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387: Building a Lightning services company with Graham Krizek

387: Building a Lightning services company with Graham Krizek

Jan 12, 2023
TFTC Podcast

387: Building a Lightning services company with Graham Krizek

Graham Krizek is the founder and CEO of Voltage, an enterprise-grade infrastructure company focused on providing consumers and businesses with Lightning Network infrastructure. In this rip Graham gives an update on the state of the Lightning Network, what it's like building a Lighting infrastructure company, the painpoints that currently exist, and where things are going. If you're building a company looking to integrate Lightning Voltage is here to make things as seamless as possible for you.


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0:00 - Intro, boostagrams, sponsors

6:47 - Back on the show after 2 years
9:06 - What's Voltage?
14:23 - Witnessing growth of Voltage and LN
17:43 - What have been LN's biggest strides?
19:44 - Could LN fail?
22:50 - VLS
25:17 - Favorite LN implementation?
27:10 - It's not really one network
30:06 - PTLCs
32:38 - There's lot's left new people to do
34:53 - Learning from and educating customers
41:07 - Making liquidity easier
45:09 - Flow and Surge
49:30 - Voltage privacy
50:16 - Competition for Voltage
55:45 - How's bitcoin doing in general?
58:44 - How does a Bitcoin company handle a potential long bear market?
1:01:43 - Conference fatigue
1:02:59 - Emerging markets driving adoption
1:06:53 - AI and value4value
1:10:29 - Will wallets consolidate?
1:11:48 - Future for Voltage
1:17:31 - Parting words


TFTC 387
Marty: , [00:00:00] I'm ready to, uh, I'm start, start out with podcast by stumbling through my words. I was gonna say, I'm ready to flow. Uh, I'm being inspired by your flow. You're, you've throw
Graham: your hair out. I have. Yeah. You gotta, as a bitcoin you gotta keep people guessing. You can't look the same all the time. Right?
Marty: Yeah.
I'm that way. I'll grow my beard out for like three weeks and I'll shave it. Yeah. Yeah. Actually had a moment, uh, a shave two days ago, and my seven month old son didn't recognize me. Oh, yeah. I scared the crap
Graham: out of him. Yeah. That's all, that's always fun scaring your kids when you get Yeah. Drastic, ju drastic changing your looks.
Um, that I say that then I like wear like a voltage, like sweatshirt and it kind of dosses me, but, um, yeah. Uh, gotta keep, keep him
Marty: guessing. It's a good merch. That's a good crew neck. Yeah. . I can't believe it's been two years since
Graham: you've been on. I know, that's what I was thinking. The same thing I was, I was kind of reflecting on the last time I was on and when I was, the last time that I came on TFCC about two years ago, uh, I, I [00:01:00] hadn't even, I wasn't, I had launched Voltage, but I wasn't working on it full-time.
I had a day job and I was like actually really nervous about coming on the podcast of like, ohs by day job. I'm gonna find out, are they gonna be mad? Like those kinds of things. And um, but I mean, we did it and yeah, it was a great rip. And now we're gonna gonna do it again. What,
Marty: uh, when did you leave your day job
Graham: officially?
It would've been February of 2021. So I'm coming up on two years full-time with Voltage. Yeah. You guys have come a long way. Yeah. I mean, it's been a, been a wild ride, uh, for us, for the network, for Bitcoin as a whole. I mean, um, time moves fast in Bitcoin. It's really crazy.
Marty: Yeah. There's a lot of guys leveraging you.
I mean, I don't wanna, I'm not gonna dock who I was speaking to this morning, but I was. . I had a call with somebody this morning. They're like, yeah, we're using voltages or backend. It seems like that's becoming more commonplace in the
Graham: space. Yeah, I mean, we've, we've been really fortunate. I mean, things have gone really well.
I think that, um, it speaks to the, to the need of a service like voltage in, in the market. And so, um, [00:02:00] yeah, I mean, it's been really great and it's been really, uh, that's been one of the funnest things about doing this is working with other Bitcoiners, right? Like, it's not, um, I'm not, we're not pushing, you know, some crappy software that I don't really care about.
It's like, you know, we're pushing Bitcoin, we're pushing lightning and working with, you know, some of the, some of the best people in the space. And it's just, that's, that's really, really fun. Yeah. And
Marty: so for any of the freaks out there who may be listening now, who are newer to tftc, may not have heard our first rip in 2021, or be aware of what voltage is.
What are you guys doing? Why are you doing it?
Graham: Yeah, so, uh, so what voltages, we're a Bitcoin infrastructure provider, so we just help companies and individuals, um, run infrastructure for Bitcoin and Lightning obviously. Right. But that comes down to, uh, mainly lightning nodes. Lightning is our kind of, uh, cornerstone products.
So we help, um, with hosting, running lightning nodes. We help with, uh, liquidity management, we help with observability. Um, and then we also do some things inside of like layer [00:03:00] one, Bitcoin two of just kinda operating Bitcoin nodes and things like that as well. So ultimately, you know, lightning is complex.
There's a lot to it, and there's a lot of people that want to leverage the technology, but there's honestly very few people that have kind of the technical chops to like do it all yourself all the time. And so, you know, that's where we come in. We help people, uh, you know, understand their technology and ultimately, you know, implement it into their businesses or, or what they're doing.
Marty: So you. , I mean, I guess you have three products then in offering. You have the managed node service, you have Flow, you have Surge, and then you've integrated BTC Pay Server as
Graham: well, correct? Yeah, that's correct. Yeah, we do. Um, ultimately, you know, we try and hit on kinda like the high points of, you know, one hosting, um, of nodes.
We also help people, like actually operate them, like understand, you know, we have a lot of customers that are, uh, kind of from like the fiat space where like, you know, they come to Bitcoin, um, not knowing a ton about Lightning, and so we help them understand what is liquidity, how do you, how do you use it, those kinds of things.
Um, and then, you know, e-commerce solutions [00:04:00] like btc, pay server, uh, and then, you know, surge. So we're, we're trying to create a platform platforms, it really helps people, you know, just use lightning more simply and whether, you know, we're, we're working on doing more, uh, outside of just hosting as well. So, you know, you could still host your node, but we can still help you with that liquidity or the observability or whatever.
So, um, a lot of problems to solve ultimately, and we're just trying to, you know, uh, listen to our users and just solve what you know's. What needs to be done. Yeah.
Marty: I had Rick from Crypto Cloaks on yesterday and we were talking about it cuz we both use BTC P server and just from, I liked it. Not an old dog.
I can't learn new tricks. I just, when I set something up, I get set in my ways. We set our BTC pay server and our lightning note up in May of 2019. Mm-hmm. for our sites and for the business. It's been running ever since. I have a CTO who manages it all, but there's like something's that I want as somebody who operates a company [00:05:00] on a Bitcoin standard.
Mm-hmm. and that BTC pay server doesn't have. Um, in that, I imagine it's something that you're building out, something like Surge is. , like I need, especially for on chain, when I'm receiving Bitcoin, you might be DC pay server, we have our donation page. I make it send like a dollar, $5, $20, a hundred dollars, somebody put input your own amount.
Mm-hmm. , we've received $500 donations, and so we have all these UT XOs and BTP server's. Incredible. I love it. It's my favorite open source project in the space. But as a lazy business owner, like I, I fall behind sometimes like, oh, maybe I should consolidate these UT xs. Like maybe I would love a software that just pings me and says, Hey, fee markets relatively low.
You have these UT XOs that add up to over 10 million SATs. Maybe you might wanna consolidate them.
Graham: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. That's, um, yeah, that's something that, you know, surge will either like solve today or eventually solve, but that's ultimately, I think, you know, what you just described [00:06:00] boils down to there's uh, kind of a big, uh, Difference in like the, the more, the more self-sovereign you are, the more that you wanna, you know, BTC pays over, generates a new, uh, address for every single invoice, which is good for privacy, good for, you know, dec correlating, um, activity, things like that.
But the more that you push down that route, kind of the harder it is of like, oh, I got all these addresses. The manage now are same with lightning of, you know, the more, the more, uh, private or sovereign you wanna do, the more responsibility you have, which is all like great things. Those are all great options to have.
Um, but there's not a lot, I think there's still a ways to go in like tooling to help you, um, be still like sovereign and private and all these things, but still, um, not make, you just do everything on your own from scratch every single time.
Marty: Well, I mean, we told the story yesterday too, but that was like the biggest holy shit moment in my life was plugging in the hardware wallet associated with my BTC pay server and seeing on my BTC pay server, you have X amount of Bitcoin, I plug in the wallet and says, you have zero Bitcoin.
I had no idea what a [00:07:00] gap of it was, and I was like,
Graham: what the hell is going on here? Yeah. Yeah. Oh, we've, we've heard that a lot. A lot. And there's also like, it's, um, you know, certain wallet softwares, uh, don't, don't do the, like, they don't let the gap limit be configurable or they don't like let you set the derivation path or anything like that.
