Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin is going all-in on decentralized finance (DeFi) applications.
“Ethereum is a shared execution space and we should also be building things that synergize,” Lubin said during a press conference at Ethereal Tel Aviv on Sunday, Sept. 15.
To that end, Lubin announced that his Brooklyn-based venture studio, ConsenSys, would enter the DeFi ecosystem with a new product suite, Codefi.
While Lubin said he doesn’t personally own governance tokens for the ethereum-centric loan system MakerDAO, he declined to comment on whether they are a part of the ConsenSys portfolio. Either way, Lubin described DeFi systems like MakerDAO and Uniswap as some of the industry’s most important developments.
“I’ve always supported that project,” Lubin said of MakerDAO.
Lex Sokolin, co-head of global fintech at ConsenSys, told CoinDesk the Codefi software suite could be compared to Twilio or Stripe, serving businesses that need to process payment data.
“As ConsenSys has matured, it’s finding its business model,” Sokolin said. “This is us putting a flag in the ground about what we want to be doing in the market.”
The product suite includes four parts: data, networks, assets, and payments. Although the company is still yet to announce specific revenue goals or clients, it’s clear ConsenSys wants to serve enterprise customers by processing cryptocurrency payments, fiat payment information using blockchain systems and API access for a wide range of enterprise use cases.
Stepping back, there are already several ConsenSys-incubated startups offering such services, from Infura to BlockApps. This new software suite is strictly in-house, meaning the revenue generated stays with ConsenSys proper. Across the board, the conglomerate has struggled since 2018 to find revenue models that match its research costs and rampant growth. As CoinDesk previously reported, the company projected a $100 million burn rate for 2019.
Codefi will eventually be a core pillar of the ConsenSys business model, after it spends this initial phase targeting and onboarding enterprise clients.
“There have been many spokes [startups] and projects that have tried to build things, they did the pioneering work. ConsenSys has learnings from them,” Sokolin said, adding that ConsenSys leadership noticed a divide between startups’ products and enterprise clients’ needs.
“There are a series of smart contracts and workflows and capabilities that everyone needs. It doesn’t make sense for every organization or team working in DeFi or institutional assets to rewrite the same code,” Ethereum Enterprise Alliance founding board member Jeremy Milar, who is also chief of staff at ConsenSys, told CoinDesk. “It makes much more sense for a large, well-resourced, software organization to write a set of modules that will work together.”
For now, the suite is being developed under a “controlled release” with a few undisclosed pilots. Milar said there are more paying customers seeking such clients than the Codefi team of roughly 40 developers and product managers can support.
Meanwhile, Sokolin is also serving as a mentor in the Libracamp program for developers working on Facebook’s nascent cryptocurrency project.
“I definitely can foresee a world where there will be overlap,” Sokolin said of both Libra and ethereum. “We have to be smart about where the customers are. … We’re the connective bit.”
Speaking of the broader role Codefi will play in the ConsenSys business model, Milar said the project is focused on encouraging ethereum adoption among businesses. He added:
“The strategy here is to accelerate the growth of the DeFi ecosystem.”
Joe Lubin speaks at Ethereal Tel Aviv, photo by Leigh Cuen for CoinDesk