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Marina Guryeva, Founder & CEO of Neon Labs, on FTX’s Relationship with $SOL | Ep. 183

In an exclusive interview with cryptonews.com, Marina Guryeva, talks about Scaling ETH on Solana blockchain, invalidating the Solana “Ethereum killer” thesis, and FTX’s relationship with Solana.

About Marina Guryeva

Marina Guryeva is the Founder and CEO of Neon Labs and the developer behind Neon EVM, the gateway for Ethereum-based applications to access the scalability and liquidity of Solana without changing its codebase. Actively involved in the blockchain space since 2015, she was the Director of CyberFund, a platform that invested in blockchain startups. She joined Commun, a blockchain-based social network, as Director in 2019 to spearhead blockchain-based social networking run by self-governed communities. In 2021, Marina founded Neon Labs to bring Solana’s scalability and low transaction costs to the Ethereum ecosystem.

Marina Guryeva gave a wide-ranging exclusive interview which you can see below, and we are happy for you to use it for publication provided there is a credit to www.cryptonews.com. 

Highlights Of The Interview

  • Invalidating the Solana “Ethereum killer” thesis
  • Addressing Ethereum’s infamous high gas fees and low throughput 
  • Enabling access for Ethereum dApps to a new market with minimal friction
  • FTX relationship with Solana – how that will affect the ecosystem in the future 
  • Solidity vs. Rust – pros and cons of each program 

 

 

 

Full Transcript Of The Interview

Matt Zahab 
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Cryptonews Podcast. We’re buzzin as always, and today we have Marina Guryeva on the show. She’s the founder and CEO of Neon Labs, the developer behind Neon EVM, the gateway for Ethereum-based applications to access the scalability and liquidity of the Solana Blockchain without changing its code base. She is actively involved in the Blockchain Space and has been since 2015, where she was the director of CyberFund, a platform that invested in Blockchain startups. She also joined Commun, a Blockchain-based social network as a director in 2019 to spearhead Blockchain-based social networking run by self-govern communities. In 2021 Marina founded Neon Labs to bring Solana’s scalability and low transaction costs to the Ethereum ecosystem. Without further ado, I’m very pleased to welcome Marina Guryeva to the Cryptonews Podcast and Marina welcome to the show my friend. 

Marina Guryeva 
Hi, everybody. It’s a pleasure to be here. 

Matt Zahab
Pumped to have you on, I love your smile, to bring in good vibes to the show. We love to see it. You and the team have had quite the journey and have built something very incredible. One thing that a lot of our listeners reached out, I got a couple of DM’s when I sort of let people know that you were coming on the show. And they were asking about the impact of the whole FTX relationship with Solana as obviously you guys are building on Solana, I know this question is probably getting a little redundant for you. But I need to hear it from someone who knows their Solana is shit. And that is yourself. How does that impact ecosystem? How is it impacting you guys will Solana still be around in the future? Tell us everything you know about this. 

Marina Guryeva 
Okay. So, just we’re very glad that we’re not affected by this thing, cuz Alameda they didn’t invest in us. And so and we didn’t give any funds on FTX. But then we now know, a lot of projects that are affected by FTX crash, and then some of them will go through difficult times, because like they used to keep their funds on FTX cause Alameda they invested in them, and it was the statement within the agreement that they have to keep the funds on FTX. So but hopefully, we will go through these difficult periods and the ecosystem will grow stronger. Due to these crash basically what we expect everybody who is not capable of building and doing and going through the hardships to go away and those who are capable of like overcoming challenges, they will say, and we were in talks with many teams, so they just do some optimizations within the teams, but they want to stay and they want to build and they want to go further. So I hope that the most the best projects will stay. 

Matt Zahab 
Solana moving forward, though is should we have anything to worry about? You know, like, I know, they had a crazy partnership with FTX was funding a massive chunk of Solana FTX, also brought on a bunch of venture capitalists to fund this Solana ecosystem. Again, I’m not a Solana expert, I hold a very small bag of SOL. But I’m just curious to understand what’s going to happen in the future. 

