Meet the Umami Labs Team

The Umami protocol is governed by its community of UMAMI token holders, but it is built and managed by the dedicated team at Umami Labs.

Umami Labs is a global cohort of more than a dozen Web 3 professionals with expertise in areas including smart contract code, user-interface design, corporate and securities law, financial modeling, business development and more.

While their professional backgrounds and geographies are diverse, Umami Labs’ team is united in its commitment to DeFi, including its core principles of trustlessness, decentralization and transparency.

Read on for a personal introduction to the talented team at Umami Labs.

CEO, Alex O’Donnell (DefiAlpha)

As Umami Lab’s Chief Executive Officer, he is responsible for guiding Umami’s strategy, leading its team, and helping communicate its vision to the world.

Alex took on Umami’s leadership role in February 2022, after its DAO community voted to chart a new strategic course for the protocol.

Previously he cut his chops in Web 3 as a core contributor to Umami DAO and a marketing strategist at Socket, an interoperability protocol. In a past life, he spent 7 years as a financial journalist, primarily at Reuters News, where he covered mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and IPOs.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

My first foray into DeFi was in 2021, so I’m still a relative newcomer to the space. What initially attracted me to DeFi was the openness of many DAOs to meaningful contributions from their community members. I became obsessed pretty quickly, and before long I was a regular contributor to Umami’s predecessor, ZeroTwOhm.

When Olympus DAO and its forks started to unravel and Umami (in its previous iteration as an OHM fork) was in need of a serious course correction, I had an opportunity to take over as project lead. Almost immediately, I quit my full time job and went all in on Umami. In retrospect, that was probably kind of insane, but I’ve never looked back.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

The technology already exists to create highly scalable financial products that are decentralized and trustless. However, very few DeFi products have made sincere efforts to build for a market beyond the crypto-native bubble. Umami’s mission is to help create a trustless, decentralized financial system that is truly equipped for mass-adoption. The need for it has never been greater.

CTO, Michael (PrePop)

As Chief Technology Officer, Michael oversees the development of Umami’s product suite and leads its team of backend and frontend engineers.

Prior to joining Umami Labs in April, Michael spent 9 years leading software teams, most recently at several defense industry startups. His experience with crypto dates back to 2014, when he founded a scrypt-based mining pool. He later became heavily involved in MEV (Miner Extracted Value), which led him deeper into the intricacies of blockchain.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I discovered crypto late in 2013 through some cryptography research for my job at the time. I started mining SCRYPT-based alt-coins and co-created a mining pool to automatically switch to mining the most profitable coin. After Ethereum launched, I began learning solidity and had an incredible time researching and trying new protocols as they launched. In the last year I focused primarily on MEV bots until I joined Umami.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

The core values of Umami are really what drew me to the project: Transparency, Decentralization, and Composability.

Umami has big plans for implementing some very advanced strategies. They will be fully transparent and auditable and can be permissionlessly entered by anyone. This is the stuff that really excites and motivates me, and it has been an incredible journey getting to work towards these things at Umami.

CLO, Alex Golubitsky

As Umami’s in-house counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Alex leads an innovative legal strategy that enables Umami to compliantly traverse the bleeding edge of DeFi.

Alex has practiced law since 2007, specializing in territorial income tax incentives in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. His diverse experience include serving as general counsel to a U.S.-based commodities fund and advising multiple DeFi projects.

He is responsible for creating and guiding Umami’s revolutionary hybrid structure, which includes a DAO-governed DeFi protocol and a U.S.-based Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and Money Services Business (MSB).

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I came across DeFi in spring of 2021. Working as a tax attorney, I started to get referrals from people who had really interesting tax issues (things like taxation of staking rewards, providing liquidity, etc.) and started to dig into the underlying systems.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

Umami’s commitment to innovative products makes this role both interesting and challenging for me. We are attempting to bring financial products on chain in novel ways, and this requires novel legal (among many other) solutions. Being able to try to solve problems that have not been solved before, and require that multiple systems work in concert, is rewarding.

Chief of Staff, Jefferson Chang

As Chief of Staff, Jefferson is the single point of reference for all things operational and administrative at Umami Labs. He tracks the progress of all ongoing projects and makes sure the team’s efforts are maximally aligned with Umami’s strategic priorities.

Prior to Umami, Jefferson was Chief of Staff at M³, a computer vision startup developing 3D technology to scan the face and body. Before that, Jefferson worked at MyMaskMovement.org, a nonprofit social enterprise that donated 3D-printed, custom-fitted respirators for doctors around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I came across DeFi and crypto over an instagram post my freshman year in college. I was sitting outside a Wingstop with a friend, and we both decided to put $50 into DOGE (which I still haven’t sold). Umami is actually my first time diving into DeFi head on, though.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

I love how mission-oriented the team is. In every meeting Umami holds internally, our top priority is always how we can benefit and support Umami holders. We never take the easy route; instead, we work patiently and strategically to ensure minimal risk and maximum return for all of Umami’s stakeholders.

