dYdX Trading Inc. — Investor Update, September 2021

I wrote and sent this update to equity investors of dYdX Trading Inc. I decided to share it publicly with the community as we continue to prioritize transparency as a core value. The following information only relates to dYdX Trading Inc. and not the dYdX Protocol, dYdX Foundation, or DYDX token

Hey all,

I wanted to give you an update on the progress we’ve made on dYdX since my last update in 2020.

Summary

Top Company Priorities

  1. Hiring
  2. Full decentralization research
  3. Product improvements
  4. Growth initiatives

Metrics

Trade Volume

Our main metric, trade volume, has grown by over 20x since 2020:

Weekly trade volume ($)

Weekly revenue (from trading fees) up to $1.5m+

Weekly revenue ($)

80k users signed up, 6k WAU

Weekly & cumulative sign ups
Weekly active traders

tldr; our metrics continue to increase 10–20x YoY. I expect there to be a local maximum in volume & other metrics right after the launch of the token, but have also been very encouraged by their continued upwards trend post-launch.

International

Our top growth priority has been to grow internationally, and specifically in Asia. In December, only 10–20% of trading activity on dYdX came from Asia. Today, over 60% comes from Asia — a huge win.

Market

Over the past year, derivatives have exploded to become by far the largest market in crypto — accounting for >⅔ of all trading volume. The market leaders are currently Binance, FTX, OkEx, and Huobi. Together, they account for ~$100b+ trade volume daily. Perpetuals are by far the largest type of derivative in crypto, but we see potential growth in options & other markets long term.

Decentralized exchanges have also exploded in usage in the past year, led by Uniswap ($1.5b daily trade volume).

We have positioned ourselves as the leading DEX for derivatives. I continue to believe the evolution of DEXs will mirror that of CEXs (spot -> derivatives), and that we will see derivatives take up increasingly large % market share over time in DeFi.

Product

Layer 2 — Perpetuals [Launched]

We launched a new product for perpetuals trading on layer 2 in partnership with Starkware. It is a significant improvement from our past product (& most all other DEXs): no trading gas fees, cross margining, instant settlement, higher leverage.

The dYdX L2 product

Governance dashboard [Launched by dYdX Foundation]

The dYdX Foundation launched a dashboard for token governance, staking, and rewards. In addition to the token & governance, multiple significant liquidity mining and staking programs were launched, designed to drive growth in liquidity & trading volume. If you’re interested in diving deeper into the thinking for these programs check out my tweet storms.

dydx.community — the dYdX protocol governance dashboard

Mobile app [ETA 3–4 months]

We are heads down building a mobile app for trading on dYdX. We believe there is a huge opportunity here as nobody has yet nailed the mobile trading experience for crypto. Additionally we can build an integrated user controlled wallet into the app, allowing for an even more seamless trading experience (we want it to feel like a CEX). We will launch both iOS and Android apps out of the gates.

Mobile app designs — launching 3–4 months

Full decentralization [ETA 12–15 months]

Our top priority for the next year is to build a fully decentralized version of dYdX. Though dYdX has always been non-custodial, currently our orderbooks and matching run in a central way meaning we do not have the censorship resistant aspect of decentralization.

Over the coming year, we will be researching and building a fully decentralized version of the protocol & product that has no central components. We have recently started research for the project with Paradigm and our research teams which we expect to last about 3 months, followed by 9–12 months of implementation.

Fundraising

We’ve closed two rounds of funding: $10M led by Three Arrows Capital, and $65M led by Paradigm (with participation from many existing investors 😄).

In addition to significantly increasing our cash on hand, we’ve prioritized continuing to bring on more value-add investors. We specifically targeted:

  • Market makers (QCP, Wintermute, Sixtant, other top market makers)
  • Asia focused investors (Three Arrows, Hashed, Spartan, HashKey)
  • Top crypto VCs (Paradigm, Electric, Delphi, Scalar, others)
  • Partners (Starkware)

Challenges

Hiring

The hiring market for tech overall post-covid is very difficult, and we’re no exception to this. We’re only targeting top silicon-valley grade engineers, so are directly competing with other top tech companies. As we increase the scope of what we’re building, it has become difficult to both develop the next version of the protocol while simultaneously continuing to iterate on the current product. We’re prioritizing increasing the size of our recruiting team, and I have been spending a lot of my own time on recruiting.

Organizational

As we’ve grown from 9 to 17, I have started to become more of a bottleneck. I’m currently directly managing over half the team while also serving as the de facto head of engineering & product manager (and of course being CEO). To address this, we’re building out our management team — specifically starting with a backend engineering manager — and will continue to level up organizationally over time.

Technical

As we continue to be at the forefront of pushing forward what is possible to build on a DEX we must adopt new blockchain technologies quickly and solve many open-ended research problems, while bundling them into a high quality professional product. Looking forward, we must figure out how to build a fully decentralized yet performant top product for derivatives trading that is fully decentralized.

People

Our team is currently at 17 full-time (with 9 engineers). We continue to intentionally keep the team small and very high quality. In the past year we have hired:

  • General Counsel
  • A growth team of 3. Additionally the dYdX Foundation has 2 on the growth side
  • 5 engineers: 1 mobile, 2 backend, 2 frontend
  • Head of Talent & 1 technical recruiter

We want to double our headcount in the next 12–18 months. Here are our currently open prioritized roles:

P0: Engineering Manager — Backend

P0: People Generalist

P1: Backend Engineer

P1: Sr. Backend Engineer

P1: Protocol Engineer

P1: Recruiting Coordinator

P2: Android Engineer

P2: Growth — Research Lead

P2: Growth — Research Associate

P2: Product Designer

P3: Workplace Experience Coordinator

P3: Technical Recruiter

If you know any excellent candidates, please introduce me to them — I’d love to talk!

Last month we took a team offsite to LA 🏄‍♂️ We also recently hosted a crypto poker night at our office in SF 🃏🍻

Financials

Revenue

We have been making $1.5m+ in revenue per week for the past few weeks (on track to make $80m+ in annual revenue at current levels).

Profitability

We currently pay variable costs of around 30% of our revenue to variable costs including revenue shares, rebates and gas fees. Outside of variable costs, our operating expenses are currently ~$6.4M / year.

This means that we are currently on track to make around ~$50M in *profit* this year if current numbers continue.

Balance Sheet

Cash: $72.4M

Stable crypto assets + loans: $13.3M

Total: $85.7M

Runway: Profitable!

Thanks for your help so far, and look forward to continuing to build dYdX together!

Best,

Antonio

Founder of dYdX