Welcome to Built on Bitcoin - Your home for innovation happening in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
March 3, 2023

E108: Creating Essential Tools for Bitcoin Developers - Max Efremov (Developer Evangelist at Hiro Systems)

Hiro Systems is a developer tooling company building software that makes Bitcoin developers lives easier. Max Efremov is developer evangelist at Hiro.

Follow Max on Twitter: @maxefremov
Follow Hiro Systems on Twitter: @hirosystems
Learn more about Hiro developer tools:


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Hiro Systems is a developer tooling company building software that makes Bitcoin developers lives easier.  Max Efremov is developer evangelist at Hiro. 
Follow Max on Twitter: @maxefremov
Follow Hiro Systems on Twitter: @hirosystems
Learn more about Hiro developer tools:


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See you in the next episode.

Max (Hiro Systems)

[00:00:00] What is up your beautiful people? Welcome back to the Built On Bitcoin podcast, where we cover all the innovation happening across the Bitcoin ecosystem. And what does that mean? That means that Stacks R S K, lightning Liquid and Bitcoin main chain are all first class citizens on this podcast. So don't think you'll find that many other places.

And, uh, So today I have a fantastic interview with Max Efremov. He is a developer evangelist at Hiro Systems. If you see this orange in this logo, that's them. They are a developer tooling company, and they focus on Bitcoin tooling for developers. , they started mostly focusing on Stacks and they are now branching out, more focused on things like Ordinals, Bitcoin main chain, Lightning. A ton of stuff they do for the ecosystem.

We cover a ton. I wanted to get a pulse of the current state of building on [00:01:00] Bitcoin as a developer, so we cover that. Talk about the mindset shift from web two to web three as a programmer, and how when you're working. These giant systems that we'd call blockchains that are really just giant systems that tell you who owns what, just they answer that question over and over and over, and they do it very, very well.

When you're doing that, how different is it trying to build a smart contract and program in that way versus kind of like the old model and JavaScript and that kind of thing? So, We cover a ton. This one was super, super fun to, to discuss and explore. So without further ado, let's jump into this episode with Max Efremov, developer evangelist at Hiro Systems.


Jake: Max. How you doing today, my man? Oh,

Max: um, I'm doing really well. I'm, I'm really excited for this. Um, [00:02:00] uh, we'll, we'll probably get into it a little bit, but I'm really excited because I am normally the interviewer, um, on my show, uh, web three on Bitcoin, and I'm normally the one driving the conversation into, uh, what my guests have.

Um, after some conversation with you and your invitation to actually be the interviewee, it's, it's a nice change of pace. So I'm, I'm really excited about that. Um,

Jake: very excited to have you. It's, uh, exciting times on stack for sure. But Bitcoin, L one innovation, kind of like the, it seems like the culture is shifting again, and like the narrative from Bitcoin is just separation of money from state and just a way to like transact value.

Moving to a more expansive definition. And, uh, there's a lot to explore from the dev side. And so you are a perfect person to talk to because you do, you do have your show, which people should definitely check out empathy on Bitcoin. But typically builders are in the background. You know, they're [00:03:00] more comfortable behind the keyboard.

They don't typically, you know, get on in front of camera. And even if you get them, sometimes it's hard to tease out the best ideas. amazing at formulating them. And you're, you've been a great synthesizer in the, in the ideas I've seen so far that I've seen so far, so ton to talk about as far as building on Bitcoin.

Um, but just to start, I'd love to get a, make it equally about the ideas and the people. And so I'd just get a quick, brief background of, of your background.

Max: Yeah, yeah. Thanks for that. Thanks for that. The, the kind words. , uh, yeah, I, I, I am often in the, in the position of having to, uh, synthesize and then summarize to people from all different kinds of backgrounds, whether they're brand new to Stacks or, um, they've been around, uh, uh, blockchain, uh, space for 10 plus years.

So, uh, my name is Max and I actually work at Hero Stax is. Uh, the, the blockchain [00:04:00] of, of note. But, uh, hero is the developer tooling company for Stacks helping developers build on that blockchain, um, which is intimately tied to Bitcoin. Uh, something, uh, we'll get into, if your guests don't know, um, stacks is the smart contract layer for Bitcoin.

Um, and the goal, which, uh, some of the, uh, blockchain upgrades that are coming out this year, the goal is to actually. Uh, smart contracts on stacks, actually broadcasting transactions to Bitcoin. So in a decentralized trust minimized way, bringing these, uh, smart contracts and smart contract logic to Bitcoin, which as we know is a, uh, uh, dead simple application, it does one thing.

It, it just sends, uh, uh, Bitcoin from point A to point B. Uh, and so, um, uh, stacks has been, um, uh, in this space for a while. I joined. Hero, uh, I'm coming up on a year almost, which is pretty mind blowing. Uh, end of May. [00:05:00] Uh, so it's end of February now. Um, and before that, I'd say, um, most relevantly in, um, 2020, I, uh, started work as a machine learning developer.

So I was, uh, basically a, a Python developer working on backend systems and, um, creating and fine tuning, um, uh, uh, natural language processing models. . So taking in, and I was working at a, um, healthcare company and, uh, what was really cool was, is that we were working on, um, it was, it was a small startup that had been acquired by a bigger company and we were working on, um, on problems that really just needed solutions, uh, quickly.

And, um, and so I was, uh, working with like a hundred million plus records of, uh, unstructured data, uh, doing a bunch. Um, s some fancy natural language processing and also some very, very simple, um, uh, hacks and um, uh, cool solutions that I got to implement. And, um, I was [00:06:00] there not very long before the flame of, of crypto, um, uh, specifically defi.

I was, um, just took me completely kidnapped me. Um, in 2020 I, um, was watching and, and like with some sort of, Uh, like a indication that there was something interesting going on, but pretty confused about like what they were calling Defi summer. Um, and then by the winter was, was basically, um, inhaling it and then, uh, left my tech job to, um, uh, work on some projects including a cohort based course.

