2022 was a year of excitement, new possibilities, new challenges, and evolution for Blockchain at Berkeley. Building off of our foundations from 2021, we recruited talented and dedicated members, started ambitious projects, and provided crucial services to the blockchain industry.
A priority this year was external engagement - from opening whitepaper circles to the public, running ecosystem meetups, publishing blogs, making new courses, and sending hundreds of members to conferences, we spread our knowledge and passion for blockchain all over the world.
Throughout the bull and the bear markets, our members stood by their passion and principles and continued to build, design, research, and educate. We can’t wait to share all of our new projects and initiatives with you and continue to push the industry forward in 2023 through novel projects and applications.
New Members in 2022
Research and Governance
Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator
Jobs and Career Development
Want to Stay Connected?
B@B is proud to have 58 new members join in 2022: 35 in the spring and 23 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.
Building on the success of 2021, our members and alumni went above and beyond to continue to welcome the B@Bies of the new class. The pandemic was finally behind us, allowing even stronger culture and community to be cemented in a non-virtual environment. We hope our members will continue to bring their engagement and enthusiasm in the coming year.
Blockchain at Berkeley’s consulting department consists of over forty highly qualified developers, business consultants, and designers who are at the top of their fields. We develop technical proof of concepts (PoCs), production ready applications, and design proposals. We’ve worked with leading startups and projects in the DeFi, privacy, and infrastructure spaces and provide clients with access to our collective blockchain expertise. Since February 2022, our consultants have completed six external consulting engagements, as well as six internal projects.
NFT Ticketing: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, enable a unique proof of ownership - each NFT representing a ticket can only be stored in one wallet, so two people cannot have the same ticket. Furthermore, NFT marketplaces give more ownership to the artists. The NFTs can be programmed so that the artist earns a part of every resale of a ticket. Artists can also exercise control over ticket pricing by establishing price ceilings and floors.By setting a price floor and price ceiling for tickets, artists can also make the role of a price bot futile and eliminate price hikes.NFT Ticketing: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, enable a unique proof of ownership - each NFT representing a ticket can only be stored in one wallet, so two people cannot have the same ticket. Furthermore, NFT marketplaces give more ownership to the artists. The NFTs can be programmed so that the artist earns a part of every resale of a ticket. Artists can also exercise control over ticket pricing by establishing price ceilings and floors.By setting a price floor and price ceiling for tickets, artists can also make the role of a price bot futile and eliminate price hikes.
Decentralized Betting: Centralized betting platforms offer the ability to make various types of bet and cash out. However, decentralized betting marketplaces have difficulties finding counterparties to make bets again or cash out early on parlays. Our internal project Triumph aims to solve this through easy betting and redemption. We allow bets to be turned into NFTs, allowing for a secondary trading market before an event finishes! Through this secondary market, users can trade bets peer-to-peer without the fees of centralized exchanges. However, this is not the case for decentralized betting marketplaces. Triumph, our betting platform, allows not only for easy betting and redemption, but also turns bets into NFTs so that they can be traded before a prediction event finishes! Through a secondary market for these bets, you can trade bets peer-to-peer without the fees of a centralized exchange.
Decentralized Equity: In traditional crowdfunding models, companies onboard to the platform after going through a vetting process. Companies provide a total amount to raise and an address to receive the raised funds. Users invest, receive equity, and then the company receives the funds. The problem lies with the required intermediary, high transaction fees, and risk of fraud by untrustworthy founders. Worsening these problems, large venture capital firms and angel investors dominate access to private equity market pre-seed and seed startups. A blockchain-based model would enable tokenization for investors to take equity shares of the project they invest in. Tokenization leads to increased visibility and provides startups a loyal community. Using blockchains as core infrastructure for this also provides a greater degree of security and transparency, leading to more liquidity for both investors and founders to have more projects funded.
Addepar: Non-public asset classes, such as private equities, have historically remained opaque as major stakeholders are incentivized to keep the equity ownership (cap tables) and investment transactions private. Furthermore, private equity relies on manual transaction clearing which further decreases overall transparency. Due to the overall opacity presented within private equities, many investors miss out on opportunities of trading and price discovery on private markets. Our consulting team worked with Addepar, a leading investment management firm, to design a solution - representing the various entities as Ethereum smart contracts with varied deposit balances. We then created a large list of dummy transaction records including equity distributions, mergers and acquisitions, and taxes. Finally, we built a simulation engine to execute the transactions, showing the increased transparency of our solution.
