Customer Interview with Jake Hartnell, Co-Founder of Juno Network

21 min readJan 19, 2023

Find out from Jake Hartnell, Co-Founder of Juno Network, how RPCs are the gateway to the chain, and how OnFinality’s reliable RPC node infrastructure is helping to support sudden spikes in traffic and large amounts of requests on the network.

A pure DAO-ist, Jake gave us a crash course on DAO tooling, DAODAO, subDAOs and even a sneak peek into DAODAO V3!

He explains all the amazing features about DAODAO, and how its revolutionising on-chain governance, and allowing anyone to build on its no code UI.

Watch the full interview here ⬇️

Interview transcript available below ⬇️

(Disclaimer: The below transcript has been automatically transcribed hence there may be minor discrepancies with what was mentioned in the actual interview.)

Rob [00:00] Welcome to OnFinality’s customer interview series where we learn more from leaders in the blockchain space about how OnFinality’s infrastructure helps them build the decentralised future faster. My name is Rob, I’m head of growth at OnFinality and today it’s our pleasure to have Jake Hartnell. He’s a bit of a legend. He’s responsible for the Juno network, StarGaze and also DAODAO going to have a bit of a chat about how what he’s up to and how he’s using OnFinality’s services. How’s it going Jake?

Jake [00:30] It’s great. Like, yeah, actually, it’s great. Everything’s great.

Rob [00:36] So Jake, I’ve heard you describe Juno as the incubation zone for Cosmos. Can you tell us more about Juno, what it does and what you’re trying to achieve?

Jake [00:47] I mean Juno is first and foremost a community. It’s a community around built around like some really cool and novel new technologies. So IBC is certainly one of them. We’re very much consider ourselves members of the interchain that is the ecosystem of blockchains that are interconnected by the IBC protocol, which is growing at a remarkable rate and even includes Polkadot parachains as well. So you know, really becoming cross ecosystem. And we’re also really focused on like a new smart contract VM. So Wasm is the future or web assembly is the future of smart contracts. And we really believe this and we want to build out an ecosystem around what we think is clearly better. Smart contract virtual machine so. We are permissionless L1 so we let anyone upload contracts to our blockchain and we are innovating with like a lot of really cool projects like DAODAO. We have about like DeFi projects, a lot of games launching on Juno NFT marketplaces and we consider ourselves the incubator for the interchain because we don’t necessarily need projects to stay on Juno forever, we. I think the beauty of like the interchange and of Cosmos is that projects if they get big enough can have their own blockchain. So we’ve had projects like passage 3D that have launched on Juno, got some product market fit and then went on to launch their own chain. And the passage 3D chain is like I think launching later this year or early next, which is going to be really exciting

Rob: awesome yeah, it’s interesting. I had a chat with, I’m not sure if you know of Astar network within Polkadot and they, you know also kind of big fans of you know web assembly smart contracts. And I was watching something else of yours and you said you know that basically Cosmwasm is the Chad right and in the future and you’re super bullish about and I guess for maybe they could have jumped back a little bit when one of the reasons for that really is that it’s just so easy for like normal Web 2 developers to jump into web 3 because of it’s totally open in terms of the languages and things, right? But what are the limitations with that?

Jake [03:12] Last copy paste ability. I think that’s about it. And like I think I think the other limitation is like a lot of tooling has been built up around the EVM and so like things like indexers for example so. You know, that’s changed. That’s very much changed. But you know, a year ago when we started Juno, it was like, you know, definitely a lot more difficult of an ecosystem to like break into because we had a decent amount of tooling but you know we lacked you know a lot of stuff but that’s completely changed and there’s over 20 chains using CosmWasm right now. So it’s probably one of the it’s probably the second like biggest like smart contract framework like outside of EVM. It’s just that people count these things very weird yeah.

Rob [04:05] Yeah, it’s certainly in the last few months especially there just seems a lot more, I don’t know if you want to call it height, but a lot more attention within Cosmos just in general. There seems to be maybe more people are becoming more aware of it maybe because some of the events that have gone on and you know the positive things about it. And I guess maybe that’s kind of how, you know several months ago there was the Terra kind of implosion and that’s actually how we got connected with. Juno, I think in terms of, you know, sort of bringing developers from the SubQuery side into Cosmos, can you, I understand you guys also have like a Terra Development Fund. Can you share more about that?

