Chain Reaction

Here’s what you need to know about Coinbase’s Base public mainnet launch and its “Onchain Summer” (w/ Jesse Pollak)

Episode Summary

For this week’s news episode, Jacquelyn sits down with Jesse Pollak, lead for Base and head of protocols at Coinbase. You might remember him from an interview we did with him back in April. Coinbase, which is the second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, launched Base, an Ethereum-focused layer-2 (L2) blockchain, in February. The platform was in testnet, which is a test phase of the blockchain network, until mid-July when it launched its mainnet, the fully live version of a blockchain on the main network (hence the name: mainnet), to developers. Next week, Base is officially launching its mainnet to the public on August 9th, alongside its “Onchain Summer” initiative. We dive into what’s going on, why it matters, where Pollak sees Base going in the future and why he’s keeping an eye on the bigger layer-2 ecosystem.

Episode Notes

Welcome to Chain Reaction. 

A podcast that unpacks and dives deep into the latest trends, drama and news in crypto with some of the biggest names in the industry to break things down block by block for the crypto curious. 

For this week’s news episode, Jacquelyn sits down with Jesse Pollak, lead for Base and head of protocols at Coinbase. You might remember him from an interview we did with him back in April. 

Coinbase, which is the second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, launched Base, an Ethereum-focused layer-2 (L2) blockchain, in February. The platform was in testnet, which is a test phase of the blockchain network, until mid-July when it launched its mainnet, the fully live version of a blockchain on the main network (hence the name: mainnet), to developers

Next week, Base is officially launching its mainnet to the public on August 9th, alongside its “Onchain Summer” initiative. 

We dive into what’s going on, why it matters, where Pollak sees Base going in the future and why he’s keeping an eye on the bigger layer-2 ecosystem.

Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on  Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.

Episode Transcription

Jacquelyn Melinek  0:01  

Hey everyone, its Jacqueline melanic Welcome to chain reaction, a show that unpacks and dives deep into the latest trends, drama and news with some of the biggest names in crypto breaking things down block by block for the crypto curious. So this week, I'm super excited because this is the start of our new news segment where on alternating weeks from our interview series, we bring on guests to talk about some of the biggest crypto news stories of the week. As always, there's a ton of news transpiring in the web three world. Earlier this week, we saw curved finances $62 million exploit happen. The SEC Sue Richard Hart and his projects hex pulls chain and pull sacks for alleged fraud and security violations and other things like mean coins pumping and dumping. But today we're focusing on basis latest announcements with guest Jesse Pollack, who is the leader for bass and head of protocols at Coinbase. You might remember Jessie from an interview we did back in April where we dove into all things bass related. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you could go check it out, we'll put it in the show notes for you. But coin base, which is the second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, launched bass and Aetherium focus layer to blockchain in February of this year. I know I'm talking a lot, but we will get to this. In the past Coinbase definitely focused on the trading and exchange side of its business but has since grown from the utility perspective and an effort to help devs build in the crypto ecosystem. In my opinion, the launch of bass is also an effort by Coinbase to dive deeper into the developer space and make it easier for devs to build daps. And for users to now access them through coin bases suite of products. Enough of that because we are here to talk about the news of the day. So I'll start by sharing that base, which was operating in a test net phase from February until mid July, when its mainnet launch for devs happened is now going to go live to the public. Next Wednesday on August 9, I'll make sure I got that date, right for its full mainnet launch. I feel like that is the longest monologue I have ever given on chain reaction. But we have Jesse here to talk about the news. So Jesse Hey, welcome back.


Speaker 2  2:07  

Thanks for having me. Super excited to be here and super excited to be opening up base for the world.


Jacquelyn Melinek  2:12  

Yeah. So how did this man at launch date come about?


