• by William Mougayar
    Venture advisor, 4x entrepreneur, marketer & strategist. I live in Toronto, curate a lot, blog a bit, and help startups.

The New New Age of Transparency: Ethereum’s Case

transparency-imageTransparency has its rewards, but also its pitfalls. We are entering a new world where privacy is exposed, transparency is coveted, and honesty is appreciated.

In the world of corporations, Benefit Corporations are leading the way with new levels of societal and environmental impact, and with different purpose, accountability and transparency practices than traditional corporations.

In the world of the cryptoconomy, the advent of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies has enabled the creation and funding of new decentralized organizations just by creating a new cryptocurrency that is pegged to its operations and value creation. Two such prominent examples are Bitcoin and Ethereum. As soon as the Bitcoin nucleus burst out of its original cocoon, its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto set it free onto the world’s computers and developers, and swiftly disappeared as soon as he felt that Bitcoin’s future was assured.

Yesterday, Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum penned the ultimate in transparency and honesty blog post, depicting the evolution of Ethereum into its own ecosystem, about a year after the completion of its crowdsale. If Vitalik Buterin was Satoshi Nakamoto, he could have disappeared on that same day, and the state of Ethereum would have been as assured as Bitcoin’s state was in 2011 when Satoshi disappeared 3 years after publishing his famous paper.

An article on Coindesk interpreted Vitalik post as “glass half-empty”, and decided to highlight the lost capital that was due to Bitcoin’s price having fallen by ⅓ since the Ethereum crowdsale was completed. But that article clearly missed the key point of Vitalik’s post which is that the Ethereum Foundation is now maturing into its own self-sustainable ecosystem.

As I commented on the Coindesk article, who cares if $9 million vanished due to maverick Bitcoin speculators? At this point, the finances of the Ethereum Foundation have almost no bearings on the future of the Ethereum technology. Even in the worst of cases (which is far fetched) that the Ethereum Foundation didn’t exist from this point forward, the same people that have been working on it will continue their work on the same path and with the same rigour aas before. That is the beauty of open source projects with the bonus of being decentralized, which means the work gets done anywhere and everywhere.

To use analogies and metaphors, the Ethereum’s cat is totally out of the bag and the Ethereum tsunami is unstoppable.

The positive developments outlined by Vitalik in that post include the following facts:

  • the ecosystem has burst out of the Foundation’s seams and creating new companies based on Ethereum
  • over 100 DApps have been created, and many more being developed
  • $50M of venture capital being targeted towards Ethereum startups
  • technical development and progress on track, with several innovations and advancements on record
  • thousands of developers worldwide working on Ethereum technologies and platform
  • several dozens corporations investigating or piloting Ethereum, and I will add my own anecdotal data points that in almost every blockchain related meeting I’ve had in the past 2 months with startups or corporations (and I’ve had at least 50 of them), the Ethereum topic comes up as a technology being watched, respected, or adopted.

If you know startups, you know that none of them is perfect, but the good ones keep pushing forward despite internal intricacies which are largely hidden from the public. Ethereum is no different. Despite its challenges, it kept plowing ahead and delivering, if not exceeding on its promise of bringing a new generation of decentralized technologies.

In particular, Vitalik has displayed an incredible level of transparency, rivaling that of public companies and surpassing many other CEOs in his honesty and openness towards the work Ethereum is doing.

In reality, not much has really changed in Ethereum’s progress towards a bright future, based on an excellent present state. Decentralizing the proliferation of Ethereum and its multiple technologies is part of its original design and intended destiny. Ethereum would have failed if its innovations were centralized in the long term. Rather, it is on a path of decentralized universal adoption and implementations, and that is a very good thing indeed.

Ethereum has learned from Bitcoin. It has a functional Foundation, and Core developers that don’t bicker on hair splitting arguments. Everyone I know in the Ethereum ecosystem is hard working, competent, and passionate about seeing the technology being understood and adopted.

There is a new transparency standard, and it is led by organizations such as Ethereum who are not afraid of exposing their little imperfections via self-imposed transparency.

Transparency is like truth. It cuts like a knife, but whoever it offended, it heals them as soon as they understand it.

If you understand the power of decentralization and the capabilities of its corollary technologies, you will understand why we must embrace the openness and honesty of imperfect processes that lead to perfect evolutions.

  • bruno cecchini

    Great post, the ecosystem is slowly taking shape, the best is yet to come.

  • Word. William.

  • Ageesen Sri

    Nice!

  • awaldstein

    Hey William

    Finally got around to reading this piece.

    A bit of an education so I thank you for it.

    You really believe this:

    Transparency is like truth. It cuts like a knife, but whoever it offended, it heals them as soon as they understand it.

    Honestly it lost me when you applied this overall principal to the human condition.

    • Can you elaborate- “applied … to the human condition.”?
      [my statement was directed at the business context, where one needs to understand the root motivation for being transparent.]

      • awaldstein

        It is true for neither businesses nor people William in my opinion.

        To make the statement that once everything is transparent it will better, removes the value of the concepts of intimacy, strategy and intent from our actions.

        This smacks of religion and cults not an understanding of people nor business dynamics.

        Honesty and transparency are important concepts. You are implying that they become the absolute status quo.

        Damn scary.

        • In this case, they reflect the requirements of the founder who wanted such transparency to be known, at the risk of being critiqued for it. If you understood him, then you understand the person he is, and the values he wanted to project.
          My point is there is always a motivation or reason (sometimes obscure) for the various transparency levels that one holds themselves up to.

          • awaldstein

            Of course.

            And don’t take me wrong I’m a believer in transparency as an ethic.

            I simply balk at dogma, not idealism.

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