This week’s episode of TechCrunch’s Chain Reaction podcast featured host Jacquelyn Melinek’s conversation with Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov about a range of topics including fortuitous use cases for smart contracts, the value of cryptographic guarantees, the intersection of blockchain and AI, and the promise of Chainlink’s Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP).
In an inspiring moment, Melinek asked Nazarov what kind of advice he would give developers building in today’s crypto ecosystem. Nazarov defined two paths and endorsed one as the road that led to Chainlink’s success as web3’s industry-leading decentralized oracle network.
The first option is to preemptively build a project around a trend. “But that’s not really my recommended way,” he explained, since this method depends on the growth of the overall market more than the project’s unique value proposition.
Instead, he recommends a more sustainable approach: find a societal or technical problem that blockchains are uniquely able to solve by virtue of cryptographic guarantees and commit the necessary time to building a solution.
“Find something that you are personally interested in, ideally that you personally understand, and decide for how many years you will want to work on it,” he said, denoting a minimum time frame of five years.
“Once you find what that thing is, and you can commit to five years to go after it regardless of how dumb anyone thinks you are, then I would go after it.”
He emphasized the importance of flexibility and adaptability. Sometimes, developers set out to solve one problem and realize their system’s better suited to solve another.
Given the choice between chasing a trend and fixing a real-world issue, Nazarov said pursuing the second path leads to long-term viability.
“And now is a very good time to do that,” he said, “because the people who build in these markets – who aren’t too frothy or too intense or too hyped up – they end up getting the experience and they end up building the systems that, when people do get excited about their category of work, they’re the leader.”
He attributed Chainlink’s longevity to this philosophy. “That’s actually how Chainlink came to be where it is – it wasn’t because everyone was telling us oracles were great. The vast majority of people didn’t even know what an oracle was,” he explained.
“We only knew because we worked on it for many years, and utilized (oracles) for many years, and invented many of the procedures and methods of making them for many years. And then we decided to have conviction about the importance and value of this infrastructure.”