Coinbase’s Masterstroke

Welcome to marketing one-on-one. It feels like I’m back running my marketing firm 15 years ago when we had a “head of #contentmarketing” giving the presentation “creating digital customer engagement”.  

What Coinbase did this week is a stroke of genius. 

Remember, Coinbase isn’t an independent exchange, Coinbase is a permanent link in the Ethereum cabal, just like Circle and Messari and all the heavily invested hedge funds and private individuals who got thousands of ETH at 2 cents before listing. A group of people for whom blockchain is Ethereum and Ethereum is blockchain and only the Holy ETH matters. Or as my Irish colleague likes to say “a bunch of ETHiodts” Blessed be the Layer 2s, for they shall roll-up in blockchain heaven in the soothing shade of the Merke Tree.

A group of people who think they need to compete with Bitcoin. A group of people that everything that’s not Ethereum is either a cheap knock-off or just NGMI. A group of devs who actually have no clue at all how other blockchains work, and why they even exist.

Ethereum is the biggest echo-chamber in the blockchain. The only thing decentralized about Ethereum is the fact that ETHConferences come in different cities, like ETHParis and ETHDenver.

Coinbase is a good and well-managed company. It is exchange-traded, beholden to its shareholders, and most of all she that must not be aaarrk – excuse me – named. It is the sworn enemy of Bitcoin maxis and the #XRP faithful.

Telling Coinbase to list XRP is like asking the devil to kiss the cross.

The same good Coincase that stakes a ton of Ethereum, for itself and others, manipulates USDC acceptance rates by basically forcing its client to use USDC. the COIN that wields power over life and death of projects with its marketing reach, and it is now the only stock-listed company with its own proprietary blockchain.

It’s called BASE and it is the devil incarnate. The entry drug to ETH nirvana. Pass the bong, sharing is caring.

First of all, as expected from a company that oozes ETH, it is a layer-2 blockchain built in-house. A product of solid “solidity” incest, if you forgive the sordid pun. Ethereum is improved by people who only know nothing but Ethereum. Physician heal thyself. 

Secondly. Marketing: full marks for the name “BASE” ! Honestly, I’m impressed, being somewhat of a naming guru myself. It’s not only a play in the name Coinbase (here the foundational layer base matters, not the value of the coin) but also an admission that Ethereum is in fact the base of operational concerns at Coinbase. 

L2s are popular, although they are useless and unnecessary long-term. The current L2 narrative is pushed by fund managers. Fund managers are not known for their long time horizon or their technological prowess. 

But for Coinbase to launch BASE is a big deal. It’s fucking ingenious. 

It is equating blockchain technology with Ethereum and thus the vested interests of Coinbase and friends with the very idea of being a “blockchain developer”. Soon there will be Coinbase certificates that say: all you need to do to get a good job is use Coinbase free-for-all Ethereum L2 marketing tool and here’s a 2000 dollar grant to go with it so you can get hooked properly.

The launch of BASE caused a rush by traditional equities analysts to google “what is a blockchain” and “what is a zk-rollup”. In the minds of the people who shape our financial future most, Ethereum is now the de-facto reality of blockchain. Nothing else matters. 

Coinbase doesn’t need a blockchain. All BASE does is tie more inexperienced programmers into a world of tps fights, scalability, and the non-existent blockchain trilemma. 

If Ethereum as an operating system is crap, this is the moment whene every company in the world decides to work with crap. It’s the Microsoft Windows moment, the point were all other operating systems become niche players and, like Microsoft Windows we will be stuck with the Blue Screen of Death again and again and again. The only positive thing to say about Ethereum as an operating system of the financial world is that it’s not Solana. 

We haven’t figured out DeFi yet, we don’t have incentives lined up for anything, but we are building a new world order on it.

BASE offers open-source tools (another way to convert people to Ethereum-lalaland) for external developers to create applications. All of them will be insufficient in terms of privacy, woefully badly equipped to handle real DeFi applications, totally failing in the face of real-time data processing requirements, helpless in the face of interoperability, while all the time being controlled not by a decentralized blockchain but a very very centralized exchange-listed public company.

The BASE launch is the end of decentralization in Ethereum once and for all. 

Case in point: Base will start out relatively centralized, with a centralized sequencer and a handful of validators, but the intention is to move toward a totally decentralized network “sometime in ’24.” LOL.


How many blockchain launches included the phrase “become completely decentralized by {insert year}. None of them have. NONE. Most, like Solana and Near, have become ever more centralized. 

A blockchain that isn’t fully decentralized from day one will NEVER get more decentralized because it lacks – by design – the incentives to become so.

Yes, Coinbase has been instrumental in onboarding millions into crypto markets. But it has onboarded them mostly to the Ethereum fanboys club. 

With BASE operational, Coinbase isn’t just a gateway drug for retail investors anymore, but for programmers and fund managers alike. 

BASE is brilliant content marketing: creating brand loyalty in the absence of technical expertise. I don’t know how my iphone works but im a fanboi. That sort of mind-numbing consumerism. That sort of brilliant marketing. Really, congratulations.

What BASE definitely is not, is a move from CeFi to DeFI, as some pundits have said. It’s just not on. It is a centralized entity trying to control more of the DeFi space by pretending to be decentralized or wanting to become so while knowing perfectly well that that ship has sailed long ago. The more rollups and zksnarks you heap on, the more centralized Ethereum because. BASE is just another nail in the coffin.

For the development of Ethereum, BASE is awesome.

For blockchain awareness, it’s a masterstroke.

For the future of blockchain technology it’s an absolute nightmare. 

Published by Dr Martin Hiesboeck

Futurist and Policy Advisor for Companies, governments and NGOs on digital future, blockchain and digitization Head of Research at Uphold and CEO of Alpine Blockchain Consultants

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