And so we've, we've had customers just really freaking out, um, about, you know, oh, my Bitcoin's gone when it's just like, no, you need to, you know, adjust these settings or something. And so that's a, that's definitely a friction point that like we, we, uh, need to work on this all better as well as like the community as a whole.
Yeah. Um, really, uh, helping people understand the technology and, you know, just make it, make it dead simple. Yeah.
Marty: And so over the last two years, since you've dedicated your life to this full-time, , I mean, voltage and the Lightning Network have sort of grown in parallel and tandem, like to pretty enormous levels.
Like what's it been like building voltage, particularly focused on customers who want to leverage the Lightning Network but don't wanna manage it, um, as the Lightning Network has [00:08:00] grown and changed over the last 24 months?
Graham: Yeah, I mean, it's bo both voltage and lighting have changed a lot since I started, like when I started Voltage, um, there's like l and like the there, most of the implementations existed except for Ldk.
Ldk wasn't a thing then. Um, and, but l l and D was even had more of the share of the network than it does today. Um, and so, and like things like VLS didn't exist, like there is a lot. , you know, it was very kind of straightforward, um, in terms of what you could do inside of the network. But now, um, as you look across the network with things like Ldk and, you know, all of the vls, like all these other new technologies that have come out, um, you can do a lot more inside of the network, create new experiences, create new things, um, that just weren't really possible before, or at least it was really, really difficult.
And so, um, that's something that has been, we've, that's something that I do as kind of like running voltages. Like, you know, I really try not to have opinions on way things should be or what, you [00:09:00] know, how the network should look or, uh, play out. Because that's something that I've really learned is that, you know, there's, technology is still progressing, there's still things that are being created, uh, today that didn't exist yesterday.
And ultimately we just gotta listen to users and, you know, understand what they want and how we're gonna solve it. And so, um, there's a lot of technology, uh, that are, that is evolving, um, that really just creates new possibility inside, inside of Lightning. And so, , that's something that I focus a lot about is not, um, you know, through these last two years, learning a lot of, like the light network that exists today is completely different than what existed two years ago in terms of, you know, capacity, node count, all of these different things.
Um, and ultimately I think that, you know, the light network that we see in two years from today is gonna be vastly different again. And I think that that's just par for the course of like, innovation and technology. And, um, you know, that's something that we focus on a lot at voltages. Like, you know, um, solving these problems that need to be solved at the right time.
And that also goes into, [00:10:00] um, you know, there's some people, there's some companies like projects out there that are like, you know, creating these, uh, I would call 'em like utopian projects of like, you know, when the world is on a Bitcoin standard, everyone's gonna need this. And like, those are great. Like those are really good tools.
But you know, for us we're very pragmatic of like, how can we get the next, you know, thousand people to start using Bitcoin tomorrow and then the thousand next day and a thousand next day, and like, what are their pain points? How do we solve them? And so we're, we do get a very pragmatic approach on like developing out the network.
Mm-hmm. .
Marty: And so what have, in terms of like Lightning Network specifically, what are the strides it's made in your mind? Like what are some of the biggest updates or changes that have happened over the last two years that have really made it better and given it the ability to, to reach a commercial user base and then on top of that, as that successes happen, as always happens with Bitcoin and lightning, you, you fix some things, you grow and then you find new problems.
Mm-hmm. , what are some, mm-hmm , the new problems that are arising that you're seeing as well?
Graham: Well I think, yeah, I think one [00:11:00] of the big, this may be not like enterprise adoption type, but like one, something that we have learned a lot since, you know, two years ago or so is like privacy inside of the light network.
Like what, you know, two years ago I think everyone just kind of thought light network's private didn't really dig in much. It was just kinda like, sure. And then now we have people, um, that are kind of re, that are more dedicated into like the privacy aspects of lightning and learning, you know, what is private, what isn't private, where do we have more to work to do inside of the privacy aspects of lightning.
And there's still significantly amount, you know, more amount of work to do there. Um, and then same thing with kind of, um, Adversarial, like aspects of the network. So things like, you know, channel jamming or, um, there's a few like kind of known attack vectors out there and working through, um, mitigating those, uh, which are not, not necessarily easy problems to solve, but.
As we look for, you know, forward, I think solving a lot of those kind of like privacy and scalability issues are really gonna be, um, at the forefront of people's minds as well [00:12:00] as voltage and, uh, trying to solve those in really, really good ways. And, um, you know, I don't, there's not necessarily an exact answer on what that is.
There's a lot of ideas, a lot of proposals on how to solve each and every one of 'em. Um, but I think that that is what, you know, we've had a lot of great success in onboarding across the network, across of, you know, organizations like Cash App wasn't Easing Lightning two years ago, and like Cash App, you know, ginormous financial institution, they're very incorporated Lightning.
Um, and so, uh, it hasn't necessarily been a hindrance in adoption, but as we move forward, I think that, uh, as we onboard more and more people of, to that, to that magnitude, we're gonna have to really start looking at some of these like scalability, like, um, attack vectors and privacy and things like that.
Yeah. And
Marty: that's always been the big question in regards to Lightning specifically. I mean, it was derided as this. Just fun project that Bitcoins are playing with. Mm-hmm. and would never be scalable here we are almost launched 2018, um, yeah, beginning of [00:13:00] 2018. So here we are almost five years later. It has breached significant adoption.
Obviously not mass adoption, but it's made significant strides. Do you still worry, is there any lingering thoughts in your back of your mind? Like, Hey, this Lightning network could fail to scale or provide the utility that, that Bitcoiners Think again? Yeah.
Graham: No, that's a great question. And I think, um, so I don't, I don't really have that doubt in my mind, and there's a couple reasons for that.
I think that, um, one, again, going back to like, you know, the, the, the advances we've made since two years ago to now are significant and like, you know, it's easy, easy for us to sit here today and say, you know, we got so much more work to do. Look at the mountain, we have to climb. But you need to look back and like, look at where have we come from so far.
And like, it's significant. So we need to kind of, um, take it, you know, take it all in at once. Um, And then additionally, like with a lot of the technology improvements that are happening, I think that there's, uh, increased opportunity for more, uh, more adoption, more ease of use. And I think that, um, [00:14:00] so a couple things.
Like a lot of, uh, I think the Lightning Network is a lot larger than a lot of people on Twitter. Like to think like, I think the amount of like private channels is more significant than, you know, what people think. I think the, um, amount of people that are actually looking at the space and like working on things like behind the scenes is more significant.
So I think that. . The hard, the hard part is quantifying the light network today is really comes down to like, you know, the node count, the channel count, the channel capacity. Like those are like the three public metrics that we have for the light network. But ultimately those aren't really great metrics.
Like those aren't good at actually quantifying, is this thing working or not? You know, those metrics are more about like, you know, there's whole private channel like aspects or unannounced channels. And there's also like, you know, the more important metrics are like the throughput of how many transactions are being, you know, sent across this.
What is like the cumulative value of those. And those are inherently private. Like those will never really be known. You know, the only way is like people self-reporting. Um, and so I think that, I think we've come a long way and I think it's easy for people to kind of, um, point to these [00:15:00] lacking metrics and say, oh, it's not, but they're lacking metrics.
Like they're not great and. . And then also I think that, you know, something that we're hyper focused on at Voltage is like, you know, solving things like non-custodial or trying to push as much, um, ownership or adjustability to a user. And so I think if, you know, if we look at the Lightning Network and it's this grandiose layer two solution that's supposed to scale Bitcoin, but if it's so difficult to you, the only, the so difficult to use, the only way to use it is through custodians.
We failed. Like, that's just straight up, like, you know, we just reinvented Visa and we're gonna go back to censorship, we're gonna go back to like, you know, uh, uh, seizure, all of these things. And so, um, that is something that we're focused on, is making sure that we can, um, adjust the, or uh, uh, innovate the technology to get us to where we can still do things non-custodial and still give ownership to people, but make it as easy as these custodial solutions that everyone's kind of, um, that are, I would say, uh, majority of users are custodial today.
And so really [00:16:00] shifting that narrative. And if, if we're custodial enlightening, like it's just kind of all mute.
Marty: So you mentioned VLS a couple times earlier in the conversation. Does that play into
Graham: this? Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think that that's something that we're, uh, we're like kinda looking at and figuring out ways of, of incorporating into, and just to give a quick explainer on Vls vs.
Is like validating lightning signer. It's kind of a, a policy engine that lets, um, a user set, uh, policies on kind of what's happening inside of their lightning node. And then along with that, usually they kind of go on tandem is like remote keys, so being able to sign, you know, transactions from, you know, your phone or, uh, a hardware wallet or anything like that.