So I was teaching, um, people, uh, about this new, um, era of blockchain enabled applic. Uh, including some developers and founders. So I wasn't teaching people, uh, development, but I was teaching people who wanted to build applications. Like, what's possible? What are these, um, defi primitives? Like, what is a swap?

What is an automated, uh, uh, market maker? What is [00:07:00] a, um, a money market? And that also built on my background in economics and um, um, finance. I have a background. , um, economics with some interest in monetary economics and also Australian economics, which has seen a huge resurgence in, um, uh, Bitcoin. Uh, this was like 2015 to 2017 for me, uh, when I was really going deep on economics.

So, uh, and then, uh, after all that educational work, um, and given my develop development experience, uh, I, uh, met the CEO of, um, hero, uh, and this, uh, developer advocacy role. Uh, uh, created an established for me to, um, come meet our users and teach them everything it is that I, I can about the suite of, uh, tools, product services that hero offers, uh, the flagship API services.

Um, we also built the explorer, the blockchain explorer. Um, Uh, and then a ton of other tools for [00:08:00] developing smart contracts, whether, you know, clarinet, which is the, uh, the, uh, command line tool for, and, and testing harness for, uh, smart contracts to, um, the JavaScript libraries that support, um, you know, the front end application.

So there's a ton that we offer of a very smart, incredible team. I'm really, really grateful and lucky to be working alongside them. Cause actually there's a lot, I, I, I don't know, you know, Python develop. is not really that similar to, uh, developing a Clarity smart contract, which we'll get into. But there's a lot I've had to learn and I've been digging into it, uh, and trying to make myself, uh, as much of a bonafide stacks developer as I can.

So anyway, that was a, that wasn't a very brief introduction, but, um, I think that's a

Jake: little That's okay. You, you opened up Pandora's Box, so I got a lot, a lot to work with. We can, we can go many ways. Very interesting though, uh, AI background quickly, what were you doing before ai? How long have you been at.

Max: Um, I've been at DEF uh, since 2019. Um, [00:09:00] um, so not, not very long. Um, and then, uh, my background is, is, is kind of, uh, interesting. Uh, um, I, before, uh, actually, so like during my time as a tech worker, I was also, um, for instance, working with the, uh, Texas Congressional delegation to implement bipartisan immigration reform.

So I was meeting with. Texas's congressional delegation to, uh, talk about their interest and openness in, um, like huge, huge bets on, on immigration. Um, was working alongside this, uh, eccentric, uh, rich guy who, who, uh, believes in these moonshots. So he's like, the odds of this are one in a thousand, um, and trillion dollar impact.

So the expected value is still super high. We take that bet all day. . Uh, and then before I worked at, that was ideal immigration. Um, and then before that, um, I had, I had [00:10:00] a, uh, uh, some unrelated backgrounds in, in, uh, public service and, uh, community service, I'd say. Yeah.

Jake: Got it. Okay. So that, so, so there's a, there's a through line there of, uh, trying to work towards a better future, which for me is one of the biggest things about why Bitcoin makes me excited is like so many people nowadays don't have hope in the future.

My, my future as active, basically as my parents, you know, was, you know, 50 years ago, whatever, based on economics and whatever it is. And to me, getting into these Austrian economics, bitcoin reigning in policy or smarter policy, uh, that's like the biggest bowl case for why we need crypto. Um, that's, that's just a side note.

I wanna touch on the dead point again though, or unless you have something to say. I,

Max: I, well I, that I. , um, that is, that is like, that is the thread that is for me, the thread, uh, to the a hundred year vision. We, we were talking about this on Twitter. We'll, we'll, we'll get to it at some point. [00:11:00] I, I, uh, I think, but, um, uh, yeah, the, there's something strange has happened.

Um, you know, uh, if there's a whole, whole long story. But, um, um, some key words for your guests, uh, for our guests to, to search. Um, uh, Tyler Cowen's, the great stagnation, uh, hypothesis. Peter Thiel has talked about this too. Um, this sense in which, um, uh, uh, technological improvement, economic growth, all of this is ki it feels like it's kind of slowed down.

I mean, feels it, it, it has slowed down and, uh, why is that? Is it because like, um, you know, is, are we getting dumber? Are we getting, you know, have all the good ideas been. , or is it, uh, this kind of weird institutional slowdown like our, our, our institutions. Like we're overregulated, we have a federal reserve printing money.

Um, you know, the price signal that interest rates, you know, signal, like how much latent capital is truly available, how mu how many unused [00:12:00] resources are truly available? That interest rate, uh, signals completely, uh, uh, uh, distorted. Um, and this just kind of leads to, you know, anything from like mal-investment.

To, it's hard to build a, you know, a five store, a five, A five building apartment building in, in San Francisco. There's 2000 people that can veto you building anything new in the city. And that's why housing is so expensive. It's this weird, and it, it's not because we're not smart enough, it's because it feels like there's this, this like, um, uh, um, institutional, um, slow down these bureaucracies that are really slow and kind of like, you know, um, backwards looking and like.

Uh, anyway, this is, uh, a really important, uh, subject and, and, and I find that Bitcoin is this, uh, deeply disciplining, um, uh, magical quantity, right? It's, uh, it can't be tampered with. It has these new rules that, uh, actually don't require. Um, you know, our, uh, policy makers, we don't, we don't actually, [00:13:00] we don't, we don't have to trust them.

Uh, we can just look at the blockchain. No one can change these rules. When I, when I realized that this is what was happening, just like, you know, everyone wants to get, um, orange peeled, they realize, oh my gosh, this is like, this is like a, a fundamentally paradigmatically new thing. And it's, uh, uh, ways of coordinating behavior that don't require a trusted third party.

Um, yeah, uh, I can stop there. But, uh, Bitcoin is, is, um, uh, an important part of that, uh, that future of, um, a world in which like we're just more generative, more vital and, and just building more. Very interesting.

Jake: Yeah, I've heard that Tyler Co in piece mentioned multiple times, so I'll have to check it out finally, uh, make the time.

