2020 Year in Review

What happened in the decentralized world

2020 has been a year of extremes, so it’s been in the decentralized world, too — extreme innovations, extreme creativity, extreme excitements — and we finally beat the bear market.

This year was all about making changes to my life to ensure my happiness and health. I left my full-time role as co-founder at Dapp.com in March, and it was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. I couldn’t be more grateful for how far Dapp.com has come from when we started to the current state — a leading platform in the blockchain space.

“It’s time for a new challenge,” I told myself. So I’ve been working on a few new ideas that focus on mental health, the future of work, and no code for web3 while helping ETHPlanet build a community to connect and empower Ethereum builders. I enjoy the process of making something new from the ground up. If you’d like to work with me or want to exchange ideas and thoughts, please reach out to jungong@hey.com OR send me a DM on Twitter.

As I wrap up this monumental year, I’ve compiled an overview of decentralized apps, project builders, and creators — I think they’re special enough for all of us to remember.

A Big Year for Creators

If you spend an hour or two on TikTok, you will realize how creative people are. 2020 was a year of restrictions and lockdowns that forced all of us — from entrepreneurs to artists to musicians to all kinds of makers and builders to be creative. 

This year, people kept building crypto-centric platforms that allow creators to make exclusive fan communities no longer just in the TikTok (and OnlyFans) creators world. Creators can get a fair share on those platforms, their work is more accessible, and the copyright is protected.

For music artists, now they can tokenize songs on Mintbase. The “decentralized Soundcloud” Audius launched its mainnet in October. I found myself spend more time on Loft Radio, a lofi radio station that accepts tips in crypto. Marketplaces like Foundation and Zora help onboard creators and launch exclusive drops — creating scarcity around the new products work well in this space. Rarible brought the technology bar down for the creators to make an easy entrance to the crypto art world, and with $RARI — Rarible’s governance token, creators and collectors are powerful than ever. And on my favorite platform, SuperRare, artists have earned over $4.6 million

At the beginning of 2020, I discovered Roll on Twitter. It’s a platform that gives creators the superpower to issue their own social money, so they can control the content while interacting and engaging with their communities — in a modern creative economy. 

And in the summer, I had the chance to collaborate with SuperRare and organize the Pop Culture & Blockchain, as part of the Ethereum Summer Camp event series featuring artists, curators, and musicians. We even had a fun debate about scarcity and abundance. I’m a big believer in approaching creativity playfully and fun, and this event exemplified that spirit.

All the magic can happen because people with the creation tools turn ideas into incredible executions. Who knows what’s going to happen next? I’m super excited about the crypto creator space in 2021!

DeFi Drives Mainstream Adoption of Blockchain

We thought last year was the year of DeFi with a few surprise hits. Well, DeFi space in 2020 was just on another whole new level, bringing financial innovation and composability (aka money legos) to the world that’s never been seen before. Those insanely innovative products are only possible in DeFi and not in the traditional finance space, and you probably didn’t know you needed until you use them. 

DeFi products are not perfect yet — like any fresh from the oven products are not meant to be perfect, and DeFi hacks still happen once a while. But we’ve seen significant improvements — a secure smart contract audit and other homework are on every team’s to-do list. We believe the incredible growth from DeFi space will continue in 2021, and with that, more people and institutions will get involved. From this, we expect to see much more creative ideas playing in the space and being useful to its users in general.

Community Comes First

This year, the community took on a different meaning. We all need the connections and support from the community now more than ever. While we’ve all been locked away, we’ve come to realize that we need to be creative to get closer to each other, so we find new ways to spice the virtual meetings and events up to stay connected. 

An ESC Talk: How VR Intersects with Art and Blockchain & Building a VR Gallery with NFTs Workshop | July 17, 2020.

We think we’re all exhausted by Zoom calls, but let’s face it: since we can build projects from anywhere, we do see more teams going decentralized, more collaborations, and more magical mixture of ideas happen — that’s exciting.  

Projects like Aave even transferred their Aavesome “power” to the community by handing over the protocol’s admin control to their token holders. And Gitcoin has a few rounds of Grants that dedicated to the community and community builders. “It takes a community to build a business.”

Women Builders Take Up Space

After years, we finally tired of talking about diversity and inclusion. Instead, we build. Jaye Harrill works at blockchain security company Quantstamp as a communications manager by day and “onboarding everyone” — in her words, to the blockchain world by night. Richa Joshi and the team bring notifications to the web3 world. Ashleigh Schap helps Uniswap lead the DeFi space. Anett Roliková does magics at Fellowship of Ethereum Magiciansshe256 and SheFi build up the community and provide resources and tools for people to learn and create together. The list could go on and on.

Maria Paula Fernandez, the strategist at Golem tweeted: 

“Do not accept shortcuts in the name of gender equality. Do not let someone diminish your achievements by putting them down to your gender.” — Mona El Isa, founder of Melon

Our Everyday Go-Tos

Believe it or not, dapps are now our go-to for trading, collecting, and betting, and hopefully very soon, we will use dapps for news, communications, and much more. 

The crypto wallet craze is still going strong. Argent debuted its DeFi wallet earlier this year with a slick UI design, and MetaMask launched the mobile app last fall. As long as we have the phone with us, we can browse and interact on the decentralized web on the go. Besides wallets, people built projects like zkSync to scale crypto payments with cheaper gas fees. 

NFT collectors have more options to choose from. You can trade NFTs on OpenSea, use NFTs as collateral for a loan on NFTfi, put your NFTs to work, earn rewards on Aavegotchi, or farm digital art on MEME. I’ll say that most of us have been developing an NFT addiction this year, and I can’t help but wonder… who’s to blame? 🙂

My latest and the last digital art collection of 2020: Rainlines, by Mattia Cuttini.

Thanks to the people who got me through this chaotic year — I feel truly grateful, and here’s to a brighter 2021.


See 2019 Year in Review

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