Year in Review
who we are
A New Software Company
While many in the Ethereum ecosystem are familiar with ConsenSys, we completed our evolution in 2020 to a single integrated software company, ConsenSys Software Inc., composed of MetaMask, Infura, Codefi, Quorum, Truffle, and Diligence. In August 2020, we announced a partnership with JPMorgan which resulted in our acquisition of Quorum and a significant investment to help us move to the next chapter in our development. ConsenSys Mesh AG comprises our investment portfolio and continues to incubate and support various ConsenSys-backed companies as they grow and develop products and platforms that advance the ecosystem and drive adoption.
The mesh around the world
ConsenSys by the numbers
ConsenSys in product launches and partnerships
Highlights from a year of new features and collaborations
a year of learning
Sharing knowledge through webinars, reports, and developer guides.
A year of a growing ecosystem
Since inception in January 2014, every new year in the Ethereum ecosystem has promised enormous growth, breakthroughs, and an astonishing pace of development — not to mention enormous creation of value: technical and other. As we ushered in 2020 last year, we expected more of the same, continuing various overlapping exponential growth trajectories: layer 2 scalability (rollups and state channels), the launch of the first phase of Ethereum 2.0, improved usability and security, more value in Open Decentralized Finance, and more adoption of Enterprise Ethereum. And we expected some new trends to emerge and gain prominence. Yield farming, flash loans, CBDCs, the Baseline Protocol, cross-protocol bridges to Ethereum, and others emerged to push the envelope of exploration and development in novel dimensions.
Little did we expect that mother nature would appear impatient with this already breakneck pace of progress, and light fires under our industry. The pandemic has shaped remote work in general, internet-based collaboration patterns, and the need to re-think global monetary and financial systems, global supply chains, trade and commerce, not to mention local and global governance systems. While navigating hardship and the shock to our systems, our lives and those of family and friends, ConsenSys, the Ethereum ecosystem, and the broader decentralized protocol ecosystem demonstrated poignantly that we, like our Web 3 technology, are antifragile, and that this technology will prove a worthy evolutionary successor to that of Web 2 systems. We continue to demonstrate that this technology will serve as a new trust foundation for next-generation, increasingly decentralized, financial, economic, social, and political systems.
As the development and unfolding of new and better systems accelerates, we look forward to Ethereum technology to enable a very broad swath of the population, as well as many small organizations, to have far greater economic and political agency than was possible under the prevailing infrastructure and systems of the pre 2020 era.
Decentralized networks move money without ever touching a commercial bank, reducing settlement time from days to minutes or seconds. Importantly, solutions like those deployed by Oxfam and the UN’s World Food Program prove that individuals can easily and verifiably receive aid from their local government or an NGO with as little as a cell phone number; sometimes not even that is necessary.
As the most popular Ethereum development framework, it is a natural fit for Truffle to be part of the ConsenSys product stack.
Central banks are realizing that if they don’t stay on top of these technologies, they could let other organizations, commercial or sovereign, have complete dominance.
It is powerful to hear people say, ‘I never thought I’d become financially independent by trading crypto, by selling art, by publishing content.’ Working on MetaMask has been amazing as it is already changing people’s lives in meaningful ways, and introducing people to this new world of Web3. This Web3 ecosystem has the potential to make the world society more equitable, and being part of it all is truly humbling.
2020 was a tough year by just about any measure, but the MetaMask team got through it by turning to each other and our broader ConsenSys community and focusing on working together. Through that support and collaboration, we launched Mobile and Swaps, two achievements that expanded our reach and sustainability in ways that we'd never done before. We know we have a long way to go, but with this new experience I think our team has become stronger than ever, and I really look forward to what we can pull off in 2021.
Since the banking system was created, the interests of those that could afford to have a bank account or other financial services were top of mind. To date there are approximately 1.7 billion people in the world that have been left behind, referred to as the "unbanked." With cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, tokenization, of all types of assets and retail CBDC — all products we are developing — we can reimagine money and financial services. No one should be left out.
Just like Linux powers the majority of mobile operating systems in the world, open-source projects like ethereum (and others) can one day power transaction, market and settlement infrastructure across all asset classes. Trillions in value-added economic activity can flow through modular, expandable rails that standardize and mutualize identity, accounting, financial instruments, and the workflows that today are captured across thousands of niche software platforms. This is the work left to be done!
The cloud as a tool isn't going to go away even as decentralized protocols are adopted. The better option and opportunity is to allow people to run pieces of the Infura infrastructure with more direct control over it. We see ourselves as a cloud-optimized Ethereum node more so than just a collection of nodes.
By replacing western infrastructure with DeFi, users have control over their financial interactions, engaging instead with software and smart contract “code as law” set-ups. These strides may not solely improve regional economies, but may advance social issues which are compounded by such large unbanked populations, including the large numbers of unbanked women in particular and unserved rural communities.
We hope that the industry will be designing an experience and will integrate CBDC within the existing infrastructure in an elegant way so that people will benefit from it without having to go through a new learning curve, going through new apps and all these things. Probably something people will not expect is that a lot of people in the market will be using CBDCs hopefully without even noticing.
Doing things the way they have always been done is not going to change the world. Ethereum’s ambition is to be world-changing. It has to be global, distributed, inclusive and empowering. Unless our development process is equally global, distributed, inclusive and empowering, then Conway’s law – that systems reflect the structures of the organizations that design them – says we’re going to fail.
The launch of Ethereum 2.0 makes SegWit look like a tire change. There are two major reasons why this community would undertake such a significant reworking. First, the Ethereum community is a community of developers. Developers do not launch a product and never touch it again. We constantly deploy, observe, discuss and iterate on the ideas and work we produce. The second reason is that we believe public blockchains are far from their full potential.
While most people focus on figuring out who will be first to issue a CBDC, we should look closer at who will be best. A CBDC has the potential to be a real game changer for the payment industry if one condition is met: The central bank digital currencies must be built as an open and shared infrastructure for the private sector to build on top of. It has to be open, transparent and accessible, because nobody wants to use siloed systems.
Companies around the world are exploring blockchain solutions to reimagine the way they do business. From asset management to capital markets, decentralized finance, global trade, and payments, Ethereum technology is helping leading enterprises and institutions solve critical business problems and propel economies of scale. This year we launched the ConsenSys Partner Program which enables our partners to build applications on top of the ConsenSys Quorum and the Codefi stack, or go-to-market with ConsenSys and resell our products.
The 2020 blockchain world saw the emergence of Ethereum 2.0 with many intricate contributions coming from ConsenSys. It was a fun ride! I’m especially interested in seeing how Infura Transaction and MetaMask Swaps act as useful building blocks to grow the entire decentralized space in 2021.