If you are into web3, the biggest news of the week in tech was not the massive Figma-Adobe deal. No, the leading story of the last few days — arguably even the last few weeks — has been the Ethereum Merge.
The Merge, an upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain that moved it from a proof of work (PoW) to a proof of stake (PoS) system of consensus was a long-awaited shift that finally took place this week. And as the change in technology is expected to reduce the carbon footprint of the popular blockchain by ~99%, we had lots to get into.
But we didn’t just want to riff on the startup angle, or the web3 perspective, because the Merge had huge implications for crypto as an industry and its place in the world of emerging tech. That’s why we got together our startup and blockchain podcast teams for a collab episode to hit both angles: Anita and Jacquie from Chain Reaction, and Natasha and Alex from Equity. This also gave us a 50-50 TechCrunch-TechCrunch+ split, which was good fun.
We started by setting the scene with how the anticipation around this monumental event in web3 has affected token prices and dug into what factors had been fueling optimism. Then we broke down the mechanics behind why proof-of-stake is greener, but may be less decentralized than proof-of-work (though each us had different takes on whether that’s a fair assessment).
Pulling off the Merge was an event requiring such technical coordination and rigor that it’s been compared to the moon landing. Now that it’s happened, what will be the impacts on web3 startups? What about the rest of the tech industry, or large financial institutions, or Chinese crypto miners? We walked through all these questions and more, trying to address both what the Merge is and why it matters through as holistic a lens as possible.
Just as there are tons of different stakeholders affected by the Merge, who all think differently, so do we. This episode had lots of back-and-forth as the team unpacked some quirky pieces of crypto jargon like the term “baker” and what it means in a proof-of-stake ecosystem as well as the timeline of what comes after the Merge, which includes the Surge, Verge, Purge and Splurge. No joke — we explain what those mean in this episode.
We’ll do more of this sort of thing as time goes along, thanks to some welcome resource bumps to our production crew (huge shoutout to Grace, Theresa and Maggie).