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Proof of Work: Slow and Steady

Quick Take

  • Most of the world still doesn’t own any crypto, or even really understand what it is
  • Unlike other technologies, where early adopters often get burned, with Bitcoin, early adopters are rewarded, and as adoption continues, the price continues to climb

The following newsletter is republished with permission from Eric Meltzer of Primitive Ventures, a global venture investment firm with a focus on blockchain and related technologies. You can follow Eric on Twitter at @wheatpond and subscribe to Proof of Work here

"The Street finds its own uses for things"

—William Gibson

Sometimes it takes a while, though. Most of the world still doesn’t own any crypto, or even really understand what it is. An interesting thing about Bitcoin is that unlike other technologies (VR, e.g.) where someone who was directionally correct (VR in some form will almost certainly be incredible) but had the timing wrong gets completely wrecked. With Bitcoin, early adopters are rewarded, and as adoption continues, the price continues to climb. Even if massive adoption doesn’t happen as fast as people want it to, a patient HODLer is likely to be rewarded, especially if BTC continues to adopt provably good new tech (like e.g. Schnorr).

I’ve noticed this kind of slow, creeping adoption a lot more over the past few months. More and more people know what Bitcoin is, or have a rough idea. A much smaller percentage of them maybe bought some on Coinbase or Today I went to a really cool event at MIT where a time capsule was unveiled 15 years early—the story being that Ron Rivest (the R in RSA) designed a tricky puzzle that involved an intrinsically sequential computation (in order to resist efforts at leveraging massively parallel computation) that was intended to take around 35 years to solve based on Moore’s Law estimations. Two teams managed to solve it faster (one slightly after the other, one with pure software and commodity hardware, one with an FPGA) and the winning guy immediately stamped his proof of solution on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain in an OP_RETURN, and then again on the BTC blockchain (this time in an actual block header, swag, with the help of a big mining pool).

No one seemed to bat an eye at this. Of course you stamp things on the Bitcoin blockchain when you want to have a time-based proof that something happened. As one does! This type of thing seems to fall in line with the idea that Bitcoin blockspace will remain a valuable commodity even in the post-coinbase reward era.

Bitcoin & Friends

Jimmy on Bitcoin

Optech on Bitcoin [ed: sign up for their newsletter too! it’s great!]

  • Taproot proposal soft fork discussion: several replies were posted to the Bitcoin-Dev mailing list in response to bip-taproot and bip-tapscript.

  • Addition of derivation paths to BIP174 PSBTs: Stepan Snigirev posted a suggestion to the Bitcoin-Dev mailing list to allow PSBTs to include the BIP32 derivation path for the public keys used to generate the change output’s address.

Aviv from Spacemesh

Spacemesh is a programmable cryptocurrency powered by a novel proof-of-space-time consensus protocol.

JZ from Decred

Decred is an autonomous digital currency with a hybrid consensus system. It is built to be a self-ruling currency where everyone can vote on the rules and project-level decision making proportionately to their stake.

  • Lightning Network transactions are now supported on Decred mainnet. Our hard fork went off as planned on May 9th and since then a transaction making use of the new rules has been executed, meaning anyone who has not upgraded to v1.4 is now forked off the network.

  • The Politeia proposal to decentralize the treasury funds has also passed with 97.48% support, authorizing the team to implement Marco's design and vest the final bit of sovereignty with the stakeholders.

  • April's edition of the Decred Journal has landed, covering all project activities including the 292 active PRs and 477 commits with 96k additions and 50k deletions spread across over two dozen contributors last month.

Izaak from Coda

Coda is the first cryptocurrency protocol with a constant-sized blockchain. Coda compresses the entire blockchain into a tiny snapshot the size of a few tweets using recursive zk-SNARKs.

Privacy coins

Paige & Zooko from Zcash

Zcash is a digital currency utilizing zk-SNARKs to enable its privacy-protecting properties.

Daniel from Grin

Grin is a community-driven implementation of the Mimblewimble protocol that aims to be privacy preserving, scalable, fair, and minimal.

Arnaud from AZTEC Protocol

AZTEC Protocol is an efficient zero-knowledge protocol built on top of Ethereum, making plug-and-play value transmission and asset governance privacy tools for developers and companies. 

  • This week we fixed a bug with confidentialTransferFrom, which made it impossible for contracts to spend notes.

  • Our work on the trusted setup MPC is progressing well, we will be running a full mock MPC at the end of this month.

  • We have been continuing our house keeping, by refactoring our tests to use a local trusted setup database instead of a hosted one, and simplifying proof construction.

  • In addition to the two cryptographer roles, we are now hiring for a Senior Solidity Engineer and a Senior Engineer. You can apply here, or by emailing [email protected] with the name of the role as the subject.

Smart contracting platforms

Evan from Ethereum

Ethereum is a decentralized platform for applications that aims to resist fraud, censorship or third-party interference.

AJ from Tezos

Tezos is a self-amending blockchain that features formally verified smart contracts, on-chain governance, and a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm which enables all token holders to participate in the network. 

Topper from Quorum Control

Quorum Control makes Tupelo, a permissionless proof of stake DLT platform purpose-built to model individual objects that enables flexible public or private data models.

  • Ongoing Optimization of Production Tupelo TestNet

    • Testnet v0.2.1 with nodes having improved ability to restart and rejoin signing

    • Cross-repo integration tests extended in CI

    • Enhancements to the reliability of performance benchmarking

  • RPC improvements (GetTokenBalance / SignatureValidation on Import)

  • In progress on listening service to trigger events on state changes

Michael from Loom

Loom Network is a platform for building highly scalable DPoS sidechains to Ethereum, with a focus on large-scale games and social apps.

