The Ethereum Foundation has no dreams

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区块律动BlockBeats
half a month ago
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To become a super asset, Ethereum needs to be like Bitcoin and gold, no longer biased

Original author: Jack

In the past few days, the reversal news of Ethereum ETF seems to have completely changed the markets judgment on its fundamentals. Analysts who had previously been bearish on the ETF made a 180-degree turn in one day. With the official approval of the ETF, ETH almost broke through the $4,000 mark this morning, but behind the price climax, the Ethereum Foundation has come to a crossroads.

Since last year’s Montenegro EDCON, the industry’s dissatisfaction with the Ethereum Foundation has begun to manifest. The organization seems to have entered a mid-life crisis, and has fallen into trouble in terms of structure, efficiency, and culture. With the resurgence of Solana, the decline has become apparent. After ETH officially became a global asset, the Ethereum Foundation seems to have become the biggest burden of this ecosystem.

Parasitic Ethereum

On May 21, Justin Drake and Dankrad Feist, two well-known researchers at the Ethereum Foundation (EF), disclosed that they had become consultants for EigenLayer and would receive EIGEN tokens that may exceed their current wealth as compensation. In the eyes of the community, this wanting both behavior is really ugly, and some people even joked that the EF researchers were re-staking themselves.

The Ethereum Foundation has no dreams

This situation is no longer an isolated case. In today’s Ethereum ecosystem, EF is more like a demander, exporting “ideological dollars” to the ecosystem through its “church” identity, while EF members gain both fame and fortune in this environment.

EF parliamentary

In the debate about EigenLayer consultants, the most discussed issue is whether EF researchers serving as project consultants will affect its neutrality.

Although both researchers claimed that they participated in the advisory role in a personal capacity and would be ready to end their advisory positions if EigenLayer went against the interests of Ethereum, the community obviously did not buy it. When the potential income may exceed the total of ones existing wealth, it is difficult for a person to guarantee that he would treat money as dirt.

The day before revealing his identity as an Eigen consultant, Dankrad Feist was still arguing fiercely with other researchers on the MEV issue, eventually forcing Vitalik to mediate. As the Ethereum guide who proposed Danksharding, Dankrad obviously has a significant voice in EF. From another perspective, EigenLayer is more like paying for a lobbyist in EF.

Today, EF is like the Congress of Ethereum. The EIP written by researchers can directly change the direction and pattern of Ethereum and affect the ecological industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As the number and size of ecological participants continue to grow, EIP involves more and more interests. Every participant hopes that he can get special care in the upgrade like L2, but it is impossible for everyone to be consistent with the interests of Ethereum. Therefore, EF researchers have become parliamentarians that must be won over in the eyes of capital.

In fact, it is an open secret in the industry that EF researchers, whether they have resigned or are still working, have participated in projects as consultants or in other forms in their personal capacity. For projects, in order to gain ecological legitimacy, they must try their best to establish a good relationship with EF in various ways. At this time, if there is someone close to EF around, it will be much easier to do things on and off the stage. For VCs, establishing a good relationship with EF is a convenient channel to get in touch with high-quality investment targets earlier. With projects recommended by EF researchers, it is not only easier to get shares, but also a layer of insurance in terms of legitimacy.

Whether they like it or not, EF researchers are surrounded by various investors, who either appoint them as consultants or directly sponsor their personal research, and the researchers themselves do not seem to mind this. With the increasingly obvious modularization trend of EigenDA, Celestia, etc., this situation may be manifested in a faster and more obvious way. More teams will have their own parliamentary teams in EF, and EF itself will also embark on the path of parliamentarization due to the unbundling of interests of all parties.

Spiritual Victory

After the FTX crash, Anatoly, as the CEO of Solana Labs, personally talked to the ecological projects that were being developed, such as Backpack, Jito, and Tensor. These projects lost a lot of runway in the FTX incident. Anatoly persuaded these teams to stay one by one and encouraged them to speed up development. Labs and the foundation provided technical support to these teams as much as possible.

In the Solana ecosystem, Solana Labs and the Foundation seem to do a lot of things themselves, and many ecosystem narratives are inseparable from the teams support. Anatoly frequently appears on social platforms or podcasts, and even personally calls for ecosystem developer projects and meme coins. The Foundation led by Lily Liu connects with various large and small projects in the ecosystem both on and off the stage. From the outside worlds perspective, the Solana ecosystem has always been united.

This is unlikely to happen for Ethereum today. Unlike most public chains, Ethereum does not have Ethereum Labs, so EF has become the only entity that has exclusive control over the ecosystem. However, as a neutral organization, it is difficult for EF to personally take charge of many things in the ecosystem, which makes EF more of a hands-off image and makes EF seem powerless when competing with the Solana team.

In comparison, EF seems less willing to get its hands dirty. After Uniswap, EF became an academic institution that only discusses theories. Most of the 300 members who receive ETH allowances do research on paper. Therefore, apart from EIP, EF cannot bring more value to Ethereum. On the contrary, in terms of ecological development, the existence of EF has constrained Ethereum with many ideologies.

