Building in defi sucks (part 2)

Andre Cronje
5 min readJan 12, 2021


It has been almost a year since the first time I wrote these words. Any industry has its good and its bad. You leave an industry when the bad outweighs the good. I’m still here, so don’t get me wrong there is good. The purpose of me writing this follow-up is to rant, which I find therapeutic. And also, to let other developers know, its okay, it can be shit. And maybe even, it will be shit. This is only the bad, not the good. Take it in context.

Development takes time, much longer than even you, as a developer, think it will. Nine out of ten ideas will fail. You can spend months or years building on something that conceptually you thought would take a few weeks. This is part of the process. This in itself can be demotivating. But now, add hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people shouting on telegram, discord, and twitter “when will it be released?”, “why hasn’t it been released?”, “give us an update!”, and often, significantly more hostile messages. So take something that is already difficult, and make it exponentially worse. As defi developers, our work is incredibly public, the good, more eyes, more peer review, faster development cycles, the bad, your mistakes are used as “ammunition” against you, and will be used for weeks and months after they have been rectified, your delays are seen as incompetence, and your failures are amplified ten fold. So there is already immense pressure to constantly be releasing new updates and this creates a very stressful development environment. And what happens after you release it? “when is the next upgrade?”, “what is being built next?”, “give us an update!”. Because, you see, no one was actually waiting for your development, they were waiting for a “price shifting event”. They don’t actually want to use your product, they only want to use the “narrative” of your product to make money.

Real users are scarce, for all the billions we have in defi right now, if you strip away the subsidies (paying for users), this number will collapse. People don’t care about your asset management system, they just want to farm tokens. People don’t care that they can protect their losses, they just want token value to go up. People don’t care that you managed to halve your gas costs, it doesn’t help their net worth grow. There are some truly amazing products out there in defi currently, but if you remove the token, and you remove the token printer, usage would drop to negligible. One of my core motivators is having users use what I build, and I can build the superior product even, but a competitor can just fork my code, and a token that infinitely mints, and they’ll have twice the users in a week. Motivating to keep building right?

Your value is only as good as your token, token go up? You built an amazing protocol, its the future of finance, blah blah. Token goes down? You are a scammer, fake project, bad coder, blah blah. Be prepared for this, it can get exhausting. Also, when the token goes up, traders with their “TA” will take ~80% of the credit, it the token goes down, you will get 100% of the blame.

Your success belongs to your “community”, but your failure is 100% your own. Token goes up in value? No one is going to be giving profits to you or thanking you for their profits. Some exploit occurs? You are 100% to blame and need to refund or figure out ways to make them whole again. You have 0% of the reward, 100% of the risk.

Don’t give away your tokens, this one is less general, and more of a lesson learned by me specifically. When I decided to distribute YFI 100% it was because I believed it would allow me to exit to the community. However, I am still blamed if the price goes down, I am still constantly plagued by “when next release”, “when update”, etc messages. I still have all the responsibility and expectation, except I have 0 of the reward or upside. Don’t do this, I was an idiot.

Building is expensive, don’t even bother unless you have a few $100k sitting around. Even with the tokens I farmed in YFI, it -development costs put me far in the negative. And KP3R is even worse. Had I not built either, I would have been better off financially today than I am. I guess this one comes back to don’t give away your tokens.

Community is bullshit, so, my theory was as follows, if someone has the token, it is in their best interest to do whatever they can to increase the value of their token. How naïve I was. And I guess this is partly our own fault as a defi community for calling it governance tokens. Because all people want to do is govern, but not in the trenches helping fight, instead on their throne as a dictator simply shouting orders while their plebian developers need to execute. They don’t care about your protocol, they don’t care about you, and would just as soon sell that token when they no longer think you are contributing enough (by their standards). Not them, you. They won’t try to add value, but they will be happy spending endless hours of your time asking you for updates, and for you to explain in detail your thought processes, and endless back and forth on the most pointless menial topics. Governance and community kill innovation and development. Don’t do it.

My best advice, honestly, don’t be a dev, you need to be some kind of sick masochist to be a dev in this space, be a shitcoin trader, you can meme and shitpost all day long in telegram chats and twitter, you can harass development teams for updates, if you happen to guess right and your shitcoin goes up, you get to claim all the clout, if it goes down, you get to blame the project. You will make significantly more money, and even if your call was wrong, you can just claim it was psyops to get someone to liquidate you. Why do you want to suffer all the costs, all the responsibility, and all the risk with a fraction (or in my dumbass case, none) of the reward? /s