September 16th, 2022

By Sam Rosenblum

tl;dr – the Ethereum merge is a historic milestone for the crypto ecosystem and a good reminder that core infrastructure is still in an early development phase; the full crypto tech stack will continue to evolve in parallel for a long time to come.

The merge took place late last night (PT), marking the transition of Ethereum from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake consensus. It was the culmination of years of work among participants in a decentralized ecosystem: research by the Ethereum Foundation, software implementation and refinement by individual contributors from around the world, and coordination among a global set of independent validators all motivated by the greater good and economic self interest.

For Ethereum, this was nothing short of a historic accomplishment. The core processing unit of a globally open, distributed network was seamlessly upgraded without downtime, while supporting hundreds of billions of dollars in value. It also represents a key milestone towards the intended end state of the protocol. With several major upgrades now behind us, we stand roughly at the halfway point of Ethereum’s current engineering roadmap.

September 13th, 2022

By Breck Stodghill

Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) are an exceptionally powerful method of cryptography that will have far reaching applications as infrastructure for the new internet. ZKPs enable an entity (the prover) to verifiably demonstrate to another entity (the verifier) that some computation took place without revealing certain underlying data or requiring the verifier to execute the computation. With this property in mind ZKPs are an incredibly promising class of technology for privacy preservation, verifiable computation, and data compression — all of which are core, unsolved problems in web3. ZKPs are highly practical because the proofs generated are very small and computationally fast to verify, and are quickly moving from theory to application as proving hardware rapidly accelerates.

We are extremely early in our exploration of the potential use cases of ZKPs, but today, there are three primary applications in web3: privacy, scalability, and interoperability.

Privacy. Blockchains as they were originally developed are public by default. All transaction history, account balances, and smart contract execution is available for anyone to inspect. But web3 cannot scale without unlocking privacy, for the simple reason that mainstream participants and institutions won’t use technologies where all of their data is available to the public. ZKPs are a great tool for shielding some, if not all of this data in a compliant way.

September 8th, 2022

By Chris Lehane

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler recently asserted that when it comes to digital assets, the federal government can rely on rules that have applied to the financial markets since the 1930s. No need for new ones. Gensler pointed to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, to make the case that laws passed to protect consumers decades ago can keep protecting them even as “new technologies come along.”

Chairperson Gensler, your own example, when not drawn so narrowly, is in fact one of government support for private-sector technological innovation that helped position the US as a global economic force equipped to help preserve democracy. Let’s quickly review the history of the car:

Over the course of the 1800s, European inventors worked on what were then called “mechanically propelled vehicles.” Early proponents envisioned cars ushering in the democratization of travel at scale and a fundamental transformation of how people lived, worked and moved around—to say nothing of how food could be delivered without rotting, and supply chains could be expanded and diversified.

September 7th, 2022

By Katie Haun

Several weeks ago, the Treasury Department sanctioned the Tornado Cash application. We don’t profess to know all the facts of what Tornado Cash as a particular application did or didn’t do and assume it may take some time for those facts to come to light. We’re assuming, for the purposes of this post, that OFAC sanctioned no more than a piece of code based on the information publicly available to us now.

I have had many conversations about this with crypto founders who are concerned about the implications of this action and where it could lead. Regardless of where you fall on the specifics of what Tornado Cash may enable, this conversation is important and timely as advances in privacy-preserving technologies are underway that we believe will have beneficial societal impacts including increased consumer privacy, control, and ownership.

Many in the crypto community have been talking about a 1st Amendment freedom-of-speech defense. As I thought about this further, I called Eugene Volokh, a professor of constitutional law and one of the world's leading authorities on the 1st Amendment (he literally wrote the book on it). He’s also a programmer who graduated with a CS degree at 15. His response to the code-as-speech argument surprised me. That’s because despite being a self-described 1st Amendment maximalist, he thought that some of the better legal arguments might not be freedom-of-speech-based at all.

August 25th, 2022

By Chris Ahn and Breck Stodghill

Developer interest in web3 has grown massively over the last few years. Web3 monthly active developers are at an all time high with more joining in 2021 than any year prior. This level of developer interest has grown through multiple cycles, bringing with it innovation across numerous ecosystems and use cases. New blockchains like Polygon, Solana, NEAR, and Aptos have emerged alongside new use cases like DeFi, NFTs, and gaming.

New networks and use cases inject vibrancy into the web3 ecosystem. However, they also introduce greater complexity for builders in the form of new virtual machines, programming languages, standards, and best practices to consider. In just a few years, new programming languages like Rust and Move have emerged alongside Solidity, and new techniques like gasless minting have become best practice. We anticipate that as innovation and developer interest in web3 continues to grow, so will this complexity.

