Meet Jonathan DeFi DeCarteret; The CEO of God-Mode for Crypto
We are very excited to take an in-depth look at the experience, passions, and motivations of our very own Co Founder and CEO Jonathan DeCarteret! This is the third in a series of articles focused on taking a deeper look at the core members of the Bumper team.
To start off, can you give a quick overview about yourself, your role at Bumper and how you’re involved in the project.
Well I have been running companies ever since I was 14 years old and I’ve actually never had a paid employment. But since studying a degree in artificial intelligence and psychology at the University of Nottingham I have built a succession of companies including the UK’s 60th fastest growing company, before moving into Fintech, and then exclusively into cryptocurrencies, most recently, with Bumper.
For me, and my business partner Gareth, DeFi was everything that we got into crypto for in the first place. I made the tough decision in the beginning of 2020 to close our INDX yield farming fund and focus entirely on a new project that would solve volatility. I came up with the kernel of the idea for Bumper and evolved it with Gareth, my business partner, however, it took minds much smarter than ours to work out how to do that without the inherent slippage.
So as CEO of Bumper what does your typical day today look like?
The vast majority of my role involves problem solving. So that might be a tech problem, a staffing problem or a token economic problem, they’re the areas I apply myself to every day. The other important aspect is setting the vision for the company, but more strategically forward thinking what the company needs to do over the next three months, six months, or nine months, and to lay down the groundwork to meet those goals.
As a chief executive, you also need to have a really panoramic connection with the business and all its facets. For example, I’m not a techy person, but I’m able to have a conversation with the coders to understand what kind of challenges they have. And I do that in all areas of the business so there’s always one person who can weave the web together to ensure the company moves in one direction and moves together cohesively.
Keeping abreast of DeFi developments has turned out to be super important. I try to read two or three whitepapers a week, which is wholly insufficient as DeFi 2 is accelerating at a phenomenal pace. When you see the developments on the Terra network, understand how Olympus Pro could become the DAO Reserve currency and how x-chain integration is now a must-have for any new protocol launch.
Are you able to give a specific example of a problem where you had to collaborate with other people within the company to address an issue and to find a resolution for that?
I think one of the key areas that demonstrates our problem solving capability was when we were first trying to look at the tokenomics that were attracting LPs into the protocol, which coincided with the time when Sam Brooks CTO came on board. Now we had a different mindset and a different character in the mix. And quite frankly, I was quite anxious about that. But what we found with Sam was that he brought a totally fresh engineering viewpoint to the discussion.
Sam is at heart an engineer, and at his core, he is a creative thinker. So he tackled the problem by reverse engineering it, questioning what it is we are solving for with token economics. That steered us in how to attract LPs, how to do that sustainably, and how to support our long term investors and community. And so from that starting point, we were able to problem solve and determine how a reward programme should look.
I think that demonstrated our internal capability to think through the problems. And we did try to go to other contractors, but when you’re operating at this level, you only have a short list of three or four organisations in the world that have that capability. So we were competing with the likes of Uniswap, SushiSwap and Compound. And that was the interesting thing for me, because we have the budget, but they are more interested in working for protocols that give them intrigue. So we found ourselves in a position where, because we haven’t quite launched yet and we’re competing with Titans in DeFi, we couldn’t actually acquire the talent that we wanted.
What that demonstrated, is that we had to then solve that problem ourselves. We just had to roll up our sleeves and figure this out ourselves. And I think we did a really good job on that. I think it demonstrated our ability to think really creatively and mathematically and produce really solid models.
As a tier one project you are competing with the best of the DeFi projects in the crypto space. How do you attract that talent that’s going to do the tech and do the vision of the company justice?
All my co-founders have demonstrable capability within crypto, and so when we start to talk to external talents, they can see that there is a core there that is super strong. That’s the first thing. Secondly I think that this protocol has momentum, and people can see that we are going places. Since March it has raised capital, deployed tech, held a private sale, held a presale, and we’ve built up a community. So I think that’s a really important second point that we are able to execute. And I think when people start to understand the scale and scope of Bumper and just how far and wide Bumper can go, combined with the team and the momentum, then that becomes a very highly desirable organisation that you want to be a part of.
Okay. Interesting. And in terms of your core team, I’d love to know more about how you all met up and all came together to collaborate and create this project?
I think the core begins with Gareth and I. Up until this point, I’ve never had a business partner. I’ve always run solo as I often have a very good instinct with business on what needs to be done. And by being the sole chief exec and shareholder, I’m able to move very rapidly towards the goals that I see. But what was really interesting about meeting Gareth was that we very quickly established a shorthand and established just the right amount of alignment and tension to push and pull each other towards a unified strategic direction.
So what I found in Gareth was a breath of fresh air, someone who spoke my language, who had the same sense of urgency and mental architecture as me, but we were different enough that we would start to hone each other’s strategies. I think this is very rare in business to find somebody who is kind of aligned with you but has got enough difference that they start to complete you as a kind of strategic author and driver of the vision. Sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes he’s wrong, but together we often make the right decision.
With Bumper, we recognised that there was a huge potential with this project, and we wanted to bring that talent on board. I convinced Jason to migrate across and stop with us as a CMO. He is just an extremely capable, innovative and what I would call a mature CMO, somebody who knows what to do and just gets on with execution.
