Much of the ethereum ecosystem descended on Manhattan in New York for the first evert token summit to discuss a new phenomena of ICOs which are mostly based on ethereum and have this year gone on to take a combined market cap of more than $1 billion.
The highlight of the event was Fred Wilson, a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist from Union Square Ventures who invested in Twitter and other internet 2.0 companies at the early stages. He restated his prediction that ethereum’s market cap will overtake bitcoin’s by the end of the year, but went on to further state:
“I’d like to see a proof-of-stake operate at the scale that Bitcoin does,” – most probably referring to ethereum which is to move to Proof of Stake (PoS) perhaps this year but most likely next year.
Some have raised concerns it might not do so smoothly, but the Ethereum Foundation now should have plenty of resources to implement a significant upgrade which will move the network from running on scarce energy to running on just your laptop, considerably increasing capacity and efficiency.
Interestingly, Wilson said there won’t be one blockchain to rule them all, stating “we’re going to see a multiple blockchain world.” Whether that is indeed true we’ll have to wait and see because the ability of ethereum’s platform to allow new currencies to be formed on top – thus implementing Hayek’s insight which says that the regulator of the free market, money, should itself be regulated by the free market through many currencies competing with each other – might mean that the base protocol, or chain, could be one dominant blockchain.
That’s in the very long term, in the short term much of the space, both at a coding and conceptual level, is still developing, with Wilson stating the ecosystem is around the same stage as the internet during the early to mid 90s.
He said public blockchains were still more about building the infrastructure, at a pre-Google or Facebook stage of development, than building apps. Which is true on some levels. Ethereum needs to get to sharding first, but just as there were some simple apps in the 90s like paint or very simple word processors, we are likewise now seeing some apps on eth’s blockchain.
There weren’t many on display at the summit because the focus was more on an introduction to the tokens phenomena, with Simon de la Rouviere from ConsenSys saying the token model could disrupt advertising and that what it offers to the attention economy is the ability to co-ordinate.
But there was one announcement which is probably the biggest to date as far as tokens are concerned. Kik, a Silicon Valley based chat app used by hundreds of millions announced they were to launch an ethereum based ICO as an alternative to Facebook’s advertising based model.
The summit was packed with people outside unable to get in as it was oversold to the point where security had to come down. Attendants described it as energizing, buzzing, with the event being rare in kind as it is the very first of its nature in a booming space.
For those who are far too keen on what gender one has or color, rather than what character, you’ll be happy to learn there were quite a few women in attendance, somewhat impressive for a very first tech related conference.
But this space is moving fast. Not many are able to grasp just what ethereum is, let alone tokens and the entire business model they may allow, yet we have not even begun really talking about decentralized autonomous organizations.
Still, not everyone is moving fast. Fred Wilson reportedly called out Blockstream, in his usual blunt fashion, for raising so much money and not doing anything. The start-up has been running now for more than two years, but doesn’t really have any product to its name.
Yet, they have managed to stall bitcoin’s protocol development so far, but the blockchain space is booming regardless, probably primarily because ethereum has brought attention at a scale never seen before.
The market cap of all digital currencies has risen from $20 billion to almost $100 billion in just a few weeks, with ethereum alone worth some $20 billion now. That boom has ways to go, says Wilson, and if this is early 90s then he is probably right, but who knows.