【荐读】Coinbase首席执行官Brian Armstrong总结过去十年加密领域发展:大多数重大突破都来自逆势而为的想法
Medium
2020-01-03
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文|Coinbase创始人兼CEO Brian Armstrong

出品|星空财经

我第一次阅读比特币白皮书,是在2010年12月,当时我正在父母家过圣诞节。

在我们结束这十年之际,以下是我对加密货币行业发展的一些看法。

比特币没有失败(正如许多人预测的那样)

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人们很容易遗忘。

但在过去10年的大部分时间里,人们经常讨论比特币是否能继续活下来。也许人们会在协议中发现一个缺陷,也许比特币会被宣布为非法,也许会因为它没有内在价值而全部归零(当然,我们加密行业从业者会很快反驳,美元也没有任何支撑)。有超过379篇文章过早地宣告了比特币的终结。

然而,比特币不仅存活了下来,而且还取得了蓬勃发展,成为近十年来表现最好的资产。时间证明反对者错了,而我们从人性中得到了一个重要的教训:大多数重大的突破都是逆势而为的想法,而人们一开始就会忽视和嘲笑这些想法。

Coinbase没有失败(正如许多人预测的那样)

当我考虑开始创立Coinbase时,一些人告诉我,我这个创建一个加密钱包和交易所的想法是疯狂的。世界上最优秀的黑客在试图侵入加密货币交易商,而MtGox和其他许多机构都遭到了黑客入侵,以及巨大的损失。通过运气和技能的结合,Coinbase成功抵御了一连串的黑客攻击,并创造了许多新的密钥存储方法,这些方法每年都在改进。

在完善的过程中,我们让加密货币更容易使用了,并向数千万人介绍了这项新技术。这使我们成功建立了一个拥有800名员工的现金流为正的公司,经受住加密市场的起起落落,并继续投资新产品以帮助生态系统的成长。对于那些想要储存自己的密钥的人,我们甚至推出了一款非托管的Coinbase钱包,继续专注于保护信任,提高产品的实用性。

分裂与内斗

对于一个新行业来说,随着协议更改的讨论和新币种的推出(通过分叉或全新的项目),出现了许多内斗。许多组织变得激进,并分裂成自己的小圈子。我认为,这比我所见过的其他技术辩论(emacs vs vim, iOS vs Android,等等)更加尖刻的原因是,一旦人们拥有了一枚特定的币,他们就会产生一种内在的利益冲突和情绪控制。我们不再努力寻找真理,而是开始谈论我们自己的“书”。有利的一面是,与单一文化或单一币种形成的垄断局面相比,拥有许多相互竞争的集团可以推动大量创新。至于哪些区块链项目会首先达到下一个1亿或10亿用户规模,这场竞赛仍在激烈进行。

我预计加密货币最终会出现一些整合,与其他行业的整合方式类似。

泡沫(与暴跌)

加密行业经历了5次泡沫时期,每次泡沫过后都是暴跌(落在比上一次低点更高的点上)。换句话说,这个行业一直在向上发展,但这是一个非常坎坷的过程。大量的讨论和媒体的注意力都集中在加密货币的价格上,当日交易吸引了短线思维,有时近乎赌博。

与此同时,采取长期投资策略的投资者(例如,通过多年的美元成本平均入仓)获得了令人难以置信的回报。比特币是近十年表现最好的资产,甚至击败了顶级独角兽,市值增长超过了1000亿美元。在这十年的末尾,比特币成为了精明的投资者多元化投资组合的重要部分,占了他们加密货币净值的1%-10%。

