Which Ethereum-focused startups will survive the Merge?

As the Ethereum network transitions its system through a new upgrade called the Merge, many are wondering which startups within its ecosystem will be best positioned to thrive in a post-Merge world.

Overall, it seems like the post-Merge startups that will succeed are ones that provide accessibility to both Web 2.0 and web3 users, whether it be something like a financial product or infrastructure that could try to ease the onboarding to Ethereum. Most notably, many think liquid staking pool providers will take the reins. Given the Merge’s switch to proof-of-stake, this could make sense.

The efforts to lower the network’s carbon footprint by about 99% are also at the forefront of many market players’ minds as it moves away from mining, which would make mining pool-focused startups a thing of the past. Startups that align with ESG objectives will definitely take a big step forward as sustainability efforts continue to grow.

“Ethereum’s move to a PoS mechanism fundamentally changes the power dynamics in the crypto industry.” Baek Kim, partner, Hashed

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next couple of months (to years) as the Merge is built upon and other upgrades are implemented into the network.

To further our understanding, we asked a range of crypto market players — including the co-founders of layer-2 blockchains Polygon and StarkWare, partners at VC firms, developers and researchers — their thoughts on the Merge and which Ethereum-based startups may hit the ground running. (Some responses have been edited for clarity and length.)