But yeah, it sounds trite, but people will say like, Bitcoin is hope and. It sounds cliche, but I, it feels it's very real to me. And there's a quote that I repeat in my head a lot, which is that you don't see the world as it is. You see the world as [00:14:00] you are. And, um, when, when it comes to crypto, once you see the world that way, it's hard to unsee it, but there's still so much to build.

So it's, it's hard from a debt perspective to get web two devs to make the jump to web three, and then even more so I'm teaching myself how to code, so I'm learning clarity a little bit and learning front end, develop development. And it wasn't till getting into crypto that I had the confidence to say I could learn this stuff.

You know, I could type on the computer. , it's gonna spit back what I put in. So if I mess up, it's not, it's my fault. It's not like computer's fault, let me learn this. And, uh, but that mindset took forever. I've always loved tech, you know, back from like the Kevin Rose, uh, attack of the show days to like dig to Reddit, to all those things.

So I've always been an observer, but never wanted to partake. And so I'm curious, when you made the jump in 2019 to get into dev, did that feel weird? Any advice for people? Making that jump just for like, the new des I'm very curious about that. Cause I [00:15:00] think that's a big, that's a big thing that if we could get people to instill, be a big, uh,

Max: like level.

Yeah, yeah. Great. Great question. I've actually, so, uh, I've, I've answered something similar a lot of times and supported a number of friends and, and acquaintances, um, in their, uh, uh, in their career changes into, um, software. . Uh, so I did a, uh, a bootcamp known as at the time, Lambda School. I believe that they've changed now since to Bloom Tech.

Mm-hmm. , um, Austin Allred's, um, uh, uh, bootcamp novel in that it had this, so this, this great income share agreement, it's called where instead of like a student loan where I'm on the hook no matter what my, um, kind of career outcomes. Instead, uh, the bootcamp is only paid if and when I get a job and if I, I don't have a job, I don't get one or I lose my job or whatever, then they're not getting paid back.

So really incentive aligned, um, uh, um, uh, institution, um, which was great. So that, that's like a, a [00:16:00] kind of to one of, you know, many different options that are available. Uh, and so, uh, it was, I will say that it was, uh, definitely, um, uh, intimidating and. This, there is this, I had this story that if you didn't start developing when you're five years old or 12, then the ship is sailed and you'll never gonna, you're never gonna be able to get it.

And it's just not true. Um, it's not true, uh, because, you know, there's nothing that attention and effort won't, won't solve. So there's something like that, right? So just like, um, showing up, paying attention and, and, and learning these things helps. , part of the story was, is that I, I'm just never gonna get as good as all the people that are out there already.

And for that, the world is really, really, really complex. These systems, the, the, these software systems that support our, you know, modern economy are very, very, very complex. And, um, and, and you [00:17:00] can actually become the, the, the, the expert on a, a tiny part of a system or systems generally. And so, you know, you can kind of be in a room with a, you know, the creator of whatever software system that millions of people use.

Um, someone who knows some tech act very deeply and they don't know what you know, um, because they haven't taken the time to learn about the ins and outs of like, for instance, uh, clarity, uh, the smart contract programming language on stacks, which is different than. Uh, solidity. The, uh, most, most popular, most widely used, uh, web three, uh, smart contract language.

Um, you know, the, and not just, you may not be a, a, a, a so-called, uh, JavaScript or front end expert, and yet when you're working on your company's system, you may well be the only person that knows how, uh, these different, you know, pieces and components work. So, It's hard to overstate [00:18:00] how much complexity there is and so how much opportunity there is.

Um, uh, this guy, um, patio 11, Patrick Mackenzie is his name, and I'll send you the tweet so that we can include in the show notes. Uh, he has this, someone named the law, a law after him called Patio Elevens Law, which is, uh, specifically the software economy is bigger than you can imagine. even after hearing patio's law, meaning I'm telling you, you have no idea how big the software economy is.

And you're, and I'm telling you that, so you think to, okay, it's really big and you still don't realize how big it is. Like there are companies whose monthly engineering budget spend is like tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars. Um, there are, so, there's so much opportunity out there. It's ridiculous.

Um, uh, yeah. And. You know, maybe there's a whole sidebar conversation about AI and Codex and, you know, uh, ai, uh, uh, um, enabled software development. Um, [00:19:00] that's, that's a whole other

Jake: conversation. Well, was I, it's on my notes, but we'll see if we get there. Uh, cause there's so much to cover. I do want to, I'll just double click on something cuz the, the insecurities you mentioned were the exact ones in my head.

And the reason I found Stacks was because of clarity, because I was trying to de. My, uh, insecurities in some sense. So it's like I can go web two, web three. Web two was super mature. It's been, you know, people been building since the MySpace days and before then. So those guys who have been doing it forever are gonna beat me.

Let me go to the Fresh Frontier Web three. That was my first like, smart bet to de-risk. And then it was, well, if I do that same thing again, it's SL versus something else. And Serenity is already starting to take root. So it's like I'm fighting with these mature devs. Let me go to a blue or ocean, if you will.

And so. Solidity, or, and then I saw Trevor Owens tweet and it was Clarity, and I was like, okay, cool. I saw like a machine code. It looks all messy and black. And then it was like human readable code on the purple side and it was stacks. Yeah. So I, I [00:20:00] jumped in, I started learning for two months, got discouraged, started a podcast instead.

Here we are now, two years later, I'm coming back on to learn clarity. But, uh, that, that insecurity was exactly where I felt and. . Yeah, I think you're right. Just there's so much nuance, there's so much like granularity to each piece that if you put in the work and just learn it, you'll be, you'll be totally fine.

Um, I wanna start diving into the dev pieces then, and we, we've, we've mentioned clarity a few times, and before we get into that though, I'd love to get, if you do believe in the Bitcoin thesis, so like if you're in web three, there's a lot of money going in salinity and if you wanna go learn that. But if you believe in the Bitcoin thesis, could you give us a, an overview from a dev perspective, what does that look like from clarity to lightning to whatever Bitcoin script is?