Dapps应用需要更长的时间

当我第一次读到比特币的时候,我就开始思考,五年之内,在我们开始看到现实世界公用事业腾飞(在最初的投资/投机阶段之后)之前,比特币会成为什么模样。除了像CryptoKitties这样的小例外,去中心化应用程序(Dapps)最初很少使用,直到去年Defi(中心化金融)才真正开始增长。这主要是由于扩容问题、波动性、区块链的脚本语言限制以及消费产品的可用性问题。Defi似乎是一个成功的用例,即使在当今区块链的有限规模上也是如此,因为与游戏或社交网络相比,借贷需要更低的交易吞吐量。在商家接受度方面,Coinbase和BitPay在这方面做了大量投资,与Overstock.com、戴尔(Dell)、Expedia、微软(Microsoft)、Reddit和维基百科(Wikipedia)等商家签约。但一开始,和许多商家的期待相比,实际的销量要小得多(尽管它每年都在稳步增长)。这意味着在过去十年中,交易和投机是加密货币的主要用途,而加密货币进入实用阶段的时间比许多人预期的要长。

ICOs首次代币发行

当ICOs首次代币发行的热潮开始时,我们看到了初创公司从未经认证的投资者那里筹集资金的潜在需求。之前所有的众筹记录都被抹去了,现在10个最大的众筹项目中有8个都与加密货币相关。ICO的趋势引起了美国证券交易委员会(SEC)的愤怒和注意,他们缓慢但坚定地开始在这一领域采取执法行动。一场关于哪些加密货币是证券,哪些不是的争论激烈进行。像加密评级委员会(Crypto Rating Council,CRC)这样的组织,在业界的参与下,开始让问题变得清晰。

最后,就像很多募集了太多资金的创业公司后来遇到的情况一样,它实际上会伤害这个公司。许多ICO项目坐拥巨额现金却未能拿出承诺的产品(随着时间的推移,其中一些项目开始变得像投资公司,而不是真正的产品公司)。

交易所

或许除了协议本身之外,过去10年加密领域最好的商业模式往往是交易所和经纪公司,它们在这个“淘金热期间出售铁锹”,交易加密货币这种新资产类别。一些加密矿商也有不错的收入,但加密货币价格的波动使他们很难在市场的反复无常中生存下来。

在过去几年中,大量的高质量的创业团队进入了加密领域,还有很多风险投资资金流入加密初创公司(Coinbase企业自己的小型基金---Coinbase Ventures,在过去的几年里投资了60家加密初创公司。

稳定币

除了扩容问题、实用性之外,限制加密货币采用的另一大挑战是它们的波动性。虽然波动性对投资者和投机者来说是好事,但对那些想利用它作为交易媒介的人来说却不是好事。随着时间的推移,比特币的波动性已经下降,这是一个孕育着希望的长期趋势,但人们似乎更快地拥有稳定的加密货币。在过去的几年里,我们看到稳定币得到了大量采用。

在某种程度上,这让银行和政府中更为普遍的“区块链而非比特币”心态找到了发泄的渠道,从摩根大通(JPMorgan)到中国,所有人都宣布将发行自家的稳定币。它还允许像Tether这样问题重重的项目在没有相应法币储备的情况下在交易所提供交易对,以及像Dai这样有加密货币支持的项目得到更多的采用。

Facebook的加密货币项目天秤座(Libra)几乎激起了美国首府所有人的愤怒,但随着中国加快人民币数字化步伐,全国大力发展和投资区块链技术,美国措手不及,正忙着想出自己的美元数字化方案。由中心财团创建的USD Coin(运用区块链技术发行的一种平准数字资产,与美金保持1:1等值,借助USC平台,用户可以随时在美金和USC之间进行双向兑换)已经成长为第二大的稳定币(仅次于Tether),我相信未来我们会看到USD Coin在美国更多的采用。

机构入场

十年伊始,加密货币还只是技术极客和早期采用者之间纯粹的“零售”活动,但到十年结束时,我们看到全球已经出现了一个明显的趋势:机构开始入场了。他们不一定是大型的传统机构(虽然他们似乎都有团队在探索加密货币),但数百个较小的加密基金得以创立 (有趣的事实:三大加密基金-- Paradigm、Polychain和A16Z都是由Coinbase的前雇员或董事会成员创建的)。我们还看到数百家机构客户加入Coinbase托管。在过去18个月里,Coinbase托管规模从0美元增至70亿美元,我们成为了全球最大的加密货币托管机构。