Marina Guryeva 
So, yes, they have very strong partnership with FTX but Alameda and FTX they will not disown investors into Solana and basically they have several all the huge investors that are capable of like continue supporting them. And as far as I know, they just they want Solana to stay and everybody who is building on Solana right now or want Solana and to stay and the like they definitely will have less money than what they used to have. And they will just spend less but then will spend wisely, I believe. So it’s like, they’re still capable of spending a whole lot. 

Matt Zahab 
That and no. And again, we’d love to see that obviously, as someone in the Space and I think I speak on behalf of everyone here, I don’t think anyone wants to see someone fail unless you have a crazy short a leveraged short on them. We’d all love to see them bump. Before we get into Neon, I’d love if you could give just a quick explainer on why a lot of developers and creators and founders builders did choose and continue to choose to build on Solana and Rust versus Ethereum and Solidity. I know, there’s the classic, you know, it’s a lot cheaper, a lot quicker, so on and so forth. But I’d love you could talk about sort of Solana scalability, you know, the low transaction costs and the other pros that the Solana ecosystem has. 

Marina Guryeva 
So for me, it’s not about like costs or throughput. It’s more about user experience, because we used to build a social network based on Blockchain. And so I can like, compare user experience on Ethereum, for example, and Ethereum-based chains with the user experience on other chains. And they know for that for the applications like social networks or like games. So you have to like to choose the chain that eventually will give the users the same quality that they have on just on Web2. And so in Solana is perfect for that. So it’s when you want to build something that like normal public general public will start using one day, you want to provide them the user experience similar to Web2. And so you have to choose between non-Ethereum based Blockchains because unfortunately, but user experience on the Ethereum is still not similar to Web2 experience. 

Matt Zahab 
Interesting. I, how would you describe sort of you talked about the, the usability and sort of the, you know, the user experience? How, and my apologies, because again, this is definitely a tough question. But like, how do you? How could you explain the difference between Solana and ETH in regards to user experience, aren’t they, when they be pretty similar? 

Marina Guryeva 
No, definitely. So you just have to start using any application that like, as mentioned, in your social networks, for example, when you start using anything similar to social networks on Ethereum, like you will get a lot of delays, and you will be not able to get the response similar to what you have on Twitter, for example, on Solana, you will get like the similar experiences on Twitter. So it’s like you’re just typing and then use your sending and then you suddenly have the like, the your message popping up on your screen. And with Ethereum you have to wait a bit. And something might happen, but it like not as soon as on Solana, not as soon as on the Web2 on the screen. 

Matt Zahab 
It’s a great point. Another thing that’s really interesting is Solana is sort of thesis, which a lot of people have coined to be the Ethereum killer, right? Everyone came in and was like, oh, Solana will replace or is more efficient than Ethereum. Obviously, that, in some capacity, it’s been proven to be true, and others it hasn’t. But one of the things that I love about what you guys do at Neon, and more specifically, the Neon EVM is you demonstrated that Ethereum and Solana can be sort of complementary ecosystems, which is, you know, everyone always talks about interoperability and how important it is. And you guys are really putting foot forward and working on this. What exactly is sort of the Neon EVM? And how does it help Solana and Ethereum be complementary ecosystems. 

Marina Guryeva 
For me personally, I don’t like these Ethereum killer thing, cuz, like, Ethereum was my first love. So I still remember how I read the white and yellow papers of the firm in 2014. And I was very impressed by what I read. And I still believe Ethereum did a lot for the Blockchain ecosystem. So but then, as mentioned already so I used to build like the products that should be used by general public and so I know the strategies of Ethereum in terms of like, when you need to build an app, which will be like used by the general public, with the similar velocity and everything, then you just can’t. So in Solana is great because it provides the technical capabilities of building the apps that can be used by general public. And I believe that our main goal for everybody, who is right now within the Crypto Space is to attract general public into the Crypto Space. So it just, we like, the real like, I don’t know, but I’m the 1 million I believe, active users within the Crypto right now. So we have like to warn others. And for that we need like to build applications on top of the protocols that then allow us to build something comparable to Web2 applications. And this is why I love Solana, because the tech is great. So the tech really allows builders on us to build something on top of a that will like eventually let users enjoy the speeds and the quality of interaction similar to Web2. So in terms of Neon, we were building the solution for Ethereum Dapps to come to Solana to deploy their contracts without any changes on Solana. And like to tap into Solana market with the applications that already like, enjoy success on other Ethereum-base chains is so and this is for us, like a challenge and an opportunity and this is for the applications a huge opportunity because they’re tapping into a new market Solana market, which is different from Ethereum based market. And they just, it’s their strategy, they usually, like go on each and every EVM compatible platform because they want to tap into the new market. So everybody’s like, is about more users. 