Jake [04:51] We did have a Terra Development Fund is recently been converted by a governance to the Juno Growth Fund. So a little bit more general purpose. But the Terra Development Fund was meant as like a rescue fund for Terra developers and Terra projects to bring Terra developers and Terra projects over into the Juno ecosystem and fund where you know like Cotto for example or Cotto money is the Fiat on ramp. So today you can go to do like Juno swap for example. And purchase Juno with a credit card and deposit Juno into your bank account just directly, which is super sweet. Another one that came out was a skip protocol. So Skip is a MEV solution for the cosmos really, and we were the first chain that had. Like good MEV. That they prevent front running. It’s like they have front running and sandwiching protection. But they do allow for like transaction prioritization, which I think is valid. The really great thing about Skip is that the. 100 % at least on Juno because you know, we helped, we helped them out in their time. We need a 100 % of all MEV captured. Goes to stakers and validators, which is really cool so. So yeah, unlike, you know, like, so yeah, all the MEV on Juno basically goes back to Juno stakers, which is I think really great. Yeah, there are quite a few other projects too, but the future is really the Juno Growth Fund which is going to be investing in all sorts of projects not just projects that came from Terra.

I think after a while we decided it was better to take our learnings also from the Terra development funds. We definitely made a lot of improvements. It’s hard to make investments as a DAO, it’s hard to make investments in general. And so like you know I think we’ve made a lot of great improvements to the Juno Growth Funds and. Going forward, it has like a larger mandate. We brought in a lot of, we have brought in a lot more, the actual investors as well. So that’s it’s really great to be able to get their perspective and also match projects with funding like maybe the community the Juno community doesn’t want to like pay like the full ten million dollars the team is raising or whatever. Or, you know, maybe they don’t want to pay like the full ten million dollars of team is raising, but they can pay like, you know, maybe whatever makes sense for the community as long as the project is providing value to Juno, you know? We do expect like some sort of return some sort of ROI as long as the project is providing you know value to Juno you know we’ll we’ll use our network of investors to like match them with whatever extra funds they need. And unlike many projects in the ecosystem, it’s like we’re perfectly OK with like people launching on Juno, getting product market fit, taking advantage of a really awesome DAO in our engaged community and then starting their own chain. We love that. Like that’s great.

Rob [08:04] They’re kind of like graduated, I guess.

Jake [08:06] It’s like graduating, but you know, i don’t think it makes sense to like go and do that full step. Until you’ve like actually got a product and community of people that like, really wanna use their stuff, what I’ve seen happen with teams that like go straight to the step of launching their chain, they just. They waste a lot of time on stuff that isn’t like essential to their protocol and isn’t essential to like getting that network of users that really care about whatever they’re building. So it’s really great to be able to launch and focus specifically on your protocol and like cultivating that early like user group. And I think the Juno community is a great place to do that. And then once you have that, once you have product market fit then you’re ready to launch your own train.

Rob [08:54] Yeah, really interesting. I think there’s, yeah, so much that can be done with it, right, because there’s so many teams out there trying to build something and you guys can come with this kind of ready built, you know, community and all these other like advantages that is, you know, quite, quite different to a lot of other ecosystems. And something I’ve noticed within Cosmos especially, but also with, you know, things that I’ve noticed in Juno there is really is that you can feel the difference compared to a lot of other communities. So it’s really neat. And the thing one thing you touched on there was with this growth fund that you have like proper investors I guess institutional investors that are involved in that, but.

Jake [09:32] It’s a nice mix. We have a mix of Community oversight. So like Juno is a DAO, we’re not a company, we’re just just appear like we’re actually probably one of the few projects that doesn’t have like a foundation behind it and is just like and didn’t raise, we didn’t raise any VC money. It’s just like a it’s really just a network of like individuals and that’s what kind of makes it really powerful and a really exciting place to like incubate. And launch a lot of these projects and we’ve got a really like great developer community. We punch very much above our weight. So yeah, but, you know, I think it is important to you also just have a network of like investors that these teams can, you know, raise money from. I mean we want community representation. We want developers there that can like sanity check you know, these projects and make sure they’re actually, you know, technically competent. But if you’re building something like a game for example, or like, you know, certain types of protocols might need more funds than like, you know, the community can provide. So it’s great to have that like network that you know, we can connect projects with the funding that they need.

Rob [10:47] Yeah, it’s super interesting and that’s what I thought was like really kind of exciting about Juno is that you haven’t had that kind of legacy of kind of the big VC backers and so on. We’ve seen you know recently some of the like most hype chains and kind of falling foul because of that, right. And you’re really like built from the ground up, got that, got that support which is you know super interesting for people coming into the space and like really wanting to do something especially now given all of the issues in the last few weeks. And I guess on that point, have you noticed? Kind of now that we’re definitely in a bear market and all sorts of crazy stuff going on, you know, given that your place about being kind of an easy on ramp kind of for Web2 developers coming in or maybe other people and other ecosystems looking at Cosmos or Juno specifically, have you noticed like an increase in activity or people decrease or what, what’s going on lately?