Speaker 2  2:15  

Yeah. So we, as we kind of have been bringing base to market have tried to be really intentional and deliberate and measured in our approach, you know, as a open Ethereum blockchain incubating inside of large public company, I think we wanted to show the world that this could be done. And that could be done in a really thoughtful way. So we took a few steps. As part of that process, we obviously opened up our test net in February, it earlier in July, we opened up what we called our builder only phase, which was where we really just focused on builders and developers and making sure that they could get their applications live on base. And then on August 9, we're opening a base for everyone. And that's going to be this moment where we all kind of come together, we have all these applications that have been deployed over the last month, and we get to really see a live vibrant ecosystem where Coinbase users can start to come in and where users from across the world can start to come in and really see and experience the power of this new on chain platform that exists. So we're super excited about it. There's a ton of builders and folks who have been creating incredible applications, I think folks are gonna love and couldn't be more excited to be here to talk about with you.


Jacquelyn Melinek  3:19  

Awesome. So what have you learned from the test net phase and the builder phase that has allowed base to move forward into this last launch period, opening it up to all the users


Speaker 2  3:28  

during the testing phase, it was really about just kind of building that operational muscle, making sure that we were there from a security perspective, from a reliability perspective, we did a number of different audits of the base code base, those layered on other audits that other folks had done to the underlying code base. And that was just to increase security. We're actually about to publish the final findings of those, all of our audits turned up nothing. That sketch is what you want. When you're bringing a network in production. In the builder phase, it was really about supporting builders, so is giving hands on support, making sure they have the tools, they need things that the infrastructure they needed on chain to build their applications was there, you're one of the learnings there is that it's it's really incremental, the blockchain base is kind of at the bottom of the stack. But then there's other layers that kind of gradually have to be built, you know, you have to have the oracles. You have to have the security software, you have to have the deployment software, you have to have the multisig so that people can deploy their protocols. And so kind of what's happened over the last few weeks is week over week, we've had more of those tools and systems Live, which has enabled more of those applications to deploy. I think we kind of reached a point where we thought, hey, like there's a critical mass. Now let's turn on this thing for everyone. And so we're doing that next Wednesday, tomorrow, because we're talking the day before this. We're actually opening up what we're seeing as a middle step, which is opening base for bridging that will allow everyday people to kind of start bringing in some funds into really cool NFT just to kind of commemorate them being early and get their first taste of bass. So by the time we get to the ninth when we're doing the full open main net launch there Ready to go. And they can interact with all the incredible apps that are gonna be live that day.


Jacquelyn Melinek  5:03  

Right? And bases, blog posts also mentions it's on chain summer collaboration. Do you want to kind of explain how this plays into this? And what are some of the brands or things that we should expect coming from it?


Speaker 2  5:15  

Yeah. So as we were thinking about kind of how we wanted to bring bass into the world, what we started seeing kind of organically over the last few months is that on chain activity has really started growing. If you look at the number of transactions on Ethereum, layer two, those have been growing really, really quickly. If you look at the use cases that people are starting to build from on chain media, to on chain music, to on chain food to on chain games, like just in the last six to nine months, I think that that the breadth and diversity of use cases has really started to be mind boggling. And those stand alongside all the things you might expect, like payments with Stable coins and messaging, which which Coinbase has recently really gotten into. And so as we were bringing based v net, I think the opportunity that we saw was to help tell that story. Basically say, Hey, folks have thought about crypto for the last decade is this thing that is speculative and financial, and like technical and scary, but really recently that's shifted. And now crypto is fun. And it's engaging. And it's like consumer products that you know, and love, that are built on this incredibly new powerful platform where you're in control and where you own your own assets, you own your own destiny. And so that's really the story of on chain summer. And we were really excited to see that a lot of other people wanted to come and tell that story with us. And so that includes kind of the big brands like Coke and Atari, who I think are kind of at the forefront of on chain adoption. It also includes a bunch of kind of unchained native crypto folks, the Fw B's, the Zara, the manifold, the showtimes, you know, really all coming together to say, hey, here's what's possible. Two other ones I'm really excited about Blackbird. I don't know if you've heard about them, but they're building fully restaurant loyalty products, all on chain built by the founder of eater and resi, growing really fast and cities across the country today. And then parallel who's built kind of incredible triple A game. And it's also kind of building on base. And so what we've done is we've basically brought all those folks together, who said, Hey, Every Day in August, starting on the ninth, that's tell one story that's tell the story of how this product or experience or artist or creator, or business or brand is coming on chain, why they're coming on chain, and how an everyday person can interact with that and how it can actually make their life better how it can brighten their summer. That's the story of on chain summer. That's what we're doing.