Led by James Dai (‘23)
Osmosis: A common theme for many DEXes is the notion of impermanent loss - it plagues those supplying liquidity to the platform and generally disincentivizes those upholding the platform to continue their job. This project’s goal was to minimize this problem: impermanent loss. Through creating a reserve pool of ‘flexible’ liquidity and designing a liquidity-sensitive AMM feature: this market maker can adapt its price response to increasing activity within the market. With this additional market maker, bets will not move prices very much when a significant amount of money is already wagered with the market maker. This is in contrast to traditional market-making agents that provide identical price responses regardless of whether there are tens of dollars or tens of millions of dollars wagered with the market maker. To build and design this essentially ‘self-arbitraging DEX’, we researched how to implement an AMM which responds to its price based on changes in price relative to the total market activity. To accomplish this, we went deep into the Cosmos SDK and leveraged a little known property: EndBlock. In essence, after a block was complete, EndBlock was used to execute code to self-arbitrage the DEX and return profits back to LPs!
Piñata: IPFS gateways are IPFS nodes that allow users and applications to request content via an HTTP request instead of running a full own IPFS node When an IPFS gateway receives a request, it searches the network for the content that has been requested. Once it finds that content, it pulls the content from the node that is hosting it and then serves that content back to the original requester. We questioned if gateways need to interact with nodes at all! We reasoned that if a gateway could fetch data without talking to a node, we could circumvent a lot of overhead. Without running full node software, scalability would be far easier and elastic. Our team did in-depth exploration and research into the IPFS codebase to architect a solution using this idea. Throughout the project, our team worked closely with Piñata’s CTO Matt Ober and other members to implement the project, and we thank Piñata for their support!
dApp Analytics: Most current analytics solutions, such as Google Analytics and PostHog, are not designed to meet the unique requirements of on-chain analytics for dApps. To address this, we created an analytics dashboard that offers valuable insights into smart contract usage. While researching for this project, we found that Osmosis was looking for a Dune Analytics integration. However, after discussing with Dune at ETH SF, we discovered that they do not support the Cosmos ecosystem In response, we developed a Dune analytics-like tool that allows SQL querying of on-chain data for Cosmos chains, beginning with Osmosis. By running our own Osmosis node and updating its internal indexer to use a Postgres database, we created an API that receives SQL queries and executes them on our customized database. The user-friendly frontend lets users write SQL queries, preview them, and view results as an SQL table and an interactive graph.
Decentralized Voting: This project is a proof-of-concept for a system in which organizational members can cast their ballot anonymously and securely on chain. We built out a smart contract to enable administrative users to create elections and voters to create unique profiles. Administrators can open proposals which are then available to their target voter groups determined by their roles. Voters can interact with the contract to submit their votes on relevant proposals, and the voting history is tracked per profile. We researched the technology needed to enable automating this feature using on-chain date tracking mechanisms. We also explored the concept of futarchy prediction markets during our project to increase voter turnout and skin-in-the-game for participants for policy voting.
MEV: MEV (maximal extractable value, formerly miner extractable value), is a term referring to value that can be gained from censoring, reordering, and adding one’s own transactions. The reason why it was originally referred to as miner extractable value is that the creator of the block has ultimate say in what transactions go into it, though most of the time MEV is not extracted by the proposers. MEV opportunities are generally profits that can be gained from anyone given they execute something correctly (i.e. getting the right transactions in the right place). Hence, they typically come in the form of market inefficiencies or vulnerabilities in contracts. The nature of the public mempool and anyone being able to send a transaction leads to a form of MEV known as frontrunning, in which suitable transactions are copied by another party and sent with a higher gas price to take the profits for themselves. We investigated the market inefficiency of MEV through currency arbitrage on Uniswap. Arbitrage is also present in traditional exchange markets, where the exchange rates between various currencies can be used to create profits, and the same arbitrage-finding algorithms developed for traditional finance can be used on Uniswap. In our algorithm, we represent some tokens of our choosing and the exchange rates between them as a directed weighted graph. Then, we run the Bellman-Ford Algorithm to find the shortest path between token pairs. Bellman-Ford is the most commonly used algorithm for finding arbitrage opportunities on DEXes because unlike Djikstra’s, it will report if it finds a negative weight cycle, which is a potential arbitrage opportunity.