In the past year, the Ethereum community has not talked about innovation or application scenarios, but has talked a lot about legitimacy. This concept proposed by Vitalik in 2021, although more related to public goods, in the eyes of most people, it refers to the direct relationship with the foundation. In essence, this is not a misunderstanding. EF has the absolute right to interpret the concept of legitimacy, which also includes what is a good public good.

Almost all large projects on Ethereum today have experienced this kind of orthodoxy. If a small team without background and strength wants to grow and develop, it must first pass the ideological test. Innovation is not the primary task, but singing the main theme is the key. So no matter account abstraction or any other concept, the industry has basically been EF pointing to hit wherever it wants in the past year, with project parties doing the dirty work and VCs paying for the dream. The two groups of people are competing to carry EF and the ecosystem, while EF researchers are chatting about longevity with Vitalik on the beach in Zuzalu.

Cultural intoxication

A few days ago, EF researchers quarreled over the MEV issue on social media. Vitalik stepped in to mediate and said that he was proud of the open and free culture of the Ethereum ecosystem. “Ethereum does not have any culture that tries to stop people from expressing their ideas, even if they have very negative feelings about the main things in the protocol or ecosystem.”

The Ethereum Foundation has no dreams

In the Ethereum community, you can indeed express different opinions, but interestingly, these opinions tend to focus on purely technical discussions, and you rarely see EF researchers arguing fiercely about the direction, governance, and culture of Ethereum. Todays Ethereum world seems to be missing a lot of things, and its culture is like poisoning, and it has almost lost its ability to think critically on certain issues.

Vitalik Becomes Hard Currency

At EDCON last April, the DeBox incident was one of the most popular topics. After the team members took a photo with Zuzalu and Vitalik, the project immediately attracted a lot of attention. Many Chinese teams followed suit and chased Vitalik in Montenegro. Throughout EDCON, thousands of people were crowded in a small campus. After discovering that Vitalik was hiding in a large villa by the sea, they all rushed to Zuzalu, met a few faces in the core circle, took a photo of Vitalik from a distance, and then came back to write Zuzalu flashes the citys spiritual baptism.

In the eyes of the market, Vitalik is the orthodoxy. As long as it is related to Vitalik, the market will recognize it, and this recognition extends to all aspects of the ecosystem. After Montenegro, the topic of orthodoxy fermented in the Chinese community. Everyone realized that they were too eager to get the care of the mainstream of Ethereum, but this core circle was so far away from us that we could not squeeze in.

As the embodiment of the orthodoxy of the Ethereum ecosystem, EF maintains its authority and recognition by following closely in Vitaliks footsteps. Over the past year, Vitaliks articles have remained the most discussed content in EF and the Ethereum community. From the internal community to the mouthpiece Bankless, there are few voices against Vitalik. Some people who have had in-depth exchanges with EF members even reported that most of the people around Vitalik are flattering, and it is difficult for him to hear the real thoughts of the community. Of course, the authenticity of this statement remains to be confirmed.

The most classic case is Scroll, which rose from an inconspicuous Chinese dog to a $1 billion mainstream L2 like Starktnet and zkSync during the L2 narrative. The reason for this is that Vitalik responded to an email written by the founder to EF. The same is true for products. Although Farcaster has received huge financing from Multicoin and even a16z, it was always a niche product before Vitalik joined. But now, you can hardly see EF researchers updating their social dynamics on X.

The market needs Vitalik’s care, and EF needs blood transfusions from the market, so EF surrounds Vitalik and lets the market revolve around itself. In the end, Vitalik becomes the “hard currency” of Ethereum.

Engineers think logically about needs

In the past two years, the engineering mindset of the Ethereum community has become more solidified. This mindset is different from the engineering culture of Google. It does not talk about new experimental standards or application scenarios, but focuses on pure technical research. Within EF, there are hundreds of people studying ZK technology alone. From EDCON, ETHCC to Devcon, all the participants are talking about ZK this and ZK that, which confuses outsiders without technical backgrounds.

Good product managers know that they should consider needs from the users perspective, but EF obviously doesnt think so. According to EFs definition, Ethereum wants to become a neutral and trusted world computer. To achieve this goal, it only needs to consider decentralization, security and scalability. Any issues that are not closely related to these three indicators, such as potential business and application scenarios, are completely worthless.

This value directly affects the product logic within the ecosystem, the most obvious of which is L2. From Optimism to Arbitrum to Starknet, all discussions focus on technical superiority: why ZK is better than OP; how its TPS is higher than others, how its Gas is lower than others; how different types of ZK Rollup EVM are compatible, etc. But looking back at the market performance of L2 today, you will find that these code arts that make developers so happy are so powerless in the face of real market demand.

The only L2 that insists on product orientation is now regarded as Blue Solana by users and has become the most powerful player in the ecosystem. In contrast, several mainstream L2s that were still struggling with which company had the best ZK technology at various conferences last year are now almost ignored, and some may even die in the womb due to technical bottlenecks.

