“Multiple Personalities” who “forged” 70% of Solana’s TVL is looking at Aptos

For crypto user Saint Eclectic, Sunny Aggregator, a DeFi aggregator on Solana, is doing something a little out of the ordinary.

Sunny’s native token rose fivefold during last summer’s bull run. In early September, when Sunny was less than two weeks old, billions of dollars in cryptocurrency poured into the yield farm.

However, Saint and others still have questions: Who is behind Sunny? Why does this developer use the pseudonym “Surya Khosla”? Is its codebase audited? Is the user’s cash safe?

“There was no indication of who Surya was,” Saint recalled recently. “A lot of users didn’t feel safe putting their cryptocurrencies in there.”

As it turns out, their suspicions were right. CoinDesk has learned that Surya, whose real name is Ian Macalinao, is the chief designer of Saber, a stablecoin exchange on Solana. He built Sunny Aggregator on top of Saber.

Ian, a computer expert in his 20s from Texas, developed as 11 independent developers to create a huge chain of DeFi protocols, projecting billions of dollars of double-computing value into the Saber ecosystem . Last November, when the network was racing towards its apex, it briefly boosted Solana’s total value locked (TVL) — something DeFi loyalists tend to see as a barometer of on-chain activity.

“I devised a scheme that maximizes Solana’s TVL: I will build protocols that stack on top of each other so that a dollar can be counted multiple times,” Ian wrote in an unpublished blog post reviewed by CoinDesk. This blog post was prepared on March 26, three days after Cashio, one of the protocols Ian secretly built, lost $52 million in a hack.

People with knowledge of the matter confirmed the authenticity of the content.


Ian’s strategy worked for a while. According to his tally, Saber and Sunny accounted for $7.5 billion at one point when Solana’s TVL peaked at $10.5 billion. (Billions of dollars are double-counted between his two agreements.)

“I believe it contributed to the price increase in SOL,” Ian said when SOL was at $188.

According to data provider DeFiLlama, even as the Saber ecosystem started to lose momentum in mid-September 2021, the Solana network’s TVL continued to balloon, reaching $15 billion around November 9, while Saber’s TVL was then has fallen by 64%.

Ian says he disdains this “vain measure”; although “it bothers me that Ethereum’s TVL is much higher than Solana’s TVL” because, in his view, DeFi projects on Ethereum are ” Accumulated”, deposits can be double-counted.

“I wanted to create a system very similar to this,” he wrote. One problem: “If every protocol was built by the same team, TVL would be even more stupid as a metric. So I created more anonymous profiles.”

Ian wears 11 masks.

In public, Ian and his brother Dylan refer to their anonymous characters as “friends” or “friends of friends.” Their “Ship Capital” programmers club is drawing “a blueprint for my ideal DeFi ecosystem,” Ian wrote in an unpublished blog. Saber and its so-called LP tokens underpin everything.

“If an ecosystem is built by a few people, it doesn’t look so real,” Ian said in his blog post. “I want it to look like a lot of people are building our protocol, rather than 20+ disparate programs running as one person.”

Ian hopes other crypto protocols will rely on Saber to the point where “its failure could bring down the entire system,” Dylan said on October 1, 2021. “It’s a Saber Labs strategy, but few people understand it…”

The Ian brothers had not provided any comment by press time.

“Witch Attack”

There may be valid reasons for using anonymity. However, “Anonymous” Ian launched a sybil attack, abusing the trust of cryptocurrency users. (Sybil attack is when one computer in a network uses a fake identity to gain adverse effects on the entire network.)

“I’m revealing this because I’m sure I’ll be found out,” Ian wrote in his never-published blog.

However, Ian released “Saber Public Goods” in May to spread the “Saber Team”‘s prolific code throughout Solana. Eight of Ian’s 11 secret projects are there. But they did not disclose the anonymity.

“My Anonymous Army”

Ian founded Sunny Aggregator under the name Surya Khosla and started Twitter in August 2021. Sunny’s skeptic, Saint Eclectic, is hesitant to deposit his LP tokens into the project of the mysterious figure, an AI-generated face.

There’s one factor in Surya’s favor: Ian’s puppet claims to “know very well” the Dylan brothers in real life. On Sept. 9 last year, Dylan Macalinao tweeted: “Feeling comfortable putting my own cryptocurrency in Sunny Aggregator,” and “We reviewed their code.”

Dylan gave Surya the credibility he needed to earn the trust of skeptics like Saint Eclectic.

The problem is, the lead developer “Surya Khosla” doesn’t exist. Dylan’s older brother Ian founded Sunny Aggregator. Ian made up Surya.

This is the first time Ian has used a fake identity for Saber, and it’s far from the last.

Ian wrote in March 2022 that he had created 11 “anonymous founders, all of whom he actually forged”.

