We sat down with some of our staking team to answer commonly asked questions about Foundry Staking. In the following interview, you’ll get insights on what the team is currently working on, hear their thoughts on the future of ETH, explore specifics of Foundry’s staking offering, and more.
Meet the Staking Product Managers
Doug Kellermeyer: I’ve been in crypto since 2020 and have gained experience in a variety of roles before my time at Foundry. I’m really enjoying my time on the staking team so far.
Ian Humes: I got into crypto in about 2017, mainly in the ETH ecosystem. I worked my way up in DeFi NFTs and then got involved in ETH staking more so recently, so I’m excited to be on the staking team at Foundry.
Wesley Csendom: I just recently got into crypto. I bought my first NFT, I’d say within the last two years, then got involved in the communities and I was hooked. Previously, I spent eight years building digital products and tools, then in the last few years, I made the jump to Web3 and crypto and I’ve been learning as much as I can ever since.
Tell us a little bit about Foundry and the staking business.
DK: Foundry was founded in 2019 to meet the institutional demand for Bitcoin mining and hardware delivery. Since 2021, the staking business took off and it’s been a fun ride.
WC: When I was looking to make my move into the space, I couldn’t believe that one, Foundry had the biggest Bitcoin mining pool in the world. And two, with Western New York being an area near and dear to my heart, I couldn’t believe that Foundry is located right in Rochester and is such a big part of an emerging tech community and ecosystem.
We’ve taken all the expertise and experience from building the world’s largest Bitcoin mining pool, plus all that talent, and started to go full speed at staking.
DK: I think that one of the most interesting parts so far is that we get to look at the market, understand what’s out there, what best serves our clients’ needs, and really hyperfocus on those. So we build products and services around staking that are geared toward institutional clients looking to get into the digital asset space.
What do you think sets Foundry apart from some of the other staking providers out there today?
IH: I think the main thing that sets us apart is that we’re an independent staking provider. We’re not owned by any big exchanges. We eat our own dog food and stake our own assets.
DK: We’re also non-custodial, so we get to work with any custodian that our clients bring to the table. We’ll work with you to come up with a solution that makes sense for your business objectives.
Which protocols does Foundry support?
IH: I manage the ETH offering for Foundry and it’s sure to be one of our biggest offerings. I work on road mapping features and I’m working with the client teams to deliver the best product we can to institutions. We’re planning to roll it out in a big way for institutions soon.
DK: There are some exciting protocols out there right now. Currently, I’m focused on about eight. Horizen, Solana, NEAR, and Polkadot, just to name a few. All of those are very vibrant ecosystems and there’s a lot of momentum with those. It’s an exciting time to be working with those products on the mature side. We’ve got a lot of opportunities for products and services around them.
WC: My team is a little bit different than both of yours, you’re very focused on the blue-chip protocols. I’m working with a team that is focused on very early-stage protocols and early-stage opportunities. We’re talking to a lot of exciting partners and candidates, specifically in the AI space, some L1 solutions, and some ZK networks. Not a lot I can talk about right now as we’re exploring some new areas, but we’ve got a lot of exciting protocols coming down the pipe for the next wave.
What is Foundry’s process for supporting new protocols?
DK: There are a variety of ways we can interact with protocols, whether that’s the core team or their foundations. There are a lot of grants out there, too. So, whether it’s supporting tooling, helping them scale, testnets, or things of that nature, there are a variety of ways we can help support those protocols and help them into that next phase.
What types of validators does Foundry offer?
DK: The three main categories of validators that we offer are public, private, and white label. Ian knows more about the private.
IH: For private, for example, on a protocol like ETH, we work on a customer-to-customer basis, and we provision your validators for you based on your needs. It’s a custom process from start to finish when staking your ETH.
DK: On the public side, anyone can delegate through our infrastructure, and we do payouts on a regular cadence. For white label, it’s essentially the same as a public validator. We’ll just put the customer logo on there and maintain that for them.
How does Foundry secure validators?
DK: Security is the priority when we look at any protocol and certainly customer assets. Every smart contract and every validator that we have running, whether on bare metal or in the cloud, is audited by third-party security companies. So, it’s very secure and well vetted before it ever ships.
What is Foundry’s infrastructure like?
DK: Our infrastructure is hybrid, but we prioritize bare metal and actual physical servers that we can maintain, giving us a lot of autonomy and custom configurations for all the different protocols.
IH: Yeah, bare metal is definitely our priority at Foundry.
What are Foundry’s reporting tools and how do customers track rewards?
IH: We have a custom API and run our own nodes, so we’re not using any third-party services to verify that data, which is a big advantage for us.
DK: And all those rewards are going to be tracked on the API.
Are you using MEV boost to maximize returns?
IH: We do use MEV Boost — it’s been a hot topic as of late. But, when you’re looking to maximize rewards, about 90% of the network, last I checked, is using MEV Boost. To stay competitive and offer the best returns to our customers, we offer MEV Boost on top of that.
What are Foundry’s return percentages?
IH: A normal return percentage, as I would say, just pure consensus rewards are around 3%. And then MEV Boost, when you add on that, it’s about 3–6 percent depending on the block reward.
WC: Sure, so a material difference.
IH: Yeah, definitely, MEV can vary because you don’t always propose blocks in the same variance as you do attestations. That’s why the percentage can be kind of hard to nail down. But it can vary. Usually, you’re getting around 3 to 6% on top, so generally a big difference.
Does Foundry provide slashing insurance?
IH: From a risk mitigation standpoint, institutions are thinking about different ways to ensure proper risk mitigation so slashing insurance is the big topic that comes up. It’s a big roadmap item for us and something that we take very seriously.
Does Foundry have a liquid staking offering?
IH: We are looking at becoming an operator in some of the bigger staking pools. We’re still in the requirements gathering phase, but it’s something that we’re actively looking to participate in in the future.
What are you most excited for in 2023?
WC: Where I get most excited about Web3, and what I really think about is that Web3 is adding financial transactions to the presences that we’ve cultivated online in Web2. We’re thinking about how we build that into tomorrow’s products. How do we take ownership of that technology? So, when people ask me, “do I buy Bitcoin,” or “should I buy this coin,” I say this is much bigger than that. This is going to change a lot of things in the future.
IH: I’d say in my day-to-day job, specifically for ETH, I’m thinking a lot about withdrawals. You’ve got the Shanghai upgrade coming, so I think that will be a big catalyst for institutions and bigger players to come in, stake ETH, and be more liquid than they would have been in the past.
DK: I get asked all the time, you know, “is it a rough time in crypto?” While I recognize there are cycles, my biggest takeaway is that this is one of the most critical times in the ecosystem, just in the history of cryptocurrency as it is. It’s an exciting time at Foundry because the builders are building.
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