2021 was a year of community, challenges, and promising beginnings. After a virtual semester, we recruited a myriad of new members and were tasked with re-cultivating our in-person family at Berkeley. Community-building extended beyond our internal org — from founding our monthly Berkeley Ecosystem Meetups, FiatLux’s win of the historic Nobel NFT auction, to launching our DeFi Governance initiative, we sought new ways to foster engagement and relay our vision to shape the blockchain space at large.
Through tumultuous transitions, one thing was consistent: our members’ dedication to building, defining, and learning. Read more to learn about the impactful projects and initiatives spearheaded by B@B members in 2021 and stay tuned as we cross more milestones in the new year.
- New Members in 2021
- Consulting Department
- Education Department
- Research and Governance
- Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator
- B@B Grants
- Offshoot Organizations
- Blockchain at Berkeley Alumni Association
- Jobs and Career Development
- Blockchain at Berkeley in the Media
- Want to Stay Connected?
B@B is proud to have forty-seven new members join in 2021: sixteen in the spring and thirty-one in the fall. These new members, or B@Bies, have impressed us with their passion, talent, and experience in the blockchain field, and we cannot wait to see how they grow during their time in B@B and beyond.
Despite the majority of the spring semester being completely virtual, our returning members, alumni, and new recruits all went above and beyond to make sure this did not prevent learning, growing, and bonds from being cemented. In the fall, B@B members brought their engagement and enthusiasm back to campus to welcome a new class of B@Bies.
B@B’s consulting division provides consulting services to crypto and blockchain companies, Fortune 500 organizations, and global non-profit organizations. We develop technical proof of concepts (PoCs), production ready applications, as well as research papers. We work closely with clients who are leading Layer 1 projects, DeFi projects, as well as clients seeking to better understand and implement blockchain-based solutions. We provide clients with access to our qualified designer, business consultant and developer pool. In Fall 2021, we successfully transitioned into an in-person consulting department while keeping all of our consultants safe, and maintaining connections with our clients on Zoom. Since February 2021, our consultants were able to complete six external consulting engagements, as well as six internal projects.
Spring 2021 Internal Projects
Lancelot: A freelance platform to support the gig economy using blockchain technology. This platform serves as an innovative marketplace that matches independent contractors, consultants, freelancers, and other non-permanent workers with businesses for on-demand work contracts. Building on a decentralized network both parties can access a more pure two-way market without the need for service fees that burden existing platforms. Freelance utilizes smart contracts to program agreements and escrow routines between individuals and businesses. The smart contracts will execute on-demand payments conditioned on task completion.
Humanitarian Aid: Most aid delivered to developing countries is in the form of physical goods: food, household items, etc. While these are immensely useful, the needs of local citizens may vary, and providing a financial stipend would provide the greatest flexibility in benefit. Unfortunately, because these developing countries often don’t have a robust financial infrastructure, it is difficult to provide financial resources. Our project focused on providing a financial stipend via a stablecoin that anyone with an internet connection and mobile phone could leverage to buy essential items from local vendors.
Homeblocks: Homeblocks is a mobile platform to connect realtors, owners, and clients to prevent property fraud and increase accessibility to housing investments. By maintaining pseudonymity while preserving the history of housing properties, users can confidently engage with the real estate market with guidance from professionals in the blockchain/real-estate space.
Spring 2021 External Projects
PayPal: The core functionality of this proof of concept is to give PayPal users the ability to generate interest on their assets with the click of a button. This process is facilitated by the lending portions of the Aave DeFi platform, which allows anyone to deposit Bitcoin (as Wrapped BTC), Ethereum, or USDC into a lending pool to earn interest over time.
UNICEF: The UNICEF team built a mobile platform that aims to bank underbanked communities. It provides those in underbanked communities dealing with hyperinflation a way to deposit stablecoins, as well as crowdfund for local community and school projects. The platform allows you to deposit DAI and gain interest on your deposits, while donating the interests to school projects of your choice within your community. They were able to implement the DAI deposit and withdrawal feature, as well as the school onboarding feature.
OKCoin: The OKCoin project team completed development efforts on the DEX (decentralized exchange) aggregator. Extending the proof of concept that was previously built, the team revamped the UI to match OKCoin’s design language, wrote documentation, conducted user testing, and performed test swaps on the Ethereum mainnet. The team also created a landing page for the product, which doubles as a starting point for all of OKCoin’s defi-related services.
