Vitalik Drinks Hot Water in Heatwave and Other Observations From Paris Ethereum Conference

Hundreds of crypto developers have gathered in Paris for the Ethereum Community’s (EthCC) annual event. Tuesday kicked off the conference, taking place in the Parisian conference center Maison de la Mutualité.

EthCC started things off a little hotter than previous years due to Europe’s current heatwave, when the temperature reached as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday. This made for a very sweaty event because there was no fully functioning air conditioning in the venue.

There has been little talk about the current bear market in cryptocurrencies and nearly no talk about price movement. The conference is largely focused on developing, hacking and networking.

Ether (ETH) has recovered over the last seven days after experiencing major dips in price as the rest of the market suffered. But it’s been a staggering rally in the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency: ETH is currently up 40% on the week.

Jane Ma, co-founder of zkLend, a lending protocol built on StarkNet (a layer 2 Ethereum network), came to the conference with her team to meet other builders and partake in hackathons.

“It feels like there’s no bear market when I step into the conference room,” said Ma in an interview with CoinDesk. The sentiment at the conference has been largely positive and it feels like people are here to stay, Ma said.

Although there’s loads of optimism in the room, there are retail users who are suffering from the current market and getting wiped out, or “rekt” in crypto-speak, said Ma. “We need to be conscious of that when we are at a crypto conference.”

In terms of news during the conference, on Wednesday Polygon Hermez announced the launch of “Polygon zkEVM” live from the main stage.

“This move is important because all of this knowledge is shared and public for the community,” said Jordi Baylina, technical lead at Hermez (zkEVM builder) at EthCC.

In a press release, Polygon said zkEVM would be the “first Ethereum-equivalent scaling solution that works seamlessly with all existing smart contracts, developer tools, and wallets, harnessing advanced cryptography called zero knowledge proofs.”

On Tuesday, Gitcoin’s co-founder, Kevin Owocki, announced the launch of the Gitcoin Passport, a digital identity product aimed at providing Sybil attack resistance (in a Sybil attack, an attacker tries to take over a network by creating an army of nodes that can over-power/out-vote honest nodes, leading to a 51% attack) and serving as a building block for an open internet and in turn enabling what he called a “regenerative society.”

One attendee said he was standing behind Vitalik Buterin in the coffee line when the Ethereum co-founder ordered a cup of hot water. The waiters joked in French, “Who drinks just hot water?” after he’d left.

The conference is followed by all the usual crypto side events consisting of late-night partying in underground venues, rooftop dinners and various live DJ sets. One party was situated under the Pont Alexandre III Bridge, with local DJs performing until the early hours of the morning.

Wednesday also included a keynote from Aave’s Stani Kulechov, who outlined the benefits for Web3 social networks and promoted his own platform, “Lens Protocol.”

Lens focuses on empowering content creators to “own their digital roots” and have direct contact with their audiences.

“When you own your audience data you have direct contact with your audience. This can be super valuable,” said Kulechov. Lens protocol was previously built at a Hackathon, and “most of Lens is built by the community which is amazing,” said Kulechov.

Just outside of the EthCC conference is blockchain Celo’s “salon,” an intimate community space with its own stage and meeting point. The agenda at the salon is mainly focused on decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) discussions, non-fungible tokens (NFT) and regenerative finance (ReFi).

At the salon is Celo co-founder and President Rene Reinsberg, who is focusing on some of the positives to come out of a crypto bear market.

“During bear markets the discussion over ‘Where is the most total value locked?’ goes away and people start to focus on what are important use cases of projects and how the tech can improve people’s lives,” said Reinsberg in an interview with CoinDesk.

He noted that although positive discussions stem from bear markets, it does have a negative impact on those who are new to the space or just curious about cryptocurrencies.

“When these people see big swings and volatility in prices, it scares people off,” Reinsberg said. “People take price movement and equate it to activity. These are detached. If you look at wallet growth overlaid with price, it is totally uncorrelated.”