Eric Meltzer is the Founding Partner of Primitive Ventures, a cryptoasset fund.
“Ethereum (ETH) can do everything that Bitcoin (BTC) can do, plus a lot more.”
I hear this often from people who are very new to crypto, and figured it would be useful to make a list of the things that make King Corn unique.
1. Bitcoin is the hardest of hard money.
There will never be more than 21 million bitcoins because the culture of full-node-running curmudgeonly bastard Bitcoiners will never allow it. We proved this already (google S2x bitcoin, if you want to read about an epic battle).
One of my ETH booster friends said that if ETH adopts EIP 1559, which burns ETH per transaction, ETH will become even more scarce than Bitcoin. Unfortunately, this is a total self-own of a point and beautifully illustrates the difference I’m talking about:
Being hard money isn’t about being scarce, but rather about being immutably, stubbornly, RELIABLY short. Saying EIP 1559 makes ETH harder is saying “adopting a big change to monetary policy proposed by the founder single-digit years after launch makes ETH harder.”
Any coin which can make a positive change to its emission schedule so easily could also make one in the other direction—you can’t serenely rely on the idea that your stake won’t be diluted.
I want to clarify that this isn’t necessarily bad for ETH; ETH is trying to do something very different from Bitcoin. Being flexible and aggressive is potentially the correct strategy. But for people who need a hard-as-nails inflation hedge, BTC >>> ETH.
2. BTC has simple goals
- 21 million coins ever
- Maximum censorship resistance
- There is no three
Being willing to accept all tradeoffs in service of those goals means we assume BTC is likely to be the best at those 2, even if or even because it sucks at other things.
So if what you need is an inflation hedge that can’t be easily confiscated by even state actors, Bitcoin is your pick. The market for that simple feature set is likely to be in the multiple trillions; for reasons people have already covered ad nauseam—this is enough for BTC.
And again, this also isn’t necessarily bad for ETH. If you’re worried about your assets being seized in court, ETH is probably hard enough for you. But if you want even the full super-Saiyan Hitler mode State to have a hard time getting its grubby hands on your money: BTC.
3. Bitcoin’s simplicity makes it quickly understood and adopted by nocoiners
This is empirical: public companies are buying BTC now, at least one sovereign wealth fund I know of also holds BTC, tons of conservative asset managers have allocated to it. It’s digital gold, not that scary.
4. Bitcoin’s conservatism makes it less of a moving target.
It also makes it easier for very-long-term holders to adopt. ETH faces performance issues that the community has decided necessitate a huge* change from the proof-of-work consensus algorithm to proof-of-stake. Bitcoin features no such question marks.
I hope this was useful for some ETH fans to look into unique things. Bitcoin is better at. It’s my opinion that ETH benefits from BTC’s existence and vice-versa, so hopefully, the two communities can get along a bit better in the future.
One final point: I’m a massive believer in expressed vs. revealed preferences, and it’s very telling that many vocal ETH maximalists, EOS people, Tron people… even Bitcoin Cash people, who vocally despise Bitcoin…. still hold tons of BTC.__
This commentary first appeared as a Twitter thread on October 15.