Capturing Value Through Protocol Innovation

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By Vincent Chen and Ramon Recuero:

"We’ve come to the understanding that in the blockchain paradigm, developers can capture value through protocol innovation. To continue our discussion, we review how blockchain technologies evolved to eventually cater to developers. Eight years ago, Bitcoin was conceived as a virtual currency that removed the need for centralized financial systems. Initially, developers actually tried building applications upon the Bitcoin blockchain by storing data in the blockchain itself, but it turned out to be pretty inefficient (as described in another old Joel post!). One of these developers, Vitalik Buterin, was frustrated by Bitcoin’s immobilism and risk averse culture for adopting new developer-friendly features. So, he built his own platform, Ethereum.

While Bitcoin was originally intended to serve as a new medium for financial store of value, Ethereum was invented to serve as a Turing complete developer environment. In Ethereum, developers write smart contracts in the Solidity programming language, and those smart contracts are run in the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Here, we observe an opportunity for developers to fork and implement their own blockchains to serve different purposes. To do so, however, would require rekindling developer support and network effects that existing blockchain technologies had previously achieved. Today, building on top of existing networks like Ethereum allows developers to become stakeholders in not only their own applications, but also the underlying protocol." (