According to Ian’s blog, he admits to creating a bunch of lesser known protocols like Crate (run by kiwipepper), aSOL (0xAurelion), Arrow (oliver_code), Traction.Market (0xIsaacNewton), Sencha (jjmatcha) and Venko App (ayyakovenko) ), these DeFi Lego bricks are the jewels of the Saber ecosystem.

behavior among anonymous

Ian, Dylan and the puppet Anonymous are constantly promoting Ship Capital’s work on social media. They compliment each other on each other’s projects and constantly encourage and publicize the exploits of the builders.

On Dec. 29, Solana developer Armani Ferrante (a real person) tweeted, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re too slow,” and five Ian puppets responded within four minutes:

"Multiple Personalities" who "forged" 70% of Solana's TVL is looking at Aptos

@_kiwipepper responded: “As @simplyianm said, it was an experiment!” She herself was one of them.

Others wavered in the face of the facts.

We are unable to determine whether these comments were manipulated by Ian behind the scenes on Twitter. But two people who have worked with Ship Capital recall the inexplicable behavior of their team members: One character’s Telegram account would go live after another character’s logout.

Anyway, Ian stated in his unpublished article: “If you’re a developer, it’s easy to find out which open source protocols I wrote: there’s always a ‘flake.nix’ file that only I use.”

CoinDesk verified that many of the projects described in Ian’s blog contain “flake.nix” files.

Start with Cashio

To understand how the “anonymous army” injects double-counted value into Saber, the Cashio project created by 0xGhostchain provides a compelling view.

Cashio’s CASH, which debuted near the peak of the crypto market last November, is billed as a “decentralized stablecoin” with a dollar-pegged cryptocurrency backed by “liquidity provider” tokens.

Cashio only accepts Saber’s LP tokens as collateral. This was no surprise last November, when Saber, an “automated market maker” with over $1 billion in TVL, was the primary DeFi trading venue for stablecoin pairs on Solana.

Cashio relies on the Saber ecosystem project created by Ian’s Anonymous to generate revenue.

It first uses Crate to package Saber LP tokens into a “tokenized basket” that Ian built under the pseudonym “kiwipepper”. It sends these “baskets” through a yield redirection platform called Arrow – which Ian built as “oliver_code”. In the end, Cashio says it makes money by betting on derivatives of these deposits in “Surya”‘s Sunny Aggregator and in Quarry, which Ian set up under the name “Larry Jarry”. Profits flow to Cashio’s treasury, managed by a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO).

Confused? The same goes for Cashio’s customers. CoinDesk asked two prominent Cashio users to explain the intricacies of the app; neither could, as the app’s relevant pages weren’t able to help.

"Multiple Personalities" who "forged" 70% of Solana's TVL is looking at Aptos

What users care about is this: Cashio’s DeFi machine accepts their Saber LP tokens and spit out CASH tokens.

It’s a lucrative deal. CASH holders can deposit their LP-backed stablecoins into the Sunny liquidity pool and get a 10%-30% return. One trader said that if they deposited Saber LP tokens into Sunny instead of Cashio, they would only get 5%-10%. It doesn’t matter that both are behind the same crypto asset.

This is the logic of DeFi currency Lego.

Forced deposits from Saber to Cashio to Crate to Arrow to Sunny or Quarry have more impact on Saber. According to Ian, it turns a $1 TVL into $6. Many DeFi projects measure their TVL by touting total user deposits.

Ian writes that “TVL can only be calculated if the protocol is established separately”, which explains why his Anonymous protocol is established separately.

According to TVL tracker DeFiLlama, Saber’s deposits peaked at $4.15 billion on September 11, 2021; its SBR token peaked at 90 cents a few days earlier. Sunny Aggregator’s TVL also peaked on September 11 at $3.4 billion. Its SUNNY token briefly hit an all-time high of 18 cents the day before.

Both tokens plunged 99%, according to data provider CoinGecko. Saber and Sunny’s TVLs were hardly better, as they both fell over 96%.

Cashio was hacked

Cashio imploded on March 23 with a $52 million hack, a big blowback to Ship Capital.

In an unpublished blog, Ian said he was “working very hard to push people to put more money into Cashio” as he wrote its code. He apologised for their “catastrophic” loss in an agreement he created under a pseudonym and endorsed in his real identity.

In an unpublished post, Ian begged the hackers to return the funds. The hacker did later return $14 million of the $39 million demanded by the victims.

Ian wrote that if the hackers don’t reimburse users in full, “I will do everything in my power to reimburse affected individual users with my personal Saber and Sunny tokens. This won’t cover the full amount, but it’s what I can offer. of all”. But he never kept that promise.