Jacquelyn Melinek  7:36  

There we go. Okay, yeah. For me, when I see companies like Coca Cola, and Atari getting into this, I think immediately of like, oh, this will be something that non crypto native people can understand. And then when I see things like open sea and other web three companies also getting into this, I'm like, Great, this will also expand the crypto ecosystem. Another question I had for you on that front, Jesse with the launch the main net, launch the major one and then also on chain summer. Why do you and your you work for Coinbase and base? So of course, this is gonna be, you know, a positive spin. But why does this news matter? And what does it mean for the bigger crypto ecosystem? If we take a step away from base slash Coinbase. And look at everything else?


Speaker 2  8:18  

Yeah. On trade summer is not just about basing coin base and these 50 people who are building it on chain summer is about recognizing that we are in an inflection point in the adoption of this new platform that is on chain that's transforming the Internet as we know it, and saying, It's time for all of us to kind of push through that inflection point. And guess the other side where we start to see week over week, month over month growth of really, really powerful use cases that are going to bring us to the next generation of our world. And so in terms of what this means, I think it means that the time is now you have Coinbase coming in, and bass coming in and saying, Hey, we're gonna throw all of our weight, all of our resources, all of our messaging, all of our marketing behind telling this story of Unchained, and that story is bigger than just us. It's bigger than just base. It's bigger than just a theory. It's about all of the people in the crypto industry who are building the future. And it's about lifting them up and saying the technology is finally ready. It's finally ready for real experiences that have real positive impact on people's lives. And now we just need to bring it to the rest of the world. So this summer is when it's starting. It's on chain summer, but it's going to go from here. Over the next five years, I expect that we'll go from having, you know, low 10 million folks on chain to having literally a billion plus people on chain. And that's gonna be driven by not the speculation that has kind of defined crypto over the last decade. Instead, real utility, real things to do real things that make people's lives better, and help them have fun because at the end of the day, that's what people are here for.


Jacquelyn Melinek  9:51  

Speaking of having fun, I feel like you know, the crypto space has had a little bit of fun this past week, even before launching base to the public beta A ton of trading volume thanks to a meme coin, you probably know what I'm going to say bald, surging on bases chain, among other things. In the past 24 hours base had over 700,000 transactions according to Dex screener transactions at the time of recording. We're recording this on Wednesday, as Jesse mentioned. So what would you say in response to all that attraction and growth? And is bass going to try and veer away from that? Or does it welcome this as like another form of, hey, this is what the crypto community wants to create on base and we can't stop them?


Speaker 2  10:32  

Yeah, when I woke up on Sunday morning, and suddenly that was happening, right? My first reaction was like, this is crypto, of course, this is happening like was this in our plans? Absolutely not. Right, like we've been focused on builders. And that's really who we remain focused on. We're focused on folks who are building useful applications on chain that are going to increase economic freedom and bring joy in people's lives. But because base is an open permissionless ecosystem, you're gonna see people build all sorts of things. And that's okay. That's the beauty of crypto. The beauty of crypto is that it is an open decentralized platform where you can see anyone anywhere in the world operate a level playing field to create, it's definitely been a little bit of a shift from what we were expecting. But we're excited to see it. We're excited to see all of the other applications start to stand up alongside some of this activity that's starting to happen organically. And we're excited to enter on chain summer where I think folks are going to be more and more focused on again, that real world utility, the fun things that you can do on chain that are gonna bring kind of the next billion people into this incredibly powerful platform ecosystem.


Jacquelyn Melinek  11:39  

Awesome. All right, we're going to take a quick break but I'll be back to hear from Jesse what's next for bass


and we are back So Jesse, I've got to ask with all of this going on. What's next for bass on chain summer, the whole shebang? And how do you see more players getting into this beyond those first 50 Plus,