监管政策

这十年开始的时候,加密货币完全不受任何监管。Coinbase是(据我所知)第一家真正认真对待监管的加密公司,因为我们相信监管将促进加密货币的长期采用。从2013年左右开始,我们开始在美国申请汇款执照。从那以后,我们在欧洲获得了eMoney许可证,在纽约注册的Bitlicense,注册为FinCEN的MSB,并开始向其他机构申请其他的许可证。

我们每周都会与全球各地的多家监管机构进行交流。在这十年的尾巴上,我可以自信地说,加密货币行业是一个受到监管的行业(至少在第一世界国家是这样的),加密货币行业也将继续迅猛发展。在过去的十年中,针对加密货币是否会作为货币、商品、证券、财产或其他完全不同的事物来管理,全球展开了大量讨论。美国国税局(IRS)、美国证券交易委员会(SEC)、美国商品期货交易委员会(CFTC)、纽约期货交易所(NYDFS)、美国金融犯罪执法网络(FinCEN)等机构都曾发布过指导意见(这还只是在美国)。

新加坡、瑞士和开曼群岛的监管机构在加密货币方面都变得相当老练,并开始吸引优秀的初创公司在那里落户。事实证明,对于如何监管加密货币,各国没有统一的解决方案,因为加密货币的种类太多了!在某种程度上,每个人都已经意识到,我们几乎正在重建现有金融体系的方方面面,而这将需要许多不同类型的监管。

与此同时,加密货币更加去中心化的方面也继续快速发展,非托管钱包、DEXes、Defi去中心化金融和dapps(去中心化应用)的使用都在增加。虽然与法币和托管钱包相关的交易所可能会受到与传统金融系统类似的监管,但加密货币更加去中心化的领域可能需要一个全新的监管框架(理想情况下,总体监管越少,越有利于鼓励创新)。

总之,在过去的十年里,我们在加密行业是经历了一段艰难的旅程。我们见证了行业的起起伏伏,这是一个波动性及高的行业。我真的很自豪,Coinbase在这段时间保持财务健康,团队规模增加到了800多名员工,我们一起帮助建立基础设施,使行业继续增长。我们继续专注于产品的信任和易用性,相信这将有助于引入未来的一亿甚至10亿规模用户进入加密货币领域。没有我们出色的员工、董事会和投资者的帮助,我们不可能实现这一目标。

英文原文

What happened in crypto over the last decade

Brian Armstrong

Jan 3 · 8 min read

It was December of 2010 when I first read the Bitcoin whitepaper, while at home visiting my parents for the holidays.

As we wrap up the decade, here are my quick thoughts on how things have progressed.

Note: this post is inspired by Fred Wilson’s post for tech more broadly. Tomorrow I’ll post a follow up on what I see happening in crypto in the decade to come.

Bitcoin did not fail (as many predicted)

It’s easy to forget, but throughout much of the decade, it was a frequently debated question about whether Bitcoin would even survive. Maybe a flaw would be found in the protocol, maybe it would be outlawed, or maybe it would all go to zero since it had no intrinsic value (of course, we crypto folks were quick to point out that the dollar isn’t backed by anything either). There were over 379 articles written, prematurely declaring the end of Bitcoin. Not only did Bitcoin survive, it thrived, becoming the top performing asset of the decade. The naysayers were proved wrong and we learned an important lesson about human nature: most big breakthroughs are contrarian ideas that people dismiss and ridicule at the start.

Coinbase did not fail (as many predicted)

When I was thinking about starting Coinbase, a few people told me I was crazy to try creating a custodial crypto wallet and exchange. The best hackers in the world were trying to break into crypto exchanges, and MtGox along with many others had suffered breaches. Through a combination of luck and skill, Coinbase managed to weather the barrage of attacks, and created many novel methods of key storage which improved with every passing year. We made cryptocurrency easier to use in the process and introduced tens of millions of new people to this new technology. This allowed us to build a cash flow positive company with 800 employees, weather the ups and downs of the crypto markets, and continue to invest in new products to help the ecosystem grow. For people who want to store their own keys, we even launched Coinbase Wallet as a non-custodial wallet as well, continuing to focus on trust and ease of use.

