Umee Buckles Down for Mainnet With $32M Token Sale on CoinList

CEO Brent Xu is leveraging his former life as a bond trader to build what he calls a “global debt hub.”

AccessTimeIconDec 30, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:03 p.m. UTC
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Umee raised $32 million from community members who piled into the chain-hopping network’s UMEE token ahead of mainnet launch, slated for mid-February 2022.

Umee set a CoinList record with 922,000 wallet registrations, though only 64,000 ultimately bought, CoinList Head of Sales Mike Zajko told CoinDesk.

The flexible decentralized finance (DeFi) base layer, which plays nice with protocols built for Ethereum as well as its native Cosmos, closed the CoinList sellout earlier this month, CEO Brent Xu told CoinDesk.

Xu, a former bond trader who went full crypto in 2016, said Umee is focused on red-pilling the “inefficient” $200 trillion global debt market. It will therefore home in on supporting projects in the borrowing and lending segment of DeFi.

“There’s no other team that knows as much about [bonds], and so Umee really sits in this nice Venn diagram of being able to onboard a potentially huge market into DeFi,” he said.

Plans for Umee

Umee’s plan of attack starts with “rebuilding debt infrastructure” to make the “base layer” more nimble. Xu said his team is working on tools that help define how his network’s “money legos” handle global debt.

Getting the big debt players in on blockchain’s radical transparency will take time. In February, Xu expects Umee will play almost exclusively to its crowd of crypto natives. But as the team starts to build functionality atop Umee’s proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, he thinks the broader market will notice.

That’s because the massive debt market is, by Xu’s telling, wildly inefficient in all the ways that DeFi excels. Cross-chain communicating smart contracts do away with the many bureaucratic steps of processing prepayments, for example.

“We want to build this universal debt hub that interacts with all the different networks,” he said, naming base layers like Solana and scaling solutions like Optimism and Arbitrum as targets for Umee’s growth.

DeFi connector

All this will take time and money. Umee’s new funds will finance teams of engineers, plus legal and compliance officers. In five years, Xu thinks the debt market migration will have begun to happen “naturally.”

It will also take tact. Umee, like many early-stage blockchain projects, operates as a centralized entity. But Xu said he’s committed to progressive decentralization.

Umee is preparing decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) for mainnet, researching community interactions and will ultimately shift network power to a decentralized governance model.

“One of the purposes of getting so many, 64,000 new token holders, is to build up a community,” Xu said.

For now, Umee’s validators are brawling it out with the burn-it-down mentality many testnet projects adopt to snuff out code flaws and harden for launch. “They’re trying to destroy each other,” Xu said. “We’re being prepared.”


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Danny Nelson

Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.

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