Fall 2021 Internal Projects
Amber: Amber is a NFT song exchange platform that empowers artists to sell their digital streaming royalties at market rate and enables profit sharing of their music royalties through a marketplace of ERC-1155 song tokens, which are minted and auctioned off using Polygon smart contracts. Amber provides a sustainable digital business model to the modern artist by leveraging market dynamics for limited supply of song tokens and sharing profits of all future token resales.
CryptoRoll: CryptoRoll is a dApp resolving payment infrastructure and ensures timely payments to users using Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. The employer can use contractual release of funds based on completion of parameters and even earn interest on the payments that they stake. The payments stream resolve the issue of unfulfilled payments and the hassle of payroll administration faced by freelancers and large corporate employees alike.
PaperTrail: In many parts of the world, journalists face persecution for their work. We wanted to create a solution that enables people to get paid to their stories without fear of government reprisal. Paper Trail is a decentralized marketplace for journalists to license images and stories to news agencies. It is designed to protect the identity of journalists, resist censorship, and provide compensation with crypto. The platform features a smart contract backend, and all files are hosted on IPFS or ArWeave.
Fall 2021 External Projects
DFINITY: The DFINITY team of four developers and two business consultants designed a Decentralized Autonomous Organization on DFINITY for the distribution of DFINITY’s developer grant funding. Supporting development on the DFINITY ecosystem should be a decentralized process governed by the community. Voters are allowed to stake ICP tokens, receive voting tokens based on quadratic funding, and vote on the developer projects that they want to see on the DFINITY blockchain.
UNICEF: This semester, the Satchel team, consisting of five developers, two business consultants, and two designers continued to work with Unicef to build out features and possibilities for Satchel. Satchel provides financial services for traditionally underbanked communities and gives part of the yield to schools, allowing for community building and local agency. In our first milestone, we enabled users to deposit many different assets, where previously Satchel only allowed We also added a flow for non-community members, where . In our second milestone, we allowed users to take out loans using their deposited assets. In our third milestone, we reached out to local and global schools and talked to them about their needs and goals. Our fourth milestone had us exploring different proposals for school-level governance to make voting as easy and accessible as possible.
Ripple: The Ripple team have worked directly under the CTO of Ripple to create a simulator of Ripple’s distributed consensus mechanism which relies on separate nodes to reach a decision independently based on their list of trusted neighboring nodes. After creating the simulator, the Ripple team ran experiments to test the robusticity of Ripple’s consensus mechanism when faced with different factors.
Fundamentals Decal: After a full school year of teaching the Fundamentals of Blockchain course virtually, the Education department couldn’t wait to get back into a classroom. This semester, over 160 students attended our course in-person, with a virtual option for students who could not return to campus. The course brought in 14 certified lecturers from Blockchain at Berkeley, with special guest industry speakers such as Shuo Chen (General Partner IOVC), Will O’Brien (CEO, Co-Founder NFT Oasis), and Ryan Park (Anchor Protocol). Additionally, course coordinators created a job and internship board to post opportunities for students. After attending our Fundamentals of Blockchain course, students have boasted greater confidence to start their careers in blockchain. We are grateful to have made a difference in our students’ journeys in blockchain through sharing our educational resources, and we are ecstatic for another semester of learning in Spring 2022. Find our recordings of the lecture and industry talks here.
Dev DeCal: We offer the blockchain Developer Decal during Spring semesters. Last Spring, we taught the basics of Ethereum development through Solidity and Web3 as well as security and scalability concerns when working with the blockchain. We also had guest lecturers from industry discuss their perspectives on blockchain development. Finally we had a capstone project where students had to write their own smart contracts to create an ERC721 token trading system.
EdX: Blockchain Technology and Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies on edX: Our two courses on edX developed by Blockchain at Berkeley and faculty from UC Berkeley’s Computer Science department have reached ~200,000 students from over ~200 countries. Our courses are aimed to teach students about basic properties, mechanisms of blockchain, distributed consensus, and various enterprise-level blockchain implementations.
WPC: With our first in-person semester in over a year, B@B was delighted to bring back a dearly missed tradition of Sunday Whitepaper Circles. Over 10 B@Bers selected a whitepaper they found interesting, researched it deeply, and delivered a 2 hour presentation on Sundays. Topics included Arbitrum & Optimism, Cosmos, Avalanche, Ethereum 2.0, Chainlink, and more.
AWE: Blockchain at Berkeley has teamed up with the Association of Women in Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences to lead a series of four workshops on blockchain fundamentals and developer skills. The initiative, spearheaded by Erika Badalyan (‘23), will include lectures on introductory blockchain knowledge, applicable real-world cases, a panel of speakers who work in the blockchain space, and an introduction to developer tools that can be used in tandem with blockchain.
