Consensys and MetaMask Interview

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GN Crypto got to speak with one of the most well-known companies in the blockchain-verse Consensys and its representative Francesco Andreoli, DevRel for Consensys. Our focus was the Web3 world and MetaMask. Without any further ado, let’s deep-dive into the world of Web3 permissionless innovation.
GN Crypto: Tell us a little about the company. It was founded by Joseph Lubin, the co-founder of Ethereum. 

Francesco: There’s a lot of history around Consensys. It is focused on empowering the builders in every one of us. 

Consensys is a leading blockchain and web3 software company that has been at the forefront of innovation, pioneering technological developments within the web3 ecosystem. Through its product suite, including the MetaMask platform, Infura, Linea zkEVM rollup, Diligence, and the NFT platform, Consensys has become a trusted collaborator for users, creators, and developers. The company’s mission is to inspire and empower the builder in everyone by making web3 universally easy to use and develop on.

Today more than 850 people are working full-time at Consensys. It’s super exciting to work in this environment as more than 40 countries are represented, representing different skills, cultures, and environments. It has a big history, but we’re also super excited about the future.

GN Сrypto: Is Ukraine represented, too? 

Francesco: We do have a couple of Ukrainian colleagues.  

GN Сrypto: Awesome. We’re Ukraine-based. And which projects are you particularly proud of? You mentioned MetaMask but maybe something else?

Francesco: In the developer, or let's say, in the builder suite of MetaMask, we launched MetaMask Snaps, and I'm super excited about them. Not just because of the sub-product itself, but also because we're tapping into this kind of permissionless innovation, where we activate within snaps literally all the builders in ourselves, all the third-party developers and partners that actually bring, and they can build and bring new functionality and choice to MetaMask users.

I think we will dive deeper into the categories later. I’m also very excited about interoperability snaps. Especially because we're tapping into Web3, and it needs more interoperability and communication around different ecosystems. 

“Our big task is to educate both builders and users”

GN Сrypto: Tell us a little bit about what users can do in your ecosystem.

Francesco: Every builder in our ecosystem is trying to build a new technology stack and new kind of technology system, which is more transparent and dedicated to really empowering the users in our ecosystem. So not just bringing more transparency, consent or privacy-focused solutions. I think, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that the users or the people actually using the technology are always empowered. That's why, for example, in snaps, you have full transparency and the users give their full consent. As users, you understand exactly how the snap is interacting with your extension. 

So, this is one big part.

Also we try to empower users by giving more instruments around making much more conscious decisions, for example, transaction insights snaps are literally extensions on what the transaction data points is giving to you.

Imagine that you have multiple data points to understand that an account could be malicious. Or this account was involved in different fraudulent behavior. And then you, as a user, understand, okay, I'm interacting with this specific account, meaning I will deny the transaction. This is something that we are trying to do better and includes giving more data points and instruments to the current users and the future Web3 users so that they can make conscious decisions. 

At the end of the day, a big task in our ecosystem is educating both builders and users of the future. That’s what we’re trying to do while developing cool technologies.

GN Crypto: So the person who's using your product will be able to tell who is a potentially malicious individual or not?

Francesco: Let me step back a little bit in the snap kind of ecosystem. 

So, we launched in the open beta snaps 43 snaps between three categories. The first category is interoperability, meaning any users out there can install interoperability snap and interact with the non-EVM ecosystem, such as the BTC ecosystem. They can start doing transactions within the Bitcoin ecosystem, like Cosmos or Solana snaps. 

This is the interoperability part.

The second category is notification, we can deep dive a little bit later.  The third relevant category is all about transaction insights. You can think of them as a small extension added to your production MetaMask. Before you're transacting, accepting or denying a transaction, you can have more information about the transaction. Say you’re transacting with, for example, malicious accounts, you will see that in your MetaMask that will show you green, red, and orange accounts. In other words, transactions inside snaps are flagged if a problem is detected.

This is extremely important because there are not many instruments like that available in Web3. I use them in snaps every day, and they help to make more conscious decisions about who and what I am transacting with.

GN Crypto: Would you describe it as your ultimate edge compared to other products?

Francesco: We rather view it as a way to give more quality information to make better decisions in the Web3 world. 

Also, there will be a much more customized journey when it comes to everything Web3. For example, there will be different users who are more into DeFi. And then there will be more users or artists with an NFT focus or those focused on a privacy setup. 

We will see many more customized wallets. And that’s where snaps are really flourishing. Within snaps, we are fully opening up a new use case where everybody who wants to extend the functionality of a wallet. They're allowed to build on top of it. 

That’s why I’m super excited about everything that has to do with permissionless innovation. We're literally building on top of a layer. It is actually driven by third-party builders in our community, with snaps being in a developer-friendly way – it’s called Flask – for the past 18 months. We saw so many different use cases. Now with the open data of the 43 snaps, we have these three main categories, but are definitely looking forward to opening up and extending more categories around snaps.

