How App Tokens Changed the Life of the Developer Working Class

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Richard Burton:

"A month of work for the protocol (Ethereum) has completely changed my life. I am free to travel the world and work on whatever I want. It is hard to overstate the mental freedom afforded by having a cash buffer and not having to work all the time to make ends meet. It has had a profound effect on my mental health and freed me up to do the best work of my life. The people who built this protocol took a chance on me and I am incredibly grateful.

Vitalik and his team gave birth to a protocol that over 7,000 people committed to. They effectively held an IPO for their protocol at the start of the project. Since then, thousands more have got involved by trading Ether, writing code, and helping the protocol to flourish.

- "Bitcoin is not just a protocol or money, it’s a new business model for Open Source Software. Prior to Bitcoin, you had to raise money, write software, distribute your product, build a business model, and work towards liquidity. Angels, VCs, salespeople and bankers guided you the entire way, through a maze of tolls and controls."

Naval Ravikant saw this coming months before the Ether sale. The coins that protocols distribute to contributors are like shares in a company. The key difference is that these shares are not locked up by startup founders and venture capitalists.

There are a thousand nightmarish stories about startup employees not being able to afford to exercise their stock options and missing out on millions of dollars. Alex MacCaw and I wrote about this problem in 2013 after seeing many of our friends go through the stressful process of trying to borrow money to buy the stock they had earnt.

The current stock option system is totally broken. It forces people to stay at companies longer than they want to in the hope that a liquidity event is just around the corner.

App Coins are totally different from stock options. I was paid for my month’s work and I was rewarded for my belief in the protocol at an early stage. There was no cliff, no vesting schedule, no liquidation preferences, no VC ratchets, no exercise window, just coins. I helped the Ethereum team when they had no money and they rewarded me for that.

The moment I decided to move on to a freelance job, I was free to do so. I didn’t have to stick around in the hope that I would make some huge pile of money in the future.

This model is going to completely change the war for talent. If you’re a smart engineer, you can go and join a rocketship startup and work crazy hours. Alternatively, you can head over to Thailand, live cheaply, and work for App Coins.


Protocol creators need your help: They need people to write clear documentation, teachers to help people learn, designers to work on the user interfaces, customer support staff to handle the swelling inboxes, investors to raise capital, and a whole range of other talent to help them build a successful protocol. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write code—you can still contribute.


Protocols will follow the startup power law: millions will be started and only a few hundred will change the world forever.


In the future, billions of people will be working for a protocol. They will define themselves by the protocols they work for and how much they can contribute.


Protocolism might be the solution we need. It harnesses human ingenuity and distributes the benefits far and wide. It can help us build an economy for the 99%.

When a startup succeeds, a handful of people get insanely wealthy. When a protocol succeeds, thousands of people profit. In the future, the great protocols could lift millions of people out of poverty." (