Stablesims: After more than 4 semesters of research, 3 pivots, and 60,000+ lines of code, the StableSims team completed their research and compiled their conclusions into a research paper that can be found on arxiv.org. Originally, Andrew Kirillov (‘22), Sehyun Chung (’23) set out to investigate the Black Thursday event that the Maker Protocol experienced in March of 2020. When the Maker Protocol eventually passed and implemented a proposal that fundamentally changed the underlying protocol, mainly the auction structure, the community was encouraged to propose risk parameters that would help the system run smoothly. Andrew and Sehyun set out to use the simulation they had developed to fine tune the parameters of the new incentive mechanism that was a part of the upgrade.
Read the full paper here: https://arxiv.org/abs/2201.03519
Read a shorter synopsis here: https://twitter.com/a_kirillo/status/1480987373244760071?s=21
TokenTerminal: TokenTerminal was a research project conducted by Andrew Kirillov (‘22), Ratan Kaliani (’23), and Emma Guo (’24). Starting out in Spring 2021, the team set out to use the Token Terminal platform, a crypto analytics platform with advanced metrics and tools, to analyze the valuation of the Uniswap token by answering questions such as 1) What is the correlation between within the centralized finance market and the fundamental metrics of Uniswap (and DeFi’s broader market)? and 2) Can these predictors be used as predictors for potential future market movements of the space in the future? Indicators such as the Gordon Growth Model and the Gross Merchandise Volume were used to come to the conclusion that the valuation method in DeFi is inaccurate because growth rates are wildly unpredictable.
Over the past few semesters, B@B’s delegation of voting power in DeFi protocols has grown, along with the team of dedicated members who evaluate and propose protocol changes. We have voted on the introduction and patching of a bug in Compound Proposal 62 and been involved in developer discussions on the auditing programs for future proposal code. B@B is now involved in the Aave Risk DAO with the purpose of evaluating and defining the risk profile of the protocol. FEI has gone through an unprecedented token merge with Rari, approved by members of both DAOs, consolidating developer talent pools and benefiting of the network effect of combining users and resources. The Governance team is expecting to grow even more over the next year and we are excited for what DeFi will see in 2022.
The Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator is the #1 University blockchain startup accelerator from UC Berkeley that supports teams from around the world. We’ve helped 65 teams raise $400+m follow-on funding.
The Xcelerator is directed by UC Berkeley staff as well as Blockchain at Berkeley members. B@B members plan the operations, fundraising, and programming of the Xcelerator.
In addition, B@B members are paired with startups in the cohort through our fellowship program, who assist founders through the duration of the program. Not only does this help all companies in the cohort take full advantage of all the resources the Xcelerator has to offer, but it also gives the fellows a clearer understanding of the blockchain startup landscape and the journey of building a successful company in the blockchain space. Our founders have consistently ranked their interactions with B@B fellows as their favorite part of the program!
To learn more and apply for the Xcelerator, please check out our call for 2022 cohort applications.
Blockchain at Berkeley (B@B) Grants is B@B’s initiative that aims to empower the future of student innovation, projects and research. Our initial funding originates from BitDAO’s Education DAO, which supports education and investments from blockchain organizations. Through our grants program, these funds will be leveraged to support entrepreneurial students and promising products in a revolutionary way.
The growth of the blockchain space benefits from individual motivation contributing to collective goals. We want groundbreaking ideas to proliferate without hindrance from lack of funding or guidance, which is why our goal with this grants program is to eliminate the financial barrier to build. We believe that giving equal opportunities to those with promising ideas is the best way to contribute towards innovation and positive impact within the blockchain community.
Student startups, open-source projects, and research are all eligible for grants during our first wave of funding and the application for our grants program can be found here: blockchain.berkeley.edu/grants!
We run nodes for Icon, Oasis, NuCypher, and Flow. Our partnerships with these blockchains have involved token delegations towards Blockchain at Berkeley as a joint initiative to grow innovation on these blockchain ecosystems. Thanks to Ankr, we can run these nodes. Profit gained from running validator nodes as well as the token delegations themselves will be used to support ecosystem-specific developers.
