July 26, 2022

The Gravity of Decentralization with Jesse Pollak

The Gravity of Decentralization with Jesse Pollak

Jesse Pollak, Senior Director of Engineering at Coinbase, discusses Ethereum, the Merge, Smart Scaling, the gravity of Decentralization, Public Key Infrastructure, building in Bear Market, and much more.

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Today’s guest is Jesse Pollak, Senior Director of Engineering at Coinbase. Coinbase is the premier platform for buying, selling, transferring, and storing cryptocurrency. Jesse is currently working on protocols, public goods, cities, and currencies at Coinbase. Jesse previously led all Retail engineering at Coinbase, including building Coinbase, Coinbase Pro, and Coinbase Wallet. We discuss various topics, including Ethereum, the Merge, Smart Scaling, the gravity of Decentralization, Public Key Infrastructure, building in Bear Market, and much more. We begin our conversation by discussing how Jesse got into crypto. Jesse shares how he started a startup focusing on identity and security software. The company leveraged public key infrastructure to enable companies to scale their identity and security needs. Most of his clients were crypto companies; this is how he fell down the crypto rabbit hole. The company was eventually acqui-hired by Coinbase in 2016. Jesse explains how public key infrastructure works and how it is widely used in crypto and throughout the internet. We pivot our conversation to discuss why now is the best time to build in Crypto. We discuss how the tools for building in crypto have become more accessible and more robust. We also discuss why this bear market feels different than previous bear markets. We focus on discussing how the number of people building something exciting and innovative is ten times bigger than there was in the last bear market. The number of real-world use cases is an order of magnitude bigger than in previous cycles. This leads us to discuss what sector of crypto excites us the most. Jesse shares that the trend that excites him the most is the increased adoption of users and businesses. Jesse predicts that this trend will eventually culminate in the large migration of a large portion of our society being on-chain. We discuss how we are seeing legacy companies beginning to embrace crypto and integrating crypto into their business Our next conversation topic centered around the rise of alternative L1s and the importance of smart scaling. Jesse discusses how the emergence of alternative L1s has impacted Ethereum and its developer base. Jesse also addresses the design trade-offs these alternative L1s are making to achieve higher transaction throughput. We also discuss how the Ethereum developers have approached scaling Ethereum while prioritizing decentralization and security. Jesse outlines why he is excited about EIP-4844. Jesse explains how EIP-4844 will help scale Ethereum by reducing the cost of Layer2s on Ethereum. Jesse explains how L2s work and how they help Ethereum scale without compromising Ethereum’s decentralization. We discuss the trilemma problem that all blockchains face or will eventually face. Jesse shares his thesis in the ideal way. Blockchains will tackle this problem. A fascinating topic we discussed centered around how decentralization is a new form of gravity within crypto. Jesse explains how everything tended to gravitate towards the most centralized outcome in the legacy world and how crypto is inverting that paradigm. We discuss how decentralization enables people to have sovereignty and autonomy. Our final discussion topic centered around how the future will be layer-specific blockchains. Jesse explains how he believes that as crypto matures, DApps will converge onto layer-specific use cases on a few blockchains instead of having hundreds of different blockchains. Please enjoy my conversion with Jesse Pollak.


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