Ethereum May Be Undergoing Allopatric Speciation

August 22, 2016
3 min read

It’s been an interesting few months for the Ethereum community between the DAO’s record crowdfunding, the infamous hack, and the eventual forking of the network. Ever since the fork, there have been two Ethereum chains:

(1) Ethereum (ETH), which was altered to relieve the hacker of their funds, and

(2) Ethereum Classic (ETC), which was left unaltered in the spirit of immutability and “the code as law.”

While ETH and ETC have a common ancestor, they are now two entirely separate environments, and ARK believes they will likely diverge even more in the coming months and years if both remain viable. This is similar to the idea of allopatric speciation that we find in the biological realm.

We originally saw little reason for ETC to continue existing over the long haul, but what’s now interesting is a developer community is catalyzing around ETC. One of the leaders is Charles Hoskinson (@IOHK_Charles), who was involved with Ethereum from late 2014, but eventually departed in spring of 2014 due to philosophical differences with the other founders. He is now championing ETC as the blockchain that stuck to the ethics of immutable blockchains.

We believe it weakens both ETH and ETC to have split network effects, per Metcalfe’s Law, and thus that the community will gravitate en masse towards one network over time. Right now, ETH has roughly 85% of the network mindshare, and ETC 15%. However, we are particularly interested to see what happens when ETH makes a giant leap in its consensus protocol, transitioning from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. As this transition carries out, we think ETH will obviate the need for mining machines as they currently stand, which may cause a massive mining shift to ETC if it decides to remain with proof-of-work. Perhaps this is why Chandler Guo, who ARK’s CEO befriended this year at the World Economic Forum, and is one of the largest miners in both Bitcoin and Ethereum, recently proclaimed: “God bless Ethereum Classic.”

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