  • Released Trezor support for PlasmaChain staking, so users can delegate directly from their hardware wallets

  • Completed the Loom SDK Q1 2019 Security Audit by Trail of Bits

  • New developer tutorial on how to create a fast, gasless ERC20 payment system on PlasmaChain

Kate and Dean from Agoric

Founded by pioneers in secure development and distributed systems, Agoric uses a secure subset of JavaScript to enable object capabilities and smart contracts.

  • We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve secured $4 million in new funding from Ripple’s Xpring, gumi Cryptos Capital, Kilowatt Capital, MetaStable Capital, Outlier Ventures, Lemniscap, Rockaway Blockchain and the Interchain Foundation, as well as additional funding from the Electric Coin Company (sometimes referred to as the Zcash Company, the for-profit institution behind the privacy-focused cryptocurrency zcash), Naval Ravikant and Polychain.

  • Dean gave an impassioned speech on smart contracts at the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) Spring Symposium. Dean explained that the ultimate vision for smart contracts is to bring the entire economy of the world online. “The diverse, vibrant world economy”, he said, “needs high integrity computation, a security model that works for software components, broad scope and interoperability with other chains.”

Financial Infrastructure

Antonio from dYdX

dYdX is a decentralized exchange for margin trading, borrowing, lending, and eventually derivatives. dYdX allows traders to trustlessly short and get leverage on crypto assets.

  • USDC is now available to borrow and lend on dYdX!

  • dYdX did over $2.4M of 24H trading volume over the weekend

  • Working on adding trade history to the product

  • Kicking off a design sprint to improve parts of our UI

  • Work trialed an engineering candidate

  • Hiring engineers & product designers full-time in SF!

Brendan from Dharma

Dharma is the easiest place to borrow and lend cryptocurrencies. It enables non-custodial peer-to-peer lending through smart contracts on Ethereum.

  • We're looking for 20 volunteers to help us test a new feature on Dharma. Reach out to [email protected] if interested

  • We've continued our strong growth in May, with over 1m USD borrowed this month to date

  • Planning a new round of smart contract audits for June, that will audit new functionality we've released since the audits last year

Coulter from MakerDAO

Maker is comprised of a decentralized stablecoin, collateral loans, and community governance.

  • Maker CEO Rune Christensen penned a blog on common misconceptions around the Stability Fee. Worth a read if you've ever thought "The Stability Fee is too high!" 

  • A guide to Multi-Collateral Dai titled "MCD 101" was put together by Kenton Prescott, helping give an overview of the smart contracts in the Dai Credit System. 

  • Whisp joined our weekly community call (which is public for anyone to tune in to!) in order to showcase their v1 of their product which is a payroll platform for remote workers. 

  • We partnered with Airtm to add Dai into their platform, helping bring financial stability to individuals in regions suffering from hyperinflation. Maker is also contributing 10,000 Dai to their AirDrop Venezuela campaign! Read more.

Lazar from MARKET Protocol

MARKET Protocol is a framework for creating tokens that track prices of traditional or digital assets.

  • Continued progress with our security audit prior to mainnet release of MARKET Protocol

  • Built out framework for MPX notifications, including user actions to orders, rewards, and on-chain transactions

  • Refined notifications and alerts that our development team receives from our production systems

Layer two and interoperability

Rahul from 0x

0x is an open protocol that enables the peer-to-peer exchange of assets on the Ethereum blockchain.

  • 0x will be at ETH New York - we will be sponsoring a few prizes at the hackathon, including a joint prize with Wyre

  • We are looking for some SF based devs to participate in a focus group about our documentation 

  • New ZEIP around property based orders, enabling the trading of NFTs around properties as opposed to the exact ID number 

Tony from Liquidity.Network

Liquidity Network is a transfer and swap platform for any token

  • Fixing server bugs

  • Testing server performance

Dong Mo from Celer

Celer Network is a layer-2 scaling platform that enables fast, easy and secure off-chain transactions for not only payment transactions, but also generalized off-chain smart contracts.

  • We finished new Gomoku off-chain payment flow and off-chain state exchange and co-signing. 

  • We've refined CelerX JS APIs and finished dispute implementation spec.

  • We completed the setup of a Mainnet backend stack and the on-chain play SDK API. 

  • We opensourced Celer dApp Contract with template developer code and example applications.

Alexandra from Parity Technologies

Parity Technologies builds core blockchain infrastructure, from Parity Ethereum, an Ethereum client, to Polkadot, an interoperable blockchain network.

Application infrastructure

David from Sia

Sia is a decentralized cloud storage platform leveraging blockchain technology to create a data storage marketplace that is more robust and more affordable than traditional cloud storage providers.

  • The development team spent this week improving the scalability, speed, and reliability of renters with large amounts of files. Ongoing scalability tests are ongoing, with a live renter already at 10 TB and growing.

  • The new global ratelimits feature will allow a renter to set bandwidth limits for Sia.

  • Chris’ final MR for renaming a directory was merged.

  • Matt better categorized InactiveContracts into Renewed and Disabled, to give a more granular view of your uploaded data and money spent.

  • Chris has been working hard on the “partial-uploads” branch which will allow for upload streaming.

  • The April 2019 Community update was posted:

  • Siacoin was added to SouthXchange

  • Swing by our Discord to keep up with all the latest:


Ari from Decentraland

Decentraland is a virtual world where you can build and explore 3D creations, play games and socialize.

Sam from OpenBazaar

OpenBazaar is an open source project developing a protocol for e-commerce transactions in a fully decentralized marketplace.

  • The OB1 team was on a work retreat in Portland last week. We're working on the final push to get the Haven app into open beta testing, and also working on Ethereum integration on the OpenBazaar client side.


© 2023 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.