And so there's, there's a lot to unpack there, but like ultimately innovations like that and, um, you know, easier liquidity. There's kind of a laundry list of things that we can do to improve the user experience of lightning to the point where, uh, it's as easy as custodial, but you still have, you know, you still own the keys, you can still, you know, control your funds, do all those things.
Marty: Yeah. Impala toy. [00:17:00] Teased this a few months ago that, that he had made a breakthrough in the VLS technology, is another way to describe it, right? You're separating the private key from the node infrastructure. So ideally, who knows how it plays out in the long run, short term, medium run, whenever it is. But I think ideally, in my mind, if you're able to give end users the private key, like maybe it sits on, uh, start nine Labs, embassy, maybe it sits on your computer.
Maybe you have just like a, a dedicated wifi enabled USB device that can plug into your wall and you have the private key and you say, Hey, you can sign all the transactions associated with this node. And then somebody like voltage takes on the heavy lifting actually Manag. The node, but you guys have no control over the funds.
Graham: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. And there's a, like, there's, there's a lot even to go beyond that of like, um, things that aren't possible in lightning today, but are, uh, maybe being worked on or are possible are like Multisig Lightning, um, and things like that, which, you know, takes some, um, iteration on like the, the spec [00:18:00] and, and some of those things.
But like, ultimately there's a lot of opportunity to like, kind of push, uh, push those types of things forward. Uh, and so, you know, ultimately either, um, having more robust, you know, um, signing mechanisms or, um, key distribution and things like that. Um, so I think that there's, I, I have a feeling this year is gonna push a lot, um, a lot of innovation in that direction.
I know that people like the Ldk team, um, are focused on a lot of those kinds of, um, those types of solutions. So I think there's a, a lot of work to be done in that, in that realm.
Marty: Yeah. Which brings us to a spicy part of the conversation. Mm-hmm. Lightning network implementations. Do you have a favorite.
Graham: a favorite?
Well, or any surprising you? Um, yeah, so that's a good question. So I think that, um, l and d, so like we, you know, us at Voltage, like we obviously, you know, being a hosting provider, we have touched every single implementation. We've probably used it more than, than most people of each one. And so, um, we have a lot of experience kind of across the board, and [00:19:00] I think that each one is kind of well suited for specific tasks.
if you're trying to build out kind of more, um, mobile wallet experiences, LDK is definitely like the one to go with if you're trying to do a more kind of enterprise, like large scale node for a custodial service or something like l and d is definitely still like the winner there. Um, core Lightning, um, is coming up and has a little bit more, uh, you know, some opportunity and something like the scalability aspect.
So it's like, and that's something we work with our customers on, is like understanding their use case and figuring out which one fits into what they wanna do. And so, I wouldn't say that I won't, I won't say that I have a favorite. I won't, I won't, you know, I, I don't wanna go down that path, , but, um, uh, I think they all have like unique opportunities to solve problems, um, in their own ways.
Uh, And so I think, uh, it, it comes down to what you wanna do. And I also think that, you know, there's a lot of, um, innovation happening inside of like, mutiny. So you talked with, uh, with Paul, um, uh, Paul Miller, like, you know, it was several months back or something, I think. And he talked a little bit about Mutiny.
So that's like a, a very privacy centric wall that's built [00:20:00] using ldk. And so I think that there's, there's a lot of opportunity for kind of new implementations or kind of new things to be built, uh, alongside those two. And I think that, I think that ultimately, um, there will be more implementations and I think that there'll be more focus in a particular direction of like, the most private one, or the most scalable one, or the most, you know, configurable.
And so I think there's again, a lot of opportunity in that space.
Marty: That's not a bad outcome. Give people optionality. Yeah. And that goes back to. I mean, what you're saying about there not being very good metrics on the space for the Lightning Network, and even saying that the Lightning Network is a bit of a misnomer because via these different implementations or just via sub-networks that you can build in lightning, there's multiple light.
There could be multiple lightning networks. Yeah. In
Graham: the future. Yeah, I mean, definitely. And I think that that's, um, I can't remember who kind of had the idea, but like, I think that, um, as we see a lot, um, more things come out of like either surveillance tech or [00:21:00] like custodial services or whatever, I think that people kind of, some people have the idea of like these two lightning networks.
One of 'em is kind of like a highly regulated like, um, highly regulated like environment. The other one is like more, um, you know, pleb focused, more private, all those things. And, um, I think it, it's a possible outcome. That's what is so great about the Lightning network in general is that you have that option.
Like there's not, um, lightning not being a consensus layer allows you to do things like me and you could have a lightning channel. We, that's all that we have. It's just me and you. We only transact with each other and that's it. And that could, that's its own lightning network in a way. And I think that, um, there's a lot of opportunity to, uh, You can pick and choose, do you wanna operate in this regulated one?
Do you wanna operate in this, you know, less regulated one or like in, where do you want to go with it? And . Um, so I think that that's like a really exciting, um, benefit to Lightning as well, is the ability to really pick and choose how you wanna interact with it.
Marty: Yeah. And then you can even imagine a future in which, like particular companies or services [00:22:00] that don't want to risk something like a channel jamming attack on the more, the broader network will create just sub-networks or themselves and their customers, and they can sort of isolate and work within that, that circular economy, uh, of the, of a company and its customers and then mm-hmm.
maybe interact with the broader Lightning network, uh, very few times.
Graham: Yeah. I mean we've, we've definitely seen that kind of, uh, play out in some ways of like some of the larger financial institutions have to have. Legal contracts with like their channel partners because they're, you know, afraid of, oh, if there's a bug in the technology or if yeah, like, uh, you aren't gonna attack me or something like that.
And so they, um, until maybe some of those problems are better solved, they have just like legal contracts, um, to kind of like have a, you know, a binding agreement, that one's not gonna mess with the other. Um, and so I think that, uh, and, and maybe even solving those kind of channel jamming attacks and things like that, there is probably always, um, situations where you [00:23:00] only want to have channel partners that you trust, or, um, there's less just kind of opening it up into random nodes.
And so, um, there's a, and, and that also kind of comes out to personal strategy on what you want to do. Um, do you want to just open up channels into random places, or do you want to be more pragmatic about it? And so, um, again, it's optionality. Yeah.
Marty: Oh, , what are your thoughts on, I mean, this is a bit random, it doesn't really build on that part of the discussion, but it's nagging in my head I wanna talk about it.
Are you paying attention to the potential transition from HTCs to PTLs
Graham: for channels? I personally haven't been very, uh, I haven't followed that kind of dialogue much. Um, I think some of our engineers, I'm sure are, um, closer to, uh, closer to that conversation. Um, me, I just, you know, I'm, again, it kind of goes back to having an objective view of like the network of like, you know, whatever, uh, the kind of the people that are looking at the protocol that think is best and like most scalable and [00:24:00] solves like these problems.
Like, you know, I'm all for it. And so, um, and then we at Voltage just kind of digest things as they become ready and available to use. And so, uh, that's kinda the way that I think about PTCs as well is, you know, it sounds great. Like, let you know, let's go for it. And, uh, when it's ready we'll start looking at, you know, how can we incorporate this, how can we, um, upgrade or whatever.
Uh, so. . So that, that's kinda my take on it. It's not a very good answer because I don't follow like the, the, I try and follow as much technical things as I can, but there's only so much that you can follow. Yeah. There's so much out there.
Marty: That's one thing cuz I, I mean, in an ideal world, PTLC is, they seem better from a privacy perspective mm-hmm.
from uh, extendability perspective on what you can do within those channels. But it seems like, uh, so for the hash time lock contracts or how you open up a, a channel with a counterparty on lightning right now there's a, not a proposal, but there ideally, uh, there's a more optimal way to open up these, [00:25:00] these time lock contracts, which is point time lock contracts, PTLs.
A lot of the lightning developers would like to transition to that, but you, you have this thing where the lightning network's growing massively and people are using it and it's getting usability. Um, and even though PTLs may be, uh, more optimal than HDLs, there's a potential that the network just grows so large before anybody makes that transition.
That would be somewhat of a logistical nightmare to close all those HTLs and reopen
Graham: PTLs. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, um, I think that there is, maybe I could be wrong on this, so I probably shouldn't say it, but I'm going to. But I think that, uh, I think there's like people working on ways of like, trying to upgrade channels, like to support like PTs without having to close 'em.
But like, I, I don't really know what the, I think Lolo's working on it. Yeah. Yeah. I, I think that there could be a path forward with that, but I think ultimately, like what, this is another reason to be bullish on Lightning, is that there's, you know, the network that exists today isn't the network that's gonna exist tomorrow and the day after and the day after.
Like, there's so much. [00:26:00] Thi there's so much that we know that we can do and evolve with it, that it's, it's just mind boggling. And I think that, you know, ultimately a lot of that just kind of, you know, there's coordination across all these different teams and stuff like that, but it's really like kind of a, a manpower issue of like, you know, if we had not saying we had 10 x the developers inside of lightning, like, you know, it would be, we, we would be in a utopian place right now.
