Xiao Feng: Who funded Ethereum’s entrepreneurial development?

(This article is the foreword written by Xiao Feng, founder of Wanxiang Blockchain, for “Point-to-Everything: Ethereum and the Future of Digital Finance” published by China Translation Publishing House)

On September 15, 2022, Ethereum will usher in another historical moment after the publication of the first white paper at the end of 2013 and the launch of the mainnet in July 2015: “The Merge”. Ethereum’s consensus mechanism will shift from proof-of-work (POW) to proof-of-stake (POS). “The Merge” will reduce Ethereum’s energy consumption by 99%, ETH issuance by 90%, and “Gas” fees will approach zero after merging through sharding and L2 (Layer 2 protocol). While network security and health are not affected at all, “The Merge” will help Ethereum increase to 100,000 per second in the next 3 years, and 10 million per second in the next 10 years with high performance and extremely flexible scalability. This will further establish Ethereum’s position as the universal infrastructure of the Metaverse.

“The Merge” is not only an important moment in the history of Ethereum, but also destined to be an important moment in the history of blockchain technology! After “The Merge”, Ethereum needs to be upgraded again after 6 months to resume normal transfer function. This moment of upgrading again was named “Shanghai” by the Ethereum community!

In September 2016, following the first two global developer conferences held in Berlin and London, the third Ethereum developer conference (DEVCON2) was held at the Maoyue Hotel on the North Bund in Shanghai. Among the nearly 1,000 attendees (now Ethereum DVECON is already a 10,000-person conference), 90% came from overseas to attend the conference. Listening to the speeches of global blockchain opinion leaders has greatly promoted the popularity of blockchain technology in China. A Chinese science and technology media reporter who attended the conference wrote on Weibo: As soon as I stepped into the venue, I saw 90% of the participants were foreign faces, which made me think that this was a conference held in Europe and the United States.

The Ethereum Global Developers Conference, which was held in Shanghai, China, 5 years ago, which made people feel “time and space chaotic”, was strongly introduced and sponsored by Wanxiang Blockchain Lab. According to the Ethereum POW to POS process that began a few years ago, each key node is named after the city where DVECON is held. Ethereum’s “Shanghai moment” came about like this.

In December 2014, at the “Sanya Finance International Forum” held by Caijing magazine, I organized a “digital currency sub-forum”, and the speakers included former experts in the field of financial supervision, bankers, and digital currency practitioners. My presentation focused on Ethereum, which has been published for a year since the publication of the white paper, while the keynote speaker focused on Bitcoin. This should be the first time in China to discuss the topic of digital currency represented by Bitcoin and Ether that was not in the flow at that time at a high-level forum held by a well-known financial media. This, of course, has attracted the attention of domestic blockchain and digital currency practitioners.

Just after lunch, I received a request to add WeChat friends. He said that he saw my speech in the Internet media and was sitting with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin in a coffee shop at Incheon International Airport in South Korea, waiting for the plane to take off. In this way, I finally got in touch with Vitalik, and the introducer was Shen Bo.

Vitalik, carrying a cloth bag with a cat printed on it, came to Shanghai in April 2015. This is not his first time in China. When we first met, I was very surprised that he was able to use Chinese to send WeChat and use a Chinese that was not very fluent to have conversations, which is very good for a foreigner who has not studied Chinese specially. Vitalik’s Chinese level is different from other foreigners, and his written expression skills are stronger than oral expressions. He told me about his unique secret to learning Chinese: find any blockchain and digital currency materials translated into Chinese, including Bitcoin and Ethereum white papers, and then study them against the original English version. Once, when the three of us were in a taxi in New York, he would occasionally pull out his cell phone and check the Chinese-English dictionary while listening to our Chinese chat, and then check whether the words we had just mentioned in the conversation were the same as he understood. In 2016, at Shanghai Wanxiang Blockchain International Week, Vitalik’s speech PPT was written by himself in Chinese.

In the more than one month he lived in Shanghai, Vitalik lived at Shen Bo’s house. For life, he has no luxury, and even almost no demands other than food and clothing, and his only hobby may be to like cats. I went to Hong Kong for work, and while visiting a bookstore, I found a book of photographs about cats published by a well-known photographer and brought it back to Shanghai and gave it to Vitalik. The photo book is very heavy, and he is at home all over the world, and it is estimated that he will not be able to carry this photo book with him while he is happy. In 2015, Vitalik spent more than 3 months in Shanghai several times. This photo book may bring a little solace to his life in Shanghai.

