Astroport contributors establish foundation to power new protocol development

April 30, 2024
Astro News
Astroport contributors establish foundation to power new protocol development

The Astroport journey began in 2021. At that time, one ecosystem shined above all others: Terra. Fueled by orgiastic deposits into Anchor, Terra was growing unlike virtually anything ever seen in crypto.

And yet, the ecosystem lacked even the most basic of infrastructure. Most importantly, Terra needed a modern, flagship AMM. Astroport was born to fill that void. Originally launched in December 2021 via a joint venture with contributions from Delphi Labs and IDEO CoLab Ventures, the AMM was an instant goliath, attracting more than $1.8 billion in total value locked (TVL).

The future was bright. Dozens of new protocols were slated to launch on Terra in the summer of 2022 – and all would likely drive significantly more activity on Astroport.

Then UST depegged, and everything changed overnight. Contributors watched helplessly as Astroport’s TVL bled from ten figures to seven in the span of days.

Contributors faced a difficult decision. We had to decide whether to shutter the projects we’d just poured a year and a half of our lives into, or refocus and rebuild somewhere new.

We chose to build.

Astroport was entirely reimagined as a modular AMM that can be deployed on any Cosmos chain. It first launched on Terra 2 on June 4, 2022. And today, it’s live on four other leading chains including Osmosis, Neutron, Sei, and Injective.

In other words, Astroport has completely reinvented itself to become a core part of the wider Cosmos ecosystem.

And the journey is just beginning.

The dawn of the Astroport Foundation

Late last year, a group of Astroport contributors banded together to establish The Astroport Foundation. Since then, they’ve been busy migrating systems, bank accounts, payroll and assets from Astroport’s joint venture companies into a new standalone entity. 

To ensure the Foundation has its own treasury and development runway, it also received a multi-million-dollar gift in ASTRO from Delphi Labs. Labs still holds a significant amount of ASTRO and will continue to offer strategic guidance and stay active in governance. The gift ensures, however, that the Foundation has critical funds to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on Astroport.

With the Foundation firmly established, let’s look at what contributors have planned next.

The future of Astroport

On April 12, 2024, Astroport migrated protocol governance from Terra to Neutron. That move sets the stage for several of the biggest upgrades in the protocol's history. Specifically:

  1. Migrating ASTRO from a Terra-based cw20 token to a Neutron-based token factory coin
  2. Launching Voting Escrowed ASTRO (vxASTRO). Inspired by Curve, this creates a more efficient method of allocating ASTRO emissions by giving xASTRO lockers sole voting power over future ASTRO emissions
  3. The launch of "tributes," which are offerings anyone can gift to vxASTRO holders who vote to send ASTRO emissions to the donor's chosen pool(s). For example, if I want to see more ASTRO go to NTRN-ASTRO LPs (thereby increasing the APY and likely deepening liquidity in that pool), I could donate NTRN or any other token to anyone who votes to send ASTRO emissions to that pool

With these upgrades, the protocol will finally activate a sustainable economic model: one that richly rewards LPs and vxASTRO holders. As their rewards increase, that should kick off a flywheel effect. For example, rewards for LPs mean deeper liquidity on Astroport. That in turn attracts more traders who generate more fees, which increases the APY for LPs, which attracts deeper liquidity and so on.

vxASTRO and tributes are designed to give protocols and individuals the ability to control liquidity flows in the Cosmos. Indeed, we’ve already seen several protocols announce that they’re accumulating ASTRO in anticipation of the launch as the ASTRO Wars heat up.

Longer-term, Astroport governance’s philosophical decisions could prove as important as its strategic ones. Specifically, Astroport pioneered the rise of passive concentrated liquidity (PCL) pools in the Cosmos. These algo pools are designed to minimise impermanent loss by adjusting fees based on real-time market conditions. In effect, algo pools give LPs the ability to “deposit and chill.” No more wasting energy readjusting price ranges in active concentrated liquidity pools.

Ultimately, we see AMMs diverging into two super groups: active and passive. Active liquidity caters to professional traders and market makers… the LPs who quite literally put food on their tables via liquidity provisioning. Passive liquidity caters to part-time traders, and LPs who want long-term exposure to specific crypto pairs.

There’s a market for both types of AMM, and Astroport doesn’t need to win them both. Instead, we believe it should continue to cater to passive LPs. Both active and passive AMMs will likely hold trillions of dollars in assets in the years to come. Astroport’s business development efforts should fight to ensure it is always the most attractive place for passive LPs.

Looking further ahead, we believe Astroport should explore sharing liquidity across chains and potentially even expanding to non-Cosmos-based chains. This will be far easier when other ecosystems adopt IBC for cross-chain messaging. In our minds, it’s not a question of if that happens, it’s a question of when. And the moment it finally arrives, Astroport should lead the way in cross-ecosystem liquidity.

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