CARDANO (ADA)–Speaking in a recent, published visit with Google’s London Office, the team behind Cardano’s ADA project stirred up a fair bit of speculation over whether the currency was in talks for a potential partnership with the search engine giant. Lost in most of the conversation over Google teaming up with Cardano was Charles Hoskinson’s response to a question posed during the visit:
Q. How will Cardano overcome the first-mover advantage of Ethereum?
The IOHK and Cardano founder has had an interesting past with the current #2 cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Charles Hoskinson was one of the original co-founders of Ethereum, alongside now leading figure Vitalik Buterin, before a series of disputes led Hoskinson to leave the project. The move was not all doom and gloom for the world of cryptocurrency or Ethereum’s former co-founder: Hoskinson went on to found IOHK (Inside Outside Hong Kong), the parent company behind the Cardano Project and currency ADA. Given his long history in the industry of cryptocurrency (Hoskinson created a digital school for Bitcoin in 2013 where he first met Vitalik Buterin), the move of having co-founded two top ten currencies has been worth about 500-600 million USD as estimated by Forbes.
It is becoming more evident that Cardano’s ultimate competitor in the cryptospace, at least given the current landscape, will be Ethereum and it’s predilection for Dapps, smart contracts and network driven growth.
Proponents of Bitcoin have long used the first-mover advantage of BTC as justification for the cryptocurrency offering the most long term potential over competition. Given the length of time that Bitcoin has existed in the market, as the genesis coin in the modern landscape of cryptocurrencies, it holds widespread recognition, near-household name branding, and a large degree of interest that draws developers, investors and merchant adopters. However, as the space of cryptocurrency grows beyond sole transacting currencies into the realm of complexity introduced by smart contracts, Dapps, and crypto-fueled networks, it becomes a more murky landscape over which currency offers the most advantage.
However, Hoskinson gives several reasons for why Cardano is in prime position to compete and overcome Ethereum, despite being later to the market. The first is Ethereum’s accessibility through written code, a feature that Cardano is attempting to capitalize on through its use of Ethereum’s Virtual Machine (EVM) and partnership with the University of Illinois,
So how many Java, C++ or Go developers are writing code on Ethereum? You can’t, Ethereum doesn’t support any of these languages. They can’t even run a single viral app on the platform. If you look at the top 10 languages, none of them works on the system, so, by definition, all those developers aren’t developing for the system, they have to go and learn new tools and new stuff. With Cardano, first off, we’re backward-compatible, 100%, we’re running an EVM. So you can take your Solidity code and your Web 3 stuff and all the things you’ve come to know and love about Ethereum, and you can run it on my system, and it’s faster, cheaper and safer to run it on my system because we have a better consensus model.
Hoskinson also expands on the nature of adoption, particularly from a developer’s standpoint, that supersedes specific loyalty to technology in an effort to find the cheapest, most efficient option,
it’s silly to say, ‘Oh well, only one platform and one token’s won’, it’s akin to saying Internet Explorer’s won and we all have to be Active X developers, god help us. I’m not loyal to IE, or Amazon Web Services. Rather, I have to ask, what’s the cheapest, best, most secure environment for me to run my computation in for my users? Our strategy is be backwards compatible, support more languages, especially mainstream languages in a better way, have a better user and developer experience, and be smarter about the ecosystem in which these contracts live. So we make it easier for the server to come into play, to use multiple ledgers and have a good app platform to deploy these types of things on, and we’ll definitely get a lot of growth there.
In addition, Hoskinson finds fault with the nature of the initial question, and argues that, while Ethereum has managed to capture a fairly large amount of the investor share in cryptocurrency, the actual adoption of smart contracts is a field yet to be tapped into,
The other thing is that very few people today write smart contracts. They play with these things, but very few people are smart contract developers. If 99% of developers aren’t in the ecosystem, how can you say a person has first-mover advantage? It’s nuts.
As some community members have pointed out, the idea of one currency gaining “advantage” over another is trivial in the open-source, decentralized atmosphere of cryptocurrency. Sure, a currency can implement superior technology or advantage over a rival currency, but then that antagonizing coin is free to take and do the same. While that’s not to downplay the difficulty of implementing new technology and protocol into an existing framework, it does show the power of decentralization in bringing out the best in organizations–by allowing them to freely compete and build off the back of other breakthroughs.
Branding will hold as much weight for cryptocurrencies in the growing landscape as the underlying technology. But anyone in the cryptospace, from Buterin to Hoskinson, likely realizes that, although the industry is littered with dead and dying projects, there is enough room for multiple currencies to exist. You can have a Mac and a PC, with investors and developers gravitating towards what fits their needs. The race for adoption, particularly by household name companies, will likely be one that takes into consideration brand-power. But all it takes is the innovation and excitement driven by one revolutionary product to flip the conception of ‘which currency is best’ on its head.
Think of the ongoing war between smart phone manufacturers. Some iterations provide greater advantage over the competition, with the constant tug-of-war ultimately to the benefit of users looking for the best phone–assuming they don’t blindly get lost in brand loyalty. When the appreciation of cryptocurrency and significant profit to be made is squeezed out of the industry, the real focus will turn to which currencies offer the most advantage. This should allow for enough diversity that intention and effort provide the greatest reward, as opposed to encouraging speculation.
You can read the entire interview between the Cardano and Google teams on IOHK’s blog.