Like what, what, what's the lay of the land currently if you're trying to extend use cases for Bitcoin?

Max: Yeah. Yeah, great question. So, [00:21:00] um, there's all of development, all of software development. There's, um, web threes within that, and then within with web three, there's. like Ethereum and Ethereum, like EVM compatible chains.

That, that, you know, typically the, their smart contract applications are written in Solidity, and then there's Bitcoin and, um, the, uh, layers or, um, uh, maybe even single applications that live on top of Bitcoin, of which some of the biggest are lightning, um, rsk, um, uh, uh, stacks. Uh, a number of. . And so, uh, um, and, and these, uh, these all, um, uh, uh, enable, extend Bitcoin functionality.

So Bitcoin obviously is, uh, the first blockchain. Um, and intentionally is very, very simple. Um, and which provides it just completely unparalleled, um, [00:22:00] security. Um, there are no defi hacks on Bitcoin cuz there's no defi. and when Solidity was, was made this, this smart contract programming language about six years ago.

Uh, so, uh, five or so years after Bitcoin. Um, uh, instead of just single application blockchains, let's add like kind of, uh, a virtual machine or a kind of computational layer to these blockchains, uh, that was Ethereum. Um, an innovation that's now been copied by many, many other blockchains. And, uh, solidity is that programming language.

And when solidity. Uh, conceived of, we had no idea just how much value these smart contract applications would, would hold inside of them. Like how, how much economic resources would be committed to these things. Um, we've, we've realized, and, and now the experience and the data to show it's billions, tens of billions of dollars.

I think a high watermark was like a hundred billion or so dollars in, uh, uh, fall last year. And [00:23:00] these smart contracts are open source code. So these aren't it. They're, they're total honeypots. And, uh, defi hacks have been, I, I don't think anyone realized just how bad these would be. Um, and you know, it's, it for a while there in the, in the last, um, kind of bull market cycle that every week there was like a billion dollar hack.

It, it seemed like there was just something totally outrageous. If you go to wrecked r e k. Uh, dot com. I think they have a leaderboard of defi hacks. Uh, it's, it's, it's gross. Um, and, um, uh, enter, enter clarity. So Stacks was, um, uh, the, um, clarity virtual machine and kinda the smart contract layer for Bitcoin was conceived of after.

Um, Ethereum and its example of, you know, these defi hacks, these bugs, these vulnerabilities, these, um, exploits a big attack surface. And clarity was designed from the ground up to, uh, mitigate that. [00:24:00] Um, the core, um, difference is that it is a decidable language, meaning it is not turning complete. Um, Uh, which is a, uh, a, a computer theoretical, uh, way to describe a system that can kind of compute anything, uh, so long as you have like the memory and the, the processing space and time for it.

Um, uh, clarity doesn't have four loops, doesn't have conditional jumps, um, and it's much more therefore explicit, which for, at first, they seem like, why would you. Like, you know, give up features. Why would you wanna, you know, make a, a kind of dumber, uh, virtual machine? We have found, uh, two main things. One, um, that it makes it safer.

It makes it more secure, more predictable, more reliable. And then two, there isn't any, um, uh, like core, uh, defi functionality that's, uh, existed on Solidity that we can't create a, uh, a version [00:25:00] of on. Um, we, we actually haven't found this to be a meaningful limitation. It is another language and you do have to learn it, and it is like, uh, more similar to Lisp than it is say, like JavaScript.

So there's a, a learning, uh, curve there. But, um, but the trade off, uh, is that it's more secure, more reliable. You can also do, uh, gas, uh, gas estimations because you have a static call graph. You know exactly what the operations are because the language is excitable. You know everything that's gonna happen.

And so when you're, you know, proposing a transaction, you know exactly how much, um, STX will cost to, uh, Yeah. To, to mine that transaction. So, um, there's a little bit about clarity. I think I was gonna make another point, but I forgot. Any, any, any questions about that?

Jake: Um, I have some about clarity, but I'm, I am curious more, not, not even more, but the, is there anything about bitcoin [00:26:00] main chain specifically?

Like there's this new ordinal craze and so right now we're seeing, especially in the investor side where, where I spend my time a lot now. Um, stacks is getting some interest, like we're seeing the, the, the, the token price pump and people are exploring it. That's, that's fantastic. But the real interest is coming in from people are realizing that L one is not fully explored.

You know, things like tap root, which is the biggest one, unlocked a lot and people will have not pushed tap root to its limit. So I'm curious about your thoughts on any of that when it comes to tap root or building for things like Ordinals, uh, on Bitcoin main. ?

Max: Yeah. Uh, no. Uh, I think what's possible with a Bitcoin script and, and taproot, I think we're still in, like, like early, uh, relatively early exploration phase.

Um, a buddy of mine actually just told me that he wrote a, um, a, like a kind of. Um, brilliant conditional, uh, multisig native [00:27:00] to, um, uh, uh, uh, Bitcoin L one. So there are addresses that have like, spend conditions based upon, um, you know, kind of, not just Multisig, but like, uh, you can imagine, um, okay, my, my lawyer and my accountant, if the two of them sign a transaction, then we can spend this Bitcoin account.

If a another party, you know, makes a, makes a signs of transaction, then within a hundred blocks, you know, it opens it up to two other people. These kinds of, um, these kind of branching logic trees of who's, who's available, who's allowed to spend this, uh, bitcoin, um, have, uh, implications for insurance companies, for big mining operations.

Um, it adds like a layer of security and all of that is happening on the l. . Oh man. I'm, my, my friend's gonna kill me. I'm gonna have to look up his name, , uh, of, uh, this company. But anyway, there's a relatively new, like, very new, um, [00:28:00] uh, company. He's, uh, he's got customers. He's raising, he's, he's doing this whole thing.

