Working at Prometheus Research Labs - Bring Fire to DeFi
2 Sep 2021
6 min read
Prometheus Research Labs (PRL) is a software development team creating and implementing various DeFi protocols, including liquidity aggregation, price-stabilization wrappers, governance, peer-to-peer lending, and risk stratification.
PRL’s approach to innovation focuses on composability - they believe the most useful smart contracts are building blocks, not walled gardens. They should be open-source and as minimal as possible.
A team of historians, engineers, and designers, united by the belief that DeFi is not yet the future of finance since it is still struggling to reproduce financial products that have been around for hundreds of years. To build a new financial system, the team at PRL thinks we must first rebuild old finance in a truly decentralized form.
We recently chatted with Mark Toda, the Head of Engineering at Prometheus Research Labs, about the company’s vision for the future, the products they’re looking to build, their plans for building the team, and much more.
Tell us a bit more about the company, what are you looking to build?
We are a decentralized finance software company, meaning we're building several financial applications on the Ethereum Blockchain.
Our differentiator is that we are going for an open and shareable model. We're building small, fundamental financial components that we plan on sharing with the community. Our team and others will be able to build all kinds of interesting applications on top of those financial building blocks.
For example, right now we’re building a risk stratification protocol. In other words, this protocol can separate the price risk out ofcrypto assets. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in general are very volatile in terms of price. This protocol allows you to separate out the value of an asset from future price risk of the asset. And this is one of the building blocks we’re creating that others will be able to build on top of.
The first user-facing product we’re building is a fixed-rate collateralized lending application off of this. So a user can take their crypto-assets and borrow cash at a fixed rate using it as collateral.
We have plans to build a whole bunch of other tools, but that's the first one we’re currently working on.
What is your vision for the company, where would you like to see it go in the future?
We want to become the financial foundation of decentralized finance. That's where I was getting with the building blocks I mentioned earlier.
Teams all over the world are building decentralized financial applications, but many of them would take this vertically integrated approach where they individually build all of their own tools, it doesn’t get us far. And that's how it usually is in the traditional financial world. But we think part of the power of crypto and the power of decentralized finance is being able to build on top of other people's things. And so we're trying to embrace that and create this foundation upon which a lot of other tools can be built. We think of it as “a rising tide lifts all boats”, where if we can build these really solid and powerful building blocks, then all of the other products around the ecosystem will consequently become better.
Tell us more about the team behind the company.
At the moment we’re a very small team. The Founder, Manny Rincon-Cruz, has a background in economics and economic history. He's been studying the beginnings of money and the foundations of our traditional finance for more than 10 years. He has also worked as an advisor for several other cryptocurrency companies. His experience is the perfect storm for crypto because DeFi and crypto are this brand new fresh space and has an opportunity to rebuild and reinvent traditional financial products from scratch.. So he's applying his knowledge of the beginnings of old finance to creating a better beginning for new finance. He is both our thought leader and head of business.
I'm Mark, the Head of Engineering. I have quite a bit of background in building decentralized products. I used to work at BitGo, which is an institutional, cryptocurrency custodian. We did holdings for all kinds of cryptocurrency assets. I was the head of the Ethereum team there. So I built a lot of smart contract protocols that people are using quite a bit. For example one of them is a multi-signature wallet, a place to hold your crypto assets with multiple signers to make it more secure. I also built the Wrapped Bitcoin system, which is a way to get Bitcoin on Ethereum. That experience is pretty helpful here because we're building similar financial products, although it goes a little bit further. BitGo positions themselves as the middle ground between traditional finance and crypto finance. Whereas here at Prometheus Labs, we are trying to be the heart and soul of crypto finance.
If you'd like to join this amazing team, check out their open roles here!
What tech stack are you working with?
A lot of the software we write is Smart Contracts, which are written in Solidity on the Ethereum blockchain. But, for the user-facing applications we’re building, we have a bit of a more traditional tech stack, we're using React.js for the front-end and Rust for our back-end infrastructure. We use Kubernetes,AWS, and The Graph as well.
What are you currently working on? What can people expect when joining the team?
Right now we're building out the lending app that I mentioned earlier. That will probably be the main focus for the next two or three months. Currently, we have a few engineers working full on on the front end. And the back end is mostly building smart contacts, therefore, it's a lot of front end development we're doing right now. We're planning to have our initial launch of the app around the first weeks of August. The next couple months after that, we'll be building improvements to the system and other things to help it grow. To give you a few examples, one of them might be a rewards mechanism for providing liquidity on this system. Another one might be general improvements to the user interface. We're going to do some integrations with some other protocols to make it a little bit simpler to use as well as easier and better to use.
What is the interview process like?
We have been doing a pretty short interview process, at least compared to other tech companies I've worked at. It's been an intro screen call with me just to get to know the candidate better, talk about their background and generally see if it's a fit. Next it’s a technical interview where we’re doing a coding challenge. So for the solidity roles, it's been a smart contract coding challenge. But for the front-end role, we’re doing a more general algorithm challenge. Then we have a culture fit call with Manny which is the last formal step in the interviewing process. And usually we do one more final round with Manny and myself, where we are going through all the details again and trying to better understand the candidate’s expectations.
As you're building your team in terms of the cultural fit, what types of people are you looking for?
I think one really important thing is that they actually like this kind of work we’re doing, so they have some interest in cryptocurrency and they share this decentralized finance vision that we have. Since we are a small team, it’s very important everyone is on the same page, therefore, we want people who have aligned goals and visions with us. Also because what we do is a bit of a niche thing it’s important for us that everyone new who joins cares about it as much as we do. We are also looking for people who are a little bit more self-driven and can just take something with ownership and push it all the way through. So I guess the main things we’re looking for are being self-driven, not afraid to take ownership, and passionate about crypto.
Are you currently working remotely?
Yes, we're fully remote and planning on staying that way. Most of our team is already spread out across the US, and it’s been working quite well until now.
And finally, tell us why should people be excited about Prometheus Research Labs?
If you're excited about crypto like we are, then it probably shouldn't be too hard to be excited about this. I think we're really tapping into the true power of crypto. It's hard to even explain why it's exciting because this is naturally exciting for people like me. We're creating ways that you can interact with the financial system without having to actually have a financial system. There are people all over the world that can't access a bank, can't access loans, but they can access crypto because it's totally free and open. We're really bringing the finance that we all sort of take for granted but for people who don't have the privilege of taking it for granted. And we’re doing it in a safe, secure, and scalable way.
Don't miss the chance of joining this promising team at the start of their journey, check out their open roles here!
Marketing Manager at WorksHubSee other articles by Mihaela