At Chorus One, we pride ourselves in being a full-stack partner to the protocols we choose to operate and support. This goes beyond the highly available infrastructure we provide to secure and maintain networks. It includes assisting in ecosystem-building via our ventures and business development teams, as well as participating in network governance and — most notably — deep research. Since our inception, we have been at the forefront contributing to core topics of interest in Proof-of-Stake such as liquid staking.
In recent months, we have shifted a big part of our research focus onto a complex topic that underpins the core fabric of any crypto protocol: MEV (Maximal Extractable Value). This emerging field deals with the value that can be extracted through reordering transactions in the block production process. (A collection of resources on MEV can be found here).
MEV has become an ubiquitous topic for many ecosystem participants. Primarily being a validator, our position in the network places us at a spot within the MEV supply chain that comes with great power, thus also great responsibility. Generally speaking, our mission is to maximize freedom for crypto users and to contribute to the creation of long-term sustainable, user-owned decentralized network infrastructure. Since MEV is a crucial domain that — if not adequately dealt with — might threaten the mission we are set towards; we recognized that we should leverage our expertise and resources to contribute to the MEV space in a way that ultimately benefits networks and their users.
The goals we want to contribute towards in the MEV space are two-fold. On one hand, we aim to make visible and help minimize extraction of value from users through e.g. front-running, sandwiching, and other exploitative practices. On the other hand, we strive to redistribute revenues from non-exploitative MEV that comes into existence from market inefficiency to our delegators that contribute security to the underlying network.
The rest of this article lays out the core pillars of our approach to MEV providing examples of our existing and planned engagements in the area.
What is MEV and how does it impact networks and their users?
Before deciding how we should engage with MEV, we seek to understand what we are dealing with. We are proponents of the open-source crypto ethos and don’t want to keep the information we are gathering to ourselves, but rather share it with the wider ecosystem. Thus, the first pillar of our MEV policy is Transparency. We are actively researching, building dashboards, and publishing other materials to create a shared understanding and to help lighten up the “dark forest” that is MEV.
How can we help to minimize negative externalities of MEV?
As a result of our research effort, we deeply understand MEV in the context of the ecosystems we are a part of. We recognize that MEV can pose negative externalities to users and ultimately the protocols they are trying to utilize. We are actively engaging to help minimize negative externalities in various ways, depending on how deep our engagement in the respective ecosystem is. This can include creating awareness and participating in the dialogue around MEV, research on related problems, as well as supporting and building solutions seeking to minimize exploitative MEV and to decentralize MEV extraction.
Our work in the Network Sustainability domain: operating and participating in public discourse and communities of block building solutions such as Flashbots, investments in projects seeking to minimize front-running (including e.g. Anoma and Osmosis). We have additional projects in this domain in the pipeline and are looking into operating infrastructure to help decentralize block building and relayer infrastructure.
How can we optimize and distribute MEV rewards to our delegators?
It would be hypocritical to say we are in this for the good of it only. There are clear incentives associated with engaging in MEV. Practically speaking, we are looking to optimize the return we can achieve through MEV and pass it through to our delegators creating a differentiated service while helping to improve network usability, security, and ultimately sustainability via the first two of our MEV pillars (see also Phil Daian’s early post “MEV wat do?” on this topic).
For institutional clients that want to offer staking to their users, we are happy to assist in navigating the space and finding the optimal solutions as part of our white label staking services.
If you are building in the MEV space, are trying to understand how MEV will affect your protocol, or are interested to work with us on research topics, feel free to reach out to us through the appropriate channels: