in 8.4 million data centers, as well as a novel subsidy model, Akash’s pricing mechanism is projected to reduce cloud computing costs 3x and up to 10x in the future.
- Increased Scalability: With the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol, Akash is helping to bring about a scalability revolution in blockchains by enabling independent chains to exchange value with their native tokens.
The future of DeFi Development is censorship-resistant, non-custodial and unstoppable.
Kiana: Can you describe the native token, AKT, and provide some context on its token economics and utilities?
Cheng: Akash Network is a sovereign proof-of-stake chain built on Cosmos SDK, that leverages Akash Token (AKT), a native utility token, for the primary means to govern, secure the blockchain, and provide a default mechanism to store and exchange value in our compute marketplace.
For the upcoming Mainnet 2, AKT will be used as a settlement currency for the decentralized computer market, allowing users to buy and sell computers using AKT. Once the network starts generating meaningful fees from the marketplace (Take Income), staked AKT will earn a percentage of that, on top of the existing inflationary rewards.
In the early days of the network, when meaningful income is not yet realized from network cloud spend, Akash stakers earn from inflation rewards and transaction fees.
At Genesis, the initial inflation set to 54% Annualized APR per month gradually decreases each month and halves every 3.75 years (currently ~50%). This model maximizes reward for early stakers as an incentive to secure the Akash blockchain in its nascency.
The intrinsic value of AKT is derived from the earning potential, which has three main contributors that include a) Transaction Fees, b) Take Income from gross merchandise value (GMV) (~20%) and c) Inflationary Rewards (54% at Genesis).
Currently, Akash has a ~90% bonded rate–the highest in the Cosmos ecosystem.
For more details on the compelling earning potential of AKT, you may check out here.
For deeper insights, see our economics paper.
Kiana: What incentives do AKT holders have to stake their tokens?
Cheng: The benefits of staking AKT for users are tremendous — the current APR is 50%! Additionally, once the network matures and is generating meaningful fees from the Akash compute marketplace, staked AKT will earn a percentage of those fees.
90% of all AKT are currently staked, giving Akash the highest staking ratio in the entire Proof of Stake ecosystem.
For more information on why and how to stake take a look at this great community staking guide.
Kiana: Akash will be launching its Mainnet 2 later this month, can you talk about some of the changes coming with this upgrade?
Cheng: Mainnet 2, launching in March, will be the world’s first non-custodial cloud with a decentralized attribution model allowing users to set up their own provider and deploy their applications onto Akash DeCloud. Akash’s upcoming Mainnet 2 is also IBC enabled, running on Cosmos SDK 0.4.0.
Kiana: As a participant in IBC, can you talk to us about the opportunities that cross-chain presents and what it means for the Akash ecosystem? IBC will link the entire Cosmos ecosystem together, enabling blockchains to exchange value and data with one another.
Cheng: Akash’s work with Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) will unlock unprecedented value exchange between networks in the Cosmos ecosystem, and eventually connect the entire crypto space
The upcoming Akash Mainnet 2 will be the world’s first non-custodial cloud with a peer-to-peer marketplace that is interoperability ready. Akash’s upcoming Mainnet 2 is IBC enabled, running on Cosmos SDK 0.4.0.
The first use case for IBC is DEX support, both for the Cosmos ecosystem and for Ethereum — we’ve had strong demand from our users, so we’re excited about this.
The implementation and adoption of IBC within the Cosmos ecosystem will allow more projects to exchange value across the Cosmos Hub, and participate in Akash’s decentralized marketplace. With IBC, Akash will reduce the barrier to adoption by enabling other currencies to access our cloud marketplace and pay for cloud compute.
In the immediate future, Akash will leverage money markets such as Thorchain and Kava to improve liquidity. With the launch of Althea Network’s Peggy, Akash will be able to interoperate with Ethereum, enabling AKT access via DEXs such as Uniswap.
IBC will progress our vision for a truly decentralized and interoperable cloud. One could store data on a storage network like Filecoin or Sia, use KMS on Nucypher, manage DNS on Handshake, and pay for all of these services using Akash Token (AKT).
Akash will become a gateway to the decentralized cloud, powered by IBC.
Kiana: Can you please share with us progress on your roadmap
Cheng: In 2020, we have accomplished several goals:
- We completed a codebase migration to the CosmosSDK
- We announced a partnership with Cosmos’s ICF to make IBC protocol a reality, enabling us to integrate interchain technologies faster than any other company.
- We announced an integration with Kava, the first cross-blockchain DeFi platform, to enable Kava’s stablecoin USDX as the first coin for fee settlement on Akash’s DeCloud platform.
- We announced that Akash Network is to integrate with Chainlink, the market-leading decentralized oracle network to ensure that Akash’s users have access to the most secure and accurate price data available.
- Successfully launched The Akashian Challenge testnet with 3600+ applications deployed and 500 developers on our decentralized cloud
- Launched our Mainnet 1 with 64 validators
- Achieved liquidity for AKT with our IEO on BitMax, and subsequent listings on BitMart and Bithumb Global
- Closed our private funding round
- AKT Token: 5x growth in price in 3 months
- Grew our team by 3x!
The Akashian Challenge Phase 3 testnet provided validation that there is immense interest from developers to use and benefit from Akash DeCloud.
In early 2021, our first priority will be launching Mainnet 2, the materialization of our DeCloud. Mainnet 2 will enable users to set up their own provider, deploy their applications onto Akash DeCloud, and participate in the cloud computing marketplace — either as a provider or a user deploying their application.
The team will also be working on improving the developer experience, which includes building better provider tooling, better deployment tooling, and allowing more customizable attribute matching in the deployment process.
Our second priority will be to continue working with Cosmos to ensure IBC’s successful launch. IBC will enable Akash to greatly increase liquidity for AKT and strengthen the entire Cosmos ecosystem.
Later in 2021, we’ll be launching the first production run of our Supermini portable supercomputers, which sold out in pre-sale within 3 weeks.
Thank you Cheng for taking time to introduce his amazing project Akash that adopts one of the hottest trends these days — DeCloud, and how the system is going to shake things up and decentralized monopolized cloud service provision. We will see you at our next AMA!
Akash Network is a decentralized computer marketplace unlocking the 85% of server capacity in 8.2-million data centers that is idle and underutilized, and offering 2–3x in cloud compute savings.
To watch the AMA Live: AMA | How is Akash Network building the future of the cloud?
For related articles, read DigiFinex AMA Recap.