Aleo: Working with Aleo, we created an exchange for zk-NFTs: non-fungible tokens in which metadata is partially or fully private. We designed and built an innovative private platform that allows users to mint, trade, and auction zk-NFTs. The platform also allows the zk-NFT owner to specify with whom to make certain attributes public. Transactions themselves will remain private through Aleo’s secured distributed ledger. Secret NFTs also allow creators to choose who has full access to their content, as an artist can make a thumbnail or watermarked version of the image public so people have an idea of what they are buying, but the full resolution version is private and must be purchased.
Led by Will Minnis (‘23)
LayerZero: Many wallet offerings support multiple chains but do not seamlessly integrate cross-chain transactions into their UI and signing infrastructure, creating a poor user experience and generally just further confusing new users. Through leveraging LayerZero’s Stargate Protocol and LayerZero Scan, our team was able to build a fully functional cross-chain wallet, which not only allowed for seamless integration of cross-chain swaps and routing, but also abstracted away many canonical problems of bridging, such as gas insufficiencies and destination chain specifications. With this wallet, users can easily swap across chains, interact with their favorite protocols, and never worry about gas insufficiencies again.
We researched cross-chain signing infrastructure to produce a consumer wallet experience that utilizes Stargate and LayerZero as the core bridge infrastructure. The project was executed by a team of 6 developers and 1 designer along with the incredible support of the LayerZero team.
Led by Brendan Wong (‘25)
Cardano: The power of decentralization made possible by blockchain technology has revolutionary impacts especially in the voting sphere. Enabling a truly democratic governance protocol requires high voting participation from the community. Currently there is the Cardano Catalyst mobile app that enables the discovery of current proposals that can be voted on using ADA tokens. Elected community Representatives for Cardano do not have a good on-chain interface for inputting governance decisions (i.e. casting votes). Currently, these Representatives are using the public Catalyst voting app for funding decisions and have no Web3 interface for other types of decisions. This results in a difficult user experience for Representatives and a lack of transparency for the Cardano community and ultimately lower voting participation reducing the effectiveness of the governance protocol.
Led by Richa Ray (‘25)
Over the past year, the design department underwent several transformations. Starting as a one-person team, it has grown to a robust team of 13 individuals. The team embarked on new endeavors, including starting work on a comprehensive design system and initiating efforts and conversations around rebranding. The team also made significant changes to the website which have allowed us to communicate our unique presence as both a student and professional organization to various stakeholders.
Perhaps the most notable achievement of the design department, however, is the change in how it is viewed within and outside the organization. We have been effective in educating and demonstrating the importance of design within and outside of the organization, which has opened new doors for projects and collaborations.
Moving forward, the design department's vision is to leverage creative and product design to bolster all parts of the organization. By doing so, the team aims to achieve even greater product impact, create a more cohesive brand, and continue to lead design-related organizational strategy. With its commitment to excellence and innovation, the design department of Blockchain at Berkeley is poised to continue making a significant impact in the years to come.
Fundamentals DeCal: Having returned to in person teaching, the education department was eager to increase student engagement and attendance for the Fundamental DeCal. In the Fall 2022 semester, over 150 students were enrolled. The course brought in many certified lecturers from Blockchain at Berkeley as well as special guest industry speakers such as Composable Finance, a DeFi bridging and cross-chain virtual machine protocol. We also had special topic lectures on quantum computing vs blockchain and scalability solutions. After attending our Fundamentals of Blockchain course, many students are encouraged to apply to Blockchain at Berkeley or further explore our course offerings. Last semester’s instructors even recall meeting some of their students at ETH San Francisco. 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 2023. Find the recording of the Composable guest lecture by Blas Rodríguez here.
Developers DeCal: We teach the basics of Ethereum development through Solidity and Web3 as well as security and scalability concerns when working with the blockchain. We also incorporate guest lecturers from industry to discuss their perspectives on blockchain development. We end the course with a capstone project where students write their own smart contracts to create an ERC721 token trading system. Moving forward, we expect to include more zero knowledge elements to our courses to expand the horizons for students in this course.
