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7 key takeaways from the ConsenSys’ Founder’s Devcon address guiding the development of Web3 in 2019

Photo via Diarmuid Greene/Collision

Late last year, ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin took the stage at Devcon4 in Prague to offer his take on the state of the emergent Ethereum ecosystem to an audience of the blockchain industry’s most impactful tech developers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers.

In what has now been dubbed his “Killer Ecosystem” address, Lubin discussed the remarkable, multifaceted work being done by Vitalik Buterin and the Ethereum Foundation, the decentralized organization structure of ConsenSys as it prepares for a more lithe ConsenSys 2.0, and what success looks like on both the protocol and application layer for decentralized apps and blockchain-based companies in 2019.

Much of the discourse since Devcon has been on Lubin’s assertion that ‘The next killer app is a killer ecosystem,’ a notion that it’s through leveraging the robust suite of developer tools and protocols built over the past 24 months that the next generation of decentralized applications will find success. This powerful praxis builds on open source ideas to facilitate an interoperable and equitable Web3 ecology.

Reverberations from Lubin’s address are still being felt in early 2019 as Ethereum 2.0 comes into view and teams, businesses, and individuals alike prepare for the next phase of development. Check out the entirety of Joe Lubin’s Devcon 4 address, or read up on some of the key takeaways below to get up to speed on the latest in the world of Ethereum, ConsenSys, and blockchain…

On Vitalik Buterin:

“I would like to call out Vitalik’s leadership — it is leadership by doing and example — never by fiat. Vitalik has remained in the background with respect to various issues over time, out of concern that his words might be weighed too heavily. This is what I think of as leadership in the era of decentralization.

I don’t think anything can begin significantly decentralized…and Ethereum certainly started in one man’s cranium. But Vitalik, from day zero, has been doing his best to empower people and to continuously open the project. As have many others, of course. But if we consider the responsibility the world has heaped on his shoulders, it is one of the most heroic stories I know. With integrity, genius and grace, Vitalik goes about his business doing a job that even a decentralized army of crypto heads have trouble keeping up with.”

The Early Ethereum Ecosystem:

“In these early days, the ecosystem is being built out by the builders, largely for the builders. Yes, we’ve attracted financial and speculator types, but mostly it is about devs, engineers, entrepreneurs — and cyber security professionals. These are the people who are buiDLing and maturing the components and standards. Elements like:

  • Many style of tokens, swap protocols, and exchanges
  • data feeds, markets, and IoT protocols
  • registries, name services
  • legally and automatically enforceable agreements and certificates

Hundreds of components like these are composable into a compelling app, because Ethereum is all about easy synergy and standards that ensure exchanges, wallets, swap protocols and other tools can interoperate with what is built. Ethereum is where the standards are being forged.”

On Web 3 and Interoperability:

“Ethereum is emerging as one of the foundational components of a world computer — a web 3 flavored constellation of interoperating protocols. Web 3, the decentralized world wide web, will consist of many decentralized protocols: for trusted transactions, automated agreements, smart software objects, storage, bandwidth, heavy compute, identity, reputation, proof of location, legally enforceable agreements, certificates, resource and asset tokenization like kWh, equities, real estate, and more.

Synergies among various projects on Ethereum are more easily achieved than in the Web 2 world, as the platform can be considered a single execution space. Interoperation within Ethereum or across protocols is what will enable us to move beyond siloed, walled garden approaches on the web and in the business world, leaving the “us against them” ethos behind and making collaboration standard across applications, within sectors and industries, and along value chains like supply chains or content creation and sharing.

ConsenSys builds protocol-based open platforms. that represent collections of people and businesses inhabiting various collaborative roles in a network of services. We expect this approach will unify and flatten many industries enabling smaller groups to interoperate with one another to get the same work done more effectively than the current monoliths in industries like financial services, entertainment and law.”

A Killer Ecosystem:

“Pundits attack our space with accusations that there have been no killer apps. I disagree. File sharing platforms could be considered the first killer app of the decentralization space. While piracy is a problem, these systems pioneered revolutionary approaches to distribution and disintermediation. The second killer app has to be cryptocurrencies themselves, with millions around the world benefitting from better ways of transferring or storing value, especially in developing nations.

The third killer app is the creation, issuance, distribution, exchange and management of so many different kinds of crypto assets. Projects are being funded and infrastructure for a next generation natively digital economy is being built to the tune of tens of billions of dollars that clear and settle on the Ethereum every day. But the pundits don’t notice because the benefits accrue in a decentralized fashion. Pundits are having trouble recognizing these killer applications, because they don’t reward existing intermediaries or pile stacks of value into new intermediaries. But many lives are improving.

In referring to the lamenting over lack of an obvious killer app, Vitalik said “the ‘killing’ will be death-by-[a]-thousand-cuts.” Decentralization is the killer organizing principle. It is ushering in the Web 3.0 world. Blockchains are the killer automated trust foundation promoting synergy and collaboration. And Ethereum is the killer ecosystem. An ecosystem that will transform global economic, social and political systems.

ConsenSys and Decentralized Organizations:

“We are in the early days of exploring what a decentralized company can be. But the vision emerging is one of many autonomous units each operating as though they are embedded in an efficient free market.

The ConsenSys Mesh is a hybrid organization in various ways: part software company, part professional services consultancy, part VC. And it is hybrid in that it maintains structures required to operate in the legacy world, especially in our Finance, HR and Legal groups, but it is also mapping out what might be possible with respect to operating in the decentralized future.

As we get better in articulating APIs and SLAs for our various functional groups, we can imagine that even Marketing, HR, Finance and Legal will be able to offer tools and services not just to our internal groups, but to other companies as well. As many of our groups externalize their offerings, and as we all evolve towards greater decentralization, soon it won’t be hard to imagine companies using our various services and effectively permissionlessly attaching themselves to the mesh.”

ConsenSys Grants:

“We are excited to announce the new ConsenSys Grants Program. Soon we will be unveiling a $500,000 USD fund that will be dispersed in amounts of $10,000 to $25,000. Successful projects in this round will be eligible for follow on grants. The grants program is an effort to encourage the growth of the Ethereum infrastructure layer with bounties and grants for open source projects.

Grant awards will focus on infrastructure, research, interoperability, usability and developer tools. We will cooperate with Gitcoin and the Bounties.Network for some of these dispersals. More information, including categories and application process, will be coming soon.”

A Commitment to Open Source:

“ConsenSys believes investing in the ecosystem is critical, perhaps now more than ever as this experiment that we have been privileged to be part of is moving towards usability by consumers and towards becoming globally systemically important.

We are also passionate about open source. Gitcoin and CodeFund enable open source developers to get compensated for their important work. Our Protocol and Systems Engineering Group, PegaSys, just released Pantheon, a new Java-based Ethereum client that is synched to and running on mainnet now. The code was open sourced on github a few days ago and released under the Apache 2 license.

We welcomed Jim Jagielski to the mesh several months ago. Jim is one of the original 8 Apache Group members. This evolved to him cofounding and directing The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and serving as a core developer on several ASF projects. At ConsenSys Jim is our open source guru, helping our projects with their open source strategy and mechanics.”

Watch all of Joe Lubin’s Devcon 4 address here

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the authors and contributors above do not necessarily represent the views of Consensys AG. ConsenSys is a decentralized community with ConsenSys Media being a platform for members to freely express their diverse ideas and perspectives. To learn more about ConsenSys and Ethereum, please visit our website.

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Joe Lubin: The Next Killer App is a Killer Ecosystem was originally published in ConsenSys Media on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.