Matt Zahab 
With that, would that sort of be like your moral compass and your sort of company goal is to just onboard as many users as possible to Crypto, that’s what it sounds like. 

Marina Guryeva 
Yep, frankly, yes. For me it’s like the single with GAO that like I want to achieve by building anything on top of any Blockchains are is to attract more users to crave cuz like, otherwise, we’re just it’s a nice thing to play and it’s nice thing to build something with interest but like without real users coming in millions in like billions we will like stay here with like, not so many of us enjoying some nice things, but it’s not about big markets. It’s not about adoption. 

Matt Zahab 
See, it’s tough. It’s such a tough sort of end goal. Again, it’s good goals they shouldn’t be broad and easy they should be you know, specific and tough. And that’s exactly what yours is. You want to onboard you know, millions of people to Web3. Have you and the team found it difficult over the last couple of weeks to keep grinding and building with all the, you know, all the turmoil and the FTX shitshow. And now Genesis and digital currency group with Barry Silbert, and everyone else if you find it difficult at all, or is it still just head down building shipping building shipping? 

Marina Guryeva 
So it’s my third bear market to tell you frankly, so it’s like, okay. 

Matt Zahab 
You’ve been in three critical bear markets? 

Marina Guryeva
Yeah. So it’s like okay, because for the third times, you sort of accustomed to what is happening and like you expect it to happen so it’s like literally it differs like in some my minor scenes, but then it’s a bear market. Okay. So right now we have like, I do remember how Mt. Gox crashed in 2014. So it’s like, no, we have FTX crash, okay. So mostly, a lot of teams still have funds and they have like, talented engineers and they are capable of like building and shaping so during the bear market, you have to foreclose and you have to build and you have to ship and you have to onboard users and test your product and find Product-Market Fit in order to be prepared for the next bull market. 

Matt Zahab 
I can’t believe you’ve been through three. That’s crazy. So can you tell this one was gonna happen? Like were there any tell tales where you were like, Oh, this is you know. 

Marina Guryeva 
During Mt. Gox crashed, we lost some funds because we kept them on money gags and it was like the worst bear market I had ever experienced because we were not that smart to like to diversify. And this was really like something when we fought. Okay. So Bitcoin is down. Crypto has a very bad reputation. What will come next and then suddenly Ethereum came and so and it was like, Okay, it’s not that bad. So you always like in the bear market maybe you’re just waiting for something good to happen. And it always happens. 

Matt Zahab 
Well said. Very well said Marina, we’re gonna take a quick break. Gotta give a huge shout out to our sponsor the show and that is PrimeXBT, big shout out to PrimeXBT been using them for a hot minute, as they offer a robust trading system for both beginners and professional traders. Doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a vet, you can easily design and customize your layout and widgets to best fit your trading style. They are also giving Cryptonews Podcast listeners a sweet promo code, you get 50% of your deposit that is five zero percent, 50% of your deposit credited to your trading account. That’s a nice fat little bonus waiting for you. And again, the promo code is CRYPTONEWS50, that’s CRYPTONEWS50, all one word to receive 50% of your deposit credited to your trading account. And now back to the show with Marina. Another thing that I find super interesting with this whole Solana versus Ethereum is the different events that are thrown. Now I know you and the team are at Solana breakpoint in Lisbon. I don’t know how I feel about these events, the only sort of Blockchain specific events I’ve been to is Bitcoin, the you know, the Bitcoin Miami the sort of the most popular one, which is a great time. But how do you feel about these Blockchain specific events like, you know, Solana breakpoint and Lisbon or ETH Denver? Or, you know, what was in Colombia a couple of weeks ago? Was it Adam or something? Anyways? How do you feel about these? Like, I feel like they’re cool, but at the same time, like, is it really working that much? Like, is it just a bunch of Blockchain Devs hacking away and a hackathon? Like what’s your take on these industry specific events? 

