Yearn Finance, the robo adviser for yield of decentralized finance (DeFi), made almost $5 million in the first quarter, 30% more than it earned for all of 2020. 

The project’s second quarterly report since its inception in mid-2020 showed profits were heavily skewed toward the end of the period. 

Yearn has become one of the leading places for DeFi users seeking passive yields to entrust their funds. It rocketed to center stage in 2020 when it released its governance token, YFI, the first so-called fair launch. 

The project is effectively a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), functioning without the same sort of rules or expectations as traditional businesses. However, this report seems to indicate that Yearn’s staff is interested in following at least some of the practices that have proven to be useful in the analog financial world.

Total value locked (TVL) in the Yearn ecosystem broke $2 billion in the first quarter, according to the report. 

The report also provides a TVL estimate beyond the first quarter: “As of April 15th, 2021, Yearn has over $3B in TVL without any token subsidies or other incentives typically offered by competing protocols in DeFi.” 

The details

Yearn’s quarterly report for Q1 2021 is not audited and meant only as informational for those in the Yearn community. This is the second such financial report from Yearn following its August to October report last year. 

It has also created a dashboard for interested members of the community to continuously monitor its financials.

The project netted $4.8 million in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), which is $1.1 million more than it earned in all of 2020. Most of it was earned in March, the last month recorded.

Yearn also earned almost $500,000 per month yield farming with its own treasury, an activity it began in February. “We expect yield farming to contribute to an increasing amount of top-line revenue moving forward,” the report said. 

Revenue was primarily driven by yVaults, the smart contracts where users can deposit funds and allow Yearn’s strategists to find yield opportunities. Thirty-six new yVaults opened in the first part of the year. 

The report notes an ongoing and synergistic relationship with Curve Finance, the automated market maker for stablecoins. Yearn is a major participant in governance on Curve through its vault of permanently locked Curve governance tokens, CRV

The Yearn report lists 17 members of staff, whose salaries are paid in Ethereum ERC-20 tokens. Its salary expenses in the first quarter would work out to just under $1 million annually. It also spent $150,000 in grants through the first quarter. Yearn’s grants fund smaller projects, such as design work, community outreach, etc. 

Yearn went through a controversial expansion of supply in its governance token YFI this year, driven primarily by a need to retain its most talented strategists. The organization minted 6,666 YFI, with a third of that set aside for existing contributors, contingent on their continued involvement.

The report acknowledges that what it calls its “ecosystem” has expanded, with entities like Pickle and C.R.E.A.M. joining, without providing further clarity on the relationships other than to say that the YFI token (Yearn Finance’s governance token) does not govern those projects.

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