We often meet to discuss the topic of blockchain and Ethereum, and of course, the focus must be on how Wanxiang can cooperate with Ethereum to promote the development and application of blockchain technology in China. One morning in April 2015, Vitalik arrived at the Wanxiang Mansion, his expression slightly tired, obviously not resting well last night. Shen Bo pulled me aside and told me that the Ethereum community had a one-night meeting last night, and the focus of the debate was that someone saw the cash retention status on the Ethereum Foundation’s account and doubted whether there would be enough funds to support the launch of the Ethereum mainnet.

Vitalik, 20, is clearly under pressure from community developers. This infrastructure and technology, which has the potential to change the world, deserves strong support from all parties. Intuition tells me that this may be an opportunity given to Wanxiang by God, if we can actively fund the development of Ethereum at this critical moment, one can become a participant in this milestone project, and the other can use this focus to implement Wanxiang’s blockchain strategic planning.

So I proposed to Vitalik to donate $500,000 to the Ethereum Foundation in the name of “Wanxiang Blockchain Lab”. If necessary, we can continue to fund in the coming year to help dispel developers’ doubts, so that developers can work fully and provide what we can to help the Ethereum mainnet go online as scheduled.

The Ethereum Foundation is a non-profit legal entity registered in Switzerland, so lawyers from both sides helped draft the donation agreement, and the Ethereum Foundation accepted the donation and will also give the agreed amount of ETH to the donor in the ether (ETH) unlocked from the Foundation after the mainnet goes live. In view of the fact that the “Wanxiang Blockchain Lab” is still in the registration process and to comply with foreign exchange management regulations, the funds are paid by overseas companies in the Wanxiang system, but the blockchain cooperation matters are designated to be established “Wanxiang Blockchain Lab” to be responsible for execution.

After the dust settled, Vitalik wrote to the community announcing that the Ethereum Foundation had received a donation from a Chinese-backed institution and that the organization had pledged continued support for the Ethereum Foundation. In this way, the developer community’s worries about Ethereum’s cash flow in the coming months have calmed down. In hindsight, these fears were unwarranted. But at that time, in the face of such a global project known as the “world’s Internet computer”, especially such a huge project led by a 20-year-old technology geek, it was normal for someone to shout the question of “how long can it last”.

This incident also marks the official launch of Wanxiang’s strategic deployment and work process in blockchain. In the second half of 2015, Wanxiang Blockchain Lab was established, the first Wanxiang Blockchain Global Summit was held, the first distributed capital in Asia dedicated to investing in blockchain was established (Wanxiang Company is a single limited partner), Wanxiang Blockchain Lab released the “Blockchain Entrepreneurship Project Funding Program” to the world, Wanxiang Blockchain Lab book series was published, Wanxiang Blockchain Lab cooperated with Chinese blockchain technology experts to hold blockchain training courses, and so on.

In mid-October 2015, the first Wanxiang Blockchain Global Summit based on blockchain technology to promote the popularization of blockchain technology in China was held in Shanghai. Wanxiang makes every effort to use the resources of the Ethereum community to widely solicit global cutting-edge blockchain topics, widely invite global blockchain experts, and mobilize domestic blockchain practitioners to participate together. Under the call and invitation of Vitalik, many of the world’s top blockchain practitioners were present, which can be described as representing the highest level of global blockchain technology at that time. The first summit was held over two days, with an open forum on the first day and an invitation-only closed-door discussion on the second day. The activities of the summit have been strongly supported and widely praised by the domestic industry. A domestic industry pioneer company came to the summit with 8 colleagues, but due to the space constraints of the closed-door discussion venue, these 8 colleagues were not fully invited, they came to me directly and strongly requested to participate in all 6 closed-door discussions. I was touched by this enthusiasm.

