At a Bitcoin meetup a couple of weeks ago at HUBUD in Bali, we ended up talking more about Ethereum than Bitcoin. As the co-founder of EtherCasts and Ethereum Meetup I was asked a lot of questions about Ethereum. Here are some bullet points on why I love Ethereum:

I like genius

I love larger than life figures that work against all odds to do things that everyone else thought was impossible. For my money, Vitalik Buterin belongs in this category. I think of him as a combination of Leibniz and Peter Thiel, which is a combination I’m quite comfortable with. I don’t really care how many people have “core” next to their name or how many supposed experts you can gather around a round table. I prefer to work with genius.

I believe Bitcoin has significant negative ecological impact

There’s no nicer way to say this, but I agree with Vitalik Buterin that ethically Bitcoin should not be the basis of a world financial system. It consumes too many resources. As someone who is temperamentally “green,” I believe the world deserves better and that we can create something better.

We need Ethereum for distributed governance

As various people pointed out at the time (including folks associated with the Bitcoin foundation), the Bitcoin blockchain is not a good choice for building governance structures. Besides the cost and inherent clunkiness, it’s even possible that miners could filter out transactions they don’t like. Not only did we know that in advance, we even made the questionable decision of showing that buy actually building out clunky Bitcoin blockchain interfaces to show just how clunky they were. However instead of making the decision to continue using them, we decided to conserve capital and build out on Ethereum.

I believe technological people should be empowered to make tech decisions

As someone who worked as software architect in many different technology sets, I’ve often work with people who were specialists in a particularly technological area. Almost always you want these people to be empowered to make decisions concerning the evolution of the technological details. From Vitalik on down, generally the best decisions have been made about technologies. Other protocols often seem to let politics interfere.

I’ve learned a lot working on Ethereum

In general, in every conversation with Vitalik Buterin I’ve learned something interesting. Several principles (like stacked incentives) I’ve taken to heart. The work on design rationale is epic ( I don’t understand more than a small fraction of it, but that excites me. Lots more to learn. Many places to go deep and expand my own expertise.

I believe Bitcoin’s financial incentives are miscalibrated

Bitcoin had very substantial incentives for early adoption but virtually no incentives for later adopters. Even worse, it’s always been totally unclear to me that transaction fees can ever amount to sufficient incentives. I’ve tried to find financial models that work and found nothing, which has always been suspicious. The same is true for the financial incentives involved with sidechains.

The rise and rise of Ethereum?

I like to take long term positions

I’m more of a Warren Buffett investor type. I generally don’t have the mental space to follow the daily price of anything. Instead I’m temperamentally inclined things that have long-term value and where people are building towards that long-term value. There’s a rather substantial business value associated with various applications of smart contracts and secondary assets that has been documented since the late 90s. I am not sure exactly what the highest value application is, but there is a specific set that I identified approximately two year ago and have been working gradually towards.

Also beautiful is that the Ethereum Foundation is setup with enough funds to facilitate both research, micro seed funding and core development.

In short

  • If you were to compare on the basis of consensus algorithm, you would chose Ethereum
  • If you were to chose on the basis of ethics, you would chose Ethereum
  • If you were to compare on status of Foundation status, you would chose Ethereum
  • If you were to compare on status of long-term economics, you would chose Ethereum
  • If you were to compare on the status of genius, you would chose Ethereum
  • If you were to compare on the basis of who started first, you would chose Bitcoin
  • That, ladies and gentleman, is why I’m choosing Ethereum.

You might ask me, after all this, why did I bother with the Bitcoin blockchain at all?

There’s a very simple reason. The Ethereum blockchain wasn’t ready. As an application layer provider I’ve never seen a reason to get deeply involved in protocol layer improvements. I highly appreciate the people who have. Many of them are brilliant people who have a skillset that I don’t. But I’ve managed to accumulate a great deal of expertise in other areas, including viral marketing, regulation, community management, collective intelligence, business development, and distributed organization best practice.

All of which I’m planning to apply. Cheers!