Marina Guryeva 
So right now, we like to try to participate in Ethereum events and in Solana events, because like, we need Ethereum developers and we have to present our product to use their own developers at the same time, we are more than happy to talk about what we did at Solana events. So to my mind, these two like Ethereum and Solana events, they differ from each other like, and it’s more about. 

Matt Zahab 
How so? How do they differ? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah, it does. Yeah. So I would say that it is still in demand especially some of them are still very community driven. So they’re not done by Ethereum foundation. So they are done by local communities, like in Amsterdam, for example, or in Paris. And so it can be compared but it’s not comparable to something that is done by Solana foundation because like so breakpoint event is done by Solana foundation. It’s a huge conference similar to any big Web2 conferences like and this time in Lisbon. I was impressed because like it came to my mind that it reminds Apple conferences, like how they announced all the products that they working on our like Solana stores that are similar to Apple stores, or Solana smartphones that are like with the depth stores on them, which are similar to Apple iPhones with the app stores on them. So and it was like very similar to something whatever that is. So and definitely, it’s not like it differs from Ethereum conferences, Ethereum events and so because like they’re more decentralized in a way how they organize. But then there are pluses and to vote for these like during Ethereum events, it’s easy like to talk to people to participate in some events like, to have meetups or something else like and it’s easy to find the right people. Everyone is like, is put in a very small space. Where’s this Solana and you have like, three different like stages like dispersed across Lisbon. So and the like, the one for build this one for the main announcements other for future ideas and so on and do have like, to go between them in order like to find people tend to talk to people, so it differs, but still, it’s good. I like conferences, and especially after COVID I enjoy them a lot. Because like personal connection is the best connection. Like you’ll never have the same experience via Zoom meetings, like never ever. You meet the person, you start talking, you discuss things and suddenly you’re just, you know, hear her and you can like, go forward and you can like communicate much more easily. And it’s like super nice. And you can like discuss a lot of things like when you’re standing like close to each other, you can talk for hours and like discuss every single thing that you want to discuss so I love them. 

Matt Zahab 
I can tell you it fired up about him I’m I’d say I’m probably more of an introvert at heart. After you know, at the conference, I definitely need a bit of alone time to recharge. But there are a lot of fun. So it’s obviously good time especially when you and everyone there usually has the same positive motive and wants to see good for the Space, wants to see innovation, people piddling stuff, you love to see it, it’s usually a good thing. 

Marina Guryeva 
It’s also about learning because like during these conferences like I love to go to different workshops and development workshops. Because like, you learn a lot because it whether you’re sitting there and listening, and you see and you can you have an opportunity to talk to the guys who are presenting afterwards. So it’s like, okay, I’m one and this and that and it’s like during the single day can learn much more. Like during several weeks or months even so it’s a special pleasure of mine to go and like participate in these workshops. 

Matt Zahab 
It is ya know, it’s truly a treat. I often get asked what is harder to learn Solidity or Rust. What do you think the answer is? 

Marina Guryeva 
Rust. 

Matt Zahab 
Rust is harder than Solidity? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah, for sure. because you like it’s not my personal opinion, though I’m engineer by education as well. So it’s the opinion of our engineers. And they’re very senior engineers, they know a lot of languages. And they know a lot of frameworks. So during the hiring process, we have to assess the candidates and Rust developers are harder to find like, definitely, in terms of Solidity, almost anybody like can become a Solidity developer. And like in terms of Rust, though, not everybody can become a Rust development.