EdX: Blockchain Technology and Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies are our two courses on edX developed by Blockchain at Berkeley and faculty from UC Berkeley’s Computer Science department. These courses have reached ~300,000 students from over ~200 countries over the last few years. Our courses are aimed to teach students about basic properties, mechanisms of blockchain, distributed consensus, and various enterprise-level blockchain implementations. We spent ample time this past year preparing updates to the curriculum so that we can record an updated version of the edX content in 2023.
WPC: B@B was thrilled to continue our beloved tradition of Sunday Whitepaper Circles in 2022. We hosted dozens of Whitepaper Circles, some with members of the club who selected a whitepaper they found interesting, researched it deeply, and delivered a 2 hour presentation or led a discussion about it. Other Whitepaper Circles took on a different style this year, with speakers from various blockchain startups and protocols coming in to discuss their work. Topics included Eigenlayer & interchain security, MEV, Avalanche, compact & vector certificates, rollups, quantum blockchains, and much more.
Phoenix Consulting: Blockchain at Berkeley teamed up with Berkeley-based Phoenix Consulting Group to give a financial literacy workshop to the entirety of Phoenix Consulting. The workshop started by introducing Bitcoin and crypto basics, and later transitioned into more complex DeFi options and various resources and financial instruments available on-chain. Students took away a high-level understanding of the financial capabilities of both the traditional financial system as well as blockchain technologies.
Education x Consulting: This semester kicked off the cross-departmental collaboration between Education and Consulting. Our first project, a deliverable for consulting’s Aleo project, consisted of a ZK workshop during the conference-style workshop day hosted by Consulting. Moving forward, we are pushing more edu-consulting collaborations – including a workshop in conjunction with UCLA on Music + Web 3.0.
The research department worked on projects across the stack in 2022. From node infrastructure tweaks on Geth to understanding hardware acceleration of ZK proofs, the research department dove deep into various topics. In spring 2022, we focused on learning the internals of IBC and Geth. We also had more non-technical research, such as learning about the SEC’s regulatory landscape in early 2022 and exploring governance structures with DAOs. In the fall, we focused on learning about decentralized finance instruments and analyzing hardware acceleration methods for zero knowledge proof generation.
Governance had a very exciting 2022: we onboarded onto new delegations and protocols and voted on countless proposals. Our governance lineup for 2022 included AAVE, Compound, Maker, Uniswap, and others. We also expanded beyond just DeFi governance in 2022; we run an Evmos validator and have an Optimism delegation. In 2022 navigated turbulent DeFi waters and voted on proposals to freeze assets in times of high volatility and collaborated on proposals. This year, we are excited to onboard new protocols and are looking forward to what the space has to offer!
The Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator is a joint venture between Blockchain @ Berkeley and Berkeley Center for Responsible, Decentralized Intelligence. It is the #1 university-based blockchain startup accelerator globally and has helped 95+ teams raise $450M+ in 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. The Xcelerator is currently led by Shubhan Dua (’24) and Gurnoor Narula (’25).
What continues to uniquely position the Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator program is the student fellowship program. Blockchain @ Berkeley 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! Moreover, we continue to uniquely operate as a non-dilutive, education-focused accelerator, attracting the highest quality teams that often would not otherwise join an accelerator or give up equity for a small investment. Therefore, our mission is to provide education and opportunity creation for our students and the entrepreneurs from around the world who join us.
Having accepted 20 exceptional teams in February of 2022, we saw them evolve over the course of our 7 month accelerator program, culminating in our most successful Demo Day in Xcelerator history, with excellent pitches by the teams to our largest audience to date. Our application process started in December of 2021, and through the hard work of our VC partners and members of Blockchain at Berkeley, we were able to select 20 of the most promising early stage blockchain startups in the industry. We prioritized diversity in every aspect, with as always, an emphasis on sustainability, social impact, and responsible innovation, aligning with UC Berkeley’s and Berkeley RDI’s missions. After a tremendously successful and well attended kick-off week in mid-April with a legal panel by Perkins Coie, lunch at Ripple offices, happy hour hosted by Republic Crypto, and meetings with VCs and past Xcelerator teams, we began a journey of programming, mentorship, and network introductions to help our teams thrive, even in the midst of turmoil in the crypto ecosystem. Our innovative firms took full advantage of our resources, with several teams raising follow-on funding during the course of the program, securing para-chains on Polkadot, growing their teams, and pivoting their startups to tackle previously unforeseen opportunities in the market.
