Article by Observer: 

Despite the boom and bust cycle of Bitcoin and its extensive family of cryptocurrencies, there is a general consensus among the tech and business community that blockchain is a real innovation bound to underpin the future of the digital world. The nascent technology is already seeing application in such areas as e-commerce, publishing and database management. And now, it’s eyeing a next-level mission: to save the planet.

This week, amid the climate change-themed United Nations General Assembly conference series in New York City, Brooklyn-based blockchain software company ConsenSys, led by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin, unveiled a partnership with the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature’s Panda Labs (an incubating program for sustainability projects—not just panda projects) called Impactio, a blockchain-powered platform tasked with connecting entrepreneurs, investors and subject-matter experts on social and environmental projects.

 

Historically, obtaining funding for sustainability-related projects through nonprofits like WWF relies on a one-way and opaque system, where project leaders submit grant applications and keep their fingers crossed for a response from interested funders. Impactio seeks to make this process more efficient and transparent by bringing various stakeholders on to one platform and creating a feedback loop where participants can peer-review projects through a digital token-based voting process. The same tokens can also be donated by curators to chosen projects as seed funds.

“There are a whole bunch of people who have great ideas, a whole bunch of people who want to invest in projects, and a whole bunch of subject-matter experts scattered all around the world. You need a trustworthy platform to serve as sort of a magnet for all these different actors,” ConsenSys CEO Lubin explained to Observer. “It’s almost like a game, but a game with real stakes. You bring in people with expertise who want to stake their reputation and even to benefit financially.”

The curation and voting mechanism is supported by a set of smart contracts, while every activity on the platform is recorded on the blockchain ledger to prevent unauthorized editing and hacking.

“We face a $2.5 trillion funding gap to achieve the SDGs (sustainable development goals) by 2030. We know that this isn’t necessarily due to a lack of capital or a lack of solutions. What is lacking is a robust mechanism for linking these private dollars to viable, large scale, SDG-advancing projects,” Kavita Prakash-Mani, director of WWF Global Conservation, said in a statement.

Impactio was born in 2017 out of a collaboration between ConsenSys’ staff in Sydney, Australia and the WWF Australia team with an initial goal to incentivize people into participating in wildlife preservation in Australia, said Robert Greenfield, co-founder of ConsenSys Social Impact. But the project later evolved into one focused on reducing the operational cost of finding such projects.

During a seven-week pilot program from July 1 to August 21, Impactio attracted over 100 participants who approved 17 social and environmental projects through its token-based curation process.

During his speech at the 2018 Devcon4, Joe Lubin, the CEO of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum, addressed the current state of the Ethereum ecosystem and said that the next killer app is much closer than you might think.

Lubin’s Devcon Address Brought New Hope to Developers

Ethereum Devcon, the annual Ethereum developer meeting, has been a congregating spot for the industry’s brightest and most forward ideas since its conception. The conference’s fourth iteration, held in Prague, Czech Republic, saw some of the biggest names in the game talking about the industry’s future.

One of them was Joe Lubin, the current CEO of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum. In his speech, Lubin reviewed the state of the Ethereumecosystem and brought forward some of the accomplishments made by its developers.

ConsenSys highlighted Lubin’s take in a Medium post on Jan. 9th, sayingthat its importance grew as ConsenSys prepares for the launch of a more lithe ConsenSys 2.0.

“Reverberations from Lubin’s address are still being felt in early 2019 as Ethereum 2.0 comes into view and teams, businesses, and individuals alike prepare for the next phase of development,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Lubin was optimistic about the next generation of decentralized applications, saying that the next killer app will be a killer ecosystem. He pointed out that the robust suite of developer tools and protocols built over the past two years have provided developers with everything they need to build “the next big thing” in tech.

Ethereum Is The New Killer App

Lubin’s words gained more weight as the industry entered the new year facing even more hurdles than before. He said that the crypto space has been criticized by pundits for “being all about speculation” and failing to provide any killer apps.

