Coinbase’s Jesse Pollak on Base’s Big Launch to Scale Ethereum
Coinbase's Jesse Pollak explains what's ahead for Base after years in the making... and mints a Coinage NFT
By: Zack Guzman
August 9, 2023
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Base, the Ethereum scaling solution built by Coinbase, is finally open for business and builders looking to roll out projects to delight and entice early adopters.
Coinbase’s Head of Protocols Jesse Pollak joined Coinage for a new interview to discuss what Base’s launch is making possible for the Ethereum community with reduced transaction costs, and for Coinbase itself as a company.
“In late 2021, when we were starting the journey to Base, the decision that we made was, ‘Let’s take up the mission of bringing all of Coinbase on-chain and bringing the whole world on-chain.' And we then started a process — honestly a journey — that was a fair amount of wandering in the desert to figure out what that actually means,” Pollak said.
Now, years later, after even once shutting down the attempt to create a decentralized and separately run chain on top of Ethereum, Base has now seen more than $100 million in assets bridged into its ecosystem in just a matter of days since being open.
As Base announced Wednesday, the incubation efforts to grow excitement around the chain are ramping up. Base has attracted some usual suspects for its Onchain Summer kickoff week, like Web3 social group FWB, but also some new traditional powerhouse brands like Coca-Cola. The beverage giant intends to rollout artworks from its brand’s extensive collection from notable artists – all on Base. In total, Base already boasts more than 100 projects and dapps at launch.
Of course, some of the excitement (and speculation) around Base began even before Coinbase’s official efforts were underway. Last week, an independent developer launched the $BALD memecoin in a nod to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, which quickly attracted millions of dollars from speculators. As Coinage highlighted in our episode on memecoins, the repeated speculation has been repeated on almost every chain in existence. Days after launch, BALD followed the predictable pattern as its price plummeted and its creator made off with most of the proceeds.
Pollak told Coinage there are always going to be challenges with building a permissionless system in crypto, and humbly admitted that BALD's builder certainly front ran their launch plans.
“I think it was a good reminder for me that in crypto and in permissionless, decentralized systems you can have an incredibly well crafted plan, but these systems are open and that’s part of it – that’s part of the beauty, it’s part of terror, it’s part of the magic that makes crypto kind of what it is,” Pollak said.
By not launching a token and opening up bridging to Base, perhaps the prospect of someone taking the time to launch a memecoin seems almost inevitable. Either way, Pollak says that while it’s further proof Base is indeed open for whatever builders want to do with it, Coinbase is looking to support projects that bring real utility to Web3.
“We’re excited about how Base and Coinbase can kind of play off each other, where Base can continue to be this open, permissionless place,” Pollak said. “But then Coinbase can continue playing the role that it’s been playing for the last decade, which is to be a trusted, easy to use interface for crypto and that means that there’s probably going to be a lot of things on Base that don’t show up on Coinbase.”
To Pollak’s credit, the man has truly leaned into supporting projects that have lived up to Web3 ideals. He says he’s been minting something on-chain every day and even refinancing personal loans using DeFi protocols. Case in point: To wrap up our interview, he minted a Coinage Subscriber pass to support our community-owned outlet and unlocked the ability to co-own Coinage.
“I just got my Subscriber pass and now I’m going to put in my email. I’m officially a Subscriber and supporter,” an elated Pollak said, noting the entire process just took a matter of seconds. “All of that happened without any intermediaries. There were no credit card processors. It was just direct Zack and Coinage to Jesse’s wallet and now there’s a permanent on-chain relationship that we have.”
Coinage NFT holders can watch our full interview with Coinbase’s Jesse Pollak above.