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Will this crypto winter ever end? According to ConsenSys, one of the high-flyers in the crypto run up of 2017, it already has.
In conjunction with the ETHDenver hackathon held earlier this month, the Brooklyn-based Ethereum incubator released an “atmospheric report” on the state of Ethereum, and what it means for crypto. (Disclosure: ConsenSys funds Decrypt, which is editorially independent from it.)
As you’d expect, despite a roughly 90 percent meltdown in the price of ether since last year’s high, the principals of ConsenSys are as convinced as ever that the platform is well positioned to lead the way toward a brighter crypto future. The company was founded in 2014 and funded as many as 50 Ethereum-focused startups; it laid off 13 percent of the workforce last December, and is actively spinning out several of its “spokes”—ConsenSys parlance for the startups it incubates.
Despite the retrenchment, ConsenSys remains bullish. “During all this talk of crypto winter, I believe we have already turned the corner into spring,” ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin writes in his “Surface Report on the State of Ethereum.” The shifting weather patterns aren’t very hard at all to predict, he says, based on what he sees happening on the ground.
Lubin highlights, for instance, the progress of the forthcoming dxDAO protocol, a community-governed DAO that will soon have complete control over the DutchX trading platform which enables the exchange of any token pair. Lubin, paraphrasing Gnosis CEO and founder Martin Köppelmann, says that the “dxDAO has the potential to become the largest financial entity on the planet.” That’s pretty bold, to say the least. But “as outlandish as that sounds,” Lubin adds, “it is never a good idea to bet against Martin” (which works as both a high vote of confidence for Köppelmann and a clever reminder that he helped create one of the first Ethereum-based prediction markets).
Kevin Owocki, founder and “chief janitor” at Gitcoin, is similarly optimistic about the developments he sees coming around the bend. In his essay, “The Web 3.0 Universe Is Expanding,” Owocki singles out the emergence of security tokens as central to this expansion. “These could change the way society allocates investment capital, and (if we’re lucky), cut Wall Street out of the equation,” he writes.
But apart from advancements in buidling, ConsenSys’s generally bouncy #cryptospring report affords moments of self-reflection—a look back at the insane run leading up to nearly $800 billion in total market cap for crypto in early 2018, and the market correction that inevitably followed.
Gone are the days of 1,000X daily returns on an “arbitrary ICO token,” says Bernhard Mueller, security engineer at ConsenSys Diligence, in his essay “Crypto Spring and the Return of the Internet of Money.” What’s more, Mueller says crypto startups will be forced to become much more disciplined going forward, “demonstrating product/market fit before raising investments” as blockchains that “don’t evolve to solve real-world problems” become obsolete.
You could be forgiven for wondering why things that sound obvious now weren’t obvious from the start. In this vein, Mark Beylin, CEO at the Bounties Network, offers perhaps the realest take: During the crypto bubble, he says, “a lot of people made lots of money and stopped working hard.”
He recalls “bull market Devcon” full of boat parties, loud cocktail hours, and nonstop laughs—before things took a dark turn. “What started as ostentatious turned distasteful as people continued accumulating vast sums of wealth from volatile crypto markets and spending it on anything they could imagine.”
Crypto winter, then, was a cold slap of reality—but a much needed one, from Beylin’s perspective.
And for most of the crypto world, that cheerless groundhog continues to cast a very large shadow. Companies like ShapeShift, Steemit, Bitmain, Huobi, NEM, and several others have all been forced to cut back their workforce—a consequence of having overextended themselves based on, in hindsight, unrealistic gains. For these blockchain-based companies, bitter cold market conditions continue to shape their new normal.
But as far as ConsenSys’s builder in chief is concerned, market highs and lows are as natural and expected as the changing of the seasons—all leading toward an organic, forward progression. While traders and speculators have been fretting over prices, entrepreneurs and technologists have continued to “build out the decentralized world wide web, Web 3.0.”
Says Lubin: “Each new wave of the hype cycle will bring larger and larger cohorts of builders and users. For these people, there is no turning back.”