Interview - Cardano SPO #118: Kiwipool Staking [KIWI]

Original Placement:

Today’s guest on the Cardano SPO column is an OG baremetal stake pool operated by Matticus and his family, who live in New Zealand: Kiwipool Staking [KIWI].

The previous guest was a stake pool that is also a Hosky RugPool and is operated by Gregg, aka Bone, and Krista, both involved in the racing world.

This column is where I invite Stake Pool Operators (SPO) to share their stories and vision as a way to connect with and learn about the Cardano Community.

Hi, thanks for your time. Tell us something about your team, where are you based and what are your backgrounds?

:kiwi_fruit:Kiwipool Staking is run by me, Matticus, and my family. We live organically on the land down here in beautiful NZ and are proactive advocates for human sovereignty, dignity & liberty and our passion for crypto is inspired by these values.

We run operations from our rural NZ rammed earth home known as the ‘bunker’ surrounded by forest, streams, rolling meadows, livestock and native wildlife.

I’m an IT Systems Administrator and Entrepreneur with 25 years IT experience with the last 7 years being exclusively in the crypto/blockchain space. My wife has financial expertise so looks after the accounts whilst my kids are hands-on learning about linux, business and blockchain whilst assisting with the pool operation.

We operate two baremetal sites in NZ, both with high quality network and server infrastructure. We have invested heavily in infrastructure and in addition to our 192+ baremetal high spec CPU cores, we also operate 64+ cores in the cloud. Together they run our block producers, regional relays, stage 2 failover system, Mithril on Testnet & Mainnet, SundaeSwap Testnet & Mainnet, World Mobile Testnet and all three of the Cardano Testnets.

What’s the path that led you to Cardano and to become Stake Pool Operators (SPO)?

Through past health challenges I learned the hard way about the current medical paradigm and I eventually realised that the medical establishment by design does not seek to heal. This awakening to reality (a reality obvious in retrospect) opened the floodgates to questioning pretty much everything and so the next cab off the rank was the financial and banking industries.

My ‘spidey’ senses had always tingled about the banking sector but now I set off on a years’ long journey to understand as much as I could about how our world’s finances operate. What an eye opener!

Unsurprisingly this led me to learn about precious metals and eventually Bitcoin, Ethereum and other “altcoins”.

A new financial world was blossoming and I wanted in so I started GPU and Bitcoin mining, evolved to operating GPU mining pools and then eventually ran ‘master nodes’. I didn’t know at the time but I was doing my Cardano SPO apprenticeship!

Then came ‘that whiteboard’ in 2017 and I knew I had to run a Cardano Stakepool — thanks Charles! So, Kiwipool Staking was conceived in 2017 but born in the first week of the ITN way back in December of 2019.

In the almost half decade that followed we’ve minted over 18,000 mainnet blocks all without ever having requested or received an IOG or Cardano Foundation delegation. So for this we say a heartfelt THANK YOU to a few special friends and the 8,500 or more souls delegating with the pools — they put the ‘WE’ in Kiwi and are the heart and soul of Kiwipool.

What is SundaeSwap and what role does your stake pool play?
Also, what are your thoughts about this DeFi project and what are you most looking forward to in the coming months?

SundaeSwap is a decentralized, autonomous protocol for trading Cardano Native Tokens aka a Decentralized Exchange (DEX).

Sundae was the first DEX announced to be built on Cardano and features many unique innovations. One of which is Sundae’s decision to operate a decentralized network of transaction batchers known as ‘Scoopers’ instead of doing so in-house (centralized). They were also the first entity, IIRC, to propose an Initial Stakepool Offering (ISO) on Cardano.

But Sundae Labs is more than a DEX. They also build tools for Cardano — for example, Gummiworm. Gummiworm enables secure, high-throughput off-chain transaction volume. It builds on Hydra, whilst unlike Hydra, is non-custodial. This is huge for Cardano, particularly our DEXs.

Kiwipool was one of 30 stakepools voted in by the Cardano community to become a SundaeSwap ISO Stakepool and Scooper. This has been a great opportunity and a role that we cherish.

The ISO gave an opportunity to all ISO pools’ delegators to earn $Sundae tokens relative to stake. This was a wild time in Kiwipool’s history as our total stake temporarily exploded to over ₳200 million during the ISO .

Meanwhile Kiwipool and the other Scoopers had settled into a steady cadence testing Sundae’s scooper software which was eventually released to Mainnet in January 2022.

With the bulk of testing behind us we now look forward to the upcoming launch of SundaeSwap v3. Here’s Pi with the scoop on v3:

“The new V3 contracts have a focus on extensibility, features for the users, and most noticeably, huge scalability improvements. By switching to Aiken, we’ve been able to push the number of orders per batch from 2 or 4 all the way up to 35. We’re launching on the 8th, and we’re looking for people who want to build integrations with the new protocol using any of the new features we’ve added!”

What does it mean to be a bare metal stakepool? What does the day of an SPO look like? What tips would you have for new SPOs?

Baremetal represents sovereignty and, in my opinion, is the highest form of stakepool decentralization — especially when your pool is running in a geographically decentralized location like New Zealand!

Baremetal operations are typically more demanding than cloud-based. Successful baremetal operations require top-notch technical skills as the pool’s infrastructure must be designed, built and managed.

However, we’re more than just a baremetal operation. Our primary systems run on baremetal but we also run our stage 2 failover block producer and five other relays in the cloud in order to achieve redundancy and widespread block propagation. Our cloud infrastructure is probably more extensive than many cloud-based stakepools even though we run primarily on baremetal.

Every day is different for us as SPOs. We have systems to alert us of issues and our failover systems automagically take over block production in the event of primary outages. So we check in on these daily, keep delegators up to date with pool news via Telegram and the rest of the time is spent on learning, up-skilling, updating software, improving and honing processes, periodic infrastructure upgrades, marketing, accounts and drinking coffee.

For new SPOs, almost four years after mainnet started, it’s gonna be a tough gig so don’t underestimate this. Read as much as possible, hone your craft by first running pools in the Testnets and join relevant Telegram and Discord groups. Don’t skimp on infrastructure. Ask questions when you can’t find the answers yourself. Get as much exposure for your pool as possible but don’t publicly moan if you’re not attracting stake as quickly as you’d like — nobody likes a moaner! Stay positive, fake it ’til you make it and, with a bit of luck or help from ‘newfound friends’, you just might will your pool into existence.

Awesome contribution. Any closing remarks? Where can people get in touch?

We’re in the process of updating one of our New Zealand sites with Starlink backed by solar power. Our Starlink site will become our stage 3 (aka SHTF) failover and is coming soon.

Thank you Patryk for getting in touch and suggesting this interview. It’s been fun reminiscing about the journey so far!

Lastly, I want to salute the people of Cardano — the founders, the builders, the entrepreneurs, the story-tellers, the SPOs (especially the OGs!), holders and stakers. We hail from all walks of life and diverse viewpoints but we have come together because we believe in the cause of decentralization. We happily take the slings and arrows of the naysayers because we believe in building our ecosystem methodically and growing organically. We are Cardano, keep building!

Find us here:

Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the people interviewed are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOG. Moreover, this content is for educational purposes, it doesn’t constitute financial advice.