August 17, 2021
9 min read
This article was translated from our English edition.
This story originally appeared on ValueWalk
Seven years ago, eight geeks With diverse talents and high ambitions they broke bread in Zug, Switzerland, and planned the future of what would become the world’s most active blockchain.
With Ethereum, these entrepreneurs sought to overcome the limitations of Bitcoin by creating a community-driven open source project capable of supporting decentralized applications (dApps). Today, the smart contracts platform has met many of its goals, facilitating the transfer of value on an astonishing scale. Meanwhile, its native cryptocurrency ETH is the second-largest digital asset by market capitalization.
The major Ethereum upgrade in London, which cuts the supply of new tokens hitting the market by a third, seems like as good a time as any to focus on the co-founders whose ideologies and aspirations took them in different directions. And specifically in the four figures that remain involved in blockchain on a day-to-day basis: Vitalik Buterin, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood and Charles Hoskinson.
What became of the Likely Lads? (what they called themselves)
Russian-Canadian computer programmer Buterin remains the figurehead of Ethereum, the name and face of the platform for all intents and purposes. With a Twitter account of 2.2 million followers, the 27-year-old author of the Ethereum whitepaper often appears at conferences to discuss the future direction of the network, and is hard at work on Ethereum 2.0, his much-vaunted review of the coin. .
By moving away from proof-of-work, the power-intensive consensus mechanism favored by Bitcoin, Buterin believes that Ethereum will reduce its power consumption by 1,000 to 10,000 times. “We went from consuming the same energy as a medium-sized country to consuming the same energy as a town,” he says.
The improvements overseen by Buterin also include stability features like stacks and sharding, which are intended to vastly improve Ethereum’s scalability. Last month, while presenting at the Hong Kong Startmeup HK Festival, Buterin emphasized the importance of such updates: “Once you have build-ups and chunks, Ethereum and things besides Ethereum will be able to have the kind of scalability that the company to large-scale applications are waiting. “
Buterin also admitted that building the Ethereum successor had taken much longer than anticipated. Interestingly, he cited “internal team conflicts” as an explanation for the slow transition rather than technical difficulties. Internal team conflicts, of course, led to the departure of the aforementioned co-founders, Wood and Hoskinson, who started their own blockchains.
Buterin has been ably assisted by a small army of Ethereum developers, around 2,300 programmers per month according to the latest Electric Capital Developer Report. He has also been able to rely on the advice of co-founder Joseph Lubin, a seasoned serial investor and technology developer who has brought business partners (JPMorgan, BNY Mellon, Credit Suisse) and developer talents into the Ethereum orbit.
Much of the platform’s success in recent years can be traced back to Lubin, whose Ethereum-focused startup ConsenSys raised $ 65 million in funding from companies like UBS and Mastercard in April. ConsenSys has also partnered with China’s Blockchain-based service network to accelerate business adoption of Ethereum applications in the region.
Polkadot and Cardano: upstart hopefuls or Ethereum killers?
Charles Hoskinson was once the CEO of Ethereum. Meanwhile, Gavin Wood wrote the technical specification for Buterin’s whitepaper and pioneered his Solidity programming language. Despite their influential roles in the project’s formative years, both have left to found alternative blockchain platforms.
Hoskinson’s desire to make Ethereum a commercial (rather than a non-profit) company eventually sparked a schism that led him to withdraw. “Separating on bad terms” would be to put it mildly: Joseph Lubin referred to Hoskinson as a pathological liar, prone to telling people that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the legendary figure who supposedly created Bitcoin. Regardless, Hoskinson’s departure led him to found Cardano, an open source proof-of-stake platform launched in 2017. In the four years since its launch, Cardano has established itself as a major player. Not only is its native asset, ADA, the fifth largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, but the platform supports nearly 7,000 assets.
The next update Alonzo will finally bring smart contract functionality to Cardano, allowing defi applications to be deployed to it for the first time. While Cardano and his supporters proclaim this milestone out loud, its late implementation has made the project the butt of many jokes. More than once, Hoskinson has touted the launch of a smart contract, only to delay the launch later.
Whether Hoskinson will keep his promise this time is anyone’s guess. In any case, Cardano has had an impact beyond the world of speculation: earlier this year, it struck a deal with the Ethiopian government, allowing students to create a digital identity registered on the Cardano blockchain.
Hoskinson talks about Cardano’s commitment to Africa, referring to “new voting systems, new property systems, new payment systems, new ways of identifying people, new ways of trading securities” and introduces Cardano’s blockchain infrastructure. as a key cog in that transformation: “All of these things are possible with the technology we have built, developed with formal methods and advanced programming languages like Haskell, and validated by peer review.”
It’s fair to say that while Hoskinson has turned Cardano into a formidable beast, he’s still a polarizing figure. Last month, the CEO received criticism for an old tweet in which he predicted that Cardano would now support “thousands of dApps.” Of the nearly 7,000 assets built at Cardano, only two record more than 10,000 transactions per month. Hoskinson also surprised after admitting that Cardano was dedicated to analyzing the code of rivals such as Polkadot to borrow concepts.
Former Ethereum CTO Gavin Wood has been as busy as Hoskinson, with his Polkadot fragmented blockchain platform launched on the mainnet last year. Polkadot was created to connect disparate blockchains in an interconnected network, known as the Relay Chain, and to solve the industry’s long-standing interoperability problem.
As Wood framed it while attending the CoinDesk Consensus, virtual conference distributed in May, “Ethereum can do 25 transactions per second (TPS), but of course the more you use it, the worse it gets. Polkadot uses parachute [cadenas de procesamiento en paralelo] and it can go from 100,000 TPS to up to 1 million TPS. ”
The aforementioned report showed that Polkadot doubled its number of developers last year, with nearly 400 active developers preparing the platform for soft launch. Unlike Ethereum, Polkadot has its own system for implementing chain updates, and these changes occur at a higher level than the base protocol.
Contrary to Cardano, Polkadot already supports a flourishing defi ecosystem complete with stablecoins, share protocols, and cross-chain money markets. Wood and his followers are convinced that Polkadot’s vision for parachutes will usher in the next generation of blockchain innovation and value transfer, and consumers will benefit from reduced fees, faster confirmation times, and cross-chain interaction. As it stands, Polkadot is likely to hold parachain auctions (and thus fully operational) before Ethereum 2.0 debuts. Its use of a live experimental ‘Canarian network’, Kusama, also means that it is likely to go live and catch the interest of those sick and tired of waiting for Ethereum to cross the finish line.
Three of Ethereum’s co-founders now preside over completely rival empires, and at this point it is not known who will have the biggest long-term impact. One thing’s for sure, we’ll be in a better position to judge when Eth2 hits the world, although Hoskinson and Wood aren’t the type to quietly walk away. Regardless of how their careers unfold, their shared history is likely to remain a subject of intense debate and speculation for years to come.