A short history of vampire attacks
Let’s talk for a minute about vampires. Not the ones who literally suck the life out of you– I’m talking about Ethereum vampires that feed on liquidity and user interest rather than blood.
In Web3 parlance, a vampire attack is what happens when one protocol or platform sets out to lure users away from another by offering rewards. This may sound shady, but the truth is that these “attacks” can be good for users. Ethereum vampires are chaotic neutral: in the right context, their powers can be used for good.
The most famous vampire attack happened in 2020 when a mysterious dev named Chef Nomi launched SushiSwap, a sushi-themed fork of Uniswap. The strategy was simple: Chef Nomi offered tokens to Uniswap liquidity providers if they made the switch to SushiSwap. Since Uniswap didn’t have its own token at the time, this was very effective… in the short run.
More recently, this past January LooksRare went live with a vampire attack against OpenSea. While the jury is still out on whether LOOKS will be a success, the attention and activity it has generated further show the power and potential of vampire attacks to disrupt and reshape the Ethereum ecosystem.
Today, there’s another tokenless product that is a prime target for a vampire attack. And whereas the Sushiswap/Uniswap drama temporarily debilitated a platform that provides a net benefit to the Ethereum ecosystem, the target I have in mind no longer serves the best interests of the Web3 community.
I’m talking, of course, about MetaMask.
We all know MetaMask. The crypto wallet with the fox logo that markets heavily to crypto newbies and supports them (barely...). If you’ve used MetaMask for any length of time, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The fox is cute – even I admit that. But the most adorable mascot on earth can’t make up for pleas for help that go ignored, or the requested features and fixes that take months and sometimes years to materialize.
MetaMask has been dominant for so long that it has become a default setting for many crypto users. But I urge you to take a look under the hood – a really, really close look. You might not like what you discover.
I first did that in August of 2020, when MetaMask stopped being open-source and then started blocking users in certain geographic regions. Think about the implication here. What is a project that claims to uphold the standards of Web3 trying to achieve by blocking wallet addresses from entire countries?
Profits, that’s what. Tom Schmidt put it well last February when he tweeted “while no one was looking, MetaMask just started making $170K a day in fees at $20 million a day in volume.” Is any of that money going to improve the wallet itself? Well, if their cap table– which includes the likes of Mastercard, JPMorgan, and Consensys– is any indication, I’d say the answer is a resounding hell no. If you ask me, this all feels pretty Web 2.0.
Tally Ho: the Open-Source, Community-Owned Alternative to MetaMask.
Now you may be saying to yourself, "Okay, so if MetaMask is a Web 2.0 wolf in a Web3 fox’s clothing, what are we supposed to do about it?"
Given the dominance of MetaMask's user base, the answer is crystal clear: We need to become vampires. We need to build an alternative so compelling and well-designed that even long-time MetaMask users won’t be able to resist switching teams. And if they have any doubt, they need to be paid to make the switch.
Pretty simple, right? And–spoiler alert– that alternative is here. It’s called Tally Ho – the open-source, community-owned alternative to MetaMask.
Just as SushiSwap drew users away from Uniswap in droves by rewarding them for moving, Tally Ho will offer incentives to MetaMask users who make the switch to this open-source, community-owned replacement.
But Tally Ho isn’t SushiSwap. In many ways, Sushi sowed the seeds of its own destruction in its vampire attack. Early users were mercenary LPs, and those mercenary LPs became mercenary token holds. By failing to articulate a clear idea of itself and grow a loyal base of stakeholders, SushiSwap was not positioned to thrive beyond its initial growth.
That’s one of the reasons Tally Ho is being built with a clear vision to support a true Web3 ethos and an incentive structure designed to nurture a committed community for the long term.
Very soon, there will be a fair launch of a new DAO structured to provide incentives for users to drop MetaMask, and to bring them to Tally Ho permanently. Our next goal is to create in-wallet services that generate fees for a community-owned DAO. These fees will go into the pockets of our users, rather than big banks and traditional finance.
Unlike SushiSwap, Tally Ho is not a fork of MetaMask. That’s not for lack of trying — but after we reviewed the MetaMask codebase, we decided a clean slate was the best way forward.
Instead of a quick fork, we’ve shipped a standalone wallet and protocol built on an entirely new codebase. The code is open, forkable, and built to align with Web3 values, incentivizing users for the long term. And I believe it’s positioned to prevail in the wallet wars as the decentralized internet reaches maturity.
I believe devoutly in the principles of decentralization – user sovereignty, privacy, and freedom. Join us, and help us move a little further toward realizing these ideals, which are at the core of the Web3 vision.
There are lots of ways to get involved: check out our Discord community. Make a governance proposal to help shape Tally Ho’s future. And if you’re a developer who’s interested in working on Tally Ho, we’re offering $50,000 in bounties for the best ideas out there.
Click here to learn more about Tally Ho and help build a community-owned Web3 future.
This post builds on a short talk I gave at ETHDenver last month. You can find the full video here: