Two years ago, Bitcoin dominated the cryptocurrency market, capturing 70% of its market value. But as cryptocurrencies swell past $2 trillion in assets, the industry has fragmented. Today, the share of bitcoin is less than 40%, and new crypto networks appear every day. One way to check the clutter and see where the industry is headed is to keep an eye on the software developers who build and maintain crypto networks.
Developers tend to be very rational. If there is something they can play with that has real use, developers have that ability to look for that thing, says Avishal Garg, managing partner at crypto-focused firm Electric Capital. He sees the number of developers working on a crypto network “as a leading indicator of where value will be created and accumulated over the next 10 years.”
Garg co-authored a report with Electric Capital partner Maria Shen that reveals which cryptocurrency platforms attracted the most developers in 2021. They used data from GitHub, the online go-to repository where developers store their code, to estimate the number of engineers working on each including programme. Their data reduces the total number of developers, since it does not capture privately written code or the many engineers who work at companies like Coinbase.
Their research indicates that 18,000 active developers (including full-time and part-time contributors) are working on cryptocurrency platforms, up from about 10,000 a year ago. Garg sees this rise as an affirmation of the industry’s growth and longevity. Kinjal Shah, an investor at Blockchain Capital agrees: “When people vote with their feet and their time, it’s a strong signal that there is something to build for the long-term,” she says.
Electric Capital Research analyzed nearly 500,000 sets of code and 160 million code updates. I compared December 2020 to December 2021 to calculate growth. For the list below, a developer is counted as full-time if they perform at least 10 software updates in a month.
The fastest growing platforms are all rivals to Ethereum, the second largest crypto network launched in 2015 with 1,300 full-time developers building apps on it. Ethereum acts as a decentralized computer on which applications can be built, and is maintained by more than 5,000 “nodes,” or computers, that help validate transactions. One downside to being so widely distributed is that Ethereum can only process about 15 transactions per second (the Nasdaq stock market averages around 20,000 transactions per second), and the fees for a single transaction can sometimes exceed $100.
All of these fast-growing crypto networks take different approaches than Ethereum to decentralization and “consensus,” the arithmetic process of transaction validation. They settle transactions faster, have lower fees, and most are not as widely decentralized as Ethereum.
based in Korea Tera It was founded by entrepreneur Do Kwon, 30, and launched four years ago. Its “stablecoin” UST – a cryptocurrency pegged to the value of the US dollar – has rapidly grown to a market capitalization of $10 billion, placing it among the world’s top five stablecoins, according to crypto data site Messari. Based in San Francisco Solana It has surprised many crypto insiders over the past year as it has attracted hundreds of developers and voice support from crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. A variety of applications based on Solana, ranging from cryptocurrency exchanges and lending products to music applications, have become very popular. Solana’s SOL token rose from $1.85 in January 2021 to $170 by the end of the year, reaching a market capitalization of $53 billion.
near, Founded in the Bay Area in 2017, the protocol was launched by Alexander Skidanov and Ilya Polosukhin, two engineers who previously worked on the highly regarded distributed database system MemSQL and Google’s machine learning platform TensorFlow. Solana and Near are both built in Rust, a popular and more widely used programming language than Solidity, on which Ethereum is based. Solana and Near have also been bold about offering grants to developers if they agree to build apps on their own systems. Near announced a $800 million grant program in October, and Marek Flament, Circle’s director of marketing, became CEO of the Near Foundation this year.
One platform that lost a significant number of developers was EOS, which dropped from a total of 125 active developers (including full-time and part-time) in December 2020 to 80 a year later. In 2018, EOS raised $4 billion in donations from an “initial coin offering” and was subsequently fined $24 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for operating an unregistered security offering. The company has not admitted or denied any wrongdoing.
In addition to the fastest growing networks, Electric Capital’s research shows it has the largest number of total developers. Ethereum has long held the number one spot, and one in four new crypto developers who have entered the industry over the past year have chosen to build on Ethereum.