Community Manager, Lucas (MrGrumpyPants)

As Content and Community Manager, Lucas (a.k.a. MrGrumpyPants) is the first point of contact for newcomers to Umami. He can be found nearly every day in Umami’s Discord, vibing with the community and answering all of their questions about the protocol. He also manages Umami’s external outreach and communications, evangelizing its vision with social media content and spreading the word through AMAs with protocols, influencers and media.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

My first deep dive into Defi was during the OHM craze last year. Prior to that, I basically just traded NFTs and bought ETH from Coinbase. While fun, the OHM model ultimately did not work but it did bring me to Umami, and for that I will always be grateful.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

The tokenomics and revenue sharing aspects of Umami is something that truly inspires me. Through my early DeFi investments, I learned the value of good tokenomics the hard way. We need to see more projects utilizing low-zero emissions, building revenue-generating products, and sharing the proceeds with holders.

Treasury and Product Manager, Wen Moon

Wen, one of Umami’s DeFi-native “anon” hires, leads the protocols treasury and product strategy. He is responsible for ensuring that Umami’s treasury runway can sustain itself in all market conditions. He simultaneously leads modeling and backtesting for its DeFi products.

Wen has more than 2 years of DeFi experience, including as a contributor to product and treasury strategy at Abracadabra, one of the most popular cross-chain DeFi projects, and an “intern” for an established DeFi influencer and whale. At University, he studied economics and mathematics and completed a thesis on options trading.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

The very first step I made into Defi was in late 2020, when a friend of mine let me know I could get something called an “airdrop” for just joining a Discord. I thought it was too good to be true, but sure enough it was real. I totally kicked myself for not making 100s of alt accounts to game it when I found out it was worth upwards of 5 figures a few weeks later. (Although it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, since I rode it down to zero). From there, I found Liquidity Mining and the rest is history.

I’ve always taken the approach of analyzing things from first principles and drawing parallels to traditional financial systems, which has helped me to manage risk all the way up and down.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

I’ve been around my fair share of projects. After a while, the lack of transparency and legitimacy really gets tiresome. That’s why I like the approach Umami is taking to always be a market-leader in those aspects. Also, I think the tech is pretty cool, and after all… we are all in it for the tech.

Market Strategist, Steven

Steven is the mastermind behind Umami’s liquidity strategy. His capital-efficient Uniswap Liquidity Pair (LP) strategy enables Umami to keep 90% of its Treasury assets in yield-generating allocations while still providing deep $UMAMI liquidity for low-slippage swaps.

Steven is also a widely-followed crypto influencer, publishing commentary and analysis on the markets on Substack and YouTube multiple times each week. Prior to his work at Umami, Steven spent more than a decade in the traditional financial sector in roles including wealth management, insurance and operations.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

My path to DeFi started with my love for sound money principles gold represents which led me to understanding how the current monetary system works. In 2016 my continued research brought me to Bitcoin and subsequently Ethereum. Gold and a decentralized financial system together seemed like the best way to bring economic sovereignty to citizens and I’ve been here ever since.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

Umami first got my attention as a way to get the best exposure to the expanding Arbitrum ecosystem. Having a user-friendly place to allocate funds on one of the fastest growing blockchain ecosystems seemed like a no brainer. Since then, Umami has continued to transform and has implemented the principles I would want to see in any project. The opportunity to build capital efficient, top-tier yield strategies in a transparent way motivates me to provide the highest value for our community.

Growth Manager, Rex (Haym)

The newest addition to the Umami Labs team, Rex is in charge of partnerships and business development initiatives as Growth Manager.

Under the avatar “Haym,” Rex has established himself as a leading influencer on Crypto Twitter, accumulating more than 20k followers and publishing more than 60 threads on the technology, roadmap and long term potential of Ethereum and its scaling chains.

Rex studied computer science at Stanford University and spent the first part of his career working as a corporate finance executive at one of the world;s largest conglomerates.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I studied computer science between 2009–2013 in Silicon Valley. I remember hearing about Bitcoin and thinking “eh, what’s the point.” I remember hearing about some of the wilder moments that broke outside of the crypto world (particularly Mount Gox), but it never really mattered to me. Then, in May 2021 I heard Hayden Adams explain Uniswap on the Bloomberg Odd Lots podcast. In those 50 mins, my world was changed. My understanding of Ethereum went from “internet money… cool, I guess” to “the inevitable, paradigm-changing next evolution of the internet”.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

Accountability, specifically as it was exemplified by Umami’s decision to pause its v1 vault. De-Fi is the Wild West. It is very difficult to trust anyone and yet we need to hand over our real dollars for tokens. It is incredibly important to me that not only was Umami quick to act, they made very sincere efforts to explain what happened and make sure everyone was made whole. In a post FTX world, accountability is the most important trait I look for in a team.

Lead Back-end Developer, Zac (0xToki)

Zac is Umami’s lead smart contract developer and a long time member of Umami’s core team. He was instrumental in Umami’s early 2022 pivot away from OHM tokenomics, including creating the Marinate smart contract that is the foundation of the UMAMI token’s #RealYield.

