Exclusive: Interview with Joshua D. Tobkin, Co-Founder of SupraOracles

Recently, BTCManager got the opportunity to interview Mr. Joshua D. Tobkin, Co-Founder at SupraOracles. We ask Joshua about the SupraOracles team’s background, the project’s utility in the rapidly budding DeFi and NFT landscapes, the biggest challenges for blockchain oracles, what’s in the pipeline for SupraOracles, and much more.

The interview follows below.

BTCManager: What makes SupraOracles different from other industry oracle solutions, such as Chainlink or Band Protocol?

Joshua: First of all, we think Chainlink and Band Protocol are great. They have done a lot of good for the crypto community and have produced a lot of fantastic results, so we have great respect for everyone at those organizations. However, we saw that both Chainlink and Band had their limitations in terms of security, performance, or speed.

We go through all of this trouble to decentralize these blockchains only to end up using rather centralized Oracles to feed our smart contracts data. In our model, we leverage more nodes concurrently in our calculations in such a way that makes it virtually impossible to collude. Our model will have better decentralization guarantees than our competitors, while still being extremely fast to update our data feeds.

We set out from the beginning to prioritize decentralization alongside data correctness, so we have a consensus model at our base layer which takes decentralized voting to another level. Additionally, a very close second priority is speed. We have refresh rates that are in the range of 3-5 seconds, while still being over 100X more secure than some of our competitors. 

BTCManager: What do you think is the biggest challenge in the blockchain oracles landscape right now?

Joshua: The clearest issue facing oracles is the Oracle Dilemma, or the tradeoffs oracle organizations must make between prioritizing speed, security, decentralization, and another major metric – time to finality.

Thus far, we have seen oracles struggling with at least one of these issues, not to mention centralization criticisms from users concerned with small handfuls of validator nodes.

We have been working for several years on randomization techniques, and we found the key to unlock superior oracle performance without the traditional sacrifices that other providers have made. This not to be overly critical, as we recognize that we are latecomers standing on the shoulders of giants.

Nonetheless, our novel approach is, without a doubt, much more secure while also achieving very fast finality.

BTCManager: In simple words, how does SupraOracles break the infamous Oracle Dilemma?

Joshua: Simply put, our consensus model achieves quick transaction finality, but with unique safeguards in place to guarantee the decentralization of our oracle nodes, and prevent any price manipulation or collusion between nodes. 

By using this novel, nested network architecture and advanced randomization techniques, we can ensure data correctness and network uptime without sacrificing speed or decentralization. So, we really have found ways to sidestep massive performance tradeoffs that status quo oracles have thus far been unable to avoid.

BTCManager: Can you share with us a little about your team and their background?

Joshua: We have a really diverse team from all over the world. Jon and I began this journey together back in early 2018 at SF blockchain week. Around the same time, I met Larron, our other co-founder, at another blockchain event in LA.

My personal full-entry into the blockchain space started in 2017 in San Francisco, where I put together a small research group, called “Bay Area Whitepaper Club.” Jon later convinced me that Taipei City would be an ideal location for us to get our startup off the ground. There, we created a blockchain R&D Lab called Unity Chain, where we studied a bunch of scaling techniques, as well as pursuing our own unique ideas.

Since 2017, I have known that randomization of the node selection process had strong promise to help scale blockchain. This was before Avalanche and also before I knew about Algorand. Nonetheless, I had a strong intuition that randomness was the key.

Over the next few years, we noticed a huge opportunity for us to create value in the oracle space by leveraging randomness protocols for node election, which prompted us to start SupraOracles. Over time, the team has grown to include members from over eight different countries and include blockchain developers, industry experts, academics, finance executives, entrepreneurs, and more.

BTCManager: How critical is the role of oracles in the DeFi space? 

Joshua: Oracles play an absolutely vital role in expanding the utility and functionality of smart contracts. In short, blockchain use cases expand rapidly when we have reliable Oracles. Most on-chain DeFi protocols consist of deterministic algorithms which execute based on conditional data, like a price change for example. Once those contracts are executed, even if they were known to be triggered erroneously, they cannot be reversed by a trusted custodian as would be done in traditional finance.

As such, the data fed into these protocols must be fast and, most importantly, secure, or else they present single points of failure and major threats to end consumers of those services. In that sense, oracles can make or break the broader adoption of DeFi.

BTCManager: The NFT space has been all the rage lately, do you think SupraOracles can find any utility in the budding NFT and Metaverse landscapes?

Joshua: That’s a great question, and the answer is absolutely yes. We intend to be fully interoperable, allowing for the minting of NFTs and providing token bridges onto a variety of blockchains. Our oracles will, of course, have utility in the on-chain transacting of NFT assets, but even more so as dynamic NFTs come into use and their prices may be determined by off-chain conditions, in which case our oracles would constantly keep track of and verify those prices.

Also, a huge opportunity is tying performance or analytical data to NFTs, thereby, allowing them to be more easily monetized through smart contracts – which need conditional data in order to trigger certain events such as royalty splits. We’re very excited about that particular use case of Oracles and NFTs. 

As for the Metaverse, users will essentially need to perform transactions in real-time, and we can finalize those transactions and ensure their transactions represent the proper and intended exchange of value.

Our oracles will actually enhance the immersive experience of the Metaverse, as users will transact seamlessly and with confidence that their assets were priced appropriately at the point of transaction.

BTCManager: What does SupraOracles have in store for 2022? What will be your focus area?

Joshua: We’ve stayed in stealth for good reason. But we’re going to fully reveal our technologies publicly in early 2022. We expect to showcase our Alpha Testnet by February. A few months thereafter, we’ll ship our incentivized Testnet. And then after the appropriate audits and formal verification steps, we’ll launch Mainnet.

While we are going to focus on Oracles at first, Supra will also act as a cross-chain bridge and interoperability layer. We will help ecosystems communicate with each other.

Additionally, we’ll be providing automation services, such as decentralized “if this, then that” services, to allow novel use-cases that can be triggered based on cross-chain scenarios. We have some additional very ambitious plans and announcements we’ll be making within the first quarter of Q1 next year… but we’ll have to save that for then.

BTCManager: Do you have any specific message for the SupraOracles community?

Joshua: We want to make the world a better place, as simple as that sounds. We’re working towards a more accessible and inclusive world in which smart contract interoperability gives ordinary people financial sovereignty. Our aspirations are pretty simple: help make the world a more fair place. Having said that, we are also acutely aware of the externalities and environmental impacts that are created by the innovations of our industry. The good news is we utilize an efficient proof-of-stake consensus model.

While we will always strive to remain at the cutting edge of technological innovation, we are not willing to sacrifice the environment. Additionally, we aspire to be fully carbon neutral – perhaps we may also be end consumers of carbon credits on a blockchain.

BTCManager: How can the readers learn more about SupraOracles? What are the best resources?

Joshua: The two best ways would definitely be at our website, supraoracles.com, or else search our Twitter handle @SupraOracles. You can also engage me personally on Twitter @JoshuaTobkin. 

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