Matt Zahab 
What makes it so much harder, and again, try to explain it to someone like me, who has a very miniscule technical background. And so try not to use any, like complex jargon, because it would just go right over my head. Like how does it make it so much harder? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah, but Solidity is similar to Java in the sense, and it’s like simpler. So you can like it’s literally simpler. And then and you don’t need to learn a lot. You don’t need to understand some frameworks additional in terms of like you cannot know a lot you can like understand very basic in terms of how like to code, and then you start building and then you can also find a lot of code written in Solidity on GitHub, and you will now how like the developers directly like, nowadays, they just go. And like Google and find like the proper cloud similar to what they need on GitHub, then they read and then they make changes. And so in terms of Solidity, it’s like, thing to do, in terms of Rust, first you have to understand like, what difficult frameworks, then Java, and then you will not find a lot of code for us on GitHub. So it’s literally about your capabilities of like being an engineer more than a programmer. So if you understand what I mean, so engineers, they have like, not to program only, but they have to think about algorithms, and maybe even mathematically, so they first to have these structures in their heads, and then like, afterwards, only start writing something because they have to think about how to optimize the code like how to code in the simplest way possible. So this is what is difficult and this is what differentiates a good engineer from a good program. 

Matt Zahab 
And this is where Neon EVM comes into play. Because you are enabling Solana and ETH to work together. So by doing this, I assume you can onboard a lot more Dev’s because you can just use Solidity Dev’s, right? 

Marina Guryeva 
Correct. Yes. Basically, anybody who has any Solidity Dev can come and deploy on yarn without any changes to the cloud base. 

Matt Zahab 
So cool. What’s on the agenda for the next sort of, you know, a couple of months and moving on to Q2, 3 and 4 of 2023. What does Neon have on the backburner right now? 

Marina Guryeva 
So first, we will do minute launch in December will launch share EVM itself on Solana main net. It’s still on Solana Dev Net. We we’ve been testing it since April and we’ve been testing it off in order like to ensure that any single major that Ethereum Dev can be deployed easily without code changes, using the standard Ethereum tools, so then going forward for the next year, our main goal will be to build the solution that will enable the interoperability between Dapps deployed on Neon EVM and Solana Dapps basically what I’m talking about is I’m talking about like average deploy the Neon EVM calling any Solana Dapp and vice versa. So it’s like something that we want to have and that will just boost the ecosystem because like in this way Ethereum Dapps deployed and Yaniv down will have the opportunity like to communicate with any Solana Dapps, and it sounds like it will be a big one ecosystem available for users. 

Matt Zahab 
That’s so cool. 

Marina Guryeva 
It’s very difficult. Yeah, it sounds easy, but it’s technically difficult. The architecture of Solana, that’s very difficult. 

Matt Zahab 
And you guys are launching or plan on launching December 12. Right? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yup. Correct. Yeah. 

Matt Zahab 
Is there any reason for that is a little 12 12 action kind of thing? Is there any good day to launch? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah it’s a nice theory. 

Matt Zahab 
Is it a good day to launch? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yes, it’s a good 12 12 2022. 

Matt Zahab 
Walk me through a regular day in Marina’s life when before we went live, you were telling me that you were in France this morning. And now you’re in you know, Estonia, what is like what does a regular day look like for you? Do you have any, you know, high performing rituals or habits that allow you to be a high performing individual like just walking through the day habits that you look forward to anything other like. 

Marina Guryeva 
In terms of my personal habits, I do meditate each morning and I do yoga each morning. So basically, I start my day by meditating and doing yoga exercises. And then we have daily planning in the morning and then everything else goes afterwards so and this is what I do regularly because otherwise, it’s a lot of stress right now and not only in Crypto Space, but in general. So the world got going like crazy. And so I just need to stay like perfectly. 

Matt Zahab 
Rounded and sane. 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah. Correct. 

Matt Zahab 
Love that. How are you so happy even smiling? We’ve been recording for what you know 33 minutes and you’ve been smiling the whole time like what do you do to stay so upbeat and happy? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah, but like first of all, I’m very glad that we eventually met because it’s about time and then like it’s a pleasure talking to you and we’re discussing very I loved Crypto Space and I love people within Crypto Space because they’re not normal, but in a good sense. 

Matt Zahab 
We’re all a little bit off a rocker 100%. 

Marina Guryeva 
It’s how I’m really enjoyed talking to the guys I just love to learn to share my ideas and to discuss their ideas. So it’s like for me it’s real pleasure to talk to you right now. 