On the other hand, under the influence of EF and its main theme of orthodoxy, Ethereum began to be oriented towards public goods, and its ecological culture and innovation gradually drifted apart, repeatedly staging the drama of clearing the court.

As a solution to improve Ethereums scalability, L2 has been shackled by Ethereum Alignment since day one, accepting and executing EFs will. Everyone is showing loyalty to Ethereum, wanting to be the most EVM-compatible L2, and wanting to be the prince of Ethereums scalability. This has led to the fact that for a long time, the latecomers have always been more licking than the previous ones, and EF is of course happy to see this, whoever licks the most will be promoted.

The Ethereum Foundation has no dreams

This situation is not only happening in the L2 field. Ethereums redundant infrastructure makes the overlap rate of innovation in the ecosystem very high. A recent example is EigenLayer, a new concept that directly snatches the jobs of LSD, L2 and even Ethereum itself. Despite this, EigenLayer still needs to align its values with EF to show its loyalty, but as mentioned above, clearing the court is not necessarily out of loyalty.

After the rise of modular narratives such as Celestia and the strong return of Solana, EFs obsession with orthodoxy has not diminished in the slightest. You can even often hear various Ah Q-style discussions such as L2 that does not use Ethereum DA is not Ethereum L2 or Solanas single-chip expansion will definitely not be as good as L2 in the future, but no one talks about what new application scenarios Ethereum can have at present.

Escape from Ethereum

Even in the matter of decline, EF did not do a very decent job. In September last year, MakerDAO announced the Endgame plan, proposing to use the Solana code base to build a new chain in order to provide a beneficial boost to the network effect of the entire multi-chain economy. Vitalik then immediately sold 500 MKRs and said on the social media channel that Makers move was suicidal.

When many big protocols escape Ethereum, they still have to bear the moral judgment from Vitalik or EF. Perhaps they hope that the protocol can go with them to the end, but the development teams obviously do not want to die with Ethereum. Applications always serve users, not blockchains. Although security is an important criterion for many blue-chip protocols to consider when deploying, it is also very stupid to completely ignore the user environment and the market.

Therefore, Ethereums protocol is fleeing to Solana. Render migrated its token to the SPL standard last year; Aave decided to deploy its V3 isolated market version on Neon EVM with an 83% approval rate at the beginning of this year; the GMX community also issued a proposal to deploy an independent contract on Solana; there are also market rumors that Ethena and Pendle will soon be deployed to the Solana ecosystem.

In the face of life and death, orthodoxy is not worth mentioning. Sober developers have long admitted that there will be no absolute center in the future of on-chain finance. Whether it is Ethereum, Solana or other settlement networks, the most important thing is to maintain their market share and survive. In this regard, EF cannot help itself.

ETH’s baggage

In the process of cryptocurrency mainstreaming, the team seems to inevitably compromise with the old order. The Ripple team has been fighting a lawsuit with the SEC for several years over securities issues; Tornado Cash and Uniswap have successively fallen into regulatory crackdowns; even for this ETF application, the asset management giant has to play a complicated legal game with ETH and pledged ETH.

In contrast, Ethereum and EF seem to have easily escaped regulatory scrutiny, and the SECs investigation into EF, which began two years ago, did not affect the smooth passage of the ETF. If it were Ripple, this would never happen. Does this mean that EF has left the danger zone? I dont think so.

Putting aside regulatory factors, todays EF is becoming a burden on ETH as an asset. This organization with a strong ideological color has become a negative asset for Ethereum and its ecosystem. After the ETF was passed, ETH entered the mainstream asset hall. When investors consider ETH, their comparison objects are gold, silver and Bitcoin. What needs to be thought clearly is whether investors in the future financial world will value the value of the Ethereum network block or the value of the EF ideology.

Ten years have passed, and Ethereum is no longer in the startup stage. EF does not need to work as hard as the Solana Foundation, but this does not mean that an organization can sit back and enjoy the fruits of others labor. Looking back at the history of the Internet and even global enterprises, there are countless business empires that have died because of stubbornness or failure to be prepared for danger. Just like the Internet world, the war in the crypto market will never end, and the same is true for Ethereum.

For ETH, its future value depends entirely on the scarcity of Ethereum blocks. This scarcity does not come from EFs lofty idealism, but from the worlds real demand for Ethereum block settlement. These demands often carry various ideologies. Only if ETH is as unbiased as water can it absorb all potential demands.

Without value, all idealism is empty talk. Today, EF is like a rickshaw driver and an old ox pulling a cart to the Ethereum ecosystem. However, as a part of the Ethereum world, EF’s mission should no longer be to control the mind and soul of Ethereum, but to ensure the value of the Ethereum block like all participants in the ecosystem.

“If Ethereum cannot survive without you, then you should just be a good old cow; if Ethereum can live better without you, then you should give up the stage.” Perhaps EF should consider this issue.

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