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Welcome back to Chain Reaction.
The Paris-based Ethereum Community Conference, EthCC, happened this week and brought in more than 350 speakers and 5,000 attendees.
While I wasn’t able to make it to the largest annual European Ethereum-focused event, I kept a close eye on what was transpiring there from my NYC apartment so I can give TechCrunch readers a high-level overview and save them a couple thousand dollars on a trip to Paris (even though a vacation, I mean work trip, there does sound nice).
Here are a few panels from some major organizations that caught my eye:
- Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, dove into the history of account abstraction and how developers have been working on it, even before the layer-1 blockchain network launched. Buterin discussed the latest Ethereum Improvement Proposal, a change that could allow users to create non-custodial wallets as programmable smart contracts. If successful, this upgrade could potentially improve global web3 adoption by making crypto wallets as easy to use as an email account.
- Web3 has the potential to fix social media and consumer applications, Sriram Krishnan, general partner of a16z crypto, said during a keynote presentation. He believes now is the time to build “large-scale crypto consumer social media marketplace applications.”
- Chris Lyons, general partner of web3 media at a16z, talked about “hiding the wires” and how that can be the biggest opportunity in crypto to grow to 100 million users.
- Mirela Spasova, Reddit’s senior engineer manager for collectible avatars, shared the platform’s primary mission to onboard millions of users into digital collectibles, like it did last year. Today Reddit has onboarded more than 8 million users to its wallets and digital collectibles and made over $1 million in revenue for 30 to 100 creators, she noted.
- Sergey Nazarov, Chainlink co-founder, discussed Chainlink Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP), which recently launched on mainnet on the Avalanche, Ethereum, Optimism and Polygon blockchains. The launch of CCIP aims to focus on creating a “secure and reliable internet of contracts,” Nazarov noted. “The better the applications you build, the more attractive this whole blockchain thing will be, for all the people with money whether they’re big banks, individuals or asset managers.”
- Coinbase’s Base
- Jesse Pollak, lead for Base and head of protocols at Coinbase, talked about the layer-2 blockchain’s plan to become decentralized. “If you look at the pre-internet area, if you were a developer you had a hard time building products for the world.” Then the internet came around and opened up the ability to build applications, Pollak said. The online era will be replaced by the onchain worlds through blockchain technology, Pollak believes. “Now we’re on the precipice of that changing with us moving from an online platform to an onchain platform.”
- Also next week, Optimism, an Ethereum-focused layer-2 project, will release an “open neutrality framework” with a focus on decentralization guidelines, Pollak said, and Base will follow it, too. The framework plans to provide principles for networks that aim to be decentralized.
- Stani Kulechov, CEO of Aave Companies, announced the launch of Lens Protocol V2, an upgrade to the web3 product aimed at creating a decentralized social networking ecosystem. The new iteration will have upgrades like “open actions” that connect onchain elements to social content so web3 experiences can become social ones, Kulechov noted. “Effectively we’ll have an internet that benefits all and people-powered social networks where you’ll have a say in how the network will evolve in the future.”
This week in web3
- Some VCs are turning away from crypto, but CoinFund is diving deeper with latest $158M fund
- Ripple’s XRP case ‘underscores the need for regulatory clarity’
- Crypto is known for financial use cases, but how can it grow from there?
- Gnosis launches Visa card that lets you spend self-custody crypto in Europe, soon US and Hong Kong
- Crypto winter is showing market maturity compared to previous downturns, Electric Capital GP says
The latest pod
On our latest episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Maria Shen, a general partner on the investment team at Electric Capital, an early-stage venture firm focused on crypto, blockchain, fintech and marketplaces.
Before Electric Capital, Maria was the CTO and co-founder of Bambify, a startup that helped small to medium-sized businesses create more efficient supply chains with manufacturers globally. Prior to that, she worked at Microsoft.
In March 2022, the firm announced that it closed $1 billion for a pair of crypto funds — a $400 million vehicle for making equity investments in startups and a $600 million fund intended to invest directly in crypto tokens. Its website currently showcases a portfolio with about 75 investments with crypto startups like Magic Eden, ConsenSys and Bitwise, to name a few.
More recently, Electric Capital put out a report that showed the number of blockchain developers in the U.S. has declined every year since 2017, dropping to 29% last year from 40% in 2017. We dove into what that report really means and how it will affect the growth of developers domestically and internationally.
We discussed which crypto sectors Maria is watching for investments, why she’s betting big on NFTs and the general venture capital market sentiment.
We also talked about:
- U.S. regulatory impact on investments
- The bear market
- Trends she’s following
- Advice for founders
Also check out Jacquelyn as a guest on Boys Club, where she dives into her backstory, what it’s like covering crypto, the state of the industry, trends she’s following and more.
Follow the money
- P0x Labs, the team behind Mantra Network, raised $25 million at $500 million valuation
- Binance Labs invested $10 million into lending and borrowing protocol Radiant Capital
- RISC Zero raised $40 million to bring blockchains more advanced cryptographic tools
- Web3 infrastructure provider Cosmic Wire raised $30 million in a seed round
- AI and metaverse-focused Futureverse raised $54 million in a Series A round
This list was compiled with information from Messari as well as TechCrunch’s own reporting.
What else we’re reading
Want to branch out from the world of web3? Here are some articles on TechCrunch that caught our attention this week.
- I tried to buy a post on TechCrunch.com
- Fake passports, real bank accounts: How TheTruthSpy stalkerware made its millions
- Startups with all-women founding teams raised just $1.4B in H1
- Fintech valuations have fallen. Where do they go from here?
- 8 VCs say they are still bullish on SAFE rounds, but it’s not 2021 anymore
Follow me on Twitter @Jacqmelinek for breaking crypto news, memes and more.