Um, ORs is also the most recent, um, kind of innovation here in the kind of L one space. Um, as Casey. Roder, I forget how to pronounce his last name, but, um, as he has said that this isn't the, he isn't the first one to come up with this idea. This has been, um, kind of mentioned a few different places, but he was the first one to really just go full hog and implement the, the kind of abstraction layer, the, the, the, uh, kind of consensus conventional rules that we now agree about, um, how to track Satoshi and um, Yeah, this is, uh, my, my regret right now is that I have not actually yet, uh, taken the time to dive very deep into, uh, ALS to see how it works at the kind of wallet level.

How these, um, like how the different op fields are filled in and like where the data exists exactly. . Um, and actually to be, to be totally transparent, my, um, [00:29:00] uh, my interaction with Lightning and with rsk, uh, liquid is another, uh, Bitcoin, um, uh, layer, uh, is, is limited to, in some instances, it's just basically using their, their kind of flagship product.

I haven't, I, I don't know how to develop with those tools or build applications with them. Again, I, I'm, I'm, you know, I spend my time going deep on stacks. Um, uh, you know, keeping track of, uh, development in our field and then also, um, you know, on our products. And, um, so, but that said, uh, there is some, there's a, there's things happening are now one for sure, and it's, it's just, it is fundamentally limited.

It's, um, uh, you know, it wasn't, it, it was intentionally not designed to actually, uh, have or carry a lot of compute on the, on the l. . And so, and that's great. That's, that's, I love that. I think, I think everyone loves that. O obviously a [00:30:00] super majority of minors and users love that. Um, uh, and, and you know what, I don't actually thi I don't, I don't want anyone to use stacks or any of these Bitcoin layers that, that they don't want to.

Um, uh, while I have my convictions about security and the, you know, various guarantees about, uh, A blockchain and, and kind of, uh, our hash digest, the finality on, on bitcoin, say all, all of the, all the innovations and features that stack brings. I don't need everyone to have those same convictions. Uh, we welcome curiosity.

There's a, um, there will always be Bitcoin Maximalist who, uh, dislike really anything besides, um, you know, native btc, um, uh, blockchains, um, And I frankly, uh, you know, Bitcoin is, is open to, for anyone to use and so that a community wants to create, um, stocks, wants to, um, you know, with the Sbtc proposal, the Namo Nakamoto, [00:31:00] uh, proposal for, for stocks, if the community voluntarily wants to, uh, send Bitcoin to.

An Sbtc escrow, Bitcoin address that then, uh, uh, uh, wrapped tokens are, you know, then minted on the stacks chain, whatever happens, defy new applications, new innovations, whatever happens. Uh, if that's, if someone wants to do that, that's their. That's totally their prerogative. Um, uh, bitcoin is, is open source for, you know, uh, for anyone to, um, you know, say otherwise it think contradicts its entire ethos.

And I'm also very, very, um, uh, in understanding and aligned on the incredible number of bad actors and, and just outright scams and. Ponzi, like, you know, terrible, um, uh, projects out there. I think that's what, I think that's a big lesson from this last market cycle is like 98% of these, uh, blockchains and these protocols, and these [00:32:00] applications are, are, um, you know, like, uh, money grabs.

They're not actually driving or delivering. . Um, and so I completely understand the weariness. The thing is though, is if like it's a good heuristic to say like, oh, a blockchain, a new application, a new blockchain needs to prove itself before I trust it. Great heuristic. Um, and, you know, you could apply it to 99% of, of blockchains, or 99.9% of new applications, right?

But if your base rate is do not, do not experiment, do not innovate, then you're gonna be wrong. The one time or the two times when like a, a new step function, innovation happens that then, you know, carries with it like broad adoption. And so you have to have a strong prior. And if you wanna live and survive, you also have to, uh, be open to experimentation.

And, uh, being open to, to new things is, in my humble opinion, um, the state. Innovation on, on, on Bitcoin, say, um, yeah. [00:33:00] Very,

Jake: very well said. Couldn't, couldn't agree more. I think that the, uh, the fact that stack is a token drives some groups absolutely bonkers. And when you say the 98% line, it's like, okay, I get it.

But you also have to be careful to throw the baby out with the bathwater and differentiate between a good faith actor trying to extend a use case in a specific line of think. . Um, and it's also funny to, to see the ordinals transformation of, they say things like, it's tricking the code. And it's like, well, you, you're building an immutable ledger and you're, you're giving it constraints.

People are gonna do what they're gonna do, like, they're gonna push it to its limits. So, um, tricking the code that, that seems like very, there's some cognitive dissonance there where you want, you want to believe one thing would say another. Mm-hmm. , um mm-hmm. , but.

Max: It's, it's interesting cause I, on the one I do, I, I, I'm sympathetic to people that are like, ALS is like, [00:34:00] um, it's only po.

Like, no, no one thought about this design or this, this, this, you know, uh, utility or this, this possibility when, uh, when, when the various like BS were proposed and, and, and Bitcoin was, you know, created. And so I, I, I understand that. Um, and also, . Um, it just comes with the territory. Uh, like these, um, you know, we, we we're just learning.

We're constantly learning all the time. I mean, cuz here's the thing, according to to to to that logic, it, it, there's an argument to be made that defi hacks are not actually hacks because if the blockchain space, um, logically permits it, and someone published that, Um, you know, it's, it's legal, it's it's logically, uh, uh, legal, uh, we have human notions about, you know, fairness and this and that, and I, which, which are important and I, I do wanna respect.

And that is, that is the problem. That's the difficulty with developing. , um, applications [00:35:00] and, you know, new, um, uh, financial primitives and, and uh, uh, coordinating with blockchain. This is, this, this, uh, protocols don't innovate very quickly. That's kind of by design, and so they move very slowly. The applications on them also with blockchain are immutable.

So, um, doing this is, is is really hard and we don't have human institutions that are gonna rewrite these agreements, kind of retroactively go back, change some parameters. Wire back money saying, no, no, no. You know, you can't have that cuz that violates our notion of fairness. We can't do that. Um, I would love if we took Matt Levine's line, um, financial, uh, blogger newsletter writer over at Bloomberg writes the best, um, financial newsletter, um, of all time in my, in, in my opinion, uh, money stuff.

