Master of Anons: How a Crypto Developer Faked a DeFi Ecosystem
Something about Sunny Aggregator felt off-kilter to the cryptocurrency user known as Saint Eclectic. Sunny was the newest decentralized finance (DeFi) app to hit Solana during that blockchain’s scorching bull run last summer, when its native token jumped fivefold. Sunny was barely two weeks old by early September, but billions of dollars in crypto were flooding this yield farm. Still, Saint and others had questions: Who was behind Sunny? Why was its developer, one “Surya Khosla,” pseudonymous? Was its codebase audited? Would users’ cash be safe? “There was no indication of who Surya was,” Saint recalled recently, “so many users didn’t feel comfortable” putting their crypto in. Their suspicions proved prescient. CoinDesk has learned who Surya was: Ian Macalinao, the chief architect of Saber, a stablecoin exchange built on top of Solana. In turn, he built Sunny Aggregator on top of Saber. And that’s just the top of the pile. Coding as 11 purportedly independent developers, Ian, a 20-something computer wiz from Texas, created a vast web of interlocking DeFi protocols that projected billions of dollars of double-counted value onto the Saber ecosystem. That temporarily inflated the total value locked (TVL) on Solana, as the network was racing toward its zenith last November. The DeFi faithful regard TVL as a barometer for on-chain activity.