Discussion with Stormy Contracts, Lead Developer (Typhoon Network) — PART 1
After the completion of my small deep dive into Typhoon Network, I decided to interview the anon lead developer of Typhoon Network, Stormy Contracts. He was kind enough to acquiesce for the same. We did a marathon of a discussion of which PART — 1 digs deep into his background and the Typhoon Network team. I also highlight his answers on how Typhoon came to be and how it stands out from the rest.
Crypto Sicario: So Stormy, let’s get this show on the road.
I know you’re anon, but I would love to know about your background. You happened to have done an AMA with CryptoRoyals where you mentioned you had worked on a bunch of apps, so keen to know more about that
Stormy Contracts: So since we’re anon I can’t give too much away, but we’re a small team of senior-career engineers, all with 10+ experience in building software and distributed systems. We worked on privacy centric products, but also in finance (mostly fintech), so Typhoon ended up being a combination of both.
We’re all very privacy fanatic people. If you are long enough in IT, you know how easy it is to track people online and what data companies collect, and that nothing good comes out of that long-term.
Sicario: Great that you have a lot of experience in creating these distributed systems, Very few teams have that. How did you get interested into the cryptocurrency space ?
SC: It’s hard to not get into as a person active in tech, isn’t it? The entire decentralized concept is very interesting.We had a bit of experience with Ethereum beforehand, but the high gas-fees were just not viable to really experiment with things. Once BSC came along and the gas was a fraction of it, it made trying out things a lot more viable.
Sicario: Fantastic that you managed to get involved. May I know exactly what you did on Ethereum ?
SC: Nothing big specifically. Just trying out Solidity to see what the fuss was about, to understand it a bit better, and playing on the testnet. But for mainnet things, the gas fees were just too expensive.
Sicario: Absolutely, I think it has become a massive barrier for new entrants to try out major dapps in this space. As long as L2 solutions on Ethereum don’t reach mainstream status, it can get blindsided by chains like Solana.
Sicario: Your website doesn’t have a full description of your team.
SC: Yes, that’s correct.
Sicario: How many members in your team ? What are your roles ? You mention in other AMAs about your background that “we’re a team that had worked with dis systems for 10+ years”. So your team has worked together in the past too ?
Sicario: Also who’re the advisors involved for your project ? You have mentioned in your TG that you’ll be seeking them for marketing purposes too, right ?
SC: The team structure is currently 4 on engineering, (all fullstack but split on different areas like blockchain, frontend, and so on), then 2 freelance designers that are on standby for whenever there are changes or pages needed. We have also recently hired our 2 moderators into community manager roles as well to help with day-to-day business. The team hasn’t worked together in the past before Typhoon.
Both advisors are experienced with working with other bigger projects in the BSC scene, and we have them on payroll to help us through this critical time of the project. I can’t share their names without first confirming.
Project motive and brief
Sicario: Alright ! Moving on, why did you decide to take up a mixer as your long term project and why on BSC ?
SC: We made sure to never call Typhoon a mixer or advertised it as that, because people usually connect shady things and fraud to the word. We started Typhoon because we saw the opportunity to join as an facilitator of privacy on this relatively new chain. Especially when gas fees are so low like on BSC: people send funds much easier around than on Ethereum and don’t fully realize that everything they do is trackable on the entire network.
But because the gas fees are so low, it also means that smart contracts like the ones from Typhoon are much cheaper to use, so if you can send a transaction, or send the same transaction in private for $2 through an easy-to-use service, we’re hoping that this would convince more people to pick privacy.
BSC itself came at the right time when people were tired of paying ridiculous amounts of money just to move funds, swap a coin or touch a smart contract. To be honest, if it was Cardano before BSC: we would have probably launched there instead. We considered AVAX too actually, but in retrospect, BSC was the right decision.
Sicario: Great that you leapt at the opportunity to be first movers in the BSC space. I think CZ did a phenomenal job of pushing the easy to use, low fees + the obvious Binance connection to boost the adoption for BSC. I think a privacy solution was missing before you guys and Swirl came around. I would like an answer about what made you pick BSC over AVAX before we dig deep into Typhoon.
SC: Well, just around that time AVAX started having some bigger issues like wallets with negative balance among others. So that was a turn-off right away. I’m not sure how they’re doing now, but I’d imagine they probably fixed those issues.
Sicario: So Typhoon Network is a fork of Tornado Cash, the privacy solution on Ethereum. What made you decide to take up a fork of Tornado rather than other solutions like CoinJoin, WabiSabi etc ? Is it primarily because of the UTXO model in Bitcoin differing from Ethereum and BSC ?
SC: I’m a big fan of Tornado and their approach to privacy. I think they’re doing everything right in the book, from their basic concept to the things they build around the idea to make sure the users’ privacy is always at the frontmost spot. The tech is very solid and something that can be expanded on later. We also don’t want Typhoon to be a copycat of course. We put a lot of effort into branding and differentiating us from the rest and are building our ecosystem around it from scratch instead of following Tornado.
Sicario: You say that you have tried to differentiate the product from Tornado Cash, how so ? And that can also be an extension of how your product is different from the other privacy solutions on BSC who are all forks of Tornado like $SWIRL, Blackhole, $HAZE ? Besides your branding and a sleeker UI, the implementation is the same, no ?
SC: The core is forked, yes, but that’s mostly where it’ll end (even on that, we upgraded the solidity version and adjusted the contracts to do so, which I think no other fork did)
The first thing that we wanted to get into were the tokenomics. This was a bigger criticism we had of Tornado, that their TORN token didn’t feel very thought through when it became tradable. I think they’re currently discussing ways to improve the token functions but aren’t there yet.
We wanted to target community participation from the get-go with our proposed tokenomics such as getting a split of the fees that happen through Typhoon (or deciding the fees themselves through governance). Then there’s the community relayer network we’re currently trying to establish, that will serve as a very important backbone to something we’re having in the pipeline (but can’t share yet). (It’s also worth noting that we don’t use any of the tornado relayer code and wrote our own in Golang instead).
Another point that’s important to us is SDKs and integrations. We don’t want to just offer a service to “move bnb from one wallet to another”, but instead try to make the service integratable easily by other dApps and partners down the line. So that interactions with smart contracts could potentially be done in a more private fashion too.
All in all, I think Tornado is more conservative with what they build and where they want to go, while we think there’s a lot more that can be done around the underlying technology and concept of “bringing privacy to users”.
Sicario: I agree about Tornado’s token launch, very rushed, got a lot of mixed response, but airdrop and first mover advantage, so yay !! Comparatively what I liked about Typhoon was a better distribution of tokens (30% — including your tokens locked in pools) vs their 0.5% + a claim in the fees.
Click here on PART — 2 for the rest of the discussion where we cover the anonymity set and roadmap future steps, marketing steps ahead and governance
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