CoinDesk's Most Influential 2023 recognizes 50 people who defined the year in the digital assets space, which includes Jesse Pollak, the creator of Coinbase's layer 2 blockchain "Base."
Coin desk's most influential list dropped this week and our next guest made the list for launching Coinbase layer two Blockchain face this year helping the exchange to scale and reduce transaction fees. Joining us now is Coinbase head of protocols and face creator Jessie Pollock. Welcome back to the show. Thanks y'all. Excited to be here. Excited to have you here. Uh As you reflect on 2023 as you reflect on the layer twos that launched on bases launch, which was seemingly a big success. What are you taking into 2024? Yeah, you know, I think this was really the year that the world started to come on chain. Um You know, we in the end of 2022 said, hey, what do we need to do to catalyze a business like Coinbase? That's a publicly traded company in the United States. You know, thousands of employees to come on chain to this next generation of the internet. And what we identified was there was this opportunity to uh to build a platform that would enable that. That's exactly what we did with base in 2023. You know, we launched in August uh there's more than half a billion dollars on the network today, millions of people who transacted on it. And I think most excitingly, we're starting to see the impact of base both on Coinbase, where you're seeing Coinbase launch more and more on chain products, but also the whole industry where people have, I think, seen the work that we've done and started to say, hey, what if we start to come on chain as well? And so I think in 2024 what we're going to see is even more acceleration of that. And I think we're going to start to see some of the products that people are building on chain, really start to kind of catch fire. And alongside the price action that the matrix part team was talking about, um I think we're going to see a lot of utility action where for the first time in crypto, really, we're going to have apps that have millions of users that are growing quickly. Um And they are updating these systems that uh you know, in many cases are decades old and helping people do better things with their money and better things with their lives in general uh on chain. What kind of apps are, are, what kind of things are being built on, on base right now? It's, it's what are they being used for? Who are the users of base, who, what, what's it primarily geared towards and, and who's actually doing what? Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think we are really starting to see base become the center of the on chain economy. Um And I think that that means that there is, of course a bunch of financial use cases. Uh people are doing things like sending and receiving us DC as a payment method for peer to peer for commerce. Um they are saving their trading, they are borrowing their lending. And I think that kind of economy is really starting to get going. I also think that we are seeing that kind of economy, I mean, the power of on chain products start to come into the real world. And so, you know, we have platforms like Blackbird, which is building tools for loyalty for small businesses to help them grow faster. Um You know, they're building on base, they are up to, I think like 80 restaurants right now in New York and expanding across the country. Um fully on chain. Uh We have games like parallel that are building um uh you know, really interactive trading card games and other kind of games that people can play, but also uh participate in the economy of those games really in a, in a way that's only possible on chain. Um We also have tools that, that creators are using uh to, to build their businesses, to create music, to create video, things like Zora another block uh decent show time. Um And then I think we've also seen uh a 10 people who are, are building just fun things to do on chain. Um uh Whether it's a mini game that, you know, you come in, you play, it takes 60 seconds um or something that is collaborative like base paint uh where you have artists all over the world who are coming together to create a piece of art every day. Uh And then sell the piece of art next day and make money from that. And so I think really what we're seeing is that um just like the the world's economy today is incredibly diverse. The on chain economy is starting to be really diverse and you have money kind of at the foundation of it. What that money is enabling is creativity. And I think that's what we're really, really excited to see. Grow further in 2024 Jessie. What do, what do you think it's going to take to bring new customers on chain? Non crypto natives on chain when they are, when these people are here? Are they gonna even know they're on chain? What does that future look like? Yeah, I I think the most important thing we can do is just simplify the user experience. Um And that's both the experience for developers who are creating these new products, make it so easy for them to build on chain, just like we've made it so easy for them to build online over the last decade. So they can create that next generation of products. And then on the user side, the consumer side of the business make it so easy for them to actually use these products. And I think kind of what, what you're getting at there is that increasingly folks aren't going to kind of have to do all this complex stuff to use these products. They're just going to say, hey, this is a better way for me to run my business or this is a better way for me to publish my music or this is a better way for me to engage with my customers in my restaurant. And that's going to be powered by this incredibly new platform that's global, that's cheaper, that's faster. Um That's upgraded these systems that in many times are decades old. Um But people aren't going to know that just like um oftentimes people don't know exactly how the internet works, but they do know that it's transformed their lives for the better. A lot of people don't know how the internet works to be honest. Um But in different ways, uh we, we