Speaker 2  12:04  

yeah, what's next for bass again, we're opening up for bridging today. That means that Coinbase and Coinbase wallet on mint dot fun on Galaxy on layer three, there's a ton of different ways that you can get your first eath on base, you can mint the commemorative bridge to base NFT and be ready for on chain summer on August Nights. On August 9, come back, celebrate day one of on chain summer and then come back every day through the end of August to do one cool fun thing on chain that ranges from minting media or art to minting food to minting games to minting an advocacy shield to minting a local community currency. Literally, there's going to be 25 Different incredibly cool things that you can do on chain. And the only way to do it is to come to on chain, some of that are fuzzy, the thing that will say about that is we really see that as kind of the starting point of on chain summer and the starting point of what's going to be an ecosystem that, you know, no single organization can control and no single organization can dictate. And so we're doing a bunch of things to kind of get that decentralized ethos started, we have 100 eath grant program that's going to be running in collaboration with an organization called prop house. There's grants for building cool on chain some of our products, there's grants for just building on base, there's grants for experimenting with account abstraction, which is this really powerful way of kind of improving the usability of wallets. And then we also have a really cool grant for standard crypto, where you can make a one minute video about how crypto has changed your life or how Kryptos helping you and your family and earn, you know, eath for making that will pick the top 10. And so I think our vision, and really what we're excited about is that the vibrancy of all of crypto is gonna shine through this summer, and that everyone's gonna come together and say, wow, like this is this inflection point, whether it's on base or elsewhere, like let's throw our chips in. And let's do whatever we can to bring the world on chain and to start this kind of up curve of week over week, month over month growth that will not stop until literally every single person who's on the internet is on chain.


Jacquelyn Melinek  14:11  

Right? Do you kind of see this as accessible to mainstream audiences to start? Or is it more for people who understand crypto and how to use it?


Speaker 2  14:19  

Absolutely accessible to mainstream audiences? And that's, I think the the goal of base and Coinbase it's about how do we make this stuff so easy that anyone can do it? And you know, is it gonna be perfect to summer? Absolutely not, right? Like there's gonna be things that are broken, there's gonna be confusing experiences. But I think we're really finally at the point where because we now have low cost chains like this, and we have much better wallet experiences like Coinbase and Coinbase wallet. We have this next generation of apps that are being built on chain. Those three things are basically combining to create experiences that are accessible, not just accessible, but like worth it for everyday people. That's really it feels like a special Amen. And you know, it will require more iteration. But I'm excited to get started. I'm excited to get this stuff in the hands of people. I'm excited to get feedback. And I'm excited to grow it and make more people's lives better.


Jacquelyn Melinek  15:10  

All right, there we go, Jesse to wrap things up. What other news or trends are you following that you think we should be watching as well,


Speaker 2  15:18  

I'd say probably the biggest trend that I'm following is just the rise of Aetherium, layer two, basis, one Aetherium, layer two, you know, just last week, we've kind of gotten to top 10 layer twos by TPL. And you know, top five, that by activity, just as we've started launching, that's really exciting to see, obviously, but we're just one. But if you look at the growth of layer two over the last one to two years, it is probably the most consistent up into the right chart that I've seen in crypto ever. And what that's reflective of is we finally have the right platform to build this next generation of applications. And it's gonna be a decentralized platform that's running on Aetherium. That kind of turns over time into the super chain vision, I think we have where many layer twos work together to scale Aetherium, and to bring the entire world on chain. And so I honestly just feel really grateful to get to be a part of that and get to contribute to that and get to help kind of marshal resources from Coinbase. To make that happen. It's such an incredible team effort of people across the industry who are working together to figure out how to scale this technology to make it accessible to everyone. So that's the thing I'm most excited about.


Jacquelyn Melinek  16:25  

All right, layer twos Ethereum layer twos. That is all right, Jesse, thank you again for coming on. And thank you to everyone for listening in.


We'll be back next week with conversations around what's going on in the wild worlds of web three with top players in the crypto ecosystem. You could keep up with us on Spotify, Apple Music or your favorite pod platform and subscribe to our companion newsletter, also called chain reaction. Links to the newsletter and stories we talked about can be found in our show notes. And be sure to follow us at chain underscore reaction on Twitter. Chain Reaction is hosted by myself Jacqueline melanic, and produced by Maggie Stamets with assistance from Nishad qu carne and editing by Cal Brice Durbin is our Illustrator and Henry pics that manages TechCrunch audio products. Thanks for listening in. See you next time.


Transcribed by