But I think that there is a significant amount, um, that can be done if we just had some more people working on it that we can, um, advance things further. And so I think that, um, that's one, like a call to action for anyone that's interested in this space. I, we definitely get interested because there's just, there is a lot to be done, like across the board.
There's so much work to be done. And that also is a reason to be bullish because, you know, there's, um, you know, the network that exists today is just a small fraction of what it will be in the future. Yeah,
Marty: it's the oppor, I mean, could not cosign that any harder. The opportunity is massive if you wanna come, innovate and leave your mark on the world.
Mm-hmm. not only lightning like [00:27:00] design for lightning apps. Yeah. Design for on chain protocol apps. Like just the whole space is wide open. It's extremely exciting. And you're on, you're on the cutting edge of, of changing the world, and the global monetary system. So why wouldn't you wanna come work on it?
Graham: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. And I think like that's, that's what's a big difference between, you know, when I started Voltage and, and today is there, there used to not be that many like opportunities to contribute to Bitcoin besides being a software engineer. And like that was kind of, that was what anyone that wanted to get in Bitcoin, you had to be a software engineer.
Now, today, that's totally not true. I mean, there's so many good Bitcoin companies out there and they hire across the board designers, like, you know, sales, whatever. Like there's just. Tons of opportunity. You guys have impeccable design, by the way. Oh, thank you. Thank you. It's very beautiful. Oh, thank you.
Yeah, we appreciate that. We've, uh, we've done a lot of work. We have, you know, some great designers, um, and you know, Bobby, our VP of marketing, does a great job on kind of, um, kind of coordinating a lot of that stuff. So yeah, we appreciate [00:28:00] that.
Marty: Yeah, it's, uh, it's very pretty . Thanks. And there's a good UX as well.
Intuitive. Um, well, that means, I like, what, what are some of the, like the main lessons you've learned from interacting with your growing list of customers over the last year? Is there anything, uh, dealing with a particular customer that really showed you? Huh, I, I didn't recognize this before. Um, this is something interesting that I'm learning from dealing with people in the unique ways in which they wanna leverage lightning.
Graham: Yeah. I mean, there's, there's been a lot, there's been a lot of, uh, kind of like lessons learned and I think. So like one of the big, one of the big things that we've seen really recently is there's a lot of people coming to us that are not, um, not Bitcoin focused people. So like we have a lot of like bitcoin companies that use us that are, you know, they understand Bitcoin, Bitcoin native, all those things.
But we're seeing an increase in the amount of, um, non Bitcoin centric companies. So these are people like traditional fiat payment processors that understand that Bitcoin and lightning network [00:29:00] is a superior means of moving money around the world. And they understand that, uh, they need to leverage the technology or be left behind.
And so they are, you know, coming to us looking for solutions on like, you know, hey, we need to start looking at our plans for Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. And, you know, we helped them through that. And so that has also been a huge eye-opener in terms. You know, what is, what are the UX problems inside of lightning?
You know, you can talk with a, a club all day on like, you know, why, what do you need to do with a channel? But then you go to some traditional fiat payment processor and they're like, why the hell do I need to, what is a channel? Why do I need to have liquidity? Like, can't I just like, send something? Um, and so, so that's been a big, just kind of eyeopener just in terms of like the ux, but it's also, I think that that sentiment of those types of people coming to us is, is again, super bullish for the network of like, people are waking up to the fact that if you want to, you know, send money internationally or locally, even [00:30:00] the means of sending over the white network is superior to anything else.
It's faster, it's cheaper, it's all of these things. And people are waking up to that and they're trying to understand what their strategy is for it. And so, you know, along with that, there's a huge amount of, um, things that we learn and we get insights into on people that wanna leverage the technology.
But, . They aren't coming at from a, from a Bitcoin perspective, they're coming at it from, I need to use this to save my business X dollars or whatever. Um, and so that's been, that's something that we're, you know, hyper focused on now is like really solving the UX in a way that's not, you know, not tell, not having to educate everyone.
What, what is a channel? What is the liquidity, what do you need to do? And more just solving that so that you can just start using it instead of understanding. Then using it, you can just jump right in. So these,
Marty: this particular subset of clients may have this inclination like, all right, maybe we need to adopt this cuz it's better.
Do you, do you see them get more resolved after they've set up with you? [00:31:00] They've accepted some payments and they've realized, they're like, holy shit, this is actually really, uh, really profound. Like, maybe I should be digging
Graham: more into this. Yeah, I mean, it's, yeah, it's been, it's been really fun working with those types of people because there is.
Generally an aha moment of like, wow. Like the, I think the biggest thing that they really struggle to wrap their head around is like the settlement times of like when you make a payment and that payment says succeeded. Like that means that it's, it's done. Like it's a payment made. And they're like, well, don't, like, we have to wait like a couple days to like clear it or like, you know what, what happens next?
And it's like, no, it's done. Like, that's it. And that has been, I think the biggest, uh, eye-opener to a lot of those folks is like, it's, it's truly instant settlement. And that's not like a marketing term. It's it's a fact. Yeah.
Marty: does blows people mind. It does blow people's minds. Blows people's minds. Um, that's a part of the conversation I was having earlier with, um, somebody in the mining space too.
[00:32:00] And this is something we experienced at Great American Mining. This isn't even particular to the Lightning Network, but it was just dealing with mineral rights owners who are used to, um, just letting an oil and gas company come in, extract their oil, gas, send it down market, and then get a royalty check maybe 90 to 120 days later.
Mm-hmm. where we would go to them and be like, Hey, you could take your gas and kind instead of sending it down pipeline, just have the, the oil and gas operator on your land, uh, siphon some of the gas off to this, this plot of land here. We'll put mining operations here. You mind Bitcoin, you get paid out every day.
And that was mind blowing for them. They can monetize their gas on site instantly and, and get those revenues and not have to wait three to six months to get those royalty checks.
Graham: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Like that's the, that sort of story applies just all over the board. Like it's really crazy. Um, just, I, I mean [00:33:00] it's how comfortable people have gotten with like, The idea of like 60 day, you know, payment windows and things like that.
And then, um, you think like, you know, Sonta who's doing kind of like energy payments, um, via the Lightning network. Like that's, that's obviously, uh, a spot that's prime for, you know, lightning adoption. And so I'm, I'm really excited for that team and what they're building. And I think it just goes to show like, uh, once, once you kind of get in there and you show them you don't have to wait 60 days to get this, you know, large chunk of money, you can get paid, you know, instantly and like at a, at an interval of like every hour or something.
Instead of, you know, having to wait for the end of the month and then sending it. Like, it's just, it's the ways that two parties can interact. It just really changes that entirely.
Marty: No need for a business like Chime anymore. It's like, gimme my paycheck a couple days early. It's like, hey, we can set up the infrastructure, we can get paid by the hour
Graham: immediately if you want to.
Yeah, that's, I think you had a tweet about that. It was probably a while ago, but it was, um, I think that lightning can like really [00:34:00] disrupt like the payday loans industry because like, you don't have to wait, you know, for your check every two weeks or once a month or something. You know, you can get paid every day or something like that.
And so there's just less need for those kind of predatory loans, um, against people that just need money today. And so, yeah, again, another big opportunity space.
Marty: Yeah. So what's exciting you right
Graham: now? Oh man. Um, a lot, a lot of things like what? Something that really, um, excites me inside of voltages. Uh, we're working on a lot of like L S P work, so LSP kind of means a lot of things inside of the network, but specifically on like the, the liquidity side as we see, uh, that's a big pain point, um, for people.
So if you wanna set up a BTC pay server or something, um, requiring you to, Hey, you gotta go shop around to get these 10 channels so then people can pay you, or something like that is, that's not a good ux. And so we're working on more, um, just automated liquidity. So, uh, essentially abstracting away all of like the inbound, um, issues and just being able to, um, you know, [00:35:00] generate an invoice, send a payment.
We will make sure through like RLS P services that the payment gets there and. , I think that's gonna open up a lot of doors for a lot of people. And um, I think that, you know, no, like kind of running nose and operating nose was really hard. I feel like we solved that. I mean, fairly well. There's still a lot of work to do there, but I think liquidity is definitely like the next juggernaut that we gotta go after in terms of really simplifying for people.
So that's something we're really focused on, is making the liquidity story, you know, much, much easier. And so, um, we have some things we're working on that'll probably probably be available for testing at least by like this quarter.
Marty: Hell yeah. And as somebody's dealing with these liquidity, Issues day in and day out.
What are, what are some of those issues like for you guys if you're trying to solve these problems for your customers? What, what problems are you running to and sort of that meme where you're taking on the grenades knives,
Graham: said to them,
Marty: yeah, they're sleeping in bed. Like, what, what, what are those grenades and knives for you guys?