Osmosis: Osmosis is an advanced Automated Market-Making (AMM) protocol focused on privacy, AMM design, and the rapidly expanding interchain. Privacy is a fundamental right, and to protect users from MEV (Miner/Block-proposer Extractable Value), Osmosis is developing cutting-edge techniques to encrypt transactions in the mempool and assure fair execution without frontrunning. In the AMM design space, Osmosis is delivering optimal trades through innovating new models of market-making curves, batch execution, and deep liquidity, incentivized through a novel LP-bonding system. The assets underlying these bonded LP shares will soon be able to secure their respective blockchains in a process called superfluid staking, earning additional rewards and further fostering the explosive growth of the Internet of Blockchains. As the interchain grows, Osmosis will continue to provide it with a cross-chain UX that is fast, intuitive, and fun. Over one billion dollars has been deposited into Osmosis liquidity pools, and over twenty chains have connected to the chain. With the upcoming addition of permissioned smart contracts to the platform, the Osmosis chain will be able to aggregate yields, borrow and lend, and compose with contracts on other chains. Interchain DeFi has arrived. To get started, visit https://osmosis.zone/.
Satchel: Satchel is a decentralized application that uplifts underbanked school communities by facilitating locally-governed projects and capital growth via DeFi-powered donations and financial primitives. Satchel began as a collab between Blockchain at Berkeley and UNICEF. Satchel’s core features include savings accounts and loans for underbanked school communities via key DeFi protocols, splitting yield between individuals and schools for individual and local socioeconomic mobility, community governance over Satchel-wide decisions and locally-funded school projects, and tax-deductible contributions to school communities in need around the world. Financial resources and governance paired together allow Satchel to leverage schools as a proxy for rerouting financial and governmental agency to communities on the individual, local, and global levels.
FiatLuxDAO: FiatLux DAO is a collective of UC Berkeley alumni focused on funding scientific and technological innovation in a novel, crypto-native way. Fiat Lux, UC Berkeley’s motto, translates to “let there be light.” FiatLux DAO draws upon Berkeley’s 150 year tradition of cutting edge innovation and bringing light to new knowledge. UC Berkeley made history by becoming the first university to mint an NFT representing Nobel prize winning research, and FiatLux DAO won the very first bid!
Ecosystem Meetups: Blockchain at Berkeley’s monthly ecosystem meetup series is our way to unite all builders and learners of blockchain in Berkeley! Upon its October inception, we’ve invited Alchemy, Tribe, and Osmosis as speakers. Join us each month for to get inspired by fellow crypto innovators!
Chainlink: Chainlink presented an overview of their V2 whitepaper, as well as how oracles influence the decentralized finance space.
IPFS: IPFS hosted a two-day technical workshop on their distributed hash table, Bitswap, their peer-to-peer protocol, and dynamic data on IPFS.
Handshake: Handshake presented on how they are decentralizing the internet with a permissionless naming protocol, as well as how to obtain a domain on Handshake.
Fluence: Fluence is a peer-to-peer application platform which allows the creation of applications free of proprietary cloud providers or centralized APIs. They presented on how Fluence adds a compute layer to IPFS.
Even upon graduation from UC Berkeley, B@B members never truly leave B@B! We’ve had amazing B@B alumni take on initiative to inspire our members and support us in all of our amazing new initiatives.
Medha Khotari (’20) and Justine Humenansky (MBA ’20) led FiatLuxDAO’s vision to leverage the power of crypto to fund academic research in innovative and accessible ways. Their core team for the DAO consists of B@B alumni Anthony Diprinzio (’19) and Andrew Tu (’18) as well as B@B members Ratan Kaliani (’23) and Ava Payman (’23).
Finally, B@B alumni have been insanely supportive of B@B grants, with our advisory team consisting of B@B alumni who have experience with startups and venture capital. Thanks to Dev Ojha (‘21), Medha Khotari (’20) and Justine Humenansky (MBA ’20), Nadir Akhtar (‘20), Jonathan Allen (‘18), Dimitry Berezon (MBA ‘19), and Max Fang (‘18), we have an incredibly strong advisory team to help us shape the future of student innovation in the crypto space.
Blockchain at Berkeley attracts the best talent in UC Berkeley, and as a result, are either working at to companies, or founding companies of their own. Here is just a snippet of where our members are today:
As an organization that heavily focuses on external output, Blockchain at Berkeley’s media presence is growing. CNBC highlighted the presence of our blockchain courses amidst crypto’s rise of popularity and interviewed our Co-Presidents, Darya Kaviani and Ratan Kaliani. Coindesk mentioned us as the top university for blockchain, and Daily Cal highlighted our third place rank for third best university for blockchain in the world. Bloomberg took note of our alumni DAO, FiatLux DAO’s historic purchase of the first Nobel NFT.
YouTube: Our YouTube Channel features videos from our lectures, meetups, conferences, Whitepaper Deep Dives, DeFi Discussions, and more.
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