Matt Zahab 
I love that that’s uh, I appreciate the kind words I know we’re getting a little tight here. We always do a segment on the show called the hot take factory, we jump in and our guest gives a couple of hot takes doesn’t have to be crypto related, can be food politics, if you want to get super spicy, geography sports you name it anything, what are a couple Marina hot takes that only you believe in that most other people do not. 

Marina Guryeva 
Most people do not? 

Matt Zahab 
Like a hot take for example. 

Marina Guryeva 
Can you give an example from your side? 

Matt Zahab 
Yeah 100% I think that all societies should be sauning four to five times a week. I think it should be mandatory. I think that would alleviate you know, I think that if I was the ruler of a country ruler if I was Prime Minister, President, Dictator whatever you want to call it I probably wouldn’t let people eat breakfast unless you need to take pills first thing in the morning to not destroy your stomach liner otherwise I would make mandatory intermittent fasting, you know I would make mandatory hour daily walks outside or an hour physical movement, three to seven times a week 20 minutes, sauna followed by five minutes, I shower and the billions of dollars that would save the healthcare system I think would pay dividends that’s a pretty hot take. I think happiness is a choice I know that’s another hot take as well I get shit on all the time when I say that but even when you’re super you know angry or sad or whatever the case may be you can you know you can tell yourself a joke or watch a funny YouTube video and decide to be happy so there’s two ones for you. 

Marina Guryeva 
Okay, so then from my side I would be glad people meditate each and every day because like everybody literally everybody to like. 

Matt Zahab 
So good for you. 

Marina Guryeva 
To change your world a bit but quickly and then I would also switch off all the TV sets around the globe forever and ever because. 

Matt Zahab 
You would ban TV come on. 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah and then that yeah I’m just because like they just people are brainwashed by those programs. 

Matt Zahab 
But that’s the look I agree with maybe turn off mainstream news because 99% of it is absolute shit but, like what about sports like the World Cup this is brilliant for the world. This is great it brings countries together I’m in Canada we have it we’re playing a game and you know what in 20 minutes and all I don’t have one friend who’s not watching this game we don’t care about football/soccer we don’t give a shit about it here in Canada but everyone’s watching it, it’s just a bring come on you can’t say no TV, TVs good. 

Marina Guryeva 
Okay, let’s say news. 

Matt Zahab 
Yeah mainstream news is trash. I agree but TV as a whole I think sports is good. I think reality TV like the. 

Marina Guryeva 
It depends. Reality TVs not sometimes it’s like it’s really not good for people’s health. Sorry fans. 

Matt Zahab
No. And all those like shows like The Bachelor, Love Island all that stuff. It was nothing good for society. Okay. Any other hot takes though? And any other hot takes you got? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah, it’s enough. 

Matt Zahab 
I love it. Good to know. I have so many too. I could literally start a podcast called the Hot Take Factory but I digress. Marina thank you so much for coming on. What a treat. Really enjoyed this one and would love to have you on for round two. After you guys go live in I want to say when this episode airs about 10 days so about a week or two weeks after, but it was it was truly a pleasure having you and I’m very grateful for your time before you go can you please let our listeners know where they can find you and Neon online and on socials? 

Marina Guryeva 
Yeah, definitely. So it’s very easy to find us, it’s neonlabs.org as well so and from the main site you go to our documentation, to our Discord, to our Twitter everything is there and like its symbol name you have to remember in your lifestyle doc. 

Matt Zahab 
Amazing, we’ll include those in the show notes as always Marina thanks again. What a treat and wishing you and the team all the best and good luck with the launch on the 12th

Marina Guryeva 
Thank you very much indeed it was pleasure. Great to and happy to talk to you.

Matt Zahab 
Thanks Marina. Folks what an episode, Marina was dropping knowledge bombs left right and center and taught us a lot about ETH, Solana and how they can work together. If you enjoyed this episode and I hope you did please do subscribe it would mean the world to my team and I, speaking of the team love you guys and the listeners you the GOAT. Keep on growing those bags and keep on staying healthy, wealthy and happy. Bye for now. We’ll talk soon.