Zac has worked as a Solidity developer for more than 3 years on dozens of different projects, and has previous experience building multiple payment infrastructures.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I first discovered DeFi 2017 when interacting with EthLend, which is now AAVE. Back then, EthLend facilitated peer to peer loans on chain. I found the concept of trustless loans fascinating and felt that this was where the world would eventually turn to for a global open financial system.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

Accessible yield products for everyone. The reason I wanted to build DeFi products was to make complex structured products accessible, irrespective of country, age or net worth. I feel strongly that the financial system is geared towards the wealthy and want to change this.

To quote Zero Two, “If you don’t belong here, just build a place where you do.”

Senior Back-end Developer, 0xDapper

Dapper, one of Umami’s core “anon” hires, is a senior backend developer and plays an integral role in creating smart contract code and models for Umami’s DeFi products. A true decentralization maxi, Dapper has 5+ years of experience in engineering roles across the Web 3 tech stack. His past projects have run the gamut from Frontend and Backend coding, devops, mobile apps, CLIs, CI/CD automations and more.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I became familiar with DeFi during the boom of summer of 2020, but I didn’t start engaging more actively until September, 2021. I spent a couple months in hackathons getting more acquainted with contract development. After that, I spent almost half a year in MEV (Miner Extractable Value), where I worked through understanding a ton of DeFi protocols and read a lot of solidity code. Since then have gone full time with development on Umami.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

The amount of effort we put in our transparency for our community of investors is really what should be the standard in the DeFi protocols. It is what I’d hope for as an investor from protocols handling my money. We are also staying true with the decentralization ethos in our implementation and contracts. After the v1 vaults, we have also spent a considerable amount of time verifying our strategy with backtests, including close to real world simulations. That’s as good as it gets in DeFi, which is still nascent.

Lead Front-end Developer, Ed (GreyPixel)

Ed is one of Umami Labs newer team members, but he has already made a tremendous impact as its lead Frontend engineer. He has overseen the launch of Umami’s new, industry-leading user-interface and is now developing a dashboard and UI for its upcoming suite of DeFi Yield Products.

Previously, Ed founded a successful tech startup in the UK. He worked there as Executive Director for 8 years, expanding the business and leading its development team.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I first bought some Ether in late 2017, but my true DeFi journey originated in the yield farming summer of 2020, which was a great introduction to Uniswap v2 and the theory behind it. I think researching impermanent loss was what led me down the rabbit hole…

A definite stand-out moment for me was when I first understood the theory behind flashloan-based arbitrage between decentralized exchanges — I found it incredibly exciting that DeFi was naturally providing incentives and opportunities for people to perform a necessary “service” with no requirement for huge amounts of capital outlay or any other privileged position, and with a minimal risk thanks to Ethereum’s smart contract tech.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

One thing that has always been close to my heart is making sure the things I’m building are intuitive and accessible to people “outside the bubble,” and I love how perfectly this fits with Umami’s mission. I can literally give a one-line summary of our upcoming vault products to my family, and they understand why it’s a great product, but equally I could talk with a more technical person for several hours about the underlying technical implementation and how it remains true to DeFi’s trustless and transparent roots.

Full-stack Developer, Clonescody

Clonescody is another Umami “anon” hire and one of its most recent additions to the team. As a full-stack developer, he has hit the ground running, building and shipping Umami Dapp’s current API in only a few weeks. Over the past 5 years, Clonescody has led web and mobile development at various large media companies.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

My journey in DeFi started pretty quick after my entry in crypto in 2017. I instantly became interested in the Ethereum ecosystem and the more complex interactions it natively allows as a smart-contracts platform. As me (and my portfolio) began going down the crypto rabbit hole in 2018, I saw the emergence of the first DeFi protocols that have since consolidated into the behemoths that are now Curve, Uniswap, Maker or AAVE. I kept on learning as the space was growing, and started participating more actively in DeFi communities around DeFi Summer.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

As I was learning about Umami, a few points stood out over other projects. I really like the legal approach taken regarding the offering of DeFi products. I’m an advocate of the fact that DeFi is already regulated by design, but I also see the benefits of having regulated entities to offer a gateway to more traditional/non crypto-native users into those products in a safe way.

The team also struck me by their transparency and communication ethics, notably regarding the treasury management and the way the first version of the vault was handled. On a last note, I haven’t seen many DeFi protocols do extensive backtesting of their products like Umami does.

Graphics Designer, Edis

Edis is the creative talent behind all of Umami’s acclaimed graphic and video content. He has played a defining role in crafting Umami’s visual identity and created an array of gorgeous and informative videos, infographics and other marketing content. Prior to Umami, Edis worked in the creative field for 10 years.

How and when did you stumble across Defi?

I honestly don’t remember.. was probably following up on some crazy high APY numbers on Binance chain, because some of my friends were doing that in 2021.

What is one aspect of Umami that inspires you to execute on our mission?

I feel like we are creating an example for the ecosystem of how to create projects that are trustworthy and compliant, as well as how it is actually much, much better to share everything transparently with the community.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store