He's, he's watching with like, just like equal parts, delight, joy, and horror as crypto. Does what he calls speed run financial history. There's all this innovation in in [00:36:00] finance that's happened over the last 500 years. All these painful lessons learned. N n no one in crypto is actually paying any attention to that.

No one's actually reading any financial history. No one's actually very, very few people are, and we're breaking ourselves on these lessons as we're learning them painfully ourselves. Uh, he wrote a 40,000 word piece, um, about crypto about a few months ago. Definitely check that out. If you, even if you're a, a crypto og, his writer, he's just one of the best, most lucid writers.

Um, highly, highly recommend. Very

Jake: cool. Okay. And, um, yeah, definitely sounds like there's a paradigm shift when you're developing for blockchain, where if you're doing something, a JavaScript like. , you know, get, push something to your application, you update the code and you're, you're, you're good to go. And so you can, you can move fast and break things in some sense and iterate over time.

And with smart contracts, it's much, much more important to get it right on the first try, depending on [00:37:00] how you write your contract. And as soon as you open up yourself to that expressivity or, or chance to update, that's also the exact attack loophole that they can come in from. So, is. , is that directionally right?

Like it's a paradigm shift of how to think differently about developing web two to web three?

Max: Absolutely. Absolutely. And um, so, uh, it, it absolutely is. Um, and that is why it is fantastic that the settlement layer, Bitcoin is very, very, very simple. Um, we haven't experienced like a hack or a break of the Bitcoin protocol.

Uh, we like likely never will. Um, that's fantastic. Um, the application layer on top of it, it being distinct is I, I, I believe. Great. It preserves the, the, the mon the money layer. It preserves a settlement layer. Um, and so because we're not, we're the standard, can't be and isn't, we have to make perfect applications every time.

What we do is. , we [00:38:00] start with very, very simple things and we make sure that they work very, very well and reliably like we did with Bitcoin. And then now with like, for instance, on, on stacks, uh, with these smart contract applications. I mean, this is really why, um, like the, the, the financial primitives within Defi, um, like you don't wanna build a very complex app on the blockchain.

You wanna, you want to, you wanna make it as simple as, and what's really being tracked is, uh, who owns what and, and, and kind of why, like which economic resources that we're associating and instantiating in these, these tokens, um, who owns it and what are the rules upon which that ownership can change that?

That's pretty much it. You wanna stick there More complex, esoteric things. Let that exist in your, um, you know, your front end application or wherever you know, where you're the, the stakes are, you know, even a little bit. , um, uh, yeah, [00:39:00] that, that, so, but there absolutely is a, a paradigm, uh, shift in, uh, the importance of it.

And I'll, I'll tell you, anyone who's, anyone who's published a smart contract in Maine that can feel it, it's, it's, it's, uh, it's uh, it's a different feeling. And I, um, and you are very well supported. at sacs, we have, um, a ton of developer tooling, a ton of support for, um, developers, not just on the, you know, the, the application side, the front end side, et cetera.

But the, um, underlying smart contract logic clarinet comes with. Really powerful, um, uh, testing features, uh, and a testing harness. Um, there are, you know, these deployment plans that allow for reproducible deployments, whether to your local network or to testnet or to main net. So you can, you can reliably spin up your application, just battle, test it as much as you can, and then put it out there.

Um, Uh, there's, you know, also, [00:40:00] uh, uh, auditing companies and, and, you know, uh, developers for hire that can look over code, the, these sorts of things. Um, yeah, it's, it's difficult. It's not trivial. And that's, that's, I think the, the, the, the cost or the pain of what is otherwise a, you know, uh, a, a, a completely brand new, um, uh, kind of digital quantity.

These like scar. Immutable, um, tokens that anyone can spend. If you have internet access and a private key, you can access, uh, the, you know, uh, stacks, uh, wallet or the, or Bitcoin wallet. And you can, you can use these systems and no one can stop you. and the cost of that is, you know, uh, we've then now have to front load the development and make sure that we're building really, really smart, really, um, well-tested and, and, uh, uh, well-designed and well-planned, uh, applications.

Um, yeah, we have, again, just to continue to plug [00:41:00] stacks and, and Hero Heroes, the, the Developer Tooling company. Um, there's just a, a bunch of very talented, smart people working to support, um, our users at these application developers. So, Yeah. I think also you mentioned something that I didn't, I don't think I totally responded to, which is this point about, um, uh, the fury over the stacks having a token.

Um, uh, I didn't, I didn't mean to like, all lied that, or, or, or move past it. Um, I think it's, uh, I think it's a. , uh, a valid criticism. I, I think so. One, um, that criticism was incorporated into, uh, the Sbtc proposals. And actually, um, uh, uh, I, I, I don't remember exactly the final word on it, but, um, SBTC, which is the, the, the token, uh, is, can now actually be used to pay transaction fees, which means that now native Bitcoin is the, uh, the.

Uh, um, the coin of, [00:42:00] of the realm for paying transaction fees. Um, and so that, that, that has been, that, that, that line of criticism has been incorporated, that line of feedback. Uh, and it's just one of the many other things that's, um, being, uh, worked on right now actively developed in, um, uh, with, by the, the decentralized blockchain team, uh, all over, you know, all over the internet, all over the world, um, on this Nakamoto and Sbtc.

Um, so that's what I would say with that. And I would also say I do not expect with this, uh, sbtc peg, I, I think it's very wise that people wait and watch to see what happens. Um, I don't, you know, on day one, I'm not gonna be moving all of my Bitcoin onto Sbtc. I'm gonna be. Uh, just alongside everyone else testing, uh, writing applications, uh, seeing what happens.