Graham: Yeah, so I mean, so the things that we're working on, I mean, just generally speaking, just inbound in general. So [00:36:00] like, you know, today if you wanted to go stand up at BG CCP or something, you know, you have to go to Ambos or something to like buy channels or get 'em from Ellen Big or you know, all some of these places where you can just buy a channel for, and you gotta usually buy several to make sure that you people can pay from different areas of the network.
Um, but we're kind of making like a, a liquidity service that will essentially, you can, you know, use it to just generate an invoice and people will pay to like our well connected node and then we will make sure to like open up a channel to you or resolve the payment so you can basically just forget about inbound entirely and you know, we'll just make sure that, you know, payments get there.
Um, and we will make sure that our note is, you know, well connected and all of that stuff. So that's, um, I think that that in of itself is like a, is a really big deal. Um, and then we're also, you know, just trying to make like outbound simpler too. So kind of getting from, you know, at the end of the day most, most people aren't using, um, don't, aren't the, the way to fund a Bitcoin channel today is you have to have Bitcoin open up a channel.
You have, you know, that those stats that you can send out. [00:37:00] Um, but usually people are like buying that Bitcoin, you know, swan or river or whatever. And then like, you know, transferring that to their l and d node or their node in general and then opening up channels with it. Like, that's like, you know, a four step process to get there.
No one's really, you know, no one is usually opening up from like cold storage or something where you already have Bitcoin. So the, it's, it's a little onerous to get to the ability to send via lightning. And so that's kind of the next step is like, okay, inbound is, is fairly solved and so now we need to work on outbound of like, how do you just get stats and a lightning channel that you can go and send out?
And so that goes right along with the inbound story, but um, I think that's like the logical next step and Well, how do you think
Marty: that could solve straight fiat? , uh, a channel outbound liquidity
Graham: or, yeah, I, I mean there, there's several ways I think that, um, so the, there you obviously have to use kind of an on off ramp to go from like dollars into Bitcoin, but then there's things like, you know, submarine swaps that you can do to like, you know, get the funds in or just, uh, you know, pay the, that fiat on and off ramp could have lightning [00:38:00] already, and so they just like kind of pay an invoice into your node.
So there, there's a couple different ways of doing that, but ultimately, um, trying to reduce those steps from like, you know, four steps into like one or maybe two of like buy Bitcoin, send it to your channel, um, is, is kind of like, is is the idea there? Yeah. Yeah.
Marty: There's so much to figure out. Yeah. What, uh, what else, cause do you guys have, so that's flow, right?
Um, in terms of channel management stuff, what, like what is the. Uh, speck
Graham: of flow. Yeah, so full like flow. It started out as a, uh, a wrapper on top of Lightning Labs as pool, um, auction service. And so that, that's what it was. Today, you can buy a channel really easily via pool's auction service. Um, that has been okay.
Um, it's, it's kind of had a few issues and whatnot, and it's been a, it's a good V1 of it, but that's kinda like the V2 of flow is to, uh, create more just automated LSP stuff. So it's not like necessarily [00:39:00] buying a channel from like, uh, an auction service. It's more just, Hey, here's my node pub key. I wanna make sure that payments get there, make it happen.
And, you know, we do that. And so it's a mu much simpler flow that not, not, not to be , not to be funny. Um, it's a much simpler flow, um, to that. Uh, and so, um, so just really, really revamping that and, and ultimately we really wanna create a platform that's, very holistic and really combining all of these things into like just a really easy experience.
So you don't have to, you know, today you have your voltage node, you gotta go to flow and like buy a channel and like, it's kind of a back and forth, but we wanna make a more unified experience where it's just, you know what, you got a node, you wanna accept payments? Here you go. It's done. Yeah.
Marty: Yeah. Then on top, yeah.
Then the analytics that you guys provide on top of it. Mm-hmm. , because that's something, again, I'm, I'm a, a caveman with, uh, our lightning node is like, we're writing scripts to like, pull data from our node to gimme like a daily update on all the stats that have flowed through it and
Graham: yeah, that's it. It's, it's really [00:40:00] amazing how many people do that.
Like it's. A almost everyone, I mean, cuz there really isn't a good solution for it. Like, and so almost everyone is just kind of writing these scripts to like, you know, give them notifications of payments or just like create CSVs or whatever. And it's just like, that's, that's one of the big surprises is talking with customers is everyone, um, it's just doing rewriting, you know, the same tool in a different way for the same problem.
And so that's kinda what we're aiming for with Surge is to really, um, make it, make the observability of your node, um, really, really simple. And so you can just kind of plug it in and just visualize everything that's happening of, you know, your channels, your balances, all those things. But also be able to like, you know, export those into like a QuickBooks compatible csv so then you can go and like, you know, do import it, you know, really, really easily so you don't have to write these scripts over and over again.
And same thing with like, you know, alerting of, Hey, did your node go offline? Did a channel get forced closed? Um, are you having a. Payment failure rate. Um, and so these are all things that really exist everywhere else inside of like the tech world. [00:41:00] And so we're just kind of bringing that same thinking into lightning.
And, you know, people have been, you know, we've been, we've been demoing that with some customers and people are really excited about it because it really solves a really big need of just like, Hey, you know, I'm not gonna use the command line to go and export data that I'm gonna go and send to my accountant every day or every week or whatever.
Um, I need a tool that's gonna do that for me. And, you know, that's what we're trying to solve. Yeah. Thank you for building it because
Marty: Yeah. The, uh, CSVs emails sent from the scripts while they're, they're helpful. It would mm-hmm. be nice to have just like a pretty UI get updated and just like have it all consolidated.
Yeah. Because that's one thing that gives me stress is somebody running, especially with podcasting 2.0, where people are just fucking streaming us, like one set every minute, all day. Yeah. Every day. Just like thinking about like the accounting at the end of the year gives me, A
Graham: migraine. Yeah, your accountant quits.
Like every year. , you gotta find a new one that can trick into dealing with it . Um, [00:42:00] but yeah, like that, that's the great thing about Surge too, is like it'll have, um, the ability to like give people, you, you can give your accountant access to Surge and they don't have access to your note or anything, but they can see the balances, do their own exports, do all of the things.
So, um, and especially inside of like a large organization where you have like a finance team, well they, you just, you don't wanna go back and forth all the time, just give them access to surge. They can export all the data that they need, see everything. Um, and they never actually like, have access to the note itself.
And so it's, it will simplify a lot of that back and forth, um, between the two. And I think that that's, um, it's, it's a, it's one of the less sexy things, but it's one of the most necessary things, um, inside of like, you know, getting large scale companies to adopt lightning. Mm-hmm. .
Marty: Yeah. And then one way in which you guys built voltage, particularly like the technical stack of it is.
all the data inside the nodes you guys are operating is encrypted. Right? So you have no access to it,
Graham: right? Yeah, yeah. Like [00:43:00] by default. Um, rial, Bedford's
Marty: playing. Yeah. Peter McCormick here.
Graham: So I think they just scored. Yeah, it sounds like it's something like that. Um, yeah, so like, so yeah, the by default, like the nodes that we run are basically black boxes to us.
So we don't, you know, we can't see what your channels are, who your peers are with any of that data. So it's all, it's all a black box and, um, you know, using, um, more tools is like all opt-ins. Like that's, that's something, um, you know, privacy is, is a big deal. And so, uh, by default all of the nodes are essentially just, you know, black boxes.
Marty: Which is massive. Um, and yeah. So what are, what, what are you seeing in terms of like, uh, not new developments in the space? We've covered that, but like, uh, competition or, um, sort of new types of companies that are. maybe getting more specialized in lightning service provider or the analytics side of things.
How are, how are you seeing the landscape of mm-hmm. , um, [00:44:00] more people coming to this lightning network service provider
Graham: space? Yeah, I mean it's, it's, it's gotten interesting over the last couple years and I think that, um, There's, yeah, there, there's a lot of people that are kind of, um, solving different things in different ways.
And that goes back to like kind of the, uh, when I think about these things, I really, you really gotta focus on taking more of a, an objective view of, you know, just understanding what the user needs, how to best solve that. And I think that, um, you know, I think that we're on the path to do that. And I think that there's a lot of, um, other like, you know, unique, uh, companies that are creating.
I think that, um, I mean ambos like didn't exist, you know, uh, when I started Voltage and like, that's a great, um, company that kind of specializes in visualizing network data and things like that. Um, so like those types of companies are, are very, very interesting. And then, um, I think that there's a lot. , uh, of people just applying, applying the technology in just new ways, which is super exciting.
And so ultimately, like, you know, there's, there's more custodial services that have popped up. Like, and again, this is, it, it's crazy to think about, you know, two years ago, but like, there wasn't, you know, the El [00:45:00] Salvador announcement, like the Chivo wallet and all of those things weren't there, you know, at the time.
