During the week at Devconnect Istanbul, I had the privilege of having in-depth discussions with hundreds of outstanding developers from various crypto tracks. I have some thoughts to share.
Most importantly, a huge thank you to everyone who was kind enough to share their wonderful ideas with me and talk about the deep complexities of this exciting industry we call “cryptocurrency.” It's great to meet developers who are pushing the boundaries and innovating in the field in multiple areas, such as David Mirzadeh from the taiko team and their "based booster rollups".
Whether it's because it feels like we're on the verge of a massive bull run or because people are really excited about the technology, everyone seems pretty optimistic.
Now, after a busy, alpha-filled week at Devconnect, I'm most interested in the substance to learn.
While there are a ton of verticals in the cryptocurrency space, a key part of being a really good investor and entrepreneur in the emerging ecosystem is identifying the “winners” and then making bets that scale appropriately. If you do this, the benefits are huge. If you don't, well, a rising tide lifts all boats, but ideally you want to be in the top three.
Essentially, I made a small bet on modularity and rollup with the utmost belief that I thought it would pay off, and here's why:
A menu of modular extensions a la carte is very attractive to investors, builders and developers.
You can "plug and play" different parts of the stack, and it's a bit like an experiment where the team is experimenting with which "sum of the parts" are available and work best.
This is the aspect I'm most looking forward to watching and investing in.
Additionally, all of Devconnect’s builders involved in the field of modularity and expansion are extremely talented. They are passionate about attracting new developers, users and building better user experiences.
Let’s dig into the details:
In terms of technology, the new DA layer will enable Rollups to achieve unprecedented cost reductions. If you thought deals were cheap right now, you're in for a treat.
Personally, I expected it to be 10 times cheaper. Celestia is said to be 10-15 times cheaper than current costs.
Everyone is talking about Celestia and their airdrops, and for good reason.
Switching gears, at ETH infra day, Firat joined Near co-founder Illia to explain how Near DA will be 8,000 times cheaper than ETH L1. Illia agrees that we have not seen anything involving minicule gas costs for rollup transactions. What a great pivot, well done. Further validation of modularity claims.
Avail is likely to be launched on the mainnet in the first quarter of 2024 and has a good performance in Istanbul. Eigen Layer has also performed well and will enter the testnet soon.
I expect more DA layers to emerge , but these layers currently have huge advantages. I will pay close attention to the situation in the DA field in 2024.
On the technology side, altVM will play a key role in bringing in new developers, better user experience, and “usability.”
Factors such as parallel execution, isolation from the noisy gas market, higher security and performance will push altVM to the forefront of the modular expansion race.
Of the teams I've met here, Cartesi, Movement, Fluent and Fuel are the most exciting.
Each team will bring new developers into the ecosystem through various initiatives, which is exciting for the entire space. Maybe a team or two will go to a college blockchain club with a few boxes of pizza, some beers, and let developers tap directly into their ecosystem.
Another niche market that is absolutely filled with super brains (and big money) is the DVT market. See comments below for an explanation article. Teams like Clay Stack, SSV Network, Diva, Puffer Finance, Tenderize, Obol, Chorus One and others are truly impressive.
They are working with staking service providers to attract large amounts of institutional capital while providing individual stakers the opportunity to obtain ETH staking for far less than the 32 ETH required for a full node.
ETH staking is democratized, more decentralized, has more nodes, and has stronger censorship resistance.
ZK lets a hundred flowers bloom
Next, zk space will definitely let a hundred flowers bloom. I saw real use cases, live testnets, upcoming mainnet, and tons of excitement around proof markets, zk sharding, zk light client bridges, zkEVM, and more. Even, zk oracle .
This field has been developed by some of the brightest minds in the world, along with considerable funding. Teams that come to mind first are Nil Foundation with their zkSharding and interesting zkLLVM , Polygon Miden with their innovative "note" delivery system, Kakarot ZkEVM bringing Starknet<>EVM together, Lagrange with their proof building and Eigenlayer's AVS, Of course, the Scroll mainnet and provides users with a seamless experience.
Also, Manta Network is transitioning from OP stack-based Rollup to zkEVM using Polygon CDK. Plus, big DA partners are coming soon.
zkLink is using zk technology to create secure L3 and will receive more attention in the first quarter of 2014. I'm excited to learn more about zk technology, even though much of it is beyond my comprehension.
One of my favorite keynotes was from Neon, how Neon integrates solana and EVM . While there may still be technical issues and problems that need to be solved, the integration of these communities will be a huge help to the growth of the industry.
Another project that impressed me is Union, which does IBC <> EVM transfers on the testnet .
Imagine any ERC20 token on Cosmos, Osmosis, Sommelier or Neutron. It's coming.
Li.Fi is progressing very well, they are constantly integrating new bridges and are also bringing Solana liquidity to EVM via Allbridge . LiFi has a very unique position in the market because as the interoperability space grows, they grow as a bridge aggregator.
Another cool interop project focused on using intents (solvers, relayers, etc.) is Across Protocol . I almost always use Across for L2<>L1 bridging, and they are implementing fascinating technology using a third-party, intent-driven relay network.
As we move into a world with hundreds of Rollups, the interoperability requirements will increase 100x.
Vitalik Buterin participated in the rollup decentralization and infrastructure session.
Espresso shared sequencers are currently in high demand and people want to work with them. Good sign for this space.
There is also Witness Chain that focuses on building watchtowers to monitor current centralized orderers for any malicious or fraudulent activity .
All the DA layers mentioned above also play a role in this vertical... and altVM, to an extent.
Overall, I have never been more optimistic about L2 than I am now. The field is developing at the speed of light, and some big names are actively working to drive innovation in the name of Ethereum.