It was not until early January 2016, when the first blockchain hackathon was held in Shanghai, that the first phase of Wanxiang’s action plan in the blockchain field came to a perfect end. The first blockchain hackathon was held by Wanxiang and Deloitte, and the Ethereum Foundation sent 3 technical experts as guidance and judges, and Vitalik was also present. More than 120 participants from all over the world formed teams on the spot and played on the spot. One of the members of the first prize team was a high school student who came to China from Italy at his own expense. After 48 hours of intense competition, the high school student asked us if we could accept him to join Wanxiang Blockchain Lab full-time, and we finally put him on the return flight. One year later, we began to regret it a little, because he finally participated in the launch of a blockchain startup project in Europe and took on the technical core role of this popular project. Young people should be in the clouds! Thinking that Vitalik was only 20 years old in the early days of his business, he couldn’t help but sigh: in the blockchain industry, the afterlife is especially fearful!

In May 2016, a group of 9 of us departed from Pudong Airport, first stopped at the San Francisco Bay Area, then went to New York for the “Consensus Conference”, detoured to London, and then returned to Shanghai. This is a European and American blockchain expedition planned with Vitalik, who met us in San Francisco. We visited a lot of big names along the way, learned a lot of new ideas along the way, and saw a lot of good projects along the way. Another purpose of this trip to Europe and the United States is to mine several mysterious speakers for the second Wanxiang Blockchain Summit. We had lunch at a restaurant in Mountain View, Silicon Valley, with Nick Szabo, the “father of smart contracts,” and invited him to Shanghai for that year’s Blockchain Summit. Nick was very cautious, and it was already quite difficult to meet him, and after more than two years of invitations, he finally attended the third Wanxiang Blockchain Global Summit in 2017.

In late September 2016, the second Wanxiang Blockchain Global Summit arrived as scheduled. However, the summit has expanded into “Blockchain International Week”. The first 3 days of the International Week are the second Ethereum Global Developers Conference (according to the convention of computer system development, the first developer conference is named DVECON0, this time is DVECON2, which should be regarded as the third time), the 4th day is the blockchain project roadshow (Demo Day), and the 5th-6th day is the global summit. It was thanks to Wanxiang’s commitment to funding the Ethereum community in 2015 that the Blockchain Global Summit expanded into an International Week. At that time, in addition to the $500,000 donated, Wanxiang also promised to continue to support the development of Ethereum in 2016 as needed. After the successful launch of the Ethereum mainnet, the Ethereum Foundation clearly has no urgent need for this. But Wanxiang can’t let this promise of its own become a “blank check”. Therefore, we propose that if this Ethereum Global Developers Conference is moved to China, Wanxiang Blockchain Lab will sponsor the entire fee, and any ticket revenue and sponsorship revenue generated during this period will go to the Ethereum Foundation. The “Shanghai Blockchain International Week” was born.

On September 15, 2022, Ethereum “The Merge” is coming. I see a prospect of a blockchain protocol stack that will converge around Ethereum. In the 80s of the 20th century, the Internet was also a variety of protocols, not interconnected, and later unified by market forces into TCP/IP protocol stack, the more underlying the basic protocol, the more unified is the only standard protocol in the world, such as IP protocol, TCP protocol, HTTP protocol. At the application layer, Internet protocols begin to diversify, for example, the Internet may have more than 100 protocols at the application layer. The current multi-chain phenomenon of blockchain is similar to the era when Internet protocols were not unified. The market’s demand for seamless interconnection will also drive the integration of the blockchain protocol stack. And only Ethereum is currently intentionally or unintentionally architecting the blockchain protocol stack, on the one hand, from L0 (distributed communication, distributed storage, distributed computing) to L1, to L2, and even L3… On the other hand, after “The Merge”, Ethereum can also support large-scale applications in terms of performance and scalability. According to the Ethereum Foundation, within 10 years, Ethereum will be able to reach 10 million transactions per second (TPS). According to my personal observation, analogous to the development process of Internet protocols, in the next few years, blockchain protocols will gradually be pushed by market forces to integrate into a unified protocol stack; Other public chains other than Ethereum may become child chains, side chains, or shards and partitions of Ethereum, so as to achieve an ideal world of interconnection in the blockchain world.

Today, standing at this critical moment in the development of Ethereum and even blockchain, the Chinese edition of “Point-to-Everything: Ethereum and the Future of Digital Finance” published by China Translation Publishing House can be said to be a great contribution!

I would like to use Ethereum’s memories of the “Shanghai Moment” as a background supplement to this book.

This book, you definitely deserve it!

Xiao Feng: Who funded Ethereum's entrepreneurial development?

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/xiao-feng-who-funded-ethereums-entrepreneurial-development/
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