MetaMask Institutional | Q4 2023 Review

Every day, we speak with organisations that could and would not be possible without the permissionless innovation offered by crypto and supported by products MetaMask Institutional (MMI) provides.

by Johann BornmanJanuary 25, 2024
MetaMask Institutional Review for the Q4 of 2023

> “Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.” ― Clayton M. Christensen

Clayton Christensen expanded upon his disruption theory in his seminal work, the Innovator's Solution. He highlighted sustaining innovation, low-end disruption theory and new market disruption. New market disruption embodies a paradigm-shifting technology that creates a new market within an existing one to cater to unserved or underserved customers. This technology targets non-consumption, namely, users unable to meet their needs without interacting with and paying for expensive, centralised incumbent technologies, services or systems. Thus, new market disruption targets new customers that incumbents overlook, thereby resolving the needs of a significant number of previously unattended users.

Crypto and web3 fit this mould as they are transformative technologies. They empower users with digital authority, transparency, and trustless coordination at a scale previously impossible. There are countless examples of this empowerment, but one of my favourites (given our audience) is the democracy and access it allows to on-chain traders, investors and builders.

Many years ago, before spending the majority of my career in building products, I started my early career in portfolio management, where I managed and traded various global macro portfolios across all asset classes. My first mentor and lead at the time, Tom (not his real name) was a highly skilled, systematic and technical trader and macroeconomic portfolio manager. He had previously run his own hedge fund before being recruited to build a new investment business. He learned trading at a young age at his grandfather's stock broking business in Manchester, UK. Unfortunately, experience, wisdom and an impressive track record were not enough to guarantee success (to Tom's surprise).

You see, Tom was not upper class and was from Manchester. Hence, he lacked access to an elite education, and in turn, access to a trading desk at a top investment bank. The creative, risk-taking, entrepreneurial anti-establishment counterculture of traders and investors found on the pages of the book, Market Wizards, had become elite, oligopolistic and profoundly institutionalised. One needed to be on the inside, with the appropriate pedigree and connections, which provided exclusive access to the countless intermediaries you then had to pay hand-over-fist to run a sustaining business.

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Crypto and DeFi are the antidote to such elitist approaches. They grant routine access for any trader, investor or builder to wield digital authority. They foster indispensable companies without needing centralised intermediaries. Every day, we speak with organisations that could and would not be possible without the permissionless innovation offered by crypto and supported by products MetaMask Institutional (MMI) provides.

> “This must be the place.” ― Talking Heads

MMI’s vision is to bridge every organisation into web3. We provide an unrivalled ability to access web3 and empower organisations to monitor, manage, control, and report on their web3 assets regardless of their required interface or key management needs. Our product suite consists of (i) the MMI Extension, which facilitates secure access to the long tail of permissionless innovation within web3 (ii) the Portfolio Dashboard, a curated web3 read-and-write institutional experience (iii) our SDK and APIs for programmatic access. We build these experiences for our core users, who are on-chain traders, investors and builders. We get out of the building daily, speak with our users, and follow strict product and design principles to ensure we build products and features that delight them and solve their most essential needs.

> “fall in love with the problem you are solving.” ― Melissa Perri

Extension & Integrations

In Q4 2023, our strategic intent was focused on delightful user experiences, unrivalled key management and access to any asset, anywhere.

Accordingly, we improved MMI’s onboarding flow, reducing onboarding time for our users and providing an exceptional and seamless user experience.

To provide more key management options to our users, we partnered with MPCVault, SOC2 Type 2 MPC provider that offers a freemium MPC offering with advanced policy settings. We also integrated Cobo’s MPC offering. These integrations offer our users unrivalled key management options, catering to their needs regardless of their trade strategy, jurisdiction or regulatory needs.

Lastly, we shipped a new transaction broadcasting API that allows MMI to broadcast transactions. Historically, our custodian partners would sign (or a user would sign using their infrastructure) and then broadcast the transactions to the relevant EVM network. However, a unique value proposition of MetaMask and MMI is its access to any decentralised application or EVM network. MMI’s transaction broadcasting API empowers users to add custom RPCs to MMI (as they would do with MetaMask), offering access to any EVM chain (unrivalled access) and MEV protection (safety and security).

Our goal to date has been to build a valuable product for our users as measured by engagement and retention. Mixpanel’s benchmark and data show average web and mobile applications average eight-week retention rates below 20%. The MMI Extension retention rates are consistently more than 3X these rates.

Portfolio Dashboard

A key element of our strategy this quarter was to provide our users with unrivalled reporting. We focused on improving two existing features, Snapshots (Valuations) and Transaction History, both of which provide advanced reporting capabilities. A user need we consistently hear. For example, one of our users hired an employee to manage their monthly and quarterly reporting. This employee manually enters their 50 addresses into block explorers and downloads the transaction history into CSV. The team uses a project management tool to record trader notes in a trade journal. The employee manually adds these notes to their transaction history. This reporting specialist then collates all this data into a CSV and sends it to their fund administrator.

Our updated Snapshots feature now allows users to set the exact time of day they would like valuations taken. Earlier, all snapshots were taken at 23:59:59 UTC. The ability for users to specify the time of day for asset valuations allows us to cater to a global audience. Our users must strike Net Asset Value (NAV) at specific times of day (and time zones) as specified in the incorporation documents.

In addition, our CSV download also provides holding, wallet and NFT reports. Our snapshots read-only report can be shared with third parties or downloaded into CSV. We gathered feedback on several calls with funds, ensuring the CSV download would be as valuable as possible for their needs. This streamlining of data gathering and presentation improves efficiency and gives fund administrators total, accurate control. Another MMI user summarised the value of this feature as:

> "The snapshot feature was incredibly valuable to us. Reporting is much faster now. We were able to reconcile historical NAVs in a matter of days to present to our fund admin. They love it. You guys keep on building great stuff to ease our reporting needs." ― Thomas Shivers, Kingsly Capital

Our updated Transaction History features support 13 EVMs, including Linea and Base. Any transaction notes (notes written in the Extension to provide context) will also be shown in the transaction history and CSV downloads, hence absolving the need for a trade journal. We auto-label transaction types and allow for custom labels and transaction categorising. The data is rendered in less than 1.8 seconds (delightful user experience) and provides the entire history of an address. We also index all user addresses and don’t provide any limit on the number of addresses a user can have.

With Snapshots and Transaction history, our users do not need to construct and reconcile their data. They don’t need a project management tool to capture transaction notes. They don’t need to download transaction history from a block explorer. They don’t need to add transaction types or notes manually. They can provide all of this data to their fund admins with a few clicks. As a testament to the continued value we aim to provide, our portfolio dashboard’s 8-week retention rate increased by 45% this quarter.

Programmatic Access

We dedicated the quarter to offering unrivalled programmatic access to our users. This included launching our Snapshots (Valuation) and Transaction History APIs. We also focused on rapidly expanding the depth and coverage of our DeFi API. Our DeFi API is powered by our open-source standard, capturing the most in-depth protocol data – from valuing a position, the underlying staked tokens and rewards to providing P&L and performance, APY, APR and TVL data.

> “Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.”― Clayton M. Christensen

Q1 2024

As we look toward 2024, our focus continues to delight users and build high-value, hard-to-copy features. We focus on the most significant user problems and implement strategies and tactics to ensure we ship as fast as humanly possible. We will continue to focus on unrivalled access and empowering institutions to monitor, manage, control and report on their web3 assets. We have several essential announcements coming in Q1, including paradigm-shifting and unrivalled network access.

We look forward to sharing it with you.

Johann Bornman Director of Product Management

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