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Why Solana Wins - Interview with Solana Legend

By Unlayered

Published on 2024-03-17

Discover why Solana is poised for success in the evolving crypto landscape. Learn about Ethereum's challenges, Layer 2 limitations, and the rise of Bitcoin Ordinals in this in-depth analysis.

The Current State of Ethereum

Ethereum, once the undisputed king of smart contract platforms, is facing significant challenges in the evolving cryptocurrency landscape. According to Solana Legend, a prominent figure in the Solana ecosystem, the recent ETH Denver conference revealed some interesting trends. While Ethereum still boasts some of the smartest developers and researchers in the space, there's a noticeable shift in focus away from the Ethereum mainnet.

"People are not very focused on Ethereum mainnet, extremely focused on every flavor of restaking, Layer 2s, Layer 3s, Infra on Infra on Infra," Solana Legend observed. This trend aligns with Anatoly Yakovenko's statement that "Layer 1 isn't for users, it's for block space and for Layer 2s."

However, this shift towards Layer 2 solutions comes with its own set of challenges. Despite the excitement surrounding L2s, most activity still occurs on the Ethereum L1. This includes meme coins, NFTs, and the bulk of DeFi liquidity. The disconnect between developer focus and user activity raises questions about the future direction of the Ethereum ecosystem.

The Layer 2 Landscape

The proliferation of Layer 2 solutions on Ethereum has created a fragmented ecosystem that resembles traditional finance in some ways. Solana Legend draws an interesting parallel:

"In many ways, the modular multi-chain world looks a little bit like tradfi in the sense that it's fragmented. But I think the real magic of blockchain is pretty much everyone being on the same ledger."

This fragmentation poses challenges for user experience and liquidity. While projects like BLAST have shown some success with their unique launch model, and Optimism (OP) has gained traction with projects like Base and Worldcoin, no clear winner has emerged from the pack.

The limitations of EVM-based Layer 2s are becoming increasingly apparent. They inherit many of the shortcomings of the Ethereum L1, such as the inability to implement localized fee markets. This can lead to network-wide fee spikes when a single application or contract experiences high demand.

Solana's Competitive Advantage

In contrast to the fragmented Layer 2 ecosystem, Solana offers a unified, high-performance blockchain that addresses many of Ethereum's limitations. Solana Legend highlights the importance of not just block space quantity, but also how that block space is utilized:

"It's not only how much block space you have. It's also how you're using that block space. And if you're not able to isolate hot spots of activity from an application or a contract that's getting spammed, that's a contentious piece of state, then you're bidding up the fees for everyone."

Solana's ability to handle localized fee markets and isolate congestion helps maintain low fees and high performance across the network. This makes it an attractive platform for developers and users alike, especially as the limitations of Layer 2 solutions become more apparent.

The Value Proposition of Single-State Blockchains

Despite the hype surrounding modular blockchain architectures, single-state blockchains like Solana continue to demonstrate strong product-market fit. The advantages of a shared, high-performance ledger are becoming increasingly clear as the crypto ecosystem matures.

Solana Legend argues that the real power of blockchain technology lies in having everyone on the same ledger:

"I think the real magic of blockchain is pretty much everyone being on the same ledger. That's kind of like the name of the game, in my view, especially given that these are open source networks, where the only real competitive advantage is the prevalence of state and how many businesses and users tie into that and demand that block space and that shared block space on a daily basis."

This shared state enables network effects and creates a more cohesive ecosystem for developers and users. As more applications and users join the network, the value proposition of Solana's high-throughput, single-state architecture becomes even stronger.

The Role of Centralized Figures in Blockchain Development

The influence of central figures like Vitalik Buterin for Ethereum and Anatoly Yakovenko for Solana plays a crucial role in shaping the direction of these ecosystems. However, Solana Legend notes that Vitalik's influence on Ethereum's direction has diminished substantially over the past couple of years.

This shift is partly due to the increasing complexity and diverse opinions within the Ethereum community. Solana Legend explains:

"There's a lot of people that are in one camp versus another and what people are seeing really exemplified is the social coordination costs and the social cost of having a modular world where everyone can spin up their own virtual machine."

In contrast, Solana has maintained a clear vision and direction under Anatoly Yakovenko's leadership. Solana Legend praises this consistency:

"I felt like there was a very clear North Star, which was communicated by Toli as early as like 2018, basically one synchronized state machine globally with consensus at the speed of light. And he really hasn't wavered at all."

This clear and consistent vision has allowed Solana to focus on solving specific challenges and improving performance without getting bogged down in debates about fundamental architecture.

