Ethereum Foundation Grants by the Numbers

ETH2 getting all the love.

Hello defiers! Last week the Ethereum Foundation announced the winners of its sixth wave of grants. The EF is the only entity (or one of two entities if you count ConsenSys) whose sole mission is to support the Ethereum ecosystem. Right now it has about $100 million in its pubic multi-sig wallet to do that (the foundation doesn’t regularly disclose how much more it has in fiat), so it’s relevant to analyze how its spending those funds.


ETH2 Gets Most of EF Funding, Live Chain Misses Out

The Ethereum Foundation’s grant programs has become increasingly concentrated, with most of the money going to support teams building or researching Ethereum 2.0.

This appears to contradict the foundation’s May statement, where it said it plans to spend $30 million on “key projects across the ecosystem” over the next 12 months. The priority is to spend those resources in three major categories: Building the Ethereum of tomorrow, supporting the Ethereum of today, and developer growth and awareness, the post said. But funding in last week’s round, the first one to be announced after that May statement, focused almost entirely on Eth2.

In the course of my reporting, Ethereans have told me they’re worried the EF is cutting resources for Ethereum 1.x, which is meant to be an improved version of the chain that’s live now, and this data backs up their concern. Eth2 is the main goal for Ethereum, but the ecosystem will have to keep using the current chain for at least a couple of years. It’s important developers have enough funding to continue making it stronger –most of DeFi is depending on it!

The number of teams and categories supported in the latest two waves of funding was slashed from when the grants program first started.

Chart source: All information is from the EF blog. To reduce the number of categories and avoid having categories with very few projects, I combined Hackternship with Education, Networking with Eth 2 Clients, and added a couple of research reports to the broader categories they were conducting research on. I didn’t count Bounties announced last week as that money hasn’t been awarded yet.

Overall, about half of total funding has gone towards scaling, while about one fourth went to support Eth2 clients. Grants for scalability were mostly awarded in earlier waves.

The foundation’s goal of spending $30 million by May 2020 means it would have to allocate about twice the amount of money it has spent since the grants program started. But last week’s funding round was the smallest yet, excluding the round announced in February, for which the EF didn’t disclose amounts (??). That means it has to spend about $28 million in the next nine months, and if it wants to follow its own stated goals, it will have to start diversifying.

The difficulty of allocating resources correctly between the two chains points at the larger problem of just how hard the upgrade to Serenity will be. Funding is just one piece of it.


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About the author: I’m Camila Russo, a financial journalist writing a book on Ethereum with Harper Collins. I was previously at Bloomberg News in New York, Madrid and Buenos Aires covering markets. I’ve extensively covered crypto and finance, and now I’m diving into DeFi, the intersection of the two.