Sreeram Kannan (EigenLayer): "Our ambition goes far beyond restaking".

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Sreeram Kannan (EigenLayer): "Our ambition goes far beyond restaking".

EigenLayer has given birth to restaking, whose principles promise to reinvent security on Ethereum. Sreeram Kannan, CEO of Eigen Labs, the company behind it, spoke to The Big Whale.

The Big Whale: In just three months, you've managed to attract more than $10 billion in assets under management. How do you explain such a craze for restaking?

Sreeram Kannan (Eigen Labs): I'd say one of the main reasons is Ethereum's robust security. When you do staking on Ethereum (read our report on the subject ed.), you make your capital, your ethers (ETH) in this case, available to help secure the network in exchange for which you receive rewards. If you do your job badly, the protocol will punish you (slashing) by confiscating your ethers.

The other essential point, and which, in my opinion, has made staking on Ethereum so successful, is that anyone can participate in this securing of the network without distinction and especially from any amount.

With restaking, we simply want to optimise security on Ethereum by enabling everyone to earn additional rewards by making their ETH available to secure other blockchains.

Some sceptical voices see it only as leverage to traditional staking, why would Ethereum need it?

On the one hand, staking has proven to be robust and serious. Slashing events are extremely rare and rewards are stable (between 3% and 5%, editor's note), thanks in particular to the emergence of professional node operators.

What we want to propose is to take advantage of this robust security to delegate it to other blockchains or protocols that would not initially want to have to manage their security themselves. In return, stakers will earn additional rewards by helping to secure several projects or blockchains, instead of just one as is currently the case with Ethereum.

What concrete benefits would this bring for the Ethereum ecosystem?

It's important to understand that developing a security system for a protocol is extremely cumbersome. We really see ourselves as a kind of marketplace where any project can find security solutions. This would considerably free up innovation, in any case that's one of the main goals we're looking for at Eigen Labs.

"Liquid restaking players have a duty to manage risk"

Are you not concerned that liquid restaking protocols, such as EtherFi or Renzo, cause problems?

First, I'd like to make it clear that EigenLayer does not directly participate in the leverage associated with restaking. When you stake ethers with EigenLayer, there are a huge number of parameters to manage yourself, such as choosing which node operators to entrust with your ethers or the AVS (Actively Validated Services), which are the protocols to be secured.

What these liquid restaking protocols offer is to be a kind of gateway to EigenLayer by simplifying the process. The emergence of these protocols is therefore beneficial for us and for the development of restaking.

As you mention, these protocols allow their users to have a synthetic representation of the ethers that you restake with them so that they can continue to invest in decentralised finance (DeFi) with the possibility of using significant leverage effects. Personally, we don't like this because of the high risk involved in this kind of leverage.

Are you working closely with these protocols?

We want to remain a neutral protocol by simply providing a platform for making security available for different projects. This principle is at the heart of our relationship with the liquid restaking protocols.

On the other hand, all players linked in one way or another have a duty of responsibility to manage risks so that they can assess them correctly and act accordingly. We therefore call on protocols in particular to inform users as fully as possible about the associated risks.

Do you ever plan to launch a liquid restaking protocol?

No, that's absolutely not on the agenda. We really want to be this platform that coordinates security for projects in the ecosystem.

At the moment, you are the only protocol to offer this type of innovation. How do you explain the lack of competition?

I think it's the lot of those who bring an innovation to be the only ones at first. For the moment, there are still a lot of unknowns about the details of how restaking works, and because these questions remain, it's difficult for other players to launch on the basis of what we've already built. Especially as our ambition goes far beyond restaking.

That is?

What we want to build is a platform that encourages maximum innovation in the ecosystem and restaking is part of that. But we are working on other projects such as Eigen Data Availability (EigenDA), which would enable blockchains to be more efficient (like Celestia, read our analysis, ed. note). We're also working on other projects.

How are the AVSs who will use your services chosen?

For the moment, it works a bit like a job interview. We'll be looking at the seriousness of the project through smart contract audits, the service the AVS is offering and the slashing mechanisms.

"The launch of a token is not on the agenda"

You recently announced the imminent launch of your mainnet. Can you give more visibility on EigenLayer's development schedule?

Currently, we operate on the mainnet and staking is enabled. However, it is not yet possible to benefit from rewards with AVS. I can also confirm that EigenDA will be the first AVS to be deployed on the main network. Overall, the roll-out of our entire solution will take time as we are taking a conservative approach to the subject.

What do you mean by "taking time"

In terms of guidance, I can say that slashing will be up and running in the second or third quarter of this year.

Can you give more details about your governance token airdrop?

We have no plans to launch a token at the moment...

When a user stakes their ethers with EigenLayer, they are rewarded in the form of EigenLayer points. What do these represent?

The points represent a user's level of staking activity. As EigenLayer evolves towards more decentralisation, the points will have their importance but for the moment, they have no particular use.

Without tokens, When and how do you plan to decentralise EigenLayer?

For the moment, we're not there yet. We will soon publish a more precise roadmap for our decentralisation.

You have grown very quickly. Currently, how many people work at Eigen Labs?

Today, there are around fifty of us, but that number is set to increase rapidly over the coming months.

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