Jutta Steiner is the founder and CEO of Parity Technologies, a blockchain infrastructure and innovation focused company building platforms and applications.
The following is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2018 Year in Review.
The past year has seen an onslaught of doom-and-gloom narratives shower down on our fledgling movement, in stark contrast to the inflated hype cycle we swam through the year before. I am here to report that this year has, in fact, been a tremendously productive one for the teams hard at work building the decentralized web’s core infrastructure.
We are far from drowning in the expectations that were set 2017 – rather, we have a found refreshing calm and focus in the storm many have dubbed “Crypto Winter.”
When Gavin Wood and I left the Ethereum Foundation to co-found Parity Technologies just three years ago, we knew that the path forward would likely provide a bit of a wild ride. We had already been through the waves of speculation that surrounded our work ensuring Ethereum’s launch and knew that as the spotlight brightened, these tidal hype surges would likely become more dramatic. We took the opportunity to build Parity Ethereum in 2015 while global enthusiasm was waning and delivered the fastest and most secure software for Ethereum, helping support the next phase of intense public interest with strong, proven technology.
We find ourselves in a very similar position today at the end of 2018.
Huge strides have been made in the development of the technology that supports innovation of a better web and more reliable institutions. This is where the focus should be.
This crypto winter we put everything we have learned building Ethereum, bitcoin, Polkadot and application-specific blockchain implementations into Substrate — a free, open-source blockchain development framework.
Now, even developers new to decentralized Web3 infrastructure will be able to spin up their own blockchains, networks and services in just minutes or days. Projects using Substrate will be able to freely access the same state-of-the-art tech stack we are using to build the interoperability network Polkadot for the Web3 Foundation and Parity Ethereum 2.0 (Serenity) with support from the Ethereum Foundation.
This is the sort of core infrastructure that helped support the last swell of development and innovation, and it will go a long way towards bolstering the next one.
The chill has also fared well for many of the projects and teams we work together with closely.
For instance, great progress has been made in our ongoing collaboration with Protocol Labs to develop and implement the LibP2P network stack, a key piece of networking technology that we will be using in Substrate, Polkadot and Ethereum 2.0. Melonport, the first decentralized protocol for asset management, launched this February.
The World Food Program’s Building Blocks project, which we built with the U.N. using Parity Ethereum, started to scale up and will be tested across more of the U.N.’s various divisions, as the WFP’s project has proven to save on upfront costs as well as 1.5-3 percent per transaction on the ground.
The program will have helped feed over 500,000 refugees by the end of the year at a lower cost, allowing funding to reach deeper into impacted areas. And finally, Zcash successfully pushed the Sapling network upgrade this year, greatly improving the prospects for improved user privacy in a Web3 future.
We are excited to start work on a Parity Zcash node this year in partnership with the Zcash Foundation.
The next year will see major network launches and upgrades from Tezos, Ethereum, Polkadot, and more – all united in a common vision to put the internet back into the hands of its users. The core teams building these networks are all growing rapidly – Parity doubled in size this year and we plan to double in size again next year. The Web3 Foundation will also continue hiring into the next year along with many of the teams listed here.
Our builder’s view on how much progress we have made towards this vision was crystalized at Web3 Summit at the end of the year, where the teams mentioned above and more came together for three vibrant days in Berlin. There was no sense of worry about markets or talk about where prices were going to go, just a clear focus on the task at hand and the work that needed to be done to accomplish it.
The time is now
We have also seen a great deal of reinforcement for the necessity of Web3 over the past year. This movement has seen this before and know that as history evolves, the implications of a truly peer-to-peer internet will become larger.
I strongly believe that 2018 will go down as a pivotal point in the growth and maturity of the Web3 movement:
- In 2018, we learned about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook’s ever-expanding list of issues and have seen more clearly than ever the depth of global surveillance and data misuse – after we had five years to ponder the meaning of the Snowden revelations.
- In 2018, we mourned the ten-year anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis and the impact that abuses by the financial services industry had on ourselves, our families and our world.
- In 2018, we celebrated Bitcoin’s 10th birthday and considered how far we have come from Satoshi’s white paper.
- In 2018, we remember the first time we read the Ethereum white paper, five years ago.
- In January 2019, we will view a world 20 years along from the first printings of the Euro and analyze what the future might hold for this experiment in monetary policy.
- In 2019, we will see a new generation of open-source, peer-to-peer networks launch and start to fulfill the promise made to return control and privacy to the internet’s users when my co-founder Gavin Wood first coined the concept of Web 3.0 through networks of decentralized applications almost five years ago when designing the specification for Ethereum.
The next year is a promising one, and I hope you see the light through the storm as I do.
Despite the deflated narrative we have weathered over the past year, this time was by no means wasted. Those building this future decentralized internet have been hard at work.
Coders image via CoinDesk archives