Builder Spotlight: ALEX
by Claire Topalian on September 19, 2022

Chiente Hsu is the founder and CEO of ALEX, a DeFi platform on Bitcoin (via Stacks). ALEX provides liquidity bootstrapping for emerging token launches and aims to pave the way as a DeFi innovation that rewrites finance for Web 3. In our discussion, we learn more about what ALEX unlocks for users, how Chiente first got involved with crypto and the Stacks ecosystem, and more.
Claire:
For those who aren’t familiar, can you share what ALEX is all about, and your vision?
Chiente:
ALEX is "Goldman Sachs on Bitcoin," only automated, decentralized and user-owned. ALEX is a decentralized protocol, where all transactions are peer-to-peer and managed entirely through trustless and transparent smart contracts.

ALEX currently provides an IDO (Initial Dex Offering) launchpad, DEX (Decentralized Exchange), staking , yield farming, and borrow/lend with all transactions settling on the finality of the Bitcoin network.
Claire:
Can you share a bit more about how ALEX got started?
Chiente:
In April of last year, the idea for ALEX was first conceived: we look at the growth of DeFi on ethereum. The innovation there is exciting, but from a mainstream adoption perspective there was much to be desired in the space.

We decided that rather than be passive spectators, we would be builders and ensure DeFi would mature to be a viable alternative to what traditional finance currently offers. We would create an “Automated Liquidity Exchange” or ALEX.

Unlike most other DeFi projects we bring with us a track record of building billion dollar quant businesses in TradeFi. ALEX is built by a team of veteran Wall St. Quants, launched our mainnet with an AMM DEX in Jan 2022. It quickly grew to become the largest project on Stacks. We have double the amount of active users as Sovryn.

Our vision for the finance of the future would be one that is permissionless, decentralized and accessible to everyone.

Claire:
What first drew you to crypto?
Chiente:
I started getting interested in crypto because after the 2008 Global financial crisis, when I experienced first hand the shortcomings and inefficiencies of the traditional financial system: the information asymmetry, lack of transparency and overleveraging that caused banks to stop trusting each other because no one knew who owed what.

With Bitcoin and the creation of a public blockchain, we now have the technology that solves the problem of trust in people and institutions, by moving us toward trust in math and with PoW trust in physics.

On a personal level, my husband is from Senegal. My mother-in-law is a matriarch that supports over 500 people. When we send money to support her, we’re charged almost 10% by centralized institutions. That’s over 50 people that could be cared for.

Every year over $2 trillion is spent on border transfer money, not investment, not risk reduction. Just moving money solely to the benefit of “trusted” middlemen. Blockchain can make their monopoly on trust obsolete.
Claire:
And how did you first get involved with the Stacks ecosystem?
Chiente:
I was introduced to Muneeb; we had a Zoom call and I really fell in love with his vision. Other leaders from the original Blockstack team were so helpful with mentoring and leading us. Entering this new blockchain was pretty exciting for us. Without the Stacks community, we wouldn’t have moved that fast.

We came to build all financial basics that an ecosystem needs: we are the principal DEX of Stacks with lend/borrow, etc. our IDO launchpad allows the community to participate in the launch of emerging Stacks projects.
Claire:
What’s next for ALEX? Where do you see the company headed?
Chiente:
Everything we’ve achieved so far we just see as a proof-of-concept that Bitcoin DeFi works and can create real value.

The goal of ALEX is to make Bitcoin a productive asset. For example, allowing Bitcoin holders to receive a Bitcoin yield via Stacking, without having to hold STX. Our next phase focuses on delivering the scalability and user experience needed to realize the Bitcoin economy.

Bitcoin will then have the option of being more than a store of value; it can be put to work and earn a yield from the growing activity of smart contracts with Bitcoin settlement.

Bitcoin is the sound money layer. Stacks is the smart contract layer. And ALEX is the DeFi scalability layer that enables Bitcoin to become a productive asset.

Our incentivized Orderbook Testnet is live, and we encourage everyone to join, contribute and be rewarded: https://orderbook.alexlab.co/.
Claire:
Where can we send readers to learn more about ALEX?

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