Jake [11:44] I think there’s definitely been like a decrease in activity, it’s just I think it’s happening across the board and like every ecosystem. But i honestly think that’s fine. What really matters is like the quality people that there’s like they’re sticking around and like the best developers that we have are all like sticking around. And I think they’re more exciting, excited than ever. For example, like the DAODAO team DAODAO V2 is just about to like come out and like the smart contracts are getting audited and then they’ll be out. And it’s like it’s insanely good and. There, the whole DAODAO team is just like very committed. And even if all the other developers leave, we’re gonna like build. Like, really. Cool stuff. Like we’re just like the good people. That’s like, I don’t know. I think bear markets are a great way to like weed out all the posers and like, you know, the people that were there to just like raise like forty million dollars from Andreessen Horowitz but never really cared about Web 3 ideals and like, you know, usually weren’t that skilled or doing anything that interesting anyway. So all the best stuff got built in the bear market last time. Like all of DeFi. All the stuff we associate with NFT, like Open Sea, was largely built during a bear market. Before anyone cared anything about NFTs. And I think we’re gonna see the same thing this time as just like get rid of the posers, get rid of scammers, like get have like a nice reset. Like you know it’s just like it’s a great time for transformation. It’s a great opportunity and I think ironically like sometimes projects without like VC backing where it’s like a lot of times like people like volunteered their time for it because you know, it’s just like. That is easier to survive the bear market sometimes than, you know, like ecosystems like Solana where everyone’s just a mercenary. And guess what? All that, like all those projects are like absolutely, like screwed. And all the people, all their, the types of founders that they’ve attracted are all going to move to, like, wherever there’s money, which is going to be like Aptos and Sui and that’s going to be like, you know, the big thing or whatever maybe or maybe not.

Jake [13:57] Yeah, I mean, we, you know, we’ve definitely had some like Solana devs come over. I’ve killed a couple of Solana devs cause you know. Solana is nothing great like Juno’s way better, or like Cosmos is way better. Just yeah.

Rob [14:12] Yeah, really interesting times right now and yeah, definitely agree with your thinking there. Maybe I guess that’s one of the interesting things like you know OnFinality’s an infrastructure business, but you know DAODAO really is this infrastructure for DAOs. Can you explain to people a little bit more about that because I think that’s one of the things that, you know maybe people who aren’t in the space kind of. Underestimate the. You know, you referenced it before kind of the lack of tooling or things that just people need to do stuff and that things aren’t all just like Ponzi, like crazy coins and things are really things that actually helping people build like really interesting applications and so on. And so could you share a little bit more about you know DAODAO and what what it’s about.

Jake [15:02] Yeah, sure. So DAODAO is next generation Governance tooling and you can use it today if you go to DAODAO dot zone and you can create a DAO in less than two minutes and so many actual blockchains actually use DAODAO on Juno to govern their community funds and you want to go over them in a transparent manner. DAODAO has a great way to do that. So Chihuahua, Shane actually manages its community funds on DAODAO, Juno, subDAO. So like the Growth Fund or the TDF also managed their funds on data and you can create all the different proposals and see how people voted. And it’s a great way to provide, you know, a large amount of accountability. And we have some features that no other DAO in crypto really has. And one of the reasons that people have been very attracted to building on Juno is that like, we have great DAO tooling. You don’t have to like. Build DAO tooling as part of your protocol, you can actually just use amazing DAO tooling and then. Focus on whatever your game or your DeFi product is or whatever. You can use DAODAO to manage all your smart contract deployments, which is really a really cool thing that you can do. One of the things that CosmWasm allows you to do is you can optionally have upgradable smart contracts. And EVM You there’s no concept of like upgrading a smart contract. You have to do this whole like kind of proxy pattern and. But in Cosmos we allow for like you to set an optional. It’s completely optional. Sometimes you don’t want things to be upgradable, but sometimes it’s nice to have the option. You can have like an optional like admin that is allowed to upgrade smart contracts. And So what a lot of protocols are doing now is they have the admin as their DAO and then the DAO can like actually like upgrade different parts of the protocol which is. So a lot of people are using DAODAO out for like managing their smart contract deployments protocols. Like Juno Swap actually used DAODAO extensively for running the protocol. And they’re also they’re like token treasury, but. We have features like built in support for IBC, so IBC is like the best part of the cosmos. It’s what really like brings it all together and it’s like really awesome to see like Polkadot joining the interchange ecosystem as well. That’s extremely exciting. But our DAO tooling has built in support for RPCs, so you can hold like assets from other chains. DAODAO V2 is going to have interchain accounts feature. So you’re going to be able to control an account on another chain. So for example, a DAO on Juno can take its Treasury and LP it on Osmosis to get rewards and yield for its like Treasury, which is pretty. Would be able to. So yeah, tons of stuff you can do with like interchain accounts. I think those are really novel features. We have subDAOs so you can create like these really complex organizational structures like a lot of DAOs on Ethereum are just like well a lot of them aren’t even real DAOs, they’re just nurses, safe multi signs that are controlled by a couple of people and then they have a huge discord. But with DAODAO you can have like DAOs that have hundreds of thousands of people for members that we don’t have any of that are that big just yet. You can have you know multi CIGS or token based DAOs or NFT based DAOs with v2 which is coming out soon.

But we also have these subDAOs and so you can create these really complicated like organization structures and. subDAO is gonna have subDAOs and it like becomes really kind of recursive. The great thing about that is like, not everyone has to vote on everything. I get tired of voting on stuff like if like, I don’t want to have to vote every time. Like someone gets paid for like a marketing thing or like a making a poster or whatever or making a video or a you know, I want to make I want to vote on a marketing sub DAO. I want to give them a budget in order to like, do their actions. I want to vote on who’s going to be a member there, and I want to just make sure that they’re accountable. Like they can’t just rug the money and if they’re doing a bad job we can like recall it or replace the membership or you know so we provide like the structure for yeah creating these more complex organizations and I could talk about DAODAO after a really long time and I will totally just spend the rest of our time doing so. But there’s a lot of like really cool features for it. The best part is it’s all like mostly like no code. Like you can just use DAODAO and you don’t even have to know anything. About, you know, smart contracts, you’ll be able to just do stuff. It’s a no code UI for anybody. And the best part is it’s run by a DAO that’s very Juno style Juno like. So it’s just a yeah no startup no VCs like DAODAO always like you know we’re DAO purists. I think that only a DAO can build like the future of DAO tooling and that’s why you’ve seen I think Juno like kind of innovate on like governance in ways that we’ve not seen on other chains.

Rob [20:25] It’s a super interesting about DAODAO, I think one of the things do you think that. Say the next wave that this type of thing could be one of the things that really become more integrated with kind of everyday life in terms of like you know the organizations, start you’ve already seen through COVID, you know people working remotely this sort of hybrid structures and people kind of having a bit clearer roles around. You know if you do this and you get that and kind of a bit more transactional type way of working than what we’ve had in the past, we know we have to show up to the office and. Kind of sit there 8 hours a day. Do you think that this these sort of innovations around this will be one of those things that kind of puncture people’s you know that bridge between kind of web2 and web3 or universes?

Jake [21:17] Yeah, i think so. I think it’s going to start with like more niche communities. Everything always starts with like I think people go people too are too quick to like jump on the we’re going to on board the next billion people. Like anyone who says that in crypto is just probably trying to like pitch VC’s and I guarantee you they’re just not gonna make it like and that’s fine. But I I’m a DAO maximalist. I think that like over the next 10 years like DAOs are going to. Like take over. I think we’re even gonna have like, local governments like, or governments that are run by DAOs eventually. We and in fact i would even go so far as to say like eventually it will be like regulators will mandate like everything happens like on chain. You know we’re all that said. We’re also like you know gonna be we’re one of the things that’s coming out with DAODAO V3 which is weird to talk about because we’re not even fully shipped with DAODAO v2. But we’re going to be working on privacy features. So private DAO, treasuries, private proposals, private DAO membership, you know privacy is important. I think that you know we want to support. Like public things, we public accountability is great. You know, being like this was the decision that was made, like that’s transparency. That’s really great sometimes. But you know, on the flipside, we also do want privacy so.

Rob [22:41] Yeah, really interesting stuff. I guess coming back to the reason we’re talking today OnFinality and has a long history of providing scalable and reliable RPC infrastructure to Polkadot and other ecosystems like Avalanche recently we came in to provide API support for Juno can you explain a little bit more about how you think that’s going to help builders within the Juno ecosystem?