The Challenge of Value Accrual in Layer 2 Ecosystems

As more activity moves to Layer 2 solutions, questions arise about the long-term value accrual for the Ethereum base layer. Solana Legend points out a potential issue with Ethereum's deflationary narrative:

"If you're pushing all the transactions and user bases and liquidity and MEV revenue to alert twos and you're batching 100 transactions into one, which settles into EFLERT1... it doesn't take a genius to know that like your burn is severely decreased."

This shift could potentially jeopardize Ethereum's value accrual story at the base layer. In contrast, Solana's approach of building a high-throughput, low-fee base layer allows for sustainable growth and value accrual directly on the main chain.

Solana Legend goes as far as to predict that "at its end state, Solana will be more deflationary than Ethereum by probably a substantial margin" due to the higher volume of transactions at lower fees.

The Rise of Bitcoin Ordinals and BRC-20 Tokens

The emergence of Bitcoin Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens has taken the crypto world by surprise, demonstrating the potential for innovation even on established blockchains. Solana Legend acknowledges the significance of this development:

"For the first time in history, people could use their Bitcoin. They could buy Bitcoin assets. They could buy assets that were denominated in Bitcoin, like natively."

This new use case for Bitcoin has led to increased on-chain activity and higher fees, which in turn helps secure the network by making mining more profitable. The success of projects like Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens shows that there's still room for innovation in the Bitcoin ecosystem.

However, Solana Legend cautions that while these developments are exciting, they don't change the fundamental limitations of Bitcoin as a smart contract platform:

"You're still not going to have global infrastructure, global businesses running on Bitcoin. You just can't. It's just not possible. It's like dial up."

The Future of NFTs and the 404 Standard

While Bitcoin Ordinals have captured attention, Solana Legend believes that the real game-changer for NFTs will be the 404 standard on networks like Solana and Ethereum. This new standard allows NFTs to be listed on centralized exchanges as fungible tokens, bridging the gap between fungible and non-fungible assets.

"I think 404s are going to unlock new use cases and new businesses for NFTs that have never been seen before," Solana Legend predicts. "I think just ability to list an NFT collection on Binance or on a centralized exchange as a token that's fundable is massive."

This innovation could revitalize the NFT market by making it more accessible to a broader range of investors and creating new arbitrage opportunities between fungible tokens and their associated NFT collections.

The Impact of Bitcoin ETFs and the Future of Crypto Investments

The approval of Bitcoin ETFs has introduced a new dynamic to the crypto market, potentially leading to higher Bitcoin dominance. Solana Legend explains:

"I think dominance, Bitcoin dominance could go higher than ever before structurally because there's so many people that are just like, Hey, I want to invest in crypto before they had to, you know, pretty much go and go on Coinbase, go on Coinbase, get down and dirty off ramp to a non-custilia wallet, like kind of figure it out on chain. Now they can just like bid."

This influx of institutional capital through ETFs could have a significant impact on the broader crypto market. However, Solana Legend argues that relying on ETF approval alone is not enough to "save" a blockchain ecosystem:

"To be completely honest, guys, like if that's the best thing Ethereum has to look forward to as an ETF, they're in a bad place. They're in a very bad place because that's something you can control. And it's frankly, it's not enabling delightful experiences on chain."

Solana's Growing Ecosystem and Future Prospects

Throughout the discussion, it becomes clear that Solana is well-positioned to capitalize on the evolving crypto landscape. The network's focus on high performance, low fees, and a unified state has attracted developers and users alike.

Solana Legend highlights some exciting developments in the Solana ecosystem, particularly in the realm of decentralized finance (DeFi). Projects like Deflow are working on decentralized order flow segmentation protocols, which could significantly improve the profitability of automated market makers (AMMs) and enhance the overall trading experience on Solana.

"I think that the UX of on chain trading is going to be incredible. It's not as going to be as good as a centralized exchange. It's not going to be one MS because of physical limitations, but it's going to get very close," Solana Legend predicts.

The growing adoption of Solana for various use cases, from DeFi to NFTs and even AI-related projects, demonstrates the network's versatility and appeal to both developers and users.

Conclusion: Solana's Path to Victory

As the crypto landscape continues to evolve, Solana appears well-positioned to emerge as a leading blockchain platform. Its focus on high performance, low fees, and a unified state addresses many of the challenges faced by Ethereum and its Layer 2 ecosystem.

While Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to play important roles in the crypto ecosystem, Solana's ability to enable new and innovative use cases gives it a unique advantage. As Solana Legend puts it:

"The best thing is when people are innovating and they're enabling new and delightful experiences on chain, stuff like ordinals, stuff like 404s, stuff like... You know, just trading on Solana. I think that's great."

