Ethereum Freedom and Parisian Psychedelia: Reflections on EthCC[5]

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Ethereum Freedom and Parisian Psychedelia: Reflections on EthCC[5]

These are the Key Takeaways

  • This week, the Ethereum Community Conference was in Paris.
  • Vitalik Buterin, as well as other prominent figures from the Ethereum ecosystem, spoke at the event.
  • Side events that took part in the French capital attracted many Ethereum enthusiasts.

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Paris was taken over by the Ethereum faithful for EthCC[5]This week.

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EthCC returns to Paris 

This week, thousands of builders, degens, and other cryptocurrency enthusiasts descended on Paris for the fifth edition of the Ethereum Community Conference (EthCC), Europe’s biggest Ethereum meet-up. Since EthCC’s inception, Ethereum has grown to be a vast ecosystem that holds billions of dollars worth of locked value. It’s the main hub for DeFi and NFTs and settles trillions of dollars in transactions annually. Although there have been many competitors over the past year Ethereum is still the largest and most widely-used smart-contract network in the world. Its dominance over blockchain ecosystem is such, multiple other Ethereum-adjacent network tagged onto EthCC with side events this week. 

Many attendees of crypto conferences will admit that the chance to meet others at spin-off parties can be as appealing as the main ticket. However, even with so many options, EthCC still had plenty to keep Ethereum enthusiasts busy. The three-day event welcomed speakers from some of the ecosystem’s top projects to Maison de la Mutualité, and demand was so high that many top industry heads were left ticketless.

The intense European heatwave left many people feeling exhausted long before the talks wrapped up on the first morning. However, the conference continued to improve. Several Layer 2 projects used the occasion to announce their various ZK-Rollup developments, and beyond the main stage the venue was packed with the usual array of stalls, their hosts dishing out t-shirts, NFTs, and Ethereum-branded macarons to anyone who’d stop by. 

Vitalik Buterin’s talk was by far the most attended of the week. Buterin used a different method than his 2021 presentation about expanding Ethereum beyond DeFi. his 40-minute slot to go deep on what the network’s future will look like after the Merge and other major developments. The Ethereum creator stated that the protocol must overcome some hurdles in order to be ready for the future. He summarized the outlook as follows: “short-term pain, long-term gain.” 

Self-Sovereignty on Ethereum

Prysmatic Labs’ Terence Tsao used his slot to explain the complexities of the Merge to Proof-of-Stake, and PWN’s Josef Je introduced himself as an early Silk Road fanboy turned Ethereum settler. After extolling the benefits of the psychedelics he’d acquired with Bitcoin on the dark web, he went on to ask audience members who considered themselves a “crypto native.” Most people raised their hands, then he presented a list of the criteria he thought people needed to meet to earn such a title—significant crypto asset holdings, regular DeFi activity, and habitual crypto use for payments among them. In other words, he was describing the self-sovereign, distributed lifestyle that Ethereum makes possible. 

Je was a diehard who subscribed to the freedom-first ideology that sucks people into the space forever, and I wasn’t surprised to hear the crowd cheering as soon as he mentioned mind-bending chemicals; blockchain might be a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s not hard to see the parallels it shares with the LSD-fueled counterculture movement of the 60s. 

The party schedule had plenty to offer for anyone who wants to dance at both ends. This was my first Ethereum conference and I was shocked at the number of ETH enthusiasts I met during the week. It seemed like Ethereum’s native asset was almost everyone’s heaviest bag, to the extent that conversations rarely touched on other ecosystems. This wasn’t the kind of cringeworthy maximalist crowd you find spreading toxicity on Bitcoin Twitter; most of them struck me more as idealists who gravitated toward Ethereum a while ago and never really left. 

A whale I ran into at MakerDAO’s DAIvinity party told me he doesn’t look beyond Ethereum or Layer 2 because dedicating his time elsewhere would be too much of a distraction, then he guided me through some of the most valuable blue chip NFTs he’d acquired and the amount of ETH he’d spent on each. “I’m annoyed I didn’t grab a Hoodie [Crypto]Punk when they were only $200,000 the other week,”Unwittingly, he sighed, pointing out the astonishing returns early bird investors have enjoyed over the past several years (ETH was initially priced at $0.30 and topped $4800 in the latter part of 2021; today it is valued at $5,800). trades closerUp to $1,600 The OpenSea baller wasn’t the only one who made it clear his loyalty was to Ethereum. “What do you think of Solana?”One degen asked me questions at a ConsenSys happy-hour. “I hate it, but I’m bullish,”He said.  

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Paris by Night

Another member of our team inadvertently ended up at a party that was mostly filled with venture capitalists and pretentious money types in designer suits rubbing shoulders with one another; when he got there, he was greeted by a Palau government employee who shilled him the country’s recently-launched digital ID program. The guy explained that it was easy to get an ID and change one’s name to pass Binance’s KYC restrictions. We did some research before we left Paris to see if we could find any information. However, our investigation is ongoing. 

Other than a super low-key Polychain-hosted event headlined by Justice, the hottest afterparty ticket in town was for rAAVE, Aave’s late-night soirée held a stone’s throw from the Sacré-Cœur. I didn’t hear about Justice until after the fact but got into rAAVE because I was fast to get to the secret passcode that was revealed during Stani Kulechov’s Lens Protocol talk; others had less luck. Inside was a testament to Aave’s place at the forefront of Ethereumland, with a sea of Aave-branded tees on view whenever the lights went up in place of the dark dancefloor and lasers. I was talking to another person who wrote crypto content. They then left me on the dancefloor so that I could get some psilocybin form their friend. It was getting close to 02:00, and I had to get up to my Eurostar to London four hours later. Although I stayed later than intended, at times rAAVE felt like more of an upmarket affair in the 8th arrondissement for people who think clubbing involves bottle service and sparklers than the sweaty throwdown it was trying to be (sorry guys, but it’s actually annoying when you clap in time with house music, and why on earth was there a closed-off VIP area if this was meant to be a party?)

I didn’t hear much about crypto prices during the few days I was there. After dropping below $900 a few months prior, ETH was close at $1,600 during the event, sparking hope of a possible extended Merge rally. Despite ETH outperforming all other markets for days, people seemed more interested to talk about their work or the developments announced at the event. Maybe it’s the months-long market slump (ETH is still 66% down from its peak) and widespread “macro” fears, or maybe it’s the exhaustion everyone is feeling from reading about failed Ponzi schemes and reckless leveraged trading. ETH can trade at its current price in July 2023 or at a multiple higher, lower or equal to its current price.EthCCThey will be around. The few thousand believers who flocked to Paris for this week’s conference probably aren’t going anywhere either. 

Disclosure: The author of this piece was a shareholder in ETH, AAVE, MATIC and other cryptocurrencies at the time of writing. 

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