And I expect, um, expect the market capitalization of, of Sbtc to, to grow and to [00:43:00] rise because, um, , right now there's half trillion dollars. I, I, I don't know the latest number, but, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars of BTC sitting totally idle. Um, and the only way for it to be used, uh, quote unquote, productively in a kind of, uh, capitalistic fashion, is to use centralized, um, uh, entities.

So, you know, your block flies and your, you know, other centralized money markets for you to then send your BTC and then borrow against. And we saw what happened. They had. You know, uh, I don't want to badmouth, uh, um, you know, anyone in the industry. And there's just a, there's a, a lot of, um, a lot of ways in which these centralized entities have, have proven us wrong.

And so we want decent centralize alternatives to, um, to finance, especially in this, um, a hundred year future, uh, where Bitcoin is the, uh, the, um, the re the, uh, [00:44:00] monetary. It is the hard money upon which all, uh, transacting and lending happens, uh, that in that world in which, um, uh, you know, essential banks basically, you know, as, as, as.

To very, very briefly capitulate the, like, the theory of what may happen in a hyper ization. We're going to just continue to, uh, inflate and, um, and, uh, inflate away the value purchasing power of these dollars and other currencies to the point where there, um, may well be a hyper inflating event and just sort of one by one people will continue to move to bitcoin.

uh, how that transition goes. I, I don't know. Um, and the world in which there's a, uh, Bitcoin reserve, um, that's how central banks clear, you know, uh, or, or, you know, settle between each other. That is how, um, uh, commercial banks, um, you know, that's, that they [00:45:00] borrow with the Fed. That that's, they keep their reserves at the Fed, their Bitcoin reserves, and then they, you know, lend to businesses, et cetera, that, that world.

Um, I would love to see. , open source, decentralized, um, financial, uh, infrastructure that powers, um, those, uh, for instance commercial banks. We can see how much money or how much Bitcoin is held at these various places. And then mathematically, uh, deduce, um, , you know, the amount of, uh, uh, kind of like stats, like accredited, um, uh, money like loaned into existence, we can then have a much firmer grasp on, on, uh, what the money supply is, what prices are, um, that world.

Um, Bitcoin, I believe is not enough, um, and to have financial applications built on top of it, uh, I want to see, um, blockchains that, uh, provide this [00:46:00] financial application. Uh, this computation layer that is open source, immutable, censorship resistant, just like, you know, um, Bitcoin is, but Bitcoin right now cannot, uh, support these, um, these kinds of like smart contract logic, this kind of smart contract logic that I'm describing.

So that is, that is, someone's gonna build that, that's, that's gonna happen. And it's just a, a question of who very well said,

Jake: and it makes abundant the clear why we. layers on top to, to make that more possible and also to sandbox these experiments that are necessary. But you don't wanna just like shove them into a, a bit and put it on, on uh, bitcoin core.

Um, I have one more question for you, but I want to rehash a couple things you said, just cuz I think people get lost in certain things. So like the token, for example, is is very interesting because if you're trying to bootstrap a blockchain, you need a way to [00:47:00] incentivize people to mine. But if you don't have a token, it comes through transaction fees.

You have a bootstrapping issue, and that also leads to chain reorg, where someone can come in quickly and take over network. So it becomes this weird, it's hard to trust something, which is why. With rsk and Blockstream, you saw federations from the jump. That's how you solved that problem. So with a token, because you have eco eco economics in play, you can have an open membership network from the start and it has that utility.

With the Nakamoto release, you're gonna get something where the token will be for peg out transactions and for stacking. But like you said, the the gas will be auto convert. From Sbtc. So you have a peer abstraction layer that if you just want to be a peer BTC player, you can do that, uh, likely within the years is what

Max: the timelines look like.

Um, yeah, ju just to thank you for, for making that point, um, and stacks it, it, it kind of rode this, um, this uh, uh, this benefit of having a token and then [00:48:00] converted regime change into this, um, sbtc and. , uh, tr is, is converting is, that's a, a decentralized process that, you know, requires community support. Uh, that is, but that is, that is, uh, the alignment, uh, of the community is on that.

But, uh, that happened because of the token crude analogy is, um, Ethereum was able to actually, uh, enter into a proof of stake regime change. Um, it's hard. You can't do that from the outset because you can't, it's really hard to reliably, uh, create the decentralization of the token. , um, to then have something like robust, decentralized, uh, stakers.

Um, you couldn't do that now. People would make a a thousand wallets. They'd claim your token, so it'd really be like lots of centralization and concentration of that. But this said first they had the proof of work mining and then they moved that. But anyway, that's just to kind of, uh, fortify that point about like kind of doing things, uh, in one regime and then transferring over into.

Um, to kind of ride some of those incentive, uh, [00:49:00] benefits. So, but anyway, what was there more that you were gonna say?

Jake: No, that, that was great. I just, I, I want to jump back one with my last kind of question cuz this, this idea of developer tooling I still don't fully grasp. So you mentioned quite a bit of it, things like clarinet, which I've experimented with.

It's fantastic. It's amazing how much you can do in the terminal for static analysis. Um, deployment, deployment plans. I'm sure there's a bunch of other stuff as far as like API end. and for the devs, like, you know what those mean. But for a newbie, and I'm in the middle, doo, um, you hear things like consensus built, meta mask, and you hear things like infer on eth.

And I know what, I know what the words like, what the words are, but I don't know what they mean or how important they are. And so when it comes to dev tooling, building on a blockchain and having an entity like Hero inside an e. , uh, what, what do those things really do and how do they really help developers?

Like how, how critical are they for, for a blockchain and builders in a

Max: blockchain? [00:50:00] Yeah, so you mentioned consensus and infu. So those are companies, um, that, uh, make the developer tooling for Ethereum. Uh, they make the wallet, um, meta mask, um, and. Uh, in Fira, uh, is like they provide, they basically do a lot of indexing of the chain state and then provide APIs, uh, so that you can actually, instead of, you know, as an application developer, it's time consuming to spin up a node, uh, index the entire blockchain, and then, uh, build up an, an indexing layer, right?