And so thinking about, you know, all the things that have popped up since then of, you know, a lot of custodial services, which is, um, which is fine. I think that, you know, when she, when El Salvador adopted it, really the only path forward was custodial. And that's, you know, the way that most El Salvadorians used it.
Um, and, you know, that's, that's fine. Like, you know, let's just, let's get the adoption of rolling. But that's, again, kind of going back to where we wanna focus on is, um, giving similar experiences in a non-custodial fashion is, is certainly important. And, um, so yeah, so there's. , there's been a lot of, uh, innovation happening that enable new experiences, new things to be built.
Like I mentioned, mutiny earlier, you know, shouting out to that again of, you know, building some kind of like privacy centric, like wallet was not possible like back, you know, back two years ago. And so, um, with a lot of those opportunities, I think that there's a lot of, and like sensei like, uh, there, you know, the John, uh, Cantrell's like, uh, implementation on top of Ldk, [00:46:00] uh, there's just, there's a lot more opportunity to do new and unique things.
Um, and so, you know, we pay close attention to what's possible and, you know, where does. , what tool can solve the user's problems in the best way at the right time. Yeah. And I
Marty: know you're pragmatic and objective, just dealing with what's in front of you right now, but yeah. , what are you looking forward to or what would you like to see built that would help you out and what you're doing?
Graham: That's a good, that's a good question. I think that, um, I mean the things that's like what a big initiative that we're kind of working on right now is, um, kind of decentralizing ourselves. And so we're working on getting into like more cloud providers. We're working on standing up our own data center here in Austin.
Oh yeah. Um, so yeah, being able to do more of that. And so I think that, um, that. Has, there's a lot of tools out there for that, but they're like, I think doing it in a very Bitcoin centric way is like less, there's not, there's not a lot for that. And so, um, that's some things that we've had to kind of like, take on ourselves.
And so I think that more, uh, more things that help [00:47:00] us run our infrastructure, which is maybe a, maybe a lame answer, but like, I think that, you know, as we look to decentralize ourselves, um, looking at services that kind of help with that story, and, and that's something I'm really excited about for this year, is looking into, you know, doing more.
Like there's, there's a lot more out there than just Bitcoin enlightening. We're gonna start playing with some of those things, like, you know, like, like, uh, like Explorer and like some of those like Block Explorer technology or, um, just even more just, um, general, um, maybe not Bitcoin centric things, but just more general, um, privacy tooling or things like that.
So there's a lot out there. And I think that making those things more, you know, digestible and helpful or usable. would be, would be great for us. Yeah.
Marty: I don't think that was a lame answer. That's the thing. Good hardware's not pretty for some reason, hardware, uh, turns people off, but I think mm-hmm. , I think we're trying, especially in a Bitcoin standard where it's a protection of private public key pairs via hardware and the operation of nodes via [00:48:00] hardware.
Uh, Bitcoiners should be very in tune with the landscape of different hardware options and what's going on. Cause it's gonna be incredibly important. This is a hardware revolution just as much as it. the software revolution.
Graham: Yeah, no, I mean definitely. I, I definitely agree and I think that that's what, what I love about Bitcoin in general from more of a philosophical level is that you, you have the adaptability of anything.
Like you can, you can start on voltage and you can transition to running your own node. You can vice versa. Like you can, you can really pick and choose what tool you wanna use when and where. And you have the ability to comp be as completely self-sovereign as you want to and do all the things yourself.
Use a blockstream satellite to broadcast, you could do all of it. Or if you wanna do, you know, go a hundred percent custodial, you can do that. And so asbi Bitcoin in general, you have the optionality to choose what level you wanna have trust, not have trust in all of those things. And that's, that's a big deal and that's not possible anywhere else.
And that's one, that's something that just gets me excited about Bitcoin in general. [00:49:00] Yeah.
Marty: Speaking about Bitcoin generally, how are you feeling about the state of the overall network? What are your thoughts on Bitcoin? in its position considering this global macro economic back backdrop. Mm-hmm. potential to go into a massive recession, potential depression.
What are your thoughts on, like, say of Bitcoin generally adoption, whatever it may be. It's narrative.
Graham: Yeah. I mean it's, I, I, I'm optimistic, um, and maybe I'm just generally an optimist, but I think that I'm really optimistic. I am, I am for several reasons of, like we've seen this last year has been a shit show of just problem after problem in the defi crypto space.
But nonetheless, Bitcoin is looped into those, you know, not by our choosing, but we are, and. , it's still, the price hasn't really fallen anymore. You know, it came down initially, but FTX crashed. Bitcoin hasn't really moved, you know, Celsius crashed. Bitcoin didn't really move. And so I do feel positively about that and, you know, looking forward into what can [00:50:00] happen for Bitcoin specifically.
And then I also think, I mean, the, it is the typical saying of, you know, the bear markets for building. And so I think that, um, I think that that's one of the great things of, you know, when Bitcoin was at 60 K, I think, uh, everyone's really starry-eyed and, you know, it's, it's just classic, you know, I've been through so many of these cycles, you just see it over and over again.
And so I'm, I'm, I'm okay being at where we're at. And I think that there's a lot of opportunity for us to build some really great things. And then, um, I'm super excited for the next bull cycle when we're, you know, more positioned from a techni tech perspective, um, to really take advantage of a lot of those, a lot of those things.
So, um, ultimately, and then, you know, global macro is. . I just, I don't think too terribly much about it. You know, you just, I just kind of roll with it from that perspective. But I think Bitcoin generally really excited about it, really excited about where we're at. And I think that, you know, like I mentioned earlier about these customers coming to us, like there's still people coming to us that are, um, you know, outside the Bitcoin space that wanna use this technology and adopt it.
And [00:51:00] so I think that over the last year we've seen, I think e every bull and bear cycle we see a diversion of Bitcoin from crypto and every year, um, crypto ke like, you know, ICOs and then, you know, that all crashed like NFTs and like all of these like, you know, big giant exchanges that are, you know, committing fraud.
And so I think, um, ultimately we're separating ourselves and I think that people are really realizing that, um, over and over again. And so that's also, I would call it a positive of the last definitely six months of this silver lining at least. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so I think that's a really good, um, , it sucks because people got hurt in Celsius and ftx and like, you know, they lost money and all those things and like, you know, that's a horrible thing.
But, um, the sooner we can get rid of these bad people, the better. Yeah.
Marty: Rip the bandaid off. Yeah. Get 'em out. Sorry, Barry.
Graham: Yeah. . . Oh man. I'm, yeah. Interested to see how that one plays out. , but
Marty: then, uh, I [00:52:00] mean, Bitcoin more general, but now voltage in you being a founder and somebody who's in charge of this business, how mm-hmm.
how do you approach the prospect of a prolong bear market? Managing your team, managing your, your balance sheet, your company? How's, yeah, how's, uh, how's your perspective going into 2023? I
Graham: mean, again, I'm optimistic. I think that, um, there, the, the last several years and kind of, um, and the VC world and operating company and everything, were just, were maybe abnormal.
And so I think people got really used to the abnormality. And I think that we're maybe today in an over corrective cycle, and then we're gonna like level out into like a more standard abnormal operating, um, capacity there. But I think, you know, generally speaking, voltage holds Bitcoin on its balance sheet.
You know, we're gonna be using it for a liquidity, like all of these things. So like we're, you know, we've never stopped allocating to Bitcoin even during these, you know, down markets and, you know, we're, we are optimistic for what we can do and what we're doing. So like [00:53:00] ultimately, um, outlook hasn't really changed in terms of, you know, what we can do, our team and all of those things.
And so we have a really incredible team that we've been really fortunate, you know, to have. And so overall I'm really optimistic and I think it just goes back to, you know, bare markets of our building and we're just, we're going to do that. We're gonna like just really double down. Uh, building things out and um, yeah.
And then I think that, you know, we'll, we'll be able to like, you know, weather the storm and, you know, get, to get to where we need to be at the end. And I think that, you know, for those out there that are, um, maybe interested in starting, you know, bitcoin companies or projects or anything like that, I mean, I think still do it.
Um, and just under, like, I, I think maybe there's just understand kind of the, the nuances of like the differences and like, you know, it used to be anyone could get a chunk of money to go get, to go and start something, and maybe you need to have a little bit more of a pragmatic approach and really understand, you know, the problem solution and, and those types of things.
And so I think it is a little bit of a different environment for sure. But I think that, you know, us as voltage, [00:54:00] were, we're excited for the opportunity to go and build in, in this kind of in scenario. And I think that, um, I think there's a lot more people that are like us out there. bear markets are
Marty: rebuilding.
Yeah. It's not just, I mean, it is cliche, but . It's true. It is funny. It is true.
Graham: I I, I really hate the amount of cliche like sayings in terms we have in Bitcoin, but like that I, that one is definitely true. Yeah. I mean, because
Marty: you get the bull markets and then you get the shit coin extraction and it is true.
