What’s the Healthiest Chart in Crypto? The Developer Count

An annual report from venture firm Electric Capital says the total number of new developers jumping on the blockchain bandwagon in 2021 broke previous highs.

AccessTimeIconJan 5, 2022 at 5:02 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:53 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

As some crypto prices show signs of flagging heading into 2022, at least one chart remains healthy: the blockchain developer count.

According to a report released today by investment firm Electric Capital, the crypto developer ecosystem has notched all-time highs in multiple metrics including monthly active developers and highest number of new developers in a calendar year.

According to Electric Partner Avichal Garg, it’s a robust sign of health and growth for the industry as a whole.

“The developer ecosystem, we’ve always thought it was the leading indicator,” Garg told CoinDesk in an interview. “The engineers are closest to whether or not there’s real value, and this many people coming in, playing with it, is a good sign. That relatively rational people who make a lot of money – their time is valuable – are spending that time here, that’s a positive long-term indicator.”

Garg noted that the developer count remains robust even in times of bearish market action, such as in late-2017 to mid-2020, but picked up steam during 2021′s crypto-asset bull run.

“Everybody who came in, they’re not all staying – there’s a bunch of developers leaving during the bear market,” he said. “But the number of new developers offsets those leaving, and then it continues to pick up in the bull.”

New monthly active developers (Electric Capital)
New monthly active developers (Electric Capital)

Chains that stand out

A key population leading the surge is developers working on top of smart contract platforms such as Ethereum and Solana. 65% of all developers working in Web 3 joined the ecosystem in 2021, and 2,500 developers are working on decentralized finance (DeFi) in particular.

While Ethereum comfortably leads all blockchains with 4,000 monthly active developers, Garg said one highlight of the report was the emergence of non-Ethereum layer 1s.

Solana in particular has “broken out” with almost a 5x multiple to just under 900 monthly active developers, and the developer count is now outpacing Ethereum at the same stage of its growth cycle.

In addition to Solana, Terra is roughly tracking Ethereum’s growth pattern, Avalanche is narrowly ahead and Binance Smart Chain initially surged, but has since flagged. In total, 10 different smart contract platforms now have over 250 monthly active developers.

Screen Shot 2022-01-05 at 11.53.31 AM.jpg

While the growth of alternatives has been impressive, Garg says that the effort from multiple chains to match Ethereum’s growth is actually a testament to how quickly ETH’s developer community formed.

“One of the takeaways for me is that it’s really impressive that Ethereum had this growth trajectory,” he said. “The ecosystem was so much smaller – in terms of the absolute number of developers, it’s so impressive Ethereum could do this.”

Garg added that ultimately the report highlights all the growth that has yet to come.

“To put it into context, we have 18,000 or so monthly active developers. But then you look at something like JavaScript, they have 16 million – almost 1,000x as many. When you’re talking about the sheer scale of how big a programming language can get and how successful they can be, we’re still so early.”


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Andrew Thurman

Andrew Thurman was a tech reporter at CoinDesk with a focus on DeFi.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.

Read more about