Sam Brooks came through to us from the development house Block 8. Money is less interesting to him than the challenge (but I truly expect Bumper will make him wealthy). And what he wanted was something really complex that he could throw himself into for the next five to ten years. And Bumper certainly turned out to be complicated enough to give him that wish!
We wanted to keep the team incredibly tight. The idea is to have a small team and recruit the best, pay them the most that we can and keep-up our commitment to them. And then what you get is a very streamlined business where people speak each other’s languages. The team interfaces very well with each other because we are dealing with individual experts in their domain. So what we have is a really efficient machine.
How do you envision the team shaping and adapting as you transition from startup to SME and of course, beyond? Are you going to keep things super tight, or are you going to bolt on additional talent as you scale up?
I don’t expect Bumper is going to grow very much more in terms of headcount. And that is the beauty of DeFi. What DeFi is so good at doing is taking out those established power structures that normally undertake this work with huge amounts of human resources, and just replicates it with really beautiful, trustworthy, elegant code. Once we deploy the code, there is nothing stopping Bumper becoming a $100 million or a $10 billion business because it can scale through the code, and it won’t need an awful lot of extra resources from us.
It’s definitely a parallel world, because in DeFi, you can just be super efficient, super scalable just through the computer code. And what I love about DeFi is that some kid somewhere in his basement could potentially build a multi billion dollar business and run it on his own. How cool is that?
A lot of the members of your core team have very diverse interests outside of work. When you’re not working on Bumper, what do you enjoy doing?
That has changed fundamentally since I left London three years ago and moved to Australia. Since I’ve been here on the Central Coast, I found myself just inundated with activities that previously were just not available to me. So I surf a couple of days a week and I try to go mountain bike riding one day a week. I like to take my family out for a nice long walk in National Parks, and have a little picnic. And then like once a month we’ll take a little boat out and go fishing and scuba diving.
One thing that I’ve become devoutly committed to since moving here is meeting up with a bunch of really great friends that I’ve met since coming here. We meet at six am and we jog the full length of the beach, then we come back and we do the Wim Hof breathing exercises that really oxygenates your body and then we jump in the sea, which at that time of the morning is just beautiful with the sunrise coming up.
Just naturally I’ve gravitated towards doing activities that just keep me mentally and physically acute.
Do you think that the outdoors, active lifestyle has a positive impact on the work that you’re doing? Do you think it makes you more efficient and effective?
Yeah, of course it does. I think a lot of those activities do what we all need, which is get you away from the desk and allow you to connect with nature. It allows all those ideas in the back of your head to incubate, so that you get a bit more clarity.
And as with any business or any job, sometimes you have your good days and your bad days, and sometimes you can feel a little bit down in the mouth and it’s quite restorative doing these activities. You can have a terrible day and then come back and see your way through a problem. I’ll just get back on my desk and get back into it, because if there’s one thing about running a successful business, it’s determination.
Where do you think DeFi is going to be in the future, what’s it going to look like?
We all know that something special is happening in DeFi. No one’s really figured out where it’s all going, I think it would have been almost impossible to work out where the Internet was going back in the 90s, right? We just all knew it was special. And I’ve got that same sense now than I did then. But I think there’s a few things which are starting to coalesce.
The first one is low latency, high frequency ecosystems such as decentralised finance marketplaces, give rise to a whole different system than traditional finance. If money can fly around that quickly, then that allows for instruments and products and services that you just couldn’t get before. So there’s something really interesting about what that’s going to mean for the future.
The second thing is that when central bank digital currencies come out you’ll just get wrapped versions of that and they’ll just suck it into DeFi. That’s definitely going to happen and TVLs are going to explode.
And then the third interesting thing that has started to occupy my mind a lot, is the migration to the DAO and how that will look. It’s obviously a really important step in DeFi, because it’s the last thing to decentralise about the organisation. If you can decentralise the management, then that’s it. There’s nothing left. I think that if we were five years hence, I reckon what we would see is the emergence of machine learning AI entities that will be running those DAO’s on a day to day basis, but then still taking community permissions proposals and votes coming in on upgrades. I studied AI at university so I follow it religiously.
These are all fascinating ideas. Where does Bumper fit into all of those different components that you just mentioned.
So certainly we have this kind of vision where we want to get that proof of concept and then build up a major protocol within DeFi for volatility. What we then want to do is start to push out of DeFi and see how far we can build this tool in traditional finance, and expand out from decentralised finance and traditional finance. And then when it comes to the DAO, we’re also migrating across to a DAO. We have structured the entities and we have set up the foundation.
How about that? Are you going to burn your admin keys? Are you going to completely relinquish all control, even treasury management?
Yeah, I think that’s where we want to go. I think there’s a really good example of Kain, the founder of Synthetix handing over the admin keys. And I think he handed over something like $270,000,000 worth of treasury at the time to a community. He’s quite a pioneer in that because he has put his mouth where his principles are. However, he has kind of circled back when he saw that community governance wasn’t driving the protocol in the right direction or not driving it quick enough, and has actually now retaken control of Synthetix again.
So at Bumper we are still experimenting with that.
Bumper protects the value of your crypto using a radically innovative DeFi protocol. Set the price you want to protect and if the market crashes, your asset will never fall below that price. Importantly, if the market pumps, your asset rises too.
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