Having solidified itself as the premier university blockchain accelerator in the United States - with 95+ alumni teams securing over $440M in follow-on funding - UC Berkeley’s Blockchain Xcelerator is proud to announce its sixth cohort. Our cohort kicks off in March and we are excited to welcome our new batch shortly.
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. We run with the mandate to help fund and incubate web3 student concepts and projects from the ground up. We provide applicants with up to $15k in funding and help grantees with their projects, in other words, B@B grants is a mini-accelerator.
This year, we launched the first iteration of our grants program. We received over 50 applications and funded thirteen different proposals, including defi protocols, research proposals, and infrastructure improvements. We also hosted ample networking opportunities, connecting our grants recipients with each other, VC’s interested in their projects, and the broader Berkeley ecosystem.
Blockchain at Berkeley placed a heavy emphasis this year on encouraging and sending members to conferences and hackathons - the most notable including ETH Denver, and LionHacks, Devconnect Amsterdam, ETH NYC, Cosmoverse, DevCon Bogota, ETH SF, and more. Blockchain at Berkeley has sent over 100+ members to these events, where students have been able to meet protocols, learn from the speakers, network, and hack. Some projects that received awards at these hackathons included:
Lilac: The team tackled on-chain reputation and used The Graph and nodes to pull in on- and off-chain data about an individual’s contributions to DAOs. They then combined that to give a score of their overall reputation, representing the probability that the user votes in the DAO’s best interest.
Helix: With Helix, you can purchase an NFT just like purchasing an item on Amazon. Essentially, you request to buy an NFT using USD, and Helix handles the rest. Best of all, there are no custodial wallets or gas fees.
Ptolemy: Ptolemy calculates a reputation score for validators on Sonr by considering both on-chain and off-chain metrics, including data fetched from Cosmoscan and social media platforms. The system assigns a normalized score between 0-5 based on a mathematical formula and ties it to validators on-chain using Sonr's DID module, with a web app to showcase.
Blockchain at Berkeley’s monthly ecosystem meetup series is on its way to unite all builders and learners of blockchain in Berkeley! Since its inception, we’ve invited Osmosis, Ava Labs, Opyn, Reserve Protocol, Aleo, and Succinct Labs as speakers. After the speakers, attendees can enjoy food and drinks while networking with other people. Join us each month to get inspired by fellow crypto innovators!
Blockchain at Berkeley hosted and spoke at a variety of events this year. Some of our favorites included hosting a panel with the Trader Joe team, speaking on a panel hosted by CeloOrg’s University Guild with UMich Blockchain, Columbia Blockchain, and speaking at Berkeley’s Tech Club Women’s Panel! Additionally, we held many events for our members and community such as grant recipient lunches, networking events, technical workshops, and dinners with companies such as Lens, Gauntlet, and Pantera.
Former Co-Founder of B@B and Osmosis, Sunny Aggarwal as well as Dev Ojha (‘21), an engineer at Osmosis, are working with B@B consultants on an exciting project aiming to optimize AMM parameters. Recently, they were joined by Sishir Giri (‘22) and Alpin Yukseloglu (‘23). Aleo is another exciting company started by B@B alum, namely Howard Wu (‘18), Anthony DiPrinzio (‘19), and others. Aleo is focused on building a privacy oriented layer 1 blockchain. Evmos is another B@B founded startup that made leaps in 2022. They launched a Cosmos app-chain that allows execution of EVM smart contracts on Cosmos, creating a better UX for developers. Evmos was founded by Akash Khosla (‘19), Federico Küllmer (‘17), and Nic Szabo (‘18). Last but not least, Argus Labs founded by Scott Sunarto (‘23) is building the next generation of on-chain gaming.
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), Andrew Tu (’18), Ratan Kaliani (’23), 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 our members are either working at top companies or founding companies of their own. Here is just a snippet of where our members are today:
YouTube: Our YouTube Channel features videos from our lectures, meetups, conferences, Whitepaper Deep Dives, DeFi Discussions, and more.
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