Factions and civil war

For a new industry, there was a lot of infighting as protocol changes were debated and new coins were launched (via fork, or entirely new projects). Many groups became radicalized, and splintered off into their own echo chamber. I believe what made this more vitriolic than other technology debates I’ve seen (emacs vs vim, iOS vs Android, etc) is that once people own a particular coin they have an inherent conflict of interest and emotions take over. We stop trying to seek the truth, and start talking our own book. On the plus side, having a number of competing groups drove a lot of innovation vs having a monoculture or a one coin monopoly. The race is still very much on to see which blockchains will reach the next 100M or 1B users, and I would expect cryptocurrency to eventually see some consolidation, following a similar path to other industries.

Bubbles (and crashes)

The industry went through a period of five bubbles, followed each time by a crash (settling at a higher point than the previous low). In other words, the industry kept growing in an upward channel, but it was a very bumpy ride. This meant that a lot of the discussion and media attention was on the price of crypto, and the day trading attracted short term thinking that bordered at times on gambling. At the same time, investors who took a long term approach (for example, by dollar cost averaging into a position over multiple years) saw incredible returns. Bitcoin was the highest performing asset of the decade, beating out even the top unicorns, growing to more than $100B in market cap. By the end of the decade, it became common place for astute investors to hold 1–10% of their net worth in cryptocurrency, as part of a diversified portfolio.

Apps took longer than we thought

When I first read about Bitcoin, I figured what it would be no more than five years before we started to see real world utility take off (after the initial investment/speculation phase). Dapps started off seeing little initial usage, outside of small exceptions like CryptoKitties, until just the last year or so with Defi starting to really grow. This was primarily due to scalability issues, volatility, scripting language limitations of the blockchains, and usability issues with the consumer products. Defi seems to be one use case that has worked, even at the limited scale of today’s blockchains, because borrowing and lending requires lower transaction throughput versus say a game or social network. In terms of merchant acceptance, Coinbase made major investments here, along with BitPay, signing up merchants like Overstock.com, Dell, Expedia, Microsoft, Reddit, and Wikipedia. But the actual volume started off much smaller than many merchants imagined (it has continued to steadily grow each year though). This meant that trading and speculation were the predominant use case for crypto in the past decade, and the utility phase took longer than many expected.

ICOs

We saw how much latent demand there was for startups to raise money from unaccredited investors when the Initial Coin Offering boom kicked off. All the previous crowd-funding records were obliterated, and now 8 out of the top 10 largest crowdfunding projects of all time are crypto related. The ICO trend attracted the ire and attention of the SEC, who slowly but surely started making enforcement actions in the space. A debate raged on about which crypto tokens were securities, and which weren’t. Organizations like the CryptoRatingCouncil (CRC) came out, with industry participation, to start to provide clarity. Finally, as often happens with startups that raise too much money, it can actually harm the company. Many ICO projects failed to ship real world products while sitting on huge piles of cash (some of them began to resemble investment firms over time, rather than real product companies).

Exchanges captured most of the value

Perhaps with the exceptions of the protocols themselves, the best business models in the past decade in crypto tended to be exchanges and brokerages who sold shovels during the gold rush to trade this new asset class. Some crypto miners had decent outcomes as well, but the volatility of crypto prices made it very difficult for them to survive the whims of the market. A large number of high quality teams and startups entered the space in the past few years, and there is a lot of venture capital money still flowing into crypto startups (our own small fund, Coinbase Ventures, has invested in 60 crypto startups in the last few years, for instance).

