Why can’t Solana be more like Bitcoin?

Maxi bitcoins are not very pleasant people. Maxi, short for maximalists, are of no use to any blockchain other than Bitcoin and are often rude, intolerant and paranoid. But say what you want from the maxis, they care deeply about Bitcoin and will do anything to protect it. If only the other blockchain communities were a little more like them.

Solana, in particular, could learn a thing or two from the maxis. Since entering the cryptocurrency scene in 2020, Solana is considered by many to be the third most important blockchain due to its top 10 in market capitalization and its vibrant community of developers and entrepreneurs. But what Solana isn’t known for is security or reliability, two things Bitcoin has in store.

This week, Solana made headlines for a hack that drained funds from over 8,000 token owners and which appears to have been caused by a wallet called Slope that stored users’ private keys in the clear on a centralized server and whose code is not. open source. The Slope hack comes a few months after another disastrous attack that saw hackers steal $ 320 million from a so-called bridge that allows users to interact with the Ethereum blockchain.

Solana’s defenders are quick to point out that the fault of the hacks lies with the external applications and not the main protocol of the blockchain. This is correct, but it also raises the question of why the Solana ecosystem is so vulnerable to this type of large-scale attack in the first place. Can’t the community do more to ensure that Solana’s infrastructure isn’t fraught with vulnerabilities? Can’t they improve how the protocol interacts with third parties or do more to promote bug rewards and other security measures?

The reason for Solana’s problems may lie in her culture. I recently asked Twitter how the Solana community differs from that of Bitcoin and Ethereum and the most common response was that Solana is heavily influenced by venture capitalists. If that’s true, it helps explain why Solana became a major cryptocurrency player so quickly and attracted so much interest. This isn’t a bad thing – hype and growth are essential to any successful crypto project. But the influence of venture capital may also explain some of Solana’s shortcomings, most notably its abandonment of security and the drive for growth at all costs.

Solana also looks different from Blockchain and Ethereum when it comes to maintaining its core protocol. Communities around these latest blockchains are hyper-alert to any updates and potential weaknesses in their chain’s code. The Solana crowd, by contrast, is buzzing for a new retail store in a posh New York mall, but less concerned with major operations. This could be why Solana has been weighed down by a string of crashes and outages over the past few months.

All this does not mean that Solana is a bad project. Conversely, Solana’s speed and her community’s focus on creating popular, easy-to-use products make it one of the best blockchains to come out in recent years. But if Solana doesn’t start paying attention to fundamentals, especially safety, she could end up in serious trouble. Maxi bitcoins can be unpleasant, but there is no doubt that their blockchain will be here in a decade. The same cannot be said of Solana.

Jeff John Roberts
jeff.roberts@fortune.com
@jeffjohnroberts

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THE MOONSHOT CHILDREN

“In terms of lunatics, Saylor is ‘Elon Junior’, without the business talent.” This is a juicy quote from a new profile from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, known for his bold Bitcoin purchases, written by Fortune legend Shawn Tully.

Tully argues that Saylor, who appears to be living for the thrills in his business and personal life, may finally be over his head with the Bitcoin bet. The problem is that the CEO has borrowed en masse against MicroStrategy’s consulting revenues and that his creditors will come for him if Bitcoin’s price doesn’t improve.

Saylor may be on the ice but, in his three decades of career, he has also proven himself to be one of the first visionaries when it comes to new technologies such as the web, mobile devices and the cloud. Could he escape his current situation himself?

The problem is that Saylor spent $ 4 billion to accumulate 129,699 Bitcoins at an average price of around $ 31,320. But today, with Bitcoin selling for around $ 23,300 or 26% less, his holdings are worth $ 3 billion, or $ 1 billion less than what he paid.

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(A subscription is required to access some of these stories. Thanks for supporting our journalism.)

IF YOU DON’T KNOW, CRYPT

I first heard the term “Maximalist Bitcoin” around early 2018 during the last crypto winter. The phrase was often invoked by the so-called maxi as a reason for pride by those who believed that Bitcoin would be the only blockchain to hold its value. Today, the term is most commonly used as an insult by those who are fed up with Bitcoin hardliners. But it’s also becoming less common, probably because some maxis are making peace with the existence of other chains.

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