I mean, have you talked to Mac Corrao about this? Even like the core developers working at the protocol level? The price is ripping. It's hard to focus .
Graham: Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, definitely. And it's, yeah, there's, um, it's just a lot of, uh, a lot of noise, you know, amongst it all. And it's, uh, and then you, you think about like all of the conferences and things like that, it's everyone's, um, yeah.
Did you ever just focused on like price and like, all of these things and no one's, you know, and these times we're more focused on like the tech and that that's that's
Marty: what I like. [00:55:00] Yeah. Same. And we were touching on it before we hit record, but conference
Graham: fatigue is real. Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yeah. I feel like there's one every week now.
I know, I mean, it was like, it feels like after Covid, like everyone's like, everyone's gonna start a conference, everyone's gonna put on a conference. And um, you know, we, we as a company have really had to take a step back and just really evaluate, okay, what's, what's the most important one? Let's divide and conquer everyone.
Go to a different one, or something like that. So, um, you know, it's, it's exciting, a lot of opportunity to do, you know, fun things, but it's also, it, it's
Marty: tiring. Yeah. Towards the end of last year, I was probably at like my six or seven conference. I was like,
Graham: it's all the same people. . Yeah. Obviously
Marty: there's, there's different overlap and stuff like that.
Obviously conferences, um, very bullish on conferences popping up in different parts of the world. Mm-hmm. here in the us it's like a caravan of Bitcoin or just go from city
Graham: to city. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. And I think that that's where a lot of, um, opportunity is in kind of the [00:56:00] international space where, you know, just new conferences are reinvigorating old ones.
Um, Which is really exciting. I mean, I think that that's, um, a lot of opportunity there for more international conferences.
Marty: Yeah. And I'd be interested to hear your perspective on this considering, uh, leaning into, uh, different parts of the world, particularly emerging markets. Mm-hmm. , like that's been one of the thesis behind the scenes in the emerging markets will really drive, uh, a good material portion of lightning network adoption.
Mm-hmm. , uh, as we move forward cause it's desperately need of the utility. Mm-hmm. of that final instant settlement, the ability to send smaller amounts of money, um, Are you seeing that confirmed at all from your perspective of voltage?
Graham: Yeah, I mean, we, we are, we definitely are. And I, we're, you know, we're talking, we talk with a lot of, um, you know, developing countries or people that are building for that kind of market.
And so, um, we definitely do see that. And I think that there's, uh, still a lot of opportunity to go. I think that, you know, Africa has been, over the last year has been [00:57:00] really, um, a bustling, uh, area to, to be, uh, to that are both working on lightning as far as like development talent goes, as well as, um, you know, just the usage and people, um, actually adopting the technology as well.
So, uh, I do, I do see that, and I do see that as, um, a way, uh, for us to really scale. And then we, something we haven't even touched on is like Toro and like all that stuff, stuff. It's just about to mention Polish. Toro , yeah. I mean, like, so, uh, yeah, I mean, it, it, it's really interesting. Like I, I am bullish on that.
I think that, um, you know, it's a very. people have a lot of different opinions on it of like, you know, bringing, um, kind of a more regulated, uh, instrument into the Bitcoin space. Um, I think there's positives and negatives to that, but I think ultimately, like people do, um, the, the, one of the biggest things that we hear is the volatility risk when, um, integrating lightning of like, Hey, you gotta hold Bitcoin in these channels.
You know, Bitcoin's volatile and they don't necessarily like that. So I think that being able to have a solution for that, you know, more [00:58:00] natively, um, is exciting. And I think that, you know, you can kind of enter and exit, uh, Bitcoin into like, fiat on and off ramps, like Strike or any of those services. Um, but ultimately you lose a lot of the benefits of Bitcoin in, in those on and off ramps with like, you know, the transaction fees and all those things.
So having a more native way to do that is exciting. And I do think that it is, uh, definitely going to be popular in these kinda like third world countries or like developing countries or anything like that. And so, um, I am bullish on it. I think that, um, Really interested to see how the rest of kind of the development goes with it.
But I think generally speaking, like, uh, I see it as a big Trojan horse into getting people, um, comfortable with kind of the network and how things operate. And, you know, maybe, maybe one day the stablecoin aren't needed anymore and now we're fully Bitcoin and this is like that, that step to get there.
Yeah. The SAT
Marty: standard. Yeah. And then you have things like Femine mm-hmm. that are coming to a four too, which I think [00:59:00] create the possibility, create stable coins going over Lightning Network as well. That'll be, I'm really excited to see what the open source Femine projects does, what Fedi does on top of that.
Mm-hmm. as we head into, uh, 2023, because I, I'm excited for that too. I mean, it all comes with trade offs. Again. There'll be people like, uh, femine. , yeah, histo options. Like you're, you're not a Bitcoin, but , suey, suey. It's extremely fascinating to me.
Graham: Yeah. I mean, I, I agree. I think it, it's all super fascinating and that's what's, um, been really eye-opening too, is just the amount of, um, other layer twos like the, you know, that are possible with like, you know, I would call feta min, like a layer two or, you know, there's lightning, there's liquid, there's all these other things.
Um, there's coin pools, which I don't know if that's gotten much traction, but there's a lot of different opportunities to scale Bitcoin and I think that they can all coexist too. They can all, you know, it just depends on what you wanna do and how you wanna do it. Um, yeah, fedi is, is really interesting.
We're, you know, we're talking with that team on like, you know, is there services that we can do with that, you know, to help people [01:00:00] set up fed mins and things like that. So that'll be really interesting over the next year to see how that technology plays out. So I, I do agree with you.
Marty: Yeah. And then you mentioned like, AI earlier, or, or you were talking about like server, Rackspace and doing other things.
Mm-hmm. , that's another thing I think. , because I've been experimenting with it. I've been experimenting with Mid Journey specifically to create thumbnails. Mm-hmm. for the Bent. And I can tell there's a lot of GPU compute on the back end. Just for how, how long it's beginning to take Uhhuh to, to produce the thumbnail compared to where it was a couple months ago when I first started using tethers in incre demand.
And so they're definitely having server pressure on the backend. And I think MASH and Mash, uh, demoed this using replica, they spun up like an ai mm-hmm. gener or an ai, uh, picture generator that was payable in, sat over the Lightning Network. And so in terms of like untapping that potential, [01:01:00] if you think ai, I mean I've been using it, I think it's useful for me, particularly the, the image generation stuff.
Yeah. I would love if it were able to be faster and the way it became faster, I was just able to, um, help support. The, the server infrastructure on the back end by paying immediately indirectly.
Graham: Yeah, I mean, I think that, I think that theme that you're talking about there is, it goes down to like value for value, right?
And like that whole thing of like, and I, I see that as a, an enormous opportunity of, you know, who, if, if they made you enter in a credit card and like, you know, charge you a dollar every time you did an image generation, you know, you might be less, uh, less eager to use that. And, but if you, you know, uh, integrate a lightning voice or show a lightning invoice that just maybe, you know, integrated with like your web browser or something, it just, it just pays it, you know, you're, it's a better experience and you're more willing to even contribute to them for that, you know, server infrastructure and doing those things.
So I think that, I mean, value for value has always been exciting to me and I think that it's, uh, has so much [01:02:00] use just everywhere. And, um, and shout to Adam Curry for kind of, I'm championing that in the early days and I think that, um, we see that. being able to be applied to so many different things. And I think that that's, that's really exciting.
Yeah. That's gotta be
Marty: Matt, when you think about like Lightning Network enabled API calls mm-hmm. . Yeah. Again, going back to like these sub networks and the amount of tra, like I don't think people fathom the amount of traffic that we'll be going over Lightning Network if we do go to this value for value model, or whether it's you free streaming US stats for the podcast or somebody pinging, uh, an AI image generator api mm-hmm.
and having to pay for that. Then you added things, uh, like Sonata, like paying for electricity on the go, and then we can't even imagine what else is gonna be built. And just the amount of stats flows that are going to be happening once this finally takes off is gonna be unfathomable.
Graham: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I, I definitely agree and I think, [01:03:00] um, and I think it's, it's already, it's already happening too.
Like, again, comparing to two years ago, There wasn't a lot of companies building for these things there. Value for value wasn't like podcasting 2.0 wasn't a thing yet. It was kind of on the cusp. Um, and yet we didn't have mash, we didn't have, we didn't have all of these companies that are kind of building in it.
And so, um, I think that we're, yeah, we're on that cusp of like, you know, there's real, you know, real people, real companies that are optimizing for these solutions. And so it's gonna be really exciting to see what comes out of it. Yeah.
Marty: In terms of like the different types of wallets, obviously we have mobile wallets, you have browser extension wallets, like all be, you have more custodial wallets like mash, blue Wallet, whatever.
Maybe. How do you think this evolves? Like, um, do you think people interact with the Lightning Network predominantly moving forward? Is it browser extension? Is it mobile first?