As the crypto market enters what appears to be the early stages of a new bull run, Solana's growing ecosystem and clear vision position it well for continued growth and adoption. With institutions finally entering the market in a meaningful way and retail interest picking up, the future looks bright for Solana and the broader crypto industry.

Facts + Figures

  • Ethereum developers are increasingly focused on Layer 2 solutions, restaking, and infrastructure rather than the Ethereum mainnet.
  • Despite the focus on L2s, most activity still occurs on the Ethereum L1, including meme coins, NFTs, and DeFi liquidity.
  • No clear winner has emerged from the Layer 2 ecosystem, with revenue being relatively evenly split among different L2 solutions.
  • Solana's DEX volumes have recently surpassed Ethereum's on some days.
  • Fees on Solana have increased by an order of magnitude since November, indicating growing demand and usage.
  • Bitcoin Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens have seen explosive growth, with some assets like Orty doing 100X the volume of the entire Solana NFT ecosystem.
  • The 404 standard for NFTs is expected to unlock new use cases and potentially revitalize the NFT market.
  • Bitcoin ETF inflows have been strong, potentially leading to higher Bitcoin dominance in the overall crypto market.
  • The total cryptocurrency market cap is currently around $2.7 trillion, with speculation about potential growth to $10 trillion in the future.

Questions Answered

What are the main challenges facing Ethereum?

Ethereum is struggling with a shift in focus away from its mainnet towards Layer 2 solutions and infrastructure projects. This has created a fragmented ecosystem that may not be ideal for users. Additionally, Ethereum's high fees and scalability issues continue to pose challenges for widespread adoption and use of decentralized applications.

How does Solana compare to Ethereum in terms of performance and usability?

Solana offers significantly higher throughput and lower fees compared to Ethereum, making it more suitable for high-volume applications and everyday use. Solana's unified state and ability to handle localized fee markets allow it to maintain consistent performance across the network, even during periods of high congestion. This makes Solana more user-friendly and cost-effective for both developers and end-users.

What is the significance of Bitcoin Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens?

Bitcoin Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens represent a new wave of innovation on the Bitcoin blockchain, allowing users to create and trade assets directly on the Bitcoin network. This development has led to increased on-chain activity and higher fees, which in turn helps secure the network by making mining more profitable. However, Bitcoin's limitations as a smart contract platform mean that it's unlikely to support complex decentralized applications in the same way as Ethereum or Solana.

How might the approval of Bitcoin ETFs impact the broader crypto market?

The approval of Bitcoin ETFs is expected to bring a significant influx of institutional capital into the crypto market. This could lead to higher Bitcoin dominance and potentially drive up the overall market capitalization of cryptocurrencies. However, relying solely on ETF approval is not enough to ensure the long-term success of a blockchain ecosystem. Platforms like Solana that focus on enabling innovative on-chain experiences are likely to benefit more in the long run.

What is the 404 standard for NFTs, and why is it important?

The 404 standard is a new approach to NFTs that allows them to be listed on centralized exchanges as fungible tokens. This innovation bridges the gap between fungible and non-fungible assets, potentially unlocking new use cases and investment opportunities for NFTs. By making NFTs more accessible to a broader range of investors and creating new arbitrage opportunities, the 404 standard could help revitalize the NFT market and drive further adoption of blockchain technology.

How is Solana positioning itself for future growth in the crypto ecosystem?

Solana is focusing on enabling high-performance, low-cost decentralized applications across various sectors, including DeFi, NFTs, and even AI-related projects. By maintaining a clear vision of a unified, global state machine with consensus at the speed of light, Solana is attracting developers and users who require scalable and efficient blockchain solutions. Innovations like decentralized order flow segmentation and support for new standards like 404 NFTs demonstrate Solana's commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the blockchain space.

What role do central figures play in shaping blockchain ecosystems?

Central figures like Vitalik Buterin for Ethereum and Anatoly Yakovenko for Solana have significant influence in shaping the direction of their respective ecosystems. However, as blockchain communities grow and become more diverse, the influence of these central figures can diminish. Solana has maintained a more consistent vision under Yakovenko's leadership, which has allowed it to focus on solving specific challenges and improving performance without getting bogged down in debates about fundamental architecture.

How does the value accrual model differ between Ethereum and Solana?

Ethereum's shift towards Layer 2 solutions may potentially jeopardize its value accrual story at the base layer, as fewer transactions and less MEV revenue occur on the main chain. In contrast, Solana's approach of building a high-throughput, low-fee base layer allows for sustainable growth and value accrual directly on the main chain. This could potentially make Solana more deflationary than Ethereum in the long run, due to the higher volume of transactions at lower fees.

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