As a result, developer tools that simplify this complexity will be immensely important in bringing the next million developers into the ecosystem. Thirdweb offers a full stack of useful developer tools including pre-built and audited smart contracts, SDKs, and dashboards to help developers create, deploy, and manage their web3 apps. Thirdweb already supports six different blockchains (with more coming soon) across multiple programming languages. In addition, thirdweb offers a comprehensive UI component library and auth solution to make it simple for front end developers to build beautiful user experiences on their smart contracts. Once contracts are deployed, thirdweb’s dashboards and analytics tools ensure that every developer can monitor their smart contract’s onchain activity. By offering an end-to-end solution from creation to post-deploy management, thirdweb saves developers time and costly errors.

August 14th, 2022

By Tomicah Tillemann, JP Schnapper-Casteras, and James Rathmell

This season, the Supreme Court is producing a plethora of headlines and national controversy. Amid the firestorm and fallout, it would be easy for technologists to overlook a recent decision concerning the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions. That would be a mistake.

At first glance, West Virginia v. EPA seems to be about nothing more than a set of effectively obsolete emissions-reduction regulations from 2015, known as the Clean Power Plan. But, upon closer inspection, this case is the latest in a series of judicial decisions that are fundamentally changing the rules of the game for regulatory agencies across the federal government. Setting aside the merits of the Court’s decision, it’s important to map the potential implications of this sea change for technology policy.

First, some background: West Virginia v. EPA involved a group of states and power companies challenging the legality of the 2015 Clean Power Plan, which set nationwide carbon dioxide emissions standards for power plants and required plants take steps to meet them. In its simplest form, the dispute boiled down to whether Congress, in passing a particular statute 50 years ago, properly gave the EPA authority to establish the Clean Power Plan in the first place.

July 28th, 2022

When to Choose Decentralized Governance

By Chris Ahn

Startups obsess over how to achieve product-market fit and business model fit, but they rarely discuss business-governance fit. Web3 has brought renewed attention to this formerly overlooked concept that certain governance models are better suited for specific projects.

Choosing the right governance model is relatively straightforward for non-crypto-native projects because the tradeoffs are well known. Even a non expert can answer whether a project would benefit from being public or private, or for-profit or non-profit. For crypto-native projects, the decision is more complex because they must consider a new axis: decentralization.

June 7th, 2022

By Sam Rosenblum

Crypto technologies are driving a transformation of the global financial system that has only just begun. DeFi Summer was less than two years ago. Since then, a flurry of builders and participants from around the world have entered the space to innovate with the goal of building a peer-to-peer financial system that is characterized by more inclusivity and transparency.

DeFi (decentralized finance) has the potential to remove key structural obstacles to building wealth that have been root causes of inequality for centuries. We believe these technologies could present meaningful competition to legacy players and expand access to economic opportunity for more people around the world. At the core of DeFi is the ability for anyone with an internet connection to borrow or lend crypto assets without an intermediary. With time, we believe this could be the key to unlocking financial services for the unbanked.

As with any new innovation, approaches to DeFi protocols vary and activity in the space over the last few years has produced many important technical, structural, and social lessons. We have been very interested in a new generation of DeFi builders who are bringing a deep knowledge of financial markets and crypto-native technical skills to the task of moving DeFi into its next chapter.

0xE02C
May 5th, 2022

By Sam Rosenblum

Haun Ventures is leading Zora’s latest fundraise to accelerate the growth of one of web3’s most important protocols. The future of the internet needs Zora—a hyperstructure that can “run for free and forever, without maintenance, interruption, or intermediaries.”

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Haun Ventures is dedicated to backing teams building a better internet. That means a web defined by more opportunity, creativity, security, and accountability than the version of the web that came before. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a core building block that are central to the future of the web. We believe NFTs will produce a new generation of creators and makers who will enjoy more equitable economics thanks to a web built with better incentives that fairly values the contributions of those who create the culture. We also see web3 innovations like NFTs as a positive force for openness and decentralization in a web currently weighted too heavily toward centralized, opaque gatekeepers.

0xE02C
March 22nd, 2022

By Katie Haun

Today, we’re introducing Haun Ventures, a firm designed from the ground up to help founders build the next generation of the internet. We’ve raised $1.5 billion in capital to support the growth of web3. We’ll invest through two platforms: a $500 million early stage fund and a $1 billion acceleration fund.

My path to web3

My road to crypto and then to venture was unconventional. I spent over a decade at the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuting organized crime, murders, public corruption, prison gangs, white collar crime, and money laundering. In 2014, I created one of the government’s first cryptocurrency task forces. In the course of that work, the vast potential of these technologies quickly became clear. Like any tool, they could be used for good or for bad, but we had just started to scratch the surface of the good.