Our Web3 journeys will be much more customized

GN Crypto: You say that your company has become a trusted collaborator for users, creators, and developers. But how would you substantiate that claim with real-life examples? Because let's be honest, there's lots of competition out there.

Francesco: Everything that has to do with the Web3 ecosystem, we're always trying to support on a full stack basis builders in the ecosystem, right? So whenever you're starting to build your first Dapp, you always need something for deploying your smart contracts. Something like Linea to deploy your dApp and to do that, you're using MetaMask.

We are building a full stack or comprehensive tech stack for builders in our ecosystem to advance and build a new use case that we never thought about. 

People back in Paris Blockchain Week were super excited about the launch of Linea, Consensys zkEVM rollup, and right now it is growing quite a lot. We are trying to really collaborate between different courses on this product. That’s also the strength because today you will see Linea directly supporting different networks or MetaMask. You can deploy using Infura. 

This part is also like closing a lot of the circle of builders – and that’s where it gets interesting. This is on the technology side. But we need to understand that we are also big in educating the ecosystem, not just onboarding, or continuing onboarding the Web2 developers. 

MetaMask Learn is definitely one part of the educational game there. 

We’re also very active in supporting the ecosystem through MetaMask Grants DAO. There are different initiatives, and we are very supportive in terms of hackathons and hacker houses. Consensys is  active in the ecosystem. I can’t recall how many hackathons we had in the past year, but there were many types and initiatives coming from us. 

Education plays a huge role, especially for Snaps. We want to bring the Snaps of every builder out there, but at the same time, it's also our responsibility to build this education. Right now we are speaking about transaction insights.

I think a bigger part or a big audience sometimes would like to add these instruments but they don't know where to find it. So I think it’s necessary to educate both sides right on the user side – but also get feedback as much as we can from the builders out there in terms of enhancing the new functionality of a wallet, for example.

GN Crypto: Would you say generally that people have become more blockchain and crypto savvy over the years?

Francesco: In general, they're probably different types of personas and have much more customized journeys. Some are more interested in doing NFT-heavy transactions and understanding how to deploy with no code to their collection. And then you have those who are very focused on DeFi transactions.

This is something I personally try to amplify in each developer's talk and panel I participate in around the world. Namely, that in Web3 we will have much more customized journeys, which is why we cannot have one wallet. We will have customized wallets dedicated to different functions. This is also something that is natural and evolving. I’d also like to remind everybody that the open beta is something that we consider quite successful. It’s not a sprint. Rather, it’s a marathon.

We want to make sure that we're giving more tools to third-party builders, companies, and startups to enhance the functionality of the wallet today. At the same time, we're very excited to see new use cases that we never thought about. So expect more kinds of categories being built. 

GN Сrypto: Which unexpected use cases have you encountered?

Last year, we saw different social recovery NPC accounts being billed as a Snap. We saw different social subgraphs also built on top of famous protocols.

There are a lot of extra use cases dedicated to a specific audience. We also saw different game developers not just building with the MetaMask SDK, but also enhancing functionality through notifications.

Use cases differ in terms of target audiences. There are so many different users with different needs. And that's where the responsibility of this ecosystem is. We want to shape the next-generation tooling. At the same time, we want to get specific contributions from the community, because at the end of the day, like all the builders out, they are the ones that know what the users want, and what their needs are. To bring it to the next level, community feedback and proposals are crucial.  That's where permissionless innovation is encountered.

GN Сrypto: Maybe you could talk a little bit about other projects you're working on before we’re done? 

Francesco: MetaMask SDK is another super exciting project. So anybody who wants to natively integrate their Dapps MetaMasks can actually use SDK, in addition to the Linea mainnet that I already mentioned.

A lot of different development is happening also on the Linea ecosystem, with partners supporting the network and deploying to it.

Meanwhile, Metamask Grants DAO is also continuing to offer different grants. 

GN Crypto: You touched upon grants, how easy is it to obtain one?

Francesco: You can check out the Metamask Grants DAO. First, you submit a proposal, then you undergo a due diligence procedure, and you’ll get grants and different milestones to get your tranches.

Everything’s open-source. You can check out the grants, you can also see the separate proposals. It’s one big part of the ecosystem activation, especially at a hackathon for all the builders.

I believe that, similar to our post-hackathon engagement, we're actively looking to make the most of our own platform. This way, hackathon winners are motivated to showcase what they've built.

They're more than happy to co-contribute different content pieces, to be part of the ambassador program and our ecosystem initiatives. We also organize a one-day builder event called Hyperlinks, featuring external presenters, panels, and workshops, like ambassadors to internal folks presenting specific things.  We want to make clear to the ecosystem that we are always there, and we want to be there to support all the builders. At the end of the day, what we are doing is to empower  the builder in everyone, right?