The History of dYdX (so far)

2015–2016

Antonio working at Coinbase

Before joining Coinbase, I didn’t know anything about crypto. Soon after starting working at Coinbase, I got super excited about the future of cryptocurrencies. It was impossible not to. There were so many brilliant and passionate people that were all super excited about Bitcoin. At the beginning of my time at Coinbase basically the only legitimate thing in crypto (that we knew about) was Bitcoin. We were all 100% convinced that Bitcoin would be the only interesting thing in crypto, because if any other chain did something interesting, Bitcoin would just integrate it and use its superior network effects to crush the other chain (😂). Of course that ended up being wrong.

2017

Weipoint

Prior to founding dYdX, I’d been working fulltime on a search engine for decentralized apps. I worked on this for 4–5 months, and nobody ever used it — I had ~10 users ever.

dYdX Founded — July 27

After Weipoint, I resolved to build something that was useful in the market right now. The main way crypto was being used at the time (and still to this day) was for trading and speculation. Around this time was when the very first decentralized exchanges (0x, Kyber) were coming out. I looked at this and thought this was something actually useful being built on top of Ethereum.

Initial Progress

I wrote the first version of the dYdX whitepaper (now super outdated, but here it is) and the first basic versions of smart contracts (that version never shipped to production). The initial whitepaper had protocols for margin trading and covered (fully collateralized) options.

$2M Seed Round

dYdX raised a $2M seed round @ $10M valuation led by Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain. We were fortunate to also bring on 15–20 top angel investors. dYdX now started to seem like a real company!

2018

Early Hires

Brendan, Zhuoxun (head of operations, now left & founded Magic Eden), and Bryce (senior software engineer) joined the team!

$10M Series A Round

We raised a $10M Series A @ $40M valuation. The round was again led by Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain. This gave us 5x more capital and a much longer runway (we were still not making revenue).

V1 Margin Protocol

Brendan and I built the first version of the margin trading protocol. tldr; while it was impressive technology for the time (we invented both flash loans and dex aggregators) it was massively overcomplicated, and tried to be way too general. It took almost a year to ship from when dYdX was founded.

Expo

dYdX’s first product, Expo, was built on top of the V1 margin protocol. It was a brokerage (simple trading app) that could be used to buy leveraged tokens. Leveraged tokens were tokenized versions of short/long margin positions on ETH.

2019

Solo

We built and launched the second version of the dYdX margin trading protocol, codename “Solo”. This version was more powerful and based on a pool based lending approach (which Compound popularized, and we replicated) which solved some issues with the original protocol.

Margin Trading Exchange

Taking our learnings from Expo, we launched an exchange product targeted at more sophisticated traders.

Tahoe Summer Offsite

We took our first offsite to Tahoe over the summer. We did some hiking and general hanging out 🍻

dYdX Order Book

Up until this point dYdX had not built its own trading system. Instead, we integrated with a third party DEX, 0x to source buy and sell orders for ETH. Our users experienced a number of issues with this, including high revert rates (eg a user would place a trade and then later would find out it failed) and low liquidity.

2020

Tahoe Ski Offsite

We got a big Airbnb together in Tahoe, and went skiing!

Revenue

In March, we turned on trading fees and started making revenue for the first time!

Perpetual Contracts

In April, we launched a brand new protocol for Perpetuals on BTC. We soon after launched perpetuals for ETH and LINK.

The rise of COMP & Uniswap

Most people don’t remember this, but dYdX was the #1 DEX by volume in early 2020 by a lot. At times we were approaching 50% market share. We were doing ~$10m trade volume / day at the time.

Crushed by Gas Fees

A major side effect of the rise of DeFi was a 100–1000x increase in gas costs on Ethereum. At this point, we were subsidizing (paying) gas fees for our users. Up until this point, this was fine as the gas fees only amounted to a few cents per trade, and the trading fees we were making more than covered them. Now, executing a single trade was costing us $100+ in gas fees, and our trade fees nowhere near covered them.

$10M Series B

We needed to raise more money or the company was looking like it’d go out of business.

2021

New office in SF

After COVID, we moved into a new office in SF in March! We’re still there today.

Layer 2 — Starkware

We needed to make a significant change to our product as our business was getting hammered by gas fees and we were unable to keep up with Uniswap, FTX and others from a product perspective. We determined it was time to move off of Ethereum L1 and onto a more scalable chain/rollup.

$65M Series C

In June ’21 we raised a $65M Series C @ $215M valuation led by Paradigm. In addition to a great new lead investor, we brought on a number of high quality trading firm investors.

LA Offsite

We took an offsite to LA and stayed in a Castle 😅 Lots of fun and great to meet the whole team post-COVID

dYdX Foundation Releases $DYDX

In Summer ’21, the dYdX Foundation, an independent Swiss foundation, was created. The Foundation released DYDX, the dYdX Protocol token, in August ’21. I encourage you to read the launch post, and understand the retroactive mining, trade liquidity mining, LP liquidity mining, safety staking pool, and liquidity staking pool.

2022

NYC office

We opened up our second HQ in NYC in SoHo!

Vegas offsite

The team took an offsite to Vegas in February! It was a blast 🃏🤩

V4

Work on V4, the fully decentralized version of dYdX, started in earnest. With V4 we have a clear mission and reason dYdX can achieve its goal of becoming the biggest crypto exchange — a fully decentralized and open source professional exchange is clearly differentiated and likely 10x better than existing financial platforms. We released a blog post detailing our plans for V4. This continues to be the highest priority project for the company…

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