So you have the raw data of all of the transactions that comprise each block, but then to actually build up, Well, what does user a well combine all of user a's transactions and then net out how many tokens they actually have. That is not, not, it's logically entailed in the blockchain, but it's not actually like, you can't go to the blockchain through blockchain explorer and like look at the blockchain and then see that, that, that sum total, you need to build a, uh, kind of a [00:51:00] layer on top that actually does that indexing and the that interpretation.

Um, as a blockchain developer, you're trying to build a new application for your user, right? You're trying to build a money market or a new NFT collection or, um, a, you know, housing registry, what, whatever it is to have to do that too is an enormous undertaking. You, you really, and, and they're, they're people that do it better and at scale they provide, uh, like hero, uh, that does, has a hero wallet like Consensus has met.

The hero wallet is, uh, the, uh, wallet of the most popular wallet in the ecosystem. We have the api, we have APIs as well for, for the stacks chain, right? So we've built that indexing layer, uh, and then we have various API endpoints that do this kind of interpretation and then, uh, uh, kind of returning whatever it is that you're querying all, all of that logic already being done.

Um, so tho those are, those are how developers use, take advantage of the work already being done by us. [00:52:00] clarinet is for developing smart contracts. So, uh, and really tied intimately with that is our vs code extension. So vs code is the developer environment. It's, uh, where it is that you're actually typing in your, your, um, your, the, the syntax that comprises your smart contract.

So Clarity dot Claire is the, the, the kind of, uh, clarity files. You are, you know, writing functions, you are writing, uh, data members like, um, you know, important data or important variables that your later down contract logic needs to references. Um, VSCO provides syntax highlighting, um, a ton of features like code completion, best practices, check checkers, so making sure that you're, you know, , uh, the developers supported in, in their best practices, um, and then.

Um, oh boy. I'm, I'm, I'm blanking. Um, we, we also made the explorer for the ecosystem, right? So to look at the blockchain Explorer, which uses our own APIs, it's, we're [00:53:00] kind of building on top of it. You know, hero is able to create really powerful tools and services and features for our, uh, users because of just, I mean, the raw talent that we have.

But then also, um, you know, we're using our own tools, we're using our own APIs, et cetera. We're also, , uh, uh, give us a little preview to your users. We're also building something, um, a, a new product, um, that's going live. Um, and, uh, uh, , I feel like I'm gonna get in trouble for saying it, but, uh,

Jake: uh, we can cut if we have to.

If there's no awful legal go out, we'll

Max: cut if we have to. If I get Joe, um, uh, I'll just say March 21st. March 21st, we're announcing a new, um, a new tool. that we've been working on very hard. And, um, it's just another, uh, step in our commitment to creating a good developer experience so that developers are doing less fiddling with, um, things that can be automated, things that, uh, can be [00:54:00] taken care of by others, and they're, they're just working on their core like logic or the core differentiating features of their application for their users.

So the less time they're spent. Doing repetitive tasks, less time they're spending, you know, like setting up their own node and, and indexing the blockchain. Like all that's good and fine, but, um, there's a lot of time that could be saved using these tools, a lot of time and pain. And um, yeah. So does that answer your question?


Jake: was exactly what I was looking for, so thank you for breaking that down. That's really helpful. We're coming up on time. We covered an absolute ton, so thank you so much for coming on here. Uh, any, any last last thoughts or things, things I didn't cover that you wanna drop

Max: right here? . Oh. Um, no, this has been fantastic.

Um, there's been a real treat. I, I, like I said, I've been the interviewer and so, uh, and I loved our guests. I get to hand select our guests. I, I'm really blessed and lucky to do that. And, uh, I've just like, you know, in my last [00:55:00] year being, uh, uh, nine months being at Hero, I've come into a. Of knowledge and understanding.

It hasn't just like made its way out. And so I really appreciate the opportunity to, uh, speak into that. You were a great interviewer and, um, Uh, come check out Hero Hero dot. So, um, there's a ton, uh, of information about our products and services and also tutorials about how it is that you can get started building these applications, creating an NFT collection.

Um, Kenny Rogers over at the Stacks Foundation also has a ton of great content for, for newcomers to the Field Clarity Camp. Uh, clarity Universe is. Uh, on the stacks, uh, dot org, um, the Stacks Foundation, this is nonprofit that supports the e. . Um, they have created a standalone self-paced course for how to learn clarity.

Um, they were also running live clarity cohort-based courses, so you could get in there with other people. Um, there's a Stacks Accelerator, uh, uh, stack Ventures. There's [00:56:00] funding in the ecosystem and environment. If you have a good, good idea, If you're working on the, you know, ordinals, you've got an idea for a new, uh, either collection or, um, accessibility tool or, or something related to it and, and you are looking to get support and funding, um, there's, you know, a ton of opportunity for you there, whether working with ordinals or building an application on stacks, um, there's a ton of support out there and.

Yeah. If you have a good idea, come reach out to come to visit our Discord. Um, come DM me, find me on Twitter. Um, yeah, that sort of thing.

Jake: Fantastic. I, I'll add two more loaded nuggets. Uh, a hundred Days of Clarity is an en excellent resource from, from Setsu who's a, uh, engineer in the ecosystem. The first 20 days are on YouTube, so just type in Hyundai as a.

and if you're building on clarity and you want to build where the puck is going, SBTC is one of the biggest changes that I see coming into Stacks. And you did a fantastic episode with Igor, [00:57:00] who's one of the core. He's leading the team that's leading that charge on Sbtc, so web three on Bitcoin, Igor and YouTube.

It'll pop up highly, highly recommend if you want to learn clarity, everything he just mentioned, and then like how to use these new things and use Sptc as a sip 10. That's gonna be the place to, to jump to. So, uh, I think it's a pretty good way to wrap. So Max, again, thank you. Thank you so much for doing this.

This has been a fantastic episode.

Max: Yeah, this has been real fun. Uh, thanks so much, Jake. Um, really appreciate you and I'll see you around. Sounds good. Take care. All right. Cheers.