Jake [23:05] Yeah so again, we have like a lot of people that are launching various different projects and you need reliable RPC nodes. If you know in the early days of Juno we had like volunteer validators that would run RPC notes for projects. But some projects like got like very swamped and they had like a very large amount of requests. And I think a lot of times in web3 you can get this very spiky behaviour like the token like comes out and like everyone just rushes in and you get just because and so we had like in the early days when we had these kind of like volunteer like validator. Around RPC is like there would be a lot of downtime and then people would like write on Twitter and complain like the Juno chain is down. And it wasn’t that the Juno chain was down. The Juno chain was running just fine. It was the RPC infrastructure for a lot of these DAOs. And so RPCS are essential for providing a good user experience and because. They really are the gateway to the chain, you know, and it’s what most people that are not like developers like actually like interact with. And so having like reliable RPCs is just like really essential for bringing quality projects that have quality UX ecosystems. So I’m really glad that you guys have come over

Rob [24:28] yeah thanks for having us. I guess that kind of changing gears a little bit, yeah, I think you went to Berkeley OnFinality also has Berkeley ties. We were part of the Blockchain Accelerator Program there do you like through your experiences and like coming into this space and going through like traditional education and stuff and then coming out of it and going into this what would you kind of advise for people who are kind of like thinking about getting into crypto? What would you tell them to do, like knowing everything you know now, what would your advice be?

Jake [25:04] This is the best time to get into crypto and the like. Yeah, get in when everyone’s getting out. That’s the last time they I think the. I think I don’t know it just i would give different advice depending on like what people were trying to do, like whether they were trying to be a developer or whether they were trying to be like an investor or what not. But in general I’d say just like. If you if you want like a steady, like consistent, reliable job, don’t be a founder. They could just go work for a big company. You’ll be fine. You’ll be happier. Like if you want to get rich quick, well just realise that you’re probably gambling and that’s fine. Just like be honest with yourself. Like there’s no easy get rich quick thing in the world that I know of. Otherwise everyone would do it oftentimes like building like building things requires a lot of work and. Like it is possible to get like be really successful in this industry. But I feel like the people that really are successful in this industry are like the people that have put in like a ton of work that. And oftentimes you don’t see that, you just see like they launched like this fractionalised NFT protocol on Ether. Like they launched like NounsDAO and now the Nouns are gone for like, you know, two Eth or whatever. It’s like, yeah, a lot of times people don’t see like the amount of like work and stuff. They’re like kind of led up to those sort of. Sorts of things like the like, the developers who build like a lot of these projects have like put in, they’ve put in their hours and their time, so. I would say like. I just mostly be encouraging and just be like, yeah, go do it. It’s like. I can’t think of a better time, to be honest like. There’s also a lot more opportunities now like there really are maybe not in terms of like in terms of like, you know, jobs, but like. There’s probably less cause but that’s just for the economy at large right now what’s there’s a ton of opportunities because these DAOs and these communities especially communities like DAODAO and like you know we’re open, anyone can come in and anyone can do stuff anyone can make a proposal on chain for Juno we have an open contributor program for DAODAO. So if you can contribute to DAODAO out you can fill out a form at the end of the month and you get DAO tokens as assessed by peers like. So we have this like kind of like really like DAO based sort of idea of like. Compensation how we like determine value and so. It’s like really great, especially if you’re like in school and like not having to like worry about like feed children or whatever. Like join these communities. Just starting to like join some DAOs, just start experimenting. And I think you’ll be surprised that, like where that might take you and like your careers, you know?

Rob [28:07] Yeah, really great advice and good feedback. Well, thanks for joining us today Jake. I know you’re a very busy man. If you’d like to learn more about Juno, you can go to their website or follow Jake on Twitter, check, out DAODAO and some of the other projects he’s working on. Really awesome. So yeah, thanks again OnFinality is blockchain infrastructure made smarter. If you’re a web three builder, you can get an unlimited rate limit by signing up to our private API key, and up to 500,000 Daily API requests for free and what comes with that is all sorts of monitoring and analytics tools as well to improve your dApp. So yeah, please visit our website for more information or follow us on Twitter. Thanks again, Jake. Pleasure to have you appreciate thank you.

Jake: And you know, I’m glad to like have some like great tooling for people building dApps. So thank you. Take care.

About OnFinality

OnFinality is a blockchain infrastructure platform that saves web3 builders time and makes their lives easier. OnFinality delivers scalable API endpoints for the biggest blockchain networks and empowers developers to automatically test, deploy, scale and monitor their own blockchain nodes in minutes. To date, OnFinality has served over 300 billion RPC requests across 69 networks including Polkadot, Ethereum, Moonbeam, Astar, Avalanche and Cosmos, and is continuously expanding these mission-critical services so developers can build the decentralised future, faster!

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