Can Avalanche Win Over Wall Street and ‘Degens’ Alike?

At the inaugural Avalanche Summit in Barcelona, Spain, the speedy Ethereum alternative looked to court users onto its subnets.

To the crypto-conscious, blockchain industry conferences have become annual pilgrimages of sorts, drawing each chain’s respective believers to multi-day extravaganzas in exotic locales around the world.

There’s the familiar Bitcoin conference (which appears to have found a home in Miami) and Ethereum’s long-running ETHDenver. Starting last autumn, new, billion-dollar base layers joined in, with Solana’s coming-out party, Breakpoint, held in Lisbon.

Now Avalanche has entered the fray, having just wrapped a six-day summit in Barcelona, Spain.

“This is the first time the developers, the users, the investors can all get together,” said John Wu, president of Ava Labs, the company that supports the Avalanche blockchain. “That was the goal.”

‘Escape velocity’

In the past year, Avalanche has emerged from relative obscurity to become a major challenger to Ethereum, the incumbent leader among smart-contract compatible blockchains.

The AVAX token returned an eye-popping 2,800% last year, breaching the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. (This year, the token has fallen about 18%.) The total valued locked (TVL) on the chain’s decentralized finance (DeFi) apps soared past $10 billion for the first time in November. It currently sits at fourth on the TVL charts, behind Ethereum, Terra and Binance Smart Chain, but above Solana.

Even “normies” may have noticed Avalanche’s advertisements plastered across New York City subway cars, or the sea of red triangle emojis that its loyal users tout on social media.

“Avalanche has successfully reached escape velocity,” said Darryl Wang, a conference speaker and former investor at the Three Arrows Capital offshoot DeFiance Capital. “I moved from 100% Ethereum to most other EVM-compatible chains. Now, 90% of my transactions are on Avalanche.”

Avalanche is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), meaning applications that are built using the Ethereum programming language Solidity are also able to deploy on Avalanche with minimal tweaking from developers.

So far, EVM compatibility has proven to be catalytic for upstart base layers, with Polygon, Fantom and Avalanche all courting users who are fed up with Ethereum’s high transaction fees.

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