Arguing that cryptocurrencies themselves were the latest killer app(s) to has come out of the space, the same way the Internet drove the market almost two decades ago. The new killer app is already in the works and is bound to change the world in ways we have never seen.

Ethereum’s second iteration has brought the idea of Web3 closer than ever, enabling the creation, issuance, distribution, exchange, and management of “so many different kinds of crypto assets,” Lubin said.

He said that Ethereum is the killer ecosystem the industry has been waiting for, calling it an ecosystem that will transform global economic, social, and political systems.

While one could argue that Lubin’s praise for Ethereum is nothing short of biased, decentralization is the next killer app—one that’s meant to stay. Just as the Internet experienced its ups and downs in the early 2000s, the blockchain industry is going through the cycle, ready to change the world as we know it.

This post credited to Cryptoslate. Image source: Cryptoslate

This week, a major crypto exchange ShapeShift was forced to lay off 30 percent of the company’s workforce, letting go 37 employees.

In a letter to the company and to the users on the platform, ShapeShift founder and CEO Erik Voorhees said that the crypto winter had left the firm with no other viable choice but to adjust to worsening market conditions.

“Today, we let 37 employees go, reducing the size of our team by a third,” Voorhees said.

Not Wholly Negative: Lessons from Crypto Winter

Following one of the largest bull markets in the history of the cryptocurrency market in 2017, the vast majority of companies in the industry including ConsenSys, Bitmain, and ShapeShift aggressively expanded their services, often outside of their core business.

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Calling Crypto a ‘Harsh Mistress,’ ShapeShift Announces Major Layoffs https://www.ccn.com/calling-crypto-a-harsh-mistress-shapeshift-announces-major-layoffs/ …257:24 AM – Jan 9, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacyCalling Crypto a ‘Harsh Mistress,’ ShapeShift Announces Major LayoffsShapeShift exchange has become the latest in a string of cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to announce major layoffs due to the ongoing cryptocurrency bear market. In a Medium post entitled…ccn.comSee CCN.com’s other TweetsTwitter Ads info and privacy

During that time, ShapeShift recorded a massive growth rate of 3,000 percent as the valuation of cryptocurrencies surged past $800 billion. Exchanges were seeing record volumes, and businesses in the industry received substantial venture capital money from prominent investors.

Voorhees explained:

We ride high and fast during the ascents, growing at rates unseen almost anywhere else in the business world (ShapeShift grew 3,000% in 2017). And when the markets turn, the crypto recession is similarly dramatic and severe.

But, as the market eventually entered a correction phase and most crypto assets began to record 70 to 80 percent drops from their all-time highs, the market started to struggle; less venture capital money was coming in, revenues declined, and overall trading activity dropped.

bitcoin price ethereum price
With the Bitcoin (blue) and Ethereum (red) prices down more than 70 percent over the past year, crypto firms are starting to tighten their belts.

Having already expanded to different areas within the cryptocurrency market and in some cases outside of finance, many companies could no longer sustain large teams working on a variety of products.

He said:

As a company, we’ve made a thousand mistakes. The most thematic has been a lack of focus. Here’s the lesson we learned: regardless of any particular project’s marketability, they were pulling our attention in too many directions. They cost financial resources. They required legal review. And then further review, and then additional review after that.

Consequently, ConsenSysBitmain, and ShapeShift all laid off 30 to 50 percent of their workforce to redirect their focus to their core products, realigning their vision.

Bitmain eliminated entire departments working on areas like artificial intelligence (AI), ConsenSys announced the second phase of the company to work on products that can be used by the mainstream and casual users, and ShapeShift has also begun to shift more attention to its core business.

The realignment of vision by large companies in the crypto sphere is not entirely negative; they are going back to their roots to serve their core user base and drive adoption into their main services before expanding again to other areas.

Importance of a Bear Market

A bull and bear market cycle is crucial in an emerging market like crypto because it allows companies to re-evaluate their progress and move forward to achieve greater success in the long-term.

This post credited to CCN. Erik Voorhees Image via ShapeShift/YouTube