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John Paller, Founder of ETHDenver, on Present State of ETH, and Future of DeFi, DAOs, and NFTs

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 6 min read
John Paller, Founder Of ETHDenver, On The State of ETH, and The Future of DeFi, DAOs, and NFTs

Cryptonews Podcast host Matt Zahab sat down once again with US-based blockchain entrepreneur and Founder of ETHDenver John Paller for another exciting interview.

The two talked about ETHDenver setting the main themes for the year and what we may see in 2024.

The founder further explained how investing in UI, UX, and specific tools leads to greater DeFi and DAO adoption.

In this interview, Paller discussed:

  • shifting regulatory dynamics in the US and how crypto can influence it;
  • evolving public sentiment of crypto post-FTX and Terra;
  • preparing the Web3 community for the impending bull market;
  • Web3’s focus and capital allocated to infrastructure needs to return to users;
  • predictions for DAO 2.0, DeFi 2.0, NFT 2.0

Read a portion of what Matt and John chatted about below, and listen to the full episode above.

Super Bowl of Crypto


ETHDenver 2024 has started on February 23 and will last until March 3, boasting a number of events and speakers.

Paller noted that over the years, ETHDenver became two things.

Firstly, it’s the Super Bowl of crypto. There are family and friends reunions, and the community gathers.

Secondly, it’s a menu of topics to be discussed during the year. This is the first major event following the holidays in the US, so many are curious to see what will be placed on stage, what and how it will be talked about – that is, what the year’s main topics are.

The event often sets the main themes, movements, trajectories, players, etc.

Per Paller,

“I think what ends up happening is ETHDenver becomes sort of the distiller for that narrative for the year. […] The narrative gets formed and then walks into the rest of the year as a sort of fairly big thing.”

The team behind ETHDenver gets a lot of input about what goes on their stage – and there are bound to be changes to the narratives and themes throughout the year – “but we’ve been pretty consistently successful at [setting the year’s themes] over the past six years.”

As for 2024, we’re going to see some finality around Layer-2s, Paller argued. The “protocol wars” will end. There will be no more fights, we will “just use it.”

Also, Paller opined that the industry has already solved many of its issues. And while there is plenty left on that list, all of these will eventually be crossed out.

Investment Leading to Mass Adoption


Paller noted “a huge opportunity” for investment into user-facing tools, be it user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) in general, governance tools, tooling for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), or anything else.

There is a clear difference in the amount invested currently. If you look at the dollar-for-dollar investments in protocols versus just DAO tooling or UI/UX, “it’s like a thousand to one,” said Paller, and added:

“Imagine if we had put in that kind of money to UI/UX, where we would be with adoption.”

Therefore, Paller’s prediction is that we’ll see “a huge effort from” the community to improve UI/UX and crypto products, which is how we compete with Web 2 products.

You don’t win acknowledging a trade-off in crypto, Paller warned. For the past five-six years, the industry has been making excuses about trade-offs that we have to make around security, privacy, and transaction costs, among other things. Something is always sacrificed.

At the same time, we must accept the truth that the average user will never use the products as we make them because it’s not convenient and fast enough – simply put, it’s not better than what they’re currently using.

And while some people are willing to, most do not want to go through “eight layers” of a decentralized finance (DeFi) product to figure out how to “stake their damn tokens.”

This is not getting the industry where it wants to go. It proved not to be durable. Also, we don’t really have a product market fit for DeFi, Paller argued.

Furthermore, most people, “let’s be honest,” said Paller, don’t currently care about owning their self-sovereign data.

What they do care about is using something easy, fast, and better than what’s already out there.

“Now, if we can give them fast, easy, better, and sovereignty, will they take it? Yeah, they will.”

Therefore, be it DAO tooling or DeFi products, investing in usability and UI/UX is the key.

“I think the 2.0 on the back of all of this stuff is the application of better user accessibility,” Paller opined.

And though he supports making money, all that these products are currently doing is just making money. That’s a problem. It only showcases the opportunistic side of what this technology can do.

Per Paller,

“If that’s all we do, then we’ve already failed, and it won’t work.”

We’ve got to have more than just making money as the goal. We’ve got to make what we’re creating widely accessible, transparent, permissionless, secure, and convenient for all to use.

The DAO That’s Got It All Figured Out


DAOs are going to make a comeback, John Paller said.

He couldn’t say when exactly, but as other aspects of the industry improve, the DAOs will rise. These aspects include user experience and user interface technologies, which will make DAOs more functional, usable, and configurable.

But DAOs have so far been just “grand experiments.”

Therefore, what’s missing is “a use case to point to that says, here’s the recipe [that] can be used to replicate the success in various contexts of the world,” Paller argued.

We don’t have that yet, and it’s a key ingredient.

Until we get it, we’ll continue to see a lot of experimentation. We’ll be seeing fidelity, development, and tooling enhancements.

“And then one of these days, it’s going to be slow and steady, and then all at once, you’re going to see this big narrative pop up where there’s this DAO that’s got it figured out.”

And who’s that going to be, Paller couldn’t say yet.

What he could say with near certainty is that,

“It’s got to be something people genuinely need, not just what they choose to want.”

This will create a natural demand for this and similar DAOs.

Paller noted that the industry needs to keep working methodically on user experience and abstraction technologies, not compromising security, privacy, data, and identity – but also making it cheaper, better, and faster for people to use “so that we can find these use cases to plug-and-play.”

One of these days, such a DAO will appear.

__________

About John Paller

John Paller is a US-based blockchain entrepreneur, inventor, and futurist. He is the Founder and Executive Steward of ETHDenver, the world’s largest Web3 and Ethereum-based innovation festival.

Paller is also the Founder and Executive Steward of Opolis, a digital employment cooperative for independent workers.

Prior to discovering Ethereum in 2015, Paller spent more than 15 years in talent acquisition, HR Technology, and employment systems, building multiple successful enterprises.

He brings a breadth of experience in fundraising, investor relations, community outreach, and crypto economies, guiding his vision of democratizing employment and growing decentralized communities.

In 2014, Paller was awarded “40 Under 40” by the Denver Business Journal for his contribution to shaping the future of business.