there was a security issue back in August and now another one what's going on. Um You know, I think what we're seeing on base is that um uh it's an open ecosystem and that means people are building all sorts of things. Uh And as this kind of new platform emerges, of course, there's going to be uh you know, problems in the ecosystem where people who are building uh have a risk that emerges and that they need to manage. And I think our perspective from the base team is we want to be doing everything we can to support those teams as they navigate those challenges. And so, you know, you, you brought up the tweet about Third Web. Um you know, we got a, a kind of call saying, hey, there's this risk. Uh Last Friday night, our team worked over the weekend to figure out. OK, how do we support or Third Web? How do we support their customers to make it so that uh as this kind of mitigation is happening, customers and users are protected uh in a really great way. And I think what we've seen is that uh folks have come together just like they always do to make it so that, that these problems are solved and that we're, we're operating in a more and more secure ecosystem. And so I think we can expect to see um that just like with the internet, um you know, there's going to be challenges that we have to overcome, but as long as we're putting our heads down working together um and uh you know, really treating this uh stuff seriously. We're saying, hey, this is uh the platform that's gonna, you know, secure the world's economy over the next decade. Um We're going to come out in a place that's really great. They promised us A I would do all the code testing. What happened, you know, I think we're seeing A I be an incredibly useful tool for folks as they're building smart contracts, as they're building. Um pretty much anything, you know, at Coinbase, we've actually seen that uh there is increasing adoption internally for A I tools. I'm using them on a day to day basis. All of our engineering teams are using copilot uh to, to kind of accelerate the way that they build um to make it faster for us to write tests faster, for us to secure our systems. And so I think we're really excited about how A I can accelerate the way that we work and actually be um an accelerant for bringing the world on chain because it's going to help this technology change happen faster and faster. Um And to help us make it do it in a safe way, Jesse, just curious based on your comments there. Uh how much time A I has saved you if you look at the development process before you were using these A I tools to now how, how much faster can you bring something to market? I mean, I think the the combination of on chain plus A I is incredibly powerful. And I mean, if you just think about on chain alone, what we're seeing is that um engineers who are building on chain can often have 10 times the impact um of people who are building off chain. And so a great example of this is um you know, you, you see kind of coin base exchange um which we, we spent the last decade building and is incredible product. Um And uh you know, that that's taken hundreds of engineers to build and maintain and then on chain, you have products like Unis which the original version was built by one engineer. Um And so you have this kind of uh new platform that's enabling people to build much faster and get much more leverage. And so increasingly teams at Coinbase are starting to build on chain. And we're seeing that dynamic as well. You know, we just launched the Coinbase verifications product uh which lets people bring their identity on chain that was built by a really small team. Uh We just launched a new version of coin based commerce uh that is fully on chain on base that was built by a really small team. I think there's probably like 5 to 10 other projects happening internally where you have small teams who are having outside impact because they're building on this new platform. And then of course A I is coming in and accelerating it. You know, for me as, as I'm working with A I, what I find is that it takes a task that would have normally taken me hours and makes it take minutes. And that is an incredibly powerful accelerant for all of these teams who are starting to use this new platform to gain more leverage in the way they're building. All right, you mentioned a few new products there. One of them you didn't mention is Coinbase Wallet app that allows users to send money on any platform they can send a link. So whatsapp Telegram, talk to us about this and how you see it um unfolding in 2024 and adding to your strategy as we move into the new Year. Yeah, you know, I think what we've seen with money historically is that um it's either really slow and expensive uh or, and I guess you're often locked into a single platform um where you have to transact with only people who have accounts there. I think the really powerful thing about crypto is that it's fast. Uh It's cheap and it's global and it's open to anyone and it works across all of these different products. And so what we've launched with uh this new uh send via link is you can send uh us DC and, and other currencies on base uh globally to anyone in the world using any app, WhatsApp, Telegram, lime signal, uh Facebook messenger, Instagram Messenger, all of it just work because you're sending money on a global open platform that anyone can connect to. And so I think this is a great example of how Coinbase is using on chain um to update these systems and make them better for people all around the world, which is going to lead to increased economic freedom, which is going to lead to happier lives, uh better uh outcomes for, for small businesses. Um and in general, a better world that we all live in. All right, Jessie, we are going to have to leave it there. Congratulations on all your achievements this year. Congratulations on making the most influential list. And I don't know if it's too early to start saying happy holidays, but happy holidays, happy holidays to you. All too. Thanks a lot for the time. Glad to be here. That was Coinbase, head of protocols and based creator Jesse Pollack.