The Condensed Time to Maturity of Crypto, DeFi, and DAO Projects

The Condensed Time to Maturity of Crypto, DeFi, and DAO Projects

In 1994 a colleague handed me a 5″ floppy disc that contained the first release of Netscape’s Mosaic web browser. I fired it up, typed and clicked a bit, and saw a text page slowly emerge.  Underwhelming, for sure. Unless…. Unless you were able to suspend disbelief and criticality in order to broadly imagine the possibilities. In early 2013 I had a similar experience with bitcoin; In 2016 with Ethereum; and in 2020, with CryptoKitties and CryptoPunks . These were all moments to suspend disbelief, and imagine rather than poke holes.

At first, the ‘mass market’ is split between those people who say these things will never survive and those people fascinated by the raw technology. Sometime later, everyone is using products pioneered by these projects, and the naysayers deny ever doubting it.  One consistent trend from the above examples — the time from Prototype to Pop gets shorter and shorter. Entrepreneurs, investors, and incubators such as ours (EvoNexus), need to react much more quickly today if they want to participate in the social engineering and technical shaping of the emerging ecosystems.

The Signs Around Us Now

There are signs all around us that Crypto, DeFi (Decentralized Finance), and DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) are arriving together into our mainstream consciousness, each with an increasingly shorter path from Prototype to Pop:

    1. Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, said on a podcast recently that ‘the future of crypto is self-custody’. That, from the CEO of a company that currently custodies ~$100B in crypto!  I hear this as an implicit acknowledgement that the friction and fear that enveloped crypto-wallets is beginning to melt.
    2. ENS (Etherium Name Space), airdropped its $ENS token.
      1. ENS is a technology protocol that manages a unique set of names and maps them to crypto wallet addresses , similar to how ICANN controls the use of DNS to map website names to IP addresses. ENS is playing a pivotal role in removing friction from crypto self-custody wallets. Imagine if we were still typing IP addresses into a web-browser address bar; Imagine if we were still using 40 digit hex-keys to identify our wallets!
      2. The airdrop of the $ENS token marks the maturation of this essential building block of the crypto/defi ecosystem. It decentralizes the governance of this protocol, so that it is in the control of the ENS DAO, chosen by the entities that use and benefit from the ENS protocol, and not a single private company.  This is a beautiful model for governance of a protocol that is essentially a public utility. It is a welcome relief from the horror stories we now hear almost daily about Facebook and other private owners of massively-used public services.
    3. The LA Lakers will soon be playing basketball in the arena, not the Staples Arena. Only the name has been changed to reflect the Zeitgeist. “This partnership is about the future”, said AEG CEO Dan Beckerman, whose company that operates the venue will get $700MM for this transaction.  Need I say more?

And just so that you don’t accuse me of writing solely with a ‘winners bias’, ask me some day about the bets I placed on holograms and Sony Betamax back in the ’80s.



Jeffrey Axelrod
Executive Director
EvoNexus Silicon Valley Fintech Incubator
Nov 17, 2021.