In brief

  • Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin said that four big trends were ushering in adoption for the crypto ecosystem.
  • The "four horses," as he described them, were blockchain, crypto, DeFi, and NFTs.

Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin rounded off the Ethereal Summit last week by highlighting the progress the cryptocurrency industry had made towards mainstream adoption through four main avenues: blockchain, cryptocurrency, Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and NFTs

In a fireside chat with Decrypt CEO Josh Quittner, Lubin—who’s backed dozens of startups, including Decrypt—employed the popular marketing slogan "Crossing the Chasm," championed by author Geoffrey Moore in the book of the same name. It describes the shift that must take place for a technology to cross from early adopters to an early majority. 

"Essentially, our technology, our ecosystem—call it the four horses of the paradigm shift—they’re galloping across the chasm right now. I think of those four horses as blockchain, as crypto, as DeFi and as NFTs," he said.

The evolution of crypto adoption

Lubin, who founded blockchain solutions provider ConsenSys (which funds an editorially-independent Decrypt), went on to describe how people have joined the industry at all the stages of its evolution. 

"The first blockchain horses were the cypherpunks, cryptographers, protocol designers, and monetary theorists," he said; the second horse was the exchange operators, traders, and wallet providers; the third horse was the "finance nerds [who turned] to Decentralized Finance. They became crypto finance people and started designing blockchain-based financial instruments and mechanisms for wiring up these DeFi protocols."

Finally, he said, NFTs are taking cryptocurrency into popular culture. "It's artists, it's real people, normal people, artists, creators, content owners, and, one of the elements that's really driving this is the pop culture, megaphone people—Mark Cuban, Elon [Musk,] Gary Vaynerchuk, Ed Snowden, [and] Mr Michael Novogratz".

Palm NFT Studios

Lubin went so far as to say that NFTs were "essentially a massive breakthrough in the field of software—"the biggest thing in software since the advent of software objects," because of their ability to enable creatives and content owners to establish direct relationships with their fans and consumers.  The cryptographically-unique tokens are used to lend scarcity to digital content such as images and music, and have already been seized upon by artists and musicians.

Lubin spoke with excitement about the prospects for commoditizing creators' and owners’ rights to their content—such as unbundling the right to display on billboards from the right to display on personal picture frames, to create income in previously unrecognized ways. 

"Artists can now sell different aspects of their work essentially without selling their souls," said Lubin. And there is much more potential for innovation and the representation of more real-world assets through NFTs. 

Within the year, ConsenSys hopes to launch Palm NFT Studio, a platform for NFTs based around culture and creativity. It will operate as a sidechain on the Ethereum network, supported by the popular MetaMask wallet, and will launch alongside a Damien Hirst NFT project—the artist’s first.

Palm promises transaction costs that will be a fraction of those on the Ethereum’s mainnet,  and will be up to 10 million times more energy-efficient, said Lubin.

It also promises to unleash even more innovation, as, per Lubin, "it’s an NFT network that is intimately connected to DeFi." 

With partnerships in prospect with some of the biggest DeFi protocols, networks, and projects, such as Uniswap and Protocol Labs, Palm is a way for two of Lubin’s horses to come together and usher in a new era for NFTs—enabling them to be collateralized, fractionalized, easily traded and more besides.