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Avalanche's New Wallet Will Feel 'Smooth as Silk': Ava Labs President John Wu

John Wu, a key figure behind Avalanche, shared his thoughts on the future of easier-to-use crypto wallets, venture capital, and subnets.

4 min read
John Wu is the president of Ava Labs, the development team behind Avalanche. Image: Grant Kempster.

Avalanche has recently emerged as one of the top smart contract blockchains thanks to a vibrant developer community and a sophisticated architecture that offers both speed and security.

Now the team behind Avalanche is targeting a new challenge: making a blockchain wallet that is easy to use for non crypto-savvy people.

"There's a lot of crypto native people who are very used to the current way of doing things," says John Wu, president of Ava Labs, which developed the Avalanche blockchain. "But if we really want to expand the market, and get some of the more normies in... they don't have time to learn it, they want ease of use. If you look at the wallets that exist and interface with more traditional people, whether it's PayPal or Square, those things to the user seem like it's smooth as silk."

Wu made the comments on the latest episode of Decrypt's gm podcast, and added, "We're hoping with our products at Ava Labs, at some point in the near future, you're going to get step by step closer so people have that similar experience."

Wu also cautioned that the back-end of traditional financial platforms is also incredibly complicated—but looks simple to the end users—and said that in time, Avalanche will be able to develop a crypto experience that replicates the simplicity of PayPal and Square.

Many Avalanche users currently rely on MetaMask—the most popular Ethereum wallet—to transfer the blockchain's native AVAX token, and to interact with DeFi services and other elements of the Web3 ecosystem. But at Avalanche's recent developer summit in Barcelona, which attracted thousands of participants, Ava Labs announced a new wallet called Core that aims to not only streamline Avalanche transactions, but to bring new assets, including Bitcoin, into its orbit.

The latter task could prove a challenge since, while Avalanche is built to interact with Ethereum and other Ethereum-compatible blockchains, it is not built to integrate with the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum, which have their own idiosyncratic designs.

Of course, this is a challenge facing the crypto industry more broadly. And it raises the question of whether anyone will be capable of building a wallet that can stitch all the major blockchains into a single interface—and if it would be in their interest to do so.

"Does anyone actually want to have that full responsibility of doing all of that? I think that is the goal, someone should do that at some point," Wu said. "Maybe it will be Ava Labs doing it, maybe someone else, but if you really want to create adoption, you kind of need that, especially if we think it's going to be a multi chain world."

On the podcast, Wu also addressed a number of other major issues facing the crypto industry, including a perception among some that the economics of blockchain development unfairly favors venture capital firms over ordinary investors.

Wu rejects that premise. He says that even though Avalanche is backed by VC giant Andreessen Horowitz, the pyramid for early investing has actually been inverted—letting far more participants, including so-called eco-system funds, come in at the outset.

"The early stage applications go to the ecosystem fund of the chain before they go to outside VCs," said Wu. "And the reason they do that is because of relationship capital with the ecosystem fund. The people there know the chain better... they can actually introduce to other projects a lot easier and they can help really create partnerships, you can help them build community, the ecosystem funds invest in some of these to help them grow that community as well. So those are value adds that just a third-party VC cannot provide."

Wu also discussed some of the latest developments at Avalanche and Ava Labs, which was recently valued at more than $5 billion. Those include the development of subnets, a technology that facilitates bespoke high-volume transaction processing, and which is already being adopted by game developers.

Listen to the full episode wherever you get your podcasts.

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