Every once in a while, an idea is born with the potential to change the course of history. This is what Ethereum means to us. More than a blockchain or technological innovation, Ethereum represents an evolution of our existing political, economic, and social systems. Today, Ethereum celebrates eight years of existence. And as we join the rest of the ecosystem in celebration, we want to also reflect on our shared history, the growth achieved over the past eight years, and the road ahead as we continue our mission to advance the Ethereum protocol for builders around the world. 

How it started: Getting to the Ethereum genesis block 

It started with an idea. Vitalik presented his vision for executable smart contracts at the Bitcoin Miami conference in 2014. Consensys Founder, Joseph Lubin, flew down to Miami to begin preparing for what would be the launch of the largest smart contract blockchain: Ethereum. 

Even before the first block was confirmed, Joseph Lubin, alongside diverse developer teams around the world, helped contribute to what would become the Ethereum protocol. This era in Ethereum's history is defined by four main moments that took place between 2013 to 2015:

  • November 2013, Block 0: Vitalik Buterin publishes the Ethereum whitepaper, attracting the attention of technologists like Joseph Lubin and others around the world.

  • January 2014, Block 0: Vitalik Buterin formally announces Ethereum at The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami.

  • November 2014, Block 0: Consensus Systems (Consensys) is founded by Joseph Lubin, a Co-Founder of the Ethereum project.

  • July 2015, Block 1: The Ethereum Genesis block is generated and loaded for Frontier, the first live release of Ethereum.

The Launch: Tooling for developers to bootstrap the network emerge

The Genesis Block gave birth to the network and meant that the future of Ethereum was in the hands of coders, entrepreneurs, and ultimately dreamers to build. Between 2016 and 2019, the first group of projects within Consensys launched to market.

MetaMask became one of the first wallets available for interacting with the Ethereum network, whether to send ETH and other tokens to friends or connect your wallet to a dapp. Infura created the first Ethereum API so other web3 developers could bootstrap applications without having to take on the complexity of running their own node infrastructure. 

This era of the Ethereum-Consensys story is defined by six key milestones driven by the product innovation and developer adoption that unfolded over the course of the next three years: 

  • July 2016, Block: 1802780: Kumavis and Dan Finlay launch MetaMask as a browser extension.

  • November 2016, Block: 2544905: Infura launches, enabling developers to bootstrap their web3 applications, without the complexity of having to run their own infrastructure.

  • February 2017, Block: 3101407: The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) launches with founding board members Consensys, J. P. Morgan, BNY-Mellon, Microsoft, Intel, CME Group, and more.

  • June 2017, Block: 3801682: Consensys Diligence launches with a mission to raise the bar for blockchain security and best practices for the Ethereum ecosystem.

  • August 2019: Ethereum Java client, PegaSys Pantheon, rebrands to Hyperledger Besu, and becomes the first public blockchain in the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project.

Integrated software company: The beginnings of mainstream adoption

By 2020, Consensys restructured to become an integrated software company with a mission to support both developers in building dapps on Ethereum and the end-users who interact with them. 

By supporting protocol development, both on Ethereum and other Ethereum-compatible blockchains, Consensys played a critical role in fostering the first major wave of adoption in decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) built on Ethereum. 

This period in history catalyzed what would become the beginnings of mainstream global adoption and an entrance of Ethereum into popular culture and news media unseen in previous eras. 

MetaMask became available for download in the Apple and Androids app stores, NFT sales volumes reached $25 billion in 2021, and the Ethereum merge was flawlessly executed - showing the world decentralized coordination is possible. 

  • September 2020, Block: 10773004: MetaMask mobile launches on iOS and Android.

  • June 2021: 2.91 million unique addresses on Ethereum used at least one DeFi protocol.

  • February 2021: The USD stablecoin market grows to more than $25 billion. 

  • August 2021: NFTs 10x in popularity with a record $3.25 billion in NFT sales volume.

  • February 2022: Consensys acquires MyCrypto, strengthening MetaMask for Ethereum apps and end-users. 

  • March 2022: Consensys raises $450M Series D funding to keep pushing the Ethereum protocol forward. 

  • September 2022: Ethereum successfully completes the Merge to Proof of Stake, eliminating 99.99% of its carbon footprint overnight and has made the network the most environmentally conscious blockchain in the world as deemed by 2023 ERC Rankings.

  • December 2022: MetaMask surpassed 100 million users globally in 2022.

Steadfast growth: The road ahead for Ethereum

Today, July 30th, 2023, eight years after the Ethereum journey began, recounting our shared history serves as nothing less than momentum to continue shipping the innovations that will enable the next generation of builders and accelerate mainstream adoption. 

This means opening the backend of MetaMask up to external developers through Snaps, to help drive adoption and empower the community to expand MetaMask functionality. As well as improving the UX for end-users through Account Abstraction and steadily growing monthly average users that, since MetaMask’s inception in 2016, scaled up to 100 million users in 2022. 

We will continue to support the over 400K developers who use Infura to connect to Ethereum and other EVM-compatible chains while building the new decentralized infrastructure network alongside other RPC providers within and entering web3.

Our R&D group will lead work on core protocol development and EIPs with the Ethereum Foundation and teams across the world. 

And our latest innovation, Linea, a zk-EVM L2 network whose mainnet launch on July 11th processed nearly 1M transactions and has over $47M TVL will scale Ethereum with low-cost transactions with fast finality. 

Lastly, we will continue to demystify Ethereum and web3 through public education by commissioning and publishing data insights like those from the global perception survey on crypto released last month

There are still many steps left on the Ethereum roadmap and we’ll be here to see each one through, building with all of you, now - and always. Happy Anniversary, Ethereum!