Dear Bankless Nation,
I’ve picked up on two big themes during my time at NFT NTC.
- Crypto is no longer a single monolithic community. We’ve moved into our own distinct niches
- While these niches are distinct, they are bringing parts of the globe closer together than they have ever been before.
This is a story of the crypto industry both growing up and growing apart, while simultaneously bringing a lot of previously dispersed communities together.
Our ecosystem is increasing in size and complexity, and this additional surface area is attracting a wider and more dispersed audience. All these different use cases that we’re coming up with are reaching further into society and pulling people into the fold.
Pulling people in implies that everyone is coming closer to a center. Hedge Funds, VC, and financiers are coming into the same sphere as artists, collectors, and curators. Already present in this same sphere are open-source builders, developers, and entrepreneurs. All these groups build their own communities inside the sphere of crypto as well.
While at NFT NYC, it became obvious that crypto is growing up. Many of my long-time friends and colleagues in this space noticed the sheer number of new faces at these events. Where previously we could consistently recognize someone at the panels, events, and parties, at NFT NYC, it was a sea of new faces.
Crypto is growing up!
This is the era that so many of us have always longed for. The days where crypto goes mainstream enough that it grows out of its kid clothes and the adult version of itself.
Monolithic Community → Modular Communities
We’ve been talking a lot about Monolithic and Modular blockchains lately, in which we’ve been discussing how the decentralization-optimized path towards scaling a blockchain is via modularity.
Once your blockchain becomes too large, the only way to scale it is by modularizing its components. Distinct components with specific purposes, separate from each other but connected by a common foundation (eg. the beacon chain).
This is what’s happening in crypto.
There are so many different reasons to believe crypto is cool.
Oh, that’s only three things you say?
Inside of DeFi there’s are many subdivisions. ‘Liquidity DeFi’, where you have AMMs, Orderbooks, and Options protocols. ‘Lending & Yield DeFi’; money-markets, credit-facilities, margin accounts. Treasury DeFi, privacy DeFi, Index DeFi. What was once a financial ecosystem with one-app per category, DeFi has now many different instances of similar apps in many different sectors.
DAOs are the same. Some DAO’s are DeFi based (Compound, Uniswap, Aave, Curve, anything with a governance token). Others are entirely off-chain and culture-based (BanklessDAO, FWB, PartyDAO). Other DAOs focus on curation and art (PleasrDAO), while even more have their own use cases (RaidGuild).
NFTs are incredibly diverse and each instance brings in its own community too. We have the PFP NFT movement like Cryptopunks, Bored Apes, Cats, and Penguins. There are 1/1 NFT’s that are supporting a new generation of digital artists and digital art collectors. Gaming assets are a completely different world of NFTs that brings in a massive and distinct crowd.
In the 2018-19 bear market, the crypto community contracted down to its core believers. Even the Bitcoiners and the fledging Ethereum community were in the same bubble.
Today’s crypto is completely unrecognizable from the days of the bear market, and thank god for that. Crypto is advancing in all directions at once, and now progress is being made so rapidly in so many different directions that we have broken up into modular communities.
We all find our own niches where we feel most comfortable and most knowledgeable. People who find the niche they vibe with the most tend to build better and build faster and overall do better. This is why humanity has always leaned in towards specialization. Crypto is now too large to understand everything that’s going on at once.
Our ecosystem is becoming differentiated.
All organisms in the world start off the same; a small bundle of cells that begin dividing. As the process of cellular division continues, species begin to differentiate from an amorphous blob into the beginnings of the structure that they will ultimately become.
First a heart, then some nerves. A spine grows, some legs emerge. Then arms, hands, and fingers.
A Common Foundation
Organisms all have different organs. Hearts, brains, kidneys, livers. While these organs are distinct, they are also connected. While we are watching crypto develop into its adult form, we are seeing differentiation and optimization.
But it is still crypto.
No matter what your interests in crypto are, you are in crypto. These blockchains on which we operate connect us all, no matter what we are doing. Blockchains have always promised to become civilizational trust anchors. They are agnostic foundations for global human coordination; coordination of all kinds.
The Globe, but Closer Together
One of the first promises of Bitcoin was a single global currency. Gone are the days of 1 Nation-State = 1 fiat currency. Bitcoin brought the promise of a currency at the scale of the internet (which is basically the whole globe).
Ethereum brings a single global financial system. Gone are the days are a siloed and fractured global banking system, restricted by nation-state identity registries and commercial bankers. Ethereum brings the promise of financial protocols that everyone across the entire globe can use, all at the same time.
And while I don’t enjoy the compromises on decentralization that many other chains have made, ecosystems like Solana, Avalanche, and Binance Smart Chain have all brought in their own communities via their own unique use-cases.
In the early days of the internet, there was ‘the internet community. Nowadays, no one calls it ‘the internet community’ anymore. The internet has reached its tentacles into the furthest corners of the globe.
There is no ‘internet community’, there is only modern society.
Crypto Will Bring Global Connectedness
Like the internet did before it, crypto is bringing previously disconnected communities into the same sphere. The internet is for everyone. Techies, food bloggers, financial markets, brokerages, artists, writers, comedians, gamers. Where previously many aspects of the world were separated by geography, the internet connected them together. Nowadays, you can read about financial markets, foodie blogs, gaming newsletters, or musician’s releases all on the same Web2 platforms.
Crypto is going to bring about another order-of-magnitude improvement on global connectedness.
History is going to repeat once again, and once crypto becomes as ubiquitous as the internet, we will be closer together as a global society more than we have ever before.
I think a good bit of evidence for this is the extreme diversity of guests that we’ve had on the Bankless podcast 😉 From Cathie Wood of ARK, to presidential candidates like Andrew Yang. European historians like Josh Rosenthal, NFT collectors like DC Investors, and protocol developers like Justin Drake. I could go on.
Just like the internet, crypto has something for everyone. If it doesn’t it’s just because we haven’t built it yet.
What the Internet Didn’t Do: Money
While the internet did wonders by connecting us digitally, it failed to bring in one really really really important part of the world:
The internet left Central Banking and the process of asset-creation gated behind closed, centralized does, but crypto blows these doors wide open.
Now, the institution of money and values is free to flow to the margins of society. To the artists that are pushing the frontier. The creators of the world. Those who are pioneering westward are equipped to bring money and value along with them.
Decentralizing our money systems pushes money away from the center (where it was gatekept) and out towards the fringes.
The fringe is where progress happens. Innovations discovered on the fringe can be brought back to the center of humanity at a faster rate, because we are now capable of financing frontier exploration like never before.
This makes me so incredibly bullish on humanity. By opening the floodgates of money, more money can circulate further into the frontiers of humanity. Like an organism with a bigger heart and more blood, nutrients can be distributed across a larger and larger greater ecosystem.
It makes me so incredibly happy to see the people in this industry grow into themselves as individuals because of what crypto has unlocked for them. And as crypto helps the individual, the individual, in turn, helps the industry progress into a globally connected ecosystem of creation and frontier exploration.
I used to think I was born in a particularly boring part of humanity. Too late to explore the frontiers of the world, but too early to explore the frontiers of space.
Now, I’m convinced that we are watching one of the most interesting and wondrous parts of the human story develop right in front of our eyes.
Don’t blink! You might miss it!
- Execute any good market opportunities you saw
- Listen to Brian Armstrong and the Future of Coinbase