//A Week of Crypto in San Francisco

A Week of Crypto in San Francisco

It was a busy week across San Francisco last week as developers and industry participants from around the world came together for a series of crypto events. From hackathons to developer meetups to investor conferences, it was a time to catch up on the latest in crypto, hack new products, and push the boundaries of blockchain innovation. At Coinbase, we were excited to see everyone in our hometown and had a great time participating in a number of interesting discussions. Here’s a quick look at what transpired.

ETHSanFrancisco Hackathon

As a product-driven company, we know how important hackathons are to innovation. (In case you missed it, we even hosted our own internal Coinbase hackathon last month.) ETHSanFrancisco was the latest in a series of very successful hackathons organized by ETHGlobal. The weekend of October 5, more than a thousand engineers came together at the Palace of Fine Arts to hack together all sorts of dapps, on a range of use cases from games and digital collectibles to money transfer and financial services.

Photo credit: Christopher Lee, ETHSanFrancisco

The event started with a fireside chat between Vitalik Buterin, one of the creators of Ethereum, and Coinbase Chief Technology Officer, Balaji Srinivasan. Moderated by ETHGlobal’s Kartik Talwar, it covered a wide range of thought-provoking topics about the current and future states of blockchains and user applications. If you weren’t able to attend in person, check out the video here.

Lots of hackers attended the fireside chat between Coinbase CTO, Balaji Srinivasan, and one of Ethereum’s creators, Vitalik Buterin. Photo credit: Christopher Lee, ETHSanFrancisco

Immediately after the opening remarks, with energy high and ideas flowing, the hackers got to work. In small teams, they put their heads together late into the night, building new solutions for tough challenges. The next morning kicked off with a panel called “Building an Open Financial System” that included some of the space’s most ambitious projects: 0x Project (exchange protocol), Dharma (debt protocol), Compound Finance (money markets protocol) and MakerDAO (stablecoin), moderated by Coinbase Wallet’s Product Lead, Sid Coelho-Prabhu. These crypto-entrepreneurs reflected on the opportunities and challenges of building a decentralized and interoperable financial system. You can watch the panel here.

Open Financial System Panel (L-R): Nadav Hollander (Dharma Protocol), Andy Milenius (MakerDAO), Will Warren (0x Protocol), Robert Leshner (Compound), Sid Coelho-Prabhu (Coinbase Wallet)
Photo credit:
Christopher Lee, ETHSanFrancisco

By the end of the hackathon, more than 120 brand new products were built on the Ethereum blockchain using various protocols and tools. It’s always inspiring to see what talented and passionate developers can accomplish in just 48 hours. Some of our favorites were:

  • SayToshi — the dapp lets anyone monetize their social media platforms by allowing others to pay them in cryptocurrency to post on behalf of them. It won both the Coinbase Wallet prize and the EthSF prize.
  • AugurPro — Augur is a protocol that allows anyone to create and participate in prediction markets, and AugurPro is a mobile native interface to easily use the protocol. It received one of the EthSF prizes.
  • Primotif — this project was hacked by Coinbase engineers Carl Cortright and Tyson Battistella, as well as one of our summer interns, Murat Firat. It allows anyone in the world to get exposure to major financial products such as the S&P500. It’s an exciting use case and was built by combining four different financial protocols, a trend we’re starting to see more and more. It received one of the 0x Project prizes.
  • Gifty:// — this project won one of the EthSF prizes and was also hacked by Coinbase engineers, Andrew Gold and Alex Kern! Digital collectibles are another exciting use case for blockchains, and with gifty://, you can send one of these collectibles to a friend with just a text message—even if they’ve never heard of crypto!

Overall, the hackathon left us ever more excited about the pace of innovation in crypto and the new, open financial system we’re all building. Thank you ETHGlobal, and all the volunteers, organizers, and participants, for organizing another hugely successful hackathon! For a closer look at all the projects submitted, check out the full list here.

SF Blockchain Week

The ETHSanFrancisco hackathon was just one of several events happening throughout the week in San Francisco. The increasing demand to learn and contribute more to the space resulted in the organization of the first SF Blockchain Week, along with numerous other events put together by teams building in the space.

Coinbase kicked off the week with a keynote speech from our CTO Balaji Srinivasan. He opened with a simple definition of a blockchain–a database for storing things of value–and continued on to highlight ways that blockchains are already creating value and utility at 10x improvements from current systems. One example was Bitcoin being infinitely lighter than gold. It’s faster to transport internationally and cheaper to custody. He also went into more detail about how Coinbase is bridging the investment and utility phases through projects like Earn.com where senders pay users in crypto to reply to emails and complete tasks.

Photo credit: Lumeos

Throughout the rest of last week, Coinbase participated in a number of panels. Sam McIngvale, General Manager of Coinbase Custody, discussed the importance of institutional-grade features such as security and auditability in crypto custody with other industry notables. Reuben Bramanathan shared some thoughts about how liquidity is developing in crypto markets and what that means for the maturation of the asset class. Ada Yeo, Product Manager at Earn.com, joined a panel on the future of the token economy and the intersection of blockchain, crypto assets, and the decentralized web.

Coinbase Wallet also participated in the first DeFi Summit that took place with more than 150 attendees that are building pieces of a decentralized finance. Each interactive workshop gave a platform to specific building blocks of open finance, from security tokens to financial access in emerging markets. Coinbase Wallet’s Sid Coelho-Prabhu and Emre Tekisalp led a session exploring how consumers will access these new financial services via wallets.

A few pictures from the DeFi Summit panels and the “Wallets as the Gateway” workshop

We also hosted a “Meet the Coinbase Design Team” panel at Coinbase headquarters, attended by over 60 designers interested in the crypto space. The panel focused on the unique design challenges in crypto and how we’re tackling them. As Connie Yang, our Director of Design, has articulated very well: design is the killer app for crypto. To reach a billion users, every aspect of cryptocurrency will need simple, intuitive, beautiful interfaces that work for people of all backgrounds and abilities.

Coinbase design team (L-R): Connie Yang (Director of Design), Val Klump (Content Strategist), Sarah Gregory (User Research Lead), Jayson Hobby (Design Manager), Matt Storus (Design Manager)

Crypto is about building, together

At Coinbase, we have our sights set on a future where anyone with an internet connection can participate in the global financial system on equal footing. And this week in San Francisco, we saw first-hand the innovative builders and creators driving this movement. Together we’re all building an open financial system for the world. Big thank you to everyone who made this past week a success, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

If you’re as energized about this new financial future as we are, come help us build it. We have openings across the board, so be sure to check out our open positions.

Software Engineer interested in the power of the Internet to leverage human activities including Money management, growth and trading.