Let Developers Walk so Users Can Run

Bring in the next million developers, and then we can start worrying about where to find the next billion users


r.classen/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


If we’ve learned anything from the numerous layer-1 and layer-2 launches over the last few years, it’s that blockchain technology is undoubtedly important and has been rapidly progressing. But mass adoption has always been a slow burn. 

The reason for this is simple, yet continually overlooked. 

Nurturing a vibrant developer community is the key to unlocking Web3’s full potential. Web3 developers, many of whom possess nearly unmatched creativity and entrepreneurship, are the ones who will build the applications that will help bring digital assets and decentralized applications (dapps) to the mainstream. 

Users, while important, are only the end goal. 

Instead of fixating on “finding the next billion users,” the blockchain industry needs to start focusing on finding the “first million developers.”

It is vital that base layer blockchains provide the necessary tools, resources and support to developers to stimulate innovation and accelerate user adoption.

Where have all the developers gone?

The worst kept secret in crypto is that most dapps to date only provide entertainment, largely in the form of gambling on tokens. 

Some members of prominent NFT communities will argue that they have found purpose as well, and that’s likely true to them. Let’s be real, though — the vast majority of users are here for the memes, lolz, and thrills that accompany gambling on memecoins and jpegs, with the hopes of “up only.” 

And while I find nothing immoral about this, and personally enjoy the spectacle of the rush into memecoins or a hot NFT mint, this is not a beneficial or sustainable use of decentralized ledger technology and compute technology over the long term.

Today’s blockchains have lost sight of the fact that there exists a significant surplus of brilliant developers who have the creativity and innovative spirit to build incredible dapps. Instead, they’ve committed to attracting short-term users and as a result, Web3 has suffered from a limited developer base. This has hindered our industry’s chances of discovering truly transformative use cases for blockchains and other decentralized technologies.

Simply put, Web3 needs more developers in the mix. Currently, only about 1.5% of the world’s 30 million developers work part-time in Web3. If blockchains are going to succeed, it’s by focusing almost entirely on attracting sophisticated, forward-thinking developers who can build diverse applications and providing them with the resources necessary to thrive. Empowering developers to innovate will ultimately lead to more attractive and user-friendly dapps, which will, in turn, drive user adoption. 

It’s the law of large numbers: a bigger, more diverse developer community will foster a more vibrant ecosystem —  with a greater variety of ideas and approaches — leading to revolutionary breakthroughs.

Cultivating the first million developers is no small task. It will require base layers to do away with the rigid constraints and steep learning curves that have deterred many potential developers, and provide accessible, flexible, and versatile platforms to existing developers. By offering adaptable platforms that accommodate developers’ preferred languages and tools, blockchains can lower entry barriers and encourage a more diverse range of developers to explore Web3.

User adoption is key to Web3’s success — but developers are the precursor to this adoption.

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