Ian’s first code commit was on the EOS project

Anonymity is pervasive in cryptocurrencies and in itself is not evidence of wrongdoing. Thirteen years after Bitcoin’s debut, the true identity of its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, remains unknown. And, even after the latest brutal sell-off, the “crypto originator” still has a market cap of $442 billion.

“I just want to focus on building and creating value in what I think is the best way to do things,” Ian said in an unpublished article. “I don’t want to deal with too much criticism before my idea is fully marketed, and Anonymity is an easy way to distance myself (and the protocols I work on) from it.”

According to Discord server records, Ian came to Solana in October 2020, but this was not his first code experiment. His GitHub commits date back more than a decade, and the first public crypto contribution was on an EOS project in late 2017.

In early January 2021, Ian discussed the token economics of doomed stablecoins on Basis.Cash’s Discord. There, he became “obsessed” with building a decentralized currency.

Along the way, he tried to “build a multi-protocol DeFi ecosystem” but ended up with criticism and ridicule. “Moving to Solana was a way for me to start over,” says Ian.

Who are Saber’s anonymous builders?

Who are these anonymous builders flocking to Saber? At last year’s Solana conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Ian tackled how Saber became the largest DeFi app on Solana in a panel called “From Zero to $2 Billion.”

Ian told Race Capital (Saber’s biggest VC backer): “We got some friends and were ready to build on Saber and grow an ecosystem.”

A “friend” project is Sunny. Another is Crate, a tokenized basket making protocol from Ian alias kiwipepper. “They know a lot of friends,” Ian said. One of these friends built Cashio, a stablecoin project backed by Saber LP tokens, delivering liquidity to Sunny Aggregator. “We can promote CASH to get more liquidity into Saber,” he said.

In a brief interview with CoinDesk on Thursday, McCann said he was unaware of Ian’s close relationship with Cashio.

“He always mentions that someone else created it, but I don’t know who the others are and I haven’t met them.”

Ian reveals Cashio’s true origins in an unpublished blog. As the code for 0xGhostchain, Ian is eager to complete a prototype of a Saber LP-backed stablecoin ahead of Breakpoint, the largest developer gathering ever in the Solana ecosystem. Ian hopes others will copy Cashio. Every protocol that relies on Saber LP tokens will be a liquidity spout, flooding more TVL into the $1.7 billion mothership.

“This is part of the reason the code is insecure, it was rushed to meet this deadline,” he wrote on March 26, after a hacker spoofed Cashio’s unaudited smart contracts with fake collateral , costing it $52 million.

Users in Cashio’s Discord community may trust the CASH code to be safe. After all, Ian told them on Nov. 23, “I personally reviewed it.” However, on March 23, the day the breach occurred, he tweeted to Crypto that “I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. Review Cashio carefully that way.”

Both of these claims contradict what Ian wrote in his unpublished blog.

"Multiple Personalities" who "forged" 70% of Solana's TVL is looking at Aptos

"Multiple Personalities" who "forged" 70% of Solana's TVL is looking at Aptos

Continue to develop towards Aptos

“It’s always been our goal to build projects under a real name,” Ian wrote in an unpublished blog post.

On July 23, the brothers began recruiting external developers to Saber through a “DAO accelerator program.” Its application form includes: “How will your protocol be deeply integrated with the Saber protocol to improve Saber’s volume/TVL/capital efficiency?”

The effort comes at the same time the brothers are moving from Solana to the emerging blockchain Aptos, porting Saber to Aptos. Three sources say Ian is betting on this: They lead a venture capital firm with Aptos as the base called Protagonist. Its old name was “Ship Capital”.

Seven Saber ecosystem users told CoinDesk they felt abandoned by the Ian brothers. Some CASH tokens lost money (previous stablecoins went to zero). Others said their cryptocurrencies were trapped in a derivative token issued by Sunny. Anonymous user Brad_Garlic_Bread said he lost about $300,000 on Sunny and Saber — “there are a lot of people worse than me.”

The community thinks Ian is in charge, “but no one knows what’s really going on,” Brad_Garlic_Bread said. He’s still trying to get Ian’s attention. On July 16, Brad asked Ian if he could “pretend to be Surya for a day” to help Sunny Aggregator investors recover their locked tokens. Ian skipped this question while answering the question on Saber Discord.

Other SUNNY token holders asked Ian about future plans for yield aggregators: Saber is moving to Aptos, will Sunny do the same?

“Ian said on July 16:” Sunny’s lead developer lost most of his savings from the Cashio hack. He will “encourage” the disillusioned developer to rebuild Sunny in Move (Aptos development language), a coding language Ian says is more secure than Solana’s Rust and can build multi-million dollar protocols.

A week later, Ian said, the Sunny developer felt refreshed after trying Move.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/multiple-personalities-who-forged-70-of-solanas-tvl-is-looking-at-aptos/
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