Graham: I think, yeah, I mean, that's a good question. I, I don't know if I have a great answer to it. I think [01:04:00] that there's a lot of.
Opportunity to do, I mean, multiple things. I think that, um, it, maybe it's you, maybe it's all of the above of like, maybe it's, we can create an integrated experience across all of these different things and you just, you know, you can use it in these different scenarios or, um, or you just, you know, have separate balances or, um, you know, segment 'em out or something like that.
And so I think that there's a lot of opportunity and see how those things play out. But I think ultimately, um, people will want to use lightning in all of those contexts, you know, mobile and like in the web and all of these different things. And I think that, uh, I think that the more, the more native of an experience we can make the better.
And so I think that that's, I think there's, I don't know if I have a direct answer of like the way that I think it'll go. I think it'll be, um, really interested to see kind of just what the users decide and what, what ultimately they want. And I think, uh, unifying those experiences is gonna be probably a direction a lot of people move.
Marty: it's dope. So early freaks. Yeah. If you [01:05:00] wanna come build, leave your mark again. Come build over here. So where do you want voltage to go over the next 20, 23? It's your one year, three year, five year plan for voltage . Now you're pragmatic, you're objective. You think about , you have to have some grander scheme of, of how you see this playing out.
Graham: Yeah, I mean, I, we, we, we really want to create just an experience inside of lightning that is just, um, that's not weird. Like when you th when you think about comparing, using lightning to using Gmail or something, there's a, there's obvious difference in the user experiences, the flows and everything like that.
And so we're trying to create an experience that is a Gmail, right? And, but again, non-custodial. And so that's the really challenging part. You can do that kind of custodian today, but like, that's not exciting to me. Like we need the ability for a user to like own, own the full, uh, like the full access to their funds.
Um, and so, Uh, so that's kind of like our North Star, that's where [01:06:00] we're driving to, is to make an experience that is not abnormal. Um, and, and ultimately like letting, letting users or companies or anything kind of choose what points they want to hit. And that's kind of the way that I'm, I'm building out voltages.
Um, having a set of services and like, you know, they all combine really, really nicely to a really simple experience. But if you wanted to just use, you know, the lsp or you just wanted to use Surge or any of these pieces, you can do that too. And so we're really just trying to solve, um, the problems inside of Lightning to enable it to scale, like into, you know, a to 10 x, a hundred x, whatever the number is.
And, um, and there's still an insane amount of work to be done to, to get to that point. So, um, you know, there. Lot, lot to lot to happen over the next, you know, several years. And that's what, you know, my, my theme for this year is just really to ship more products. So we really want to just start hammering, getting a lot of things out there and, uh, a lot of new [01:07:00] things, um, to, to help people.
And so, uh, so yeah, I think ultimately, you know, what we're trying to do is create a service that is just dead simple to use and can scale to, you know, any, any level that you would, that you had won inside of Lightning. Um, but still give people the optionality to, you know, to pick and choose what levels they, they enter into.
And so big grandiose plan, um, lots to do to make that happen. And, you know, we're, we're working towards it. Yeah.
Marty: And I guess last question before we wrap up here, cause you mentioned building in the bear to prepare for, uh, the next bull market. If it comes, probably will come. Yeah. . Um, but with that in mind, so like you, you.
With every bull market comes another bigger wave of adoption. Mm-hmm. , how do you prioritize, uh, what you guys build to work on and focus on at voltage with that in mind, like with that lingering thought. All right. When the [01:08:00] bull comes, there's gonna be an onslaught of adoption like we haven't experienced in the past.
Here's what we need to prioritize. Be ready for that.
Graham: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's a good question. I think, um, a a lot of it comes from, I think, I mean we luckily we've learned a lot, I mean, from operating for, for a couple years and just seeing kind of the operating in the last bull market of kind of what's necessary.
And so, um, I think that what, what we, what we really think about is, I, I think it goes back to just making it not weird. It's like when someone, you know, is trying to, you know, we we're trying to onboard Walmart or something and they, you know, we have to explain channels to them or like, you know, where like, what does a node do?
How does it, like, those things are like, I think that the more that we can. Um, make it a normal experience, the better. And I think that when we think about the next bull market and bull cycle, I think that, um, we're gonna see an increase of people looking at lightning. And if we're still at the point where we have to explain [01:09:00] all of these things and we have to, you know, we have to educate them on how to manage their channels and do all these things.
Like they're gonna leave and they're, they're, you know, they're not gonna ultimately come to lightning and Bitcoin and all these things. And so we need to be prepared. I think ultimately, I think that boils down to user experience. I think the user experience needs to be at a level that is ready for new people to enter.
Cuz right now we're onboarding existing Bitcoiners. That's great, that's fine. But like next bull cycle, we're gonna be getting looked at from people that aren't as, You know, Bitcoin native and or have their, you know, multisig set up like at home and all those things. And so we need to have a user experience that can satisfy those people.
And that is gonna unlock, you know, the next level for Lightning. Yeah,
Marty: I was, I was gonna say, it sounds like it's more UX oriented than infrastructure oriented.
Graham: Yeah. Yeah. I, I would, I mean, they kind of go hand in hand. Mm-hmm. . Um, but ultimately, like what we want to present, what we want to do is, is a lot of UX improvements.
And I think how we solve that is infrastructure related, but [01:10:00] the thing that we want to surface is the UX improvement. Yeah. I'm excited for you
Marty: guys.
Graham: Yeah. Except for Bitcoin. Yeah. I'll, me too, man. I think that there's, uh, lot to happen. Lot, lot of things happening, um, across the space and I'm just, I'm super excited.
Marty: as well. I'm happy you pinged. Yeah, let me know. You're gonna be in town. I'm happy you came in town. Yeah. And we were able to do this. Yeah. Yeah.
Graham: I'm glad, glad we could do it. Glad I gotta stop by and, um, yeah, love visiting Austin. Yeah. We shouldn't wait two years
Marty: for the next one. We gotta
Graham: This is more often.
Yeah, for sure. For sure. We'll have to, uh, we'll have to do something with Odell sometime too. Yes. He'll be, uh,
Marty: we'll have to figure out when we're all in town. Yeah. At some point. Either Nashville here, wherever. Yep. Yep. We find ourselves at the same spot. Um, any final parting notes for the freaks out there?
Graham: Um, I mean, just keep building. Like, I think, uh, what I always like to have as a call to action is, uh, you know, if you haven't messed with, played with lightning at all yet, do it. Like there's always kind of, you know, everyone falls down this Bitcoin rabbit hole. You [01:11:00] learn about, you know, Bitcoin, the technology, the how many, all those things.
Lightning is just kind of like the next rabbit hole of like diving down into what is possible inside of that. And so if you haven't done that yet, definitely do it. Even if it's just like a custodial wallet, moon wallet or wallet, any of those things, just start playing with it. Figure out what's possible and what you can do with it.
Um, and then that's gonna lead, you know, you down this journey of kind of what is, what is the next phase of Bitcoin gonna be like. And then similar call to action side of like builders, just if you are interested in contributing to Bitcoin, um, in, in any capacity, even if it's, you know, developer, non-developer, um, full-time, part-time, anything like definitely just get your hands dirty.
And, uh, I think it's very rewarding for one. And then two, um, It's very likely gonna lead to something bigger, you know, uh, in, in the end. So, um, you know, definitely encourage everyone to get involved in one way, shape, or form. Yeah. This may come
Marty: off as a bit uncouth, but I do think the bitcoin industry is about to [01:12:00] be the, or be the beneficiary of, uh, positive externality.
A silver lining of an impending recession that particularly affects the tech industry. We're gonna have a lot of good developer talent, which is getting laid off from there. Silicon Valley tech jobs are like, all right, I'm sure there's a bunch of orange pill people who are in these companies who've been thinking about it and may not have had the courage to take the leap, but now it may be forced to.
Graham: Yeah. Yeah. Coinbase laid off a thousand people today. Today, today. I didn't catch that today. Yeah, it was a new, new round of las at Coinbase. So, yeah, anyone that's, um, you know, feeling the effects of that, like definitely kind of explored the space and, um, You know, we, we welcome you in the Bitcoin land.
Come, come build
Marty: still early.
Graham: Oh yeah. Graham, still so much to build. It's always a pleasure, sir. Yeah, thank you Marty. It's been fun. Thank you
Marty: for crushing it. Where can we find out more about you Voltage? Where should we send the freaks?
Graham: Yeah, good question. So I'm on [01:13:00] Twitter, um, at G G K R I Z E K, uh, voltage.
Our website is, Twitter's voltage underscore cloud. Um, so yeah, just reach out, DM me dms open. Um, happy to help anyone out and any way we can, building on lightning, working in lightning, any of those things. I mean, my, I have an open door.
Marty: We'll link to all that in the show notes freaks. Hope you enjoyed this rep.
Peace and love.


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