My Main(net) Impressions

Mainnet 22 was my first conference post the Ethereum Merge. I came back from it with a mixed patchwork of emotions and ideas. The same patchwork Ethereum and DeFi overall is now.

Three things stand out: Fore one, the absolute unwillingness of speakers to engage with other projects or viewpoints. Every panel was a shill fest rather than a constructive engagement. Second, the recalcitrant insistence that DeFi is not in trouble. Even after the Wintermute hack. Where a CEO had to defend an attach on a single point of attack, none of which spells decentralization. And thirdly, the fact that every other project out there is trying to fix/improve something that is wrong with Ethereum. That is not a sustainable business model.

The unwillingness of crypto bros to say good bye to existing solutions and embrace the new and promising alternatives says a lot about how immature crypto actors are. Most of them don’t have a lifetime experience assessing competitive threats or even know how to run a company. They are coders, or directed by coders, and led to the slaughter by greedy venture capitalists. This is exactly the formula for Solana & Co — technically worthless or at least misguided, but an easy sell with the right marketing. One hopes the next gen players Aptos and Sui don’t fall into that same category.

All the while, the more serious contenders like Algorand, Quant, even Ripple, were absent (Ripple does have a booth everywhere, but nobody to attend it) and doing their own thing. Algorand Decipher is in November. Others were relegated to the Sponsored Room, which is basically paid advertising, which Avalanche desperately needs at this point. One would have liked to see more alternatives, more future proof technology at a Messari event. But then again, their sponsorship now comes mostly from Circle, which is – not to put to fine a point to it – a dollar lobby.

There was a Hiro booth (programmable Bitcoin) and a few other minor projects not getting the attention they deserved. Radix seemed lost in the overall Etc-self congratulatory mood. Vitalik only joined via video. The OFAC event was embarrassing.

That’s the one side. On the other, I met with bankers and fund managers, regulators and lawyers, who used the event to meet people only peripherally interested in the future of Ethereum. It is mainnet after all, one of the key events in the crypto calendar. It is growing up, and I will be back next year.

Published by Dr Martin Hiesboeck

Futurist, Marketer, Policy Advisor for Companies and Government Head of Blockchain and Crypto Research at Uphold and CEO of Alpine Blockchain Consultants Zurich - London - New York - Taipei

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