Stablecoins

One of the challenges holding crypto adoption back (in addition to scalability and usability) was volatility. While volatility is great for investors/speculators, it isn’t great for people who want to use it as a medium of exchange. Bitcoin volatility has trended down over time, which is a promising long term trend, but it seems people want stable cryptocurrencies sooner. Stablecoins saw a lot of adoption in the past few years. In part, this allowed the “blockchain not bitcoin” mindset that is more common amongst banks and governments, to find an outlet, with everyone from JPMorgan to China announcing efforts to launch stablecoins. It also allowed questionable stablecoins like Tether to provide trading pairs on exchanges without fiat rails, and crypto backed stablecoins like Dai to see increased adoption. Facebook’s Libra sparked the ire of just about everyone in DC, but with China doubling down on its efforts to digitize the Yuan and invest blockchain technology, the U.S. was caught flat footed and is scrambling to come up with their own approach to digitize the dollar. USD Coin, created by the CENTRE consortium, which is backed one-to-one by a dollar in a U.S. bank account, has grown to become the second largest stablecoin (after Tether) and I believe is likely to see increased adoption in the U.S.

Institutions

Crypto started the decade with purely retail activity amongst hobbyists and early adopters, but by the end of the decade there was a clear trend of institutions starting to come on board. Not necessarily the large traditional institutions, although they all seem to have teams who are exploring it, but hundreds of smaller crypto forward institutions. A couple hundred “crypto funds” were created (fun fact: the big three, Paradigm, Polychain, and A16Z Crypto, were all founded by former Coinbase employees or board members). We also saw hundreds of institutional clients onboard to Coinbase Custody, which grew from $0 to $7B AUM in the last 18 months, making it the largest crypto custodian in the world for institutions.

Regulation

The decade started off with cryptocurrency being totally unregulated. Coinbase was (as far as I know) the first crypto company to really take regulation seriously because we felt it would increase adoption long term. We started applying for money transmitter licenses in the U.S. starting around 2013. From there, we got an eMoney license in Europe, the Bitlicense in NY, registered as an MSB with FinCEN, and started pursuing additional licenses with other agencies. We have interactions with multiple regulators, all over the world, every week at this point, seeking to be an educational resource. At the close of this decade, I can confidently say that that cryptocurrency is a regulated industry (at least in first world countries), although it will continue to evolve rapidly. During this past decade, there was a big open question about whether crypto would be regulated as a currency, commodity, security, property, or something else entirely. As various times, the IRS, SEC, CFTC, NYDFS, FinCEN, and others all put out guidance (and this was just in the U.S.). Regulators in Singapore, Switzerland, and the Caymans all became quite sophisticated on crypto, and started to attract great startups to incorporate there. As it turned out, there was no one solution to how cryptocurrency was going to be regulated, because there were so many different types of cryptocurrencies! At some point, everyone realized we were recreating just about every portion of the existing financial system, and this would require many different types of regulators. At the same time, the more decentralized aspects of cryptocurrency have continued to evolve quickly, with non-custodial wallets, DEXes, Defi, and dapps seeing increased usage. While exchanges with fiat rails and custodial wallets will likely be regulated similar to traditional financial system, the more decentralized aspects of cryptocurrency will likely require a totally new regulatory framework (ideally with much less regulation overall that will lead to increased innovation).

Overall, being in the crypto industry was a hell of a ride in the past decade. There were a number of ups and downs, and it was a very volatile industry to manage through. I’m really proud that Coinbase has stayed financially healthy during this period, growing to more than 800 employees, and has helped build the infrastructure to enable the industry to keep growing. We’ve continued to focus on trust and ease of use with all of our products, believing this will help bring in the next 100M and then 1B users to cryptocurrency. We could not have done it without the help of our incredible employees, board, and investors who poured their heart into making it happen.

Tomorrow, I’ll make a post looking ahead to what we can expect in crypto in the decade to come.

(原文:https://medium.com/m/global-identity?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fblog.coinbase.com